New QB Annexstad makes big impression on Illinois State head coach Brock Spack

Quarterback Zack Annexstad, a transfer from Minnesota has impressed Illinois State head coach Brock Spack with his leadership skills. (Photo by

By Barry Bottino

As a player at Purdue and a longtime college football coach, Brock Spack has seen plenty of leaders.

“I’ve been around four Heisman (candidates) that were quarterbacks and that’s a huge position to have a void in,” the Illinois State head coach said Tuesday during Missouri Valley Football Conference media days via Zoom.

The Redbirds’ struggles at quarterback led to a 4-7 record last fall and a 1-3 mark in their abbreviated spring COVID season in 2021.

Enter Minnesota transfer Zack Annexstad, a junior who has been on campus since January.

Annexstad, who started eight games in 2018 for the Gophers, has already made a big impression.

“There’s a lot of great things he does that I like,” Spack said. “The thing I was hoping he’d have, but I really didn’t know, is his leadership. It’s been extraordinary. I haven’t been around a guy like him in a while.

“He took the reins and he’s done a great job,” Spack said. “He’s been an awesome addition.”

Illinois State averaged 124.8 passing yards a game last season, which ranked 115th among 123 FCS teams. According to, 89 FCS teams averaged more than 124.8 yards rushing per game a year ago.

Spack hopes a new man under center can revive the Redbirds’ passing game and provide a complement to a rushing attack that boasts sophomore Cole Mueller, who finished just shy of 1,000 yards on the ground last season.

According to Spack, Annexstad has added dimensions such as getting more receivers involved in the passing game, understanding coverages and defensive pressures and knowing where to go with the football in various situations.

“I’m glad he was here this spring,” Spack said. “He’s getting more comfortable in our system.”

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