Eastern Illinois lands former FCS touchdown pass leader as transfer quarterback

Former University of Albany quarterback Jeff Undercuffler has transferred to Eastern Illinois. (photo courtesy UAlbany Sports)

First-year Eastern Illinois head coach Chris Wilkerson saw his potential quarterback of the future at the April 23 spring game. However, the aforementioned QB never suited up for the Panthers that warm and windy afternoon.

Jeff Undercuffler, the former University of Albany quarterback who announced he had entered the transfer portal Dec. 17, was present — along with three other potential transfers — at O’Brien Field in Charleston April 23 and tweeted this photo that day.

Just after midday on Tuesday, Undercuffler tweeted an image of a panther, which happens to be EIU’s mascot. Moreover, EIU offensive coordinator Joe Davis was Undercuffler’s OC at Albany, where Undercuffler passed for an FCS-high 41 TDs in 2019.

National FCS analyst Craig Haley confirmed Tuesday with Prairie State Pigskin that Undercuffler had committed to Eastern Illinois.

Haley also wrote that Undercuffler’s 41 TD passes in 2019 “were the most in subdivision history by a freshman (he was a redshirt freshman). He’s passed for 6,406 yards and 59 TDs in 31 career games.”

Wilkerson, a former EIU player and assistant coach under Panther legend Bob Spoo, was hired as his alma mater’s head coach in late January.

Undercuffler, listed at 6-foot-5 and 231 pounds by Albany, played in three games before being injured in 2021. He completed 62-of-113 passes for 556 yards in those games.

Undercuffler is a redshirt junior with two years of eligibility remaining. He is a native of Burlington, N.J. and prepped at Holy Cross Academy where competed in football, basketball and baseball.

Prior to adding Undercuffler, the Panthers listed four quarterbacks on their roster: transfers Ira Armstead II (Virginia) and Jonah O’Brien (Colorado State) along with redshirt freshman Zach Weir and incoming freshman Kevin Conway.

“We have told the quarterbacks all spring that nothing will be set in stone or in concrete as a result of just this spring. We’re working on trying to improve every single day,” Wilkerson told Prairie State Pigskin April 23 following the annual spring game.

Weir is the lone returnee to have thrown passes in games at EIU. The Grafton, Wisc. product completed 32-of-66 throws in 2021. He had one touchdown and was intercepted four times.

Interestingly, O’Brien has returned to EIU after a stint at Colorado State. O’Brien, a redshirt sophomore from Bartlett, began 2019 as the EIU scout team quarterback but played the final home game of the season against Southeast Missouri , completing 12-of-21 pass attempts for 84 yards and one interception.

Armstead II, a South Bend, Ind. native, is a dual-threat option. A former three-star recruit by ESPN.com and 247sports.com, the sophomore is listed at 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds.

Following the spring game, Wilkerson was asked what the next month would look like in regard to EIU’s roster.

“There are still some pieces that will potentially accentuate our roster, but the core group of our individuals, the nucleus of our ’22 football team, is assembled now,” Wilkerson said.

It appears Jeff Undercuffler is one of those accentuation pieces.

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