Aaron Bailey has a step up on his competition.
As he prepares for his sophomore season with the University of Illinois football team, the 2013 Bolingbrook High School graduate is battling with four other players for the starting quarterback role.
Last year's starting signal caller, Nathan Scheelhaase, has since graduated and left a void for the Illini. Bailey has a good chance to see substantial playing time.
Reilly O'Toole, who is back for his senior season this fall, attempted more passes than Bailey last year, but played in fewer games.
The other signal callers vying for the starting job are Wes Lunt, Chayce Crouch and Man Berg.
Lunt was a highly-touted prospect coming out of Rochester (Ill.) High School and started as a true freshman at Oklahoma State, but he dealt with injuries and played in only five games that season. He hasn't played in a game since then as he was forced to sit out last year to comply with NCAA transfer rules.
Crouch is a true freshman making the tough transition from high school to college football, and Berg is a walk-on player who sat out during a redshirt season last fall.
Having seen game action in the offense devised by head coach Tim Beckman's and coordinator Bill Cubit is an asset for Bailey as the Illini prep for the season.
Bailey's overall athleticism, which led to him being heavily recruited out of high school, is also a plus. The highly mobile, 6-foot-2, 225-pound Bailey finished fourth on the Illini with 83 yards rushing last year, a total he reached on just 20 carries. He accounted for three touchdowns on the ground, tied for third on the team.
Bailey also has a track record of success prior to arriving at Illinois. He rushed for 2,008 yards and 30 touchdowns as a Bolingbrook junior as he helped lead the Raiders to the 2011 Class 8A state title. That total included 300 yards rushing and scoring runs of 71, 80 and 66 yards in a first-round playoff win against Neuqua Valley.