Preps Talk

Big Ten recruiting class rankings

Big Ten recruiting class rankings

Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011
3:38 p.m.

By Mike Clark
YourSeason.com

1. Ohio State: Don't expect the Buckeyes to fall from their perch atop the conference anytime soon. They have one of the top five classes nationally, one which mines Ohio's rich vein of prep talent but also includes three players from Florida and two from Illinois: Fremd OL Brian Bobek and Vernon Hills WR Evan Spencer.

2. Nebraska: The Cornhuskers are still focusing on their traditional base in the Big 12 region, with five players from Texas. But with their impending move to the Big Ten, they're also making inroads into the Midwest with Sacred Heart-Griffin OL Ryan Klachko from Illinois and a couple players from Ohio.
3. Iowa: Coach Kirk Ferentz went far and wide for this deep, talented class, targeting Texas, the East Coast and Illinois among others. The group includes Glenbard West OL Jordan Walsh and Thornridge RB Mikail McCall along with Edwardsville's multi-talented Rodney Coe.

4. Michigan: New coach Brady Hoke hit the ground running and snagged one prominent late commitment from Simeon OL Chris Bryant. The rest of the class leans heavily on players from Michigan and Ohio, including one of the nation's premier all-purpose backs: Justice Hayes of Grand Blanc, Mich.

5. Michigan State: Like their state rival, the Spartans put together a class heavy on players from Michigan and Ohio, though Canada and New Mexico also are represented. Hinsdale Central OL Jack Allen was an early commit.

6. Penn State: One of the conference's smaller recruiting classes is heavy on linemen, especially on the defensive side. The Nittany Lions didn't target the Chicago area this year; the closest they have to an area recruit is kicker Sam Ficken from Valparaiso, Ind.
7. Illinois: Probably no school had a bigger improvement from last year to this year than the Illini. They were aggressive in the Chicago area and came away with a strong group led by Sun-Times Player of the Year Reilly O'Toole, the Wheaton Warrenville South QB. But the talent doesn't end there: keep an eye on DB Dondi Kirby from Monroeville, Pa., Gateway and 5-11, 215-pound RB Donovonn Young from Katy, Texas.
8. Wisconsin: The Badgers stayed close to home, getting commitments from eight Wisconsin players, and dipped into the seemingly endless talent pool in Ohio. They also picked up one of the Public League's rising stars in Curie DE James Adeyanju.

9. Northwestern: Though the Wildcats' academics allow them to recruit nationally with commitments from California to Texas to New Jersey, they paid plenty of attention to their own backyard. Richards' versatile Jarrell Williams and Ols Matt Frazier of Bishop McNamara and Jack Konopka of Fremd lead the local list.

10. Indiana: New coach Kevin Wilson landed one of the nation's top linebackers in Zack Shaw of Coshocton, Ohio. Prospect OL Peyton Eckert is the Hoosiers' lone Chicago-area signee.

11. Minnesota: The Gophers lost Naperville North TE Matt LaCosse to Illinois after the firing of coach Tim Brewster, but kept twin brothers Kyle and Luke McAvoy, a pair of offensive linemen from Bloomington.

12. Purdue: It's been a rough spell for the Boilermakers, with just 13 wins in the past three seasons, and the conference's smallest recruiting class may not offer a lot of help. Purdue did grab one of the leaders of Homewood-Flossmoor's 2010 turnaround in 6-4, 300-pound defensive tackle Michael Rouse III.

High School Lites Week 9 football roundup

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High School Lites Week 9 football roundup

High School Lites featured plenty of great action on Friday night as NBC Sports Chicago had highlights of many of the area's top matchups. Some playoff dreams came to fruition while others crashed and burned. 

Watch tomorrow as the IHSA playoff brackets are revealed tomorrow on NBC Sports Chicago+ at 8 p.m. Be sure to also follow us on Twitter @NBCSPreps for all of the latest IHSA football scores and highlights. 

DRIVE: Prairie Ridge: Episode 10

Wintrust Athlete of the Week: Back of the Yards QB Jeremiah Harris

St. Xavier Team of the Week: De La Salle Meteors

Friday's Top 25 Games

No. 1 Lincoln-Way East 18, No. 19 Bolingbrook 14 

No. 2 Prairie Ridge 55, Dundee-Crown 14

No. 3 Maine South 56, Niles West 9

No. 4 Marist 42, Joliet Catholic 14

No. 5 Lake Zurich , Mundelein

No. 6 Phillips 53, Clark 0

No. 9 Homewood-Flossmoor 50, Sandburg 14

No. 10 Barrington 40, Conant 19

No. 11 Huntley 45, McHenry 7

No. 12 Naperville Central 35, Lake Park 21

No. 13 Hinsdale Central 42, Hinsdale South 14

No. 24 St. Charles North 35, No. 14 Batavia 28

No. 16 Wheaton North 20, Waubonsie Valley 10

No. 17 Crete-Monee 52, Cahokia 8

No. 18 St. Rita 47, Marmion 14

No. 20 Lyons 31, Oak Park-River Forest 14

No. 21 Nazareth 48, Marian Catholic 7

No. 22 Oswego 30, Plainfield Central 0

Mount Carmel 35, No. 23 Providence 34

Other Highlights

Tinley Park 29, Evergreen Park 0

T.F. South 21, Oak Forest 14

Glenbard North 24, Neuqua Valley 14

St. Edward 29, Wheaton Academy 28

Marian Central Catholic 44, St. Patrick 21

Saturday's Top 25 Games

No. 7 Loyola vs. Brother Rice

No. 8 Glenbard West vs. Proviso West

Cubs will be open for business as Theo Epstein weighs trading hitters for pitching

Cubs will be open for business as Theo Epstein weighs trading hitters for pitching

Theo Epstein answered questions from the Chicago media for more than an hour on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field, but the most interesting part might have been what the Cubs president didn’t say, something along the lines of: These are our guys.

Or at least Epstein didn’t give the same full-throated endorsement of The Core that he delivered after engineering the Jose Quintana trade with the White Sox this summer, getting an All-Star pitcher without giving up anyone from the big-league roster.

Whether it’s the way the Los Angeles Dodgers dominated the Cubs throughout the National League Championship Series that ended Thursday night, the inconsistencies and frustrations during a 43-45 first half of this season or the reality of losing 40 percent of the rotation, you walked out of that stadium club press conference thinking big changes could be coming.

“We’re going to pursue all avenues to get better,” Epstein said.

The Cubs already understood this would be a challenging time to dramatically reshape their pitching staff, with Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta, Big Boy John Lackey and All-Star closer Wade Davis about to become free agents.

The Cubs don’t really have many (any?) high-end, headliner prospects left to trade after borrowing heavily from their farm system to acquire Aroldis Chapman for last year’s World Series run and get Quintana to help solidify the rotation through 2020.

All of Major League Baseball is looking beyond this winter and preparing for the monster free-agent class that will hit the open market after the 2018 season.

Meaning it’s time for the Cubs to make some difficult decisions about all these young hitters they’ve collected.

“It may or may not be,” Epstein said. “Those choices, they’re not unilateral things. You can’t sit there and decide: ‘Hey, this guy, we’re moving him.’ Because you don’t know what the return might be. You don’t know how the different moving parts might fit together.

“I think going into the offseason prepared to make some tough choices and execute on them — and keeping an open mind to anything — is appropriate under the circumstances where we have some obvious deficits and we have some real surplus with talented players who are really desirable.”

Let’s assume All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo, MVP third baseman Kris Bryant and catcher Willson Contreras are essentially untouchable.

The Cubs used the ninth overall pick in the 2015 draft on Ian Happ with the explicit idea that the college hitter should be on a fast track and could be flipped for pitching later: Is it time to sell high after the rookie just put up 24 homers and an .842 OPS?

During an exit meeting with Albert Almora Jr., Epstein said he couldn’t promise an everyday job in 2018, though the expectation would be more responsibilities: Think anyone else would be interested in a potential Gold Glove center fielder who’s already playoff-tested?

Do you want Addison Russell or Javier Baez as your everyday shortstop for the next four years? Is there an American League team willing to bet big that Kyle Schwarber will crush 40 homers a year as a designated hitter?

The Cubs have to ask themselves those types of questions, which could mean getting outside of their comfort zone and taking on some riskier pitching investments and sapping the strength that has turned them into the dominant force in the NL Central.

“We’ve really benefitted from having two or three extra — and ‘extra’ in quotes because they’re not really extra — starting-caliber players on the roster,” Epstein said. “That helped us win 97 games in ’15, 103 last year, 92 this year. That’s as big a part of the club as anything.

“Having an Addison Russell go down and being able to move Javy Baez to shortstop — that’s an obvious example of it. But those things show up every week for us. There’s a day where someone can’t make the lineup and someone else slides in and you’re still starting eight quality guys. That’s huge.

“Sooner or later, you reach a point where you have to strongly consider sacrificing some of that depth to address needs elsewhere on the club. There’s no sort of deadline to do that. But I think we’re entering the phase where we have to be really open-minded to that if it makes the overall outlook of the team and organization better.”

Translation: The Cubs are open for business. Make your best offer.