Bears

Five local players on Lemming's Top 100

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Five local players on Lemming's Top 100

Five Chicago area products are listed among the Top 100 players in the nation in the class of 2014, according to recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS Sports Network. But none of them ranks among the top 75, an indication that this year's juniors rank a step behind the class of 2013.

The five are Plainfield South linebacker Clifton Garrett (76), Bolingbrook cornerback Parrker Westphal (86), Marist tight end Nic Weishar (94), De La Salle offensive tackle Jamarco Jones (96) and Crete-Monee linebacker Nyles Morgan (100).

It is interesting to note that Westphal, while consistently rated among the top five prospects in Illinois in the class of 2014, was named to the Joliet Herald-News' All-Area second defensive team. To date, he has accumulated 14 scholarship offers.

"At this time, I have interviewed in person one-third of the nation's top prospects and watched film on about 80 percent of the nation's top 2,000 prospects," Lemming said, explaining how he annually travels from coast-to-coast to make his evaluations.

"This top 100 will be changed in a couple of months after I have seen all of the nation's top prospects in person. So far, 19 players have earned five stars with more coming."

Garrett has nine scholarship offers -- from Illinois, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Purdue, Indiana, Michigan State and Ole Miss.

Weishar, the nation's No. 2 tight end according to Lemming, has 12 offers -- from Illinois, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, Purdue, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss and Boston College.

As a sophomore, Weishar caught 73 passes for 1,149 yards and 15 touchdowns. As a junior, the 6-foot-5, 215-pounder caught 89 for 1,034 yards and five touchdowns. He has a 5.37 grade-point average on a 5.0 scale.

He was the only one of the five players who made Lemming's Top 100 to earn a spot on the Chicago Sun-Times' 24-member All-Area squad.

Westphal, a standout on Bolingbrook's Class 8A state championship team in 2011, has offers from Illinois, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Nebraska, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, West Virginia, Purdue, Ole Miss and Cincinnati.

Jones has accumulated more offers (15) than any other local prospect -- Illinois, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan State, Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska, Purdue, Toledo, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt.

Morgan, the defensive standout on Crete-Monee's unbeaten 2012 Class 6A state championship team, is a rapidly rising star. He has offers from Illinois, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, UCLA, Oklahoma, Michigan State, Purdue, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt.

"I don't base my evaluations on the number of scholarship offers a player receives. And I don't take into account what a player does or doesn't do at a combine," Lemming said. "I think it is more important to judge a player's skills on the basis of his performance, in person or on film. And I like to interview each player to get a sense of his passion and love for the game."

Other juniors in the city and suburbs who are attracting considerable interest from colleges and could earn a spot in the top 100 before the end of the 2013 season are Glenbard North running backdefensive back Justin Jackson, Richards running backathlete Tommy Mister, Mount Carmel defensive tackle Enoch Smith Jr., Stevenson defensive back Matt Morrissey and Hinsdale Central center Brian Allen.

Nation's Top 100 In Class of 2014

(According to recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS Sports Network)

No. Name, Hometown Pos. Ht. Wt.

1. Leonard Fournette, New Orleans, La. RB 6-1 225
2. Raekwon McMillan, Hinesville, Ga. LB 6-3 240
3. Tony Brown, Beaumont, Tex. DB 6-1 185
4. Marlon Humphrey, Hoover, Ala. DB 6-0 170
5. Jabril Peppers, Paramus, N.J. DB 6-0 190
6. Quin Blanding, Virginia Beach, Va. DB 6-2 200
7. Cameron Robinson, West Monroe, La. OL 6-6 300
8. Kain Daub, Jacksonville, Fla. LB 6-3 200
9. Gerald Willis, New Orleans, La. DL 6-3 265
10. Andrew Brown, Chesapeake, Va. DL 6-4 290
11. Hoza Scott, La Porte, Tex. LB 6-2 205
12. Da'Shawn Hand, Woodbridge, Va. DL 6-4 260
13. Drake Harris, Grand Rapids, Mich. WR 6-4 180
14. Kevin Crosby, Bamberg, S.C. LB 6-1 225
15. Deondre Clark, Oklahoma City, Okla. DL 6-5 235
16. Tre Williams, Mobile, Ala. LB 6-2 220
17. Bo Scarbrough, Tuscaloosa, Ala. RB 6-2 220
18. Braden Smith, Olathe, Kan. OL 6-6 275
19. Sony Michel, Plantation, Fla. RB 5-11 185
20. Devon Thomas, Broken Arrow, Okla. RB 5-11 210
21. Orlando Brown, Duluth, Ga. OL 6-9 360
22. Todd Kelly, Knoxville, Tenn. DB 6-1 190
23. Damian Prince, Forestville, Md. OL 6-7 310
24. Tyler Luatua, La Mirada, Calif. ATH 6-4 230
25. DeShaun Watson, Gainesville, Ga. QB 6-4 200
26. Jeb Blazevich, Charlotte, N.C. TE 6-5 240
27. Denzel Ware, Crestview, Fla. DL 6-2 220
28. Khairi Clark, Hollywood, Fla. DL 6-3 310
29. Jerrod Heard, Denton, Tex. QB 6-2 180
30. Nathan Starks, Las Vegas, Nev. RB 5-11 200
31. Nick Watkins, Dallas, Tex. DB 6-1 180
32. Jordan Poland, La Jolla, Calif. OL 6-8 330
33. Vincent Jackson, Tampa, Fla. LB 6-2 230
34. Mason Cole, Tarpon Springs, Fla. OL 6-5 280
35. Speedy Noil, New Orleans, La. WR 5-10 180
36. Andrew Williams, McDonough, Ga. DL 6-4 250
37. Justice Hansen, Edmond, Okla. QB 6-4 200
38. Edward Paris, Mansfield, Tex. DB 6-2 190
39. Racean Thomas, Oxford, Ala. RB 5-11 190
40. Michiah Quick, Fresno, Calif. DB 6-0 170
41. Nick Harvey, Lancaster, Tex. DB 5-11 180
42. Kyle Allen, Scottsdale, Ariz. QB 6-2 200
43. Marshon Lattimore, Cleveland, Ohio DB 5-11 180
44. Donnell Stanley, Latta, S.C. OL 6-3 305
45. Demarcus Christmas, Bradenton, Fla. DL 6-3 280
46. Dalvin Cook, Miami, Fla. RB 5-11 195
47. Jalen Tabor, Washington, D.C. DB 6-0 180
48. Bryson Allen-Williams, Ellenwood, Ga. DE 6-3 235
49. Cameron Hampton, Dallas, Tex. LB 6-2 210
50. Andy Bauer, St. Louis, Mo. OL 6-5 300
51. Laurence Jones, Monroe, La. LB 6-2 215
52. Malik McDowell, Detroit, Mich. DL 6-6 290
53. Cameron Denson, Tucson, Ariz. WR 6-1 175
54. E.J. Moss, Ashville, Ala. LB 6-4 220
55. Thaddeus Snodgrass, Springfield, Ohio WR 6-1 185
56. Demetrius Knox, Fort Worth, Tex. OL 6-5 300
57. Mark Andrews, Scottsdale, Ariz. WR 6-6 225
58. Steven Parker, Jenks, Okla. DB 6-2 185
59. Montae Nicholson, Monroeville, Pa. DB 6-3 200
60. Jay Hayes, Brooklyn, N.Y. OL 6-5 270
61. Josh Malone, Gallatin, Tenn. WR 6-3 188
62. Ronnie Clark, Calera, Ala. DB 6-3 212
63. Keller Chyrst, Palo Alto, Calif. QB 6-3 210
64. K.C. McDermott, Wellington, Fla. OL 6-6 285
65. Casey Tucker, Chandler, Ariz. OL 6-5 270
66. Caleb Henderson, Alexandria, Va. QB 6-4 215
67. Shaun Dion Hamilton, Montgomery, Ala. LB 6-2 225
68. David Cornell, Jones, Okla. QB 6-5 220
69. Will Grier, Davidson, N.C. QB 6-3 180
70. Nifae Lealao, Sacramento, Calif. DE 6-5 270
71, Jonathan Hilliman, Jersey City, N.J. RB 6-0 205
72. Artavis Scott, Tarpon Springs, Fla. WR 5-11 180
73. Lorenzo Fetherston, Greensboro, N.C. DE 6-7 215
74. Mike Ferns, St. Clairsville, Ohio LB 6-3 235
75. Roderick Johnson, Florissant, Mo. OL 6-6 320
76. Clifton Garrett, Plainfield South, Ill. LB 6-2 220
77. Adoree Jackson, Gardena, Calif. DB 5-9 170
78. Travonte Valentine, Palm Bay, Fla. DL 6-3 280
79. Jalen Hurd, Hendersonville, Tenn. RB 6-3 210
80. Bentley Spain, Charlotte, N.C. OL 6-5 285
81. Demarre Kitt, Tyrone, Ga. WR 6-1 200
82. Alex Bars, Nashville, Tenn. OL 6-6 275
83. Johnathan Lloyd, Graham, N.C. ATH 5-11 175
84. Ross Pierschbacher, Cedar Falls, Iowa OL 6-4 275
85. Josh Frazier, Springdale, Ark. DL 6-4 330
86. Parrker Westphal, Bolingbrook, Ill. DB 6-1 185
87. Dante Booker, Akron, Ohio LB 6-3 212
88. Solomon Thomas, Coppell, Tex. DL 6-3 265
89. Budda Baker, Bellevue, Wash. DB 5-10 175
90. Bryan Mone, Salt Lake City, Utah DL 6-3 284
91. Jamoral Graham, Decatur, Miss. ATH 5-11 175
92. Andrew Trumbetti, Demarest, N.J. DL 6-5 250
93. Melvin Keihn, Baltimore, Md. LB 6-2 220
94. Nic Weishar, Chicago (Marist), Ill. TE 6-5 215
95. Bijhon Jackson, El Dorado, Ark. DL 6-2 320
96. Jamarco Jones, Chicago (De La Salle), Ill. OL 6-5 285
97. Jalyn Holmes, Norfolk, Va. DL 6-5 230
98. Jacory Washington, Westlake, La. TE 6-5 215
99. Derrell Scott, Havelock, N.C. RB 5-11 175
100. Nyles Morgan, Crete-Monee, Ill. LB 6-2 220

Looking deeper to understand how John Fox still commands Bears trust through bad times

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USA TODAY

Looking deeper to understand how John Fox still commands Bears trust through bad times

I’ve always placed great stock in the drama tenet, “Action is character.” What an actor/person does in significant part defines their character, or lack of same.

Conversely, in some situations, what someone doesn’t do can be equally defining or revealing. A couple of those involving the Bears are worth noting, because they suggest things about John Fox and and his staff, and perhaps a bit of what players think of them.

Nothing stunning, just a case of when you pull the camera back for a little wider angle, a broader picture forms out of seemingly separate or isolated incidents. Fox has never lost his teams through three generally miserable seasons, those teams consistently played hard through bad times. A handful of specific situations offer some insight into perhaps why:

The Cohen conundrum

Fox and offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains came in for scalding criticism for their recent seeming under-utilization of running back Tarik Cohen. The closest either came to laying out the real reason was a reference to concerns about the rookie’s pass-protection capabilities, no small issue against Green Bay and coordinator Dom Capers’ blitz proclivities; coaches want to see Mitch Trubisky wearing a Bears uniform, not Clay Matthews.

Cohen may be the Bears’ leading receiver, but if a back can’t present the viable option of pass protection, the offense is limited even more than it already is anyway with a rookie quarterback.

Come forward a week: Overlooked in the aftermath of the loss to Detroit, in which Cohen was not part of the hurry-up offense driving for a winning or tying score, was the fact that Cohen simply didn’t know the plays well enough in that situation. Fox didn’t say so. Neither did Loggains.

Cohen did.

Asked afterwards what he wasn’t solid with, Cohen owned it: "Probably the hurry-up plays at those positions. I know certain plays at those positions, but to open up the whole playbook with me, I’ll have to learn all of those plays.”

Should he have been up to a faster speed in week 10? That’s another discussion. But like it or not, his coaches were not going to be the ones to out him.

The Howard hassle

Jordan Howard finished 2016 second to only Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott in rushing yardage. He began the year inactive for game one and lightly used in games two and three. The reason Loggains gave from the podium was that coaches didn’t really know what they had in Howard.

Yes. They did. But Loggains didn’t cite Howard for not being in shape to carry the load the offense needed. Neither did Fox.

Howard did.

“I should’ve been in better shape,” Howard said at the outset of training camp last July. “I should’ve been playing earlier if I would’ve handled what I had to do.”

Some very effective coaches have used public embarrassment for motivation; Mike Ditka assessed that he wasn’t sure Donnell Woolford could cover anybody, and Buddy Ryan summarized that “No. 55 [Otis Wilson] killed us,” for instance.

Fox and his staff don’t do that and they’ve have taken the heat for their players, which does frustrate those tasked with accurately reporting sometimes hard information.

Medical restraint

Fox’s tenure has been awash in major injuries to pivotal players. He has made points in his locker room by shielding those players and their issues whether outsiders like it or not.

That started back with Kevin White and the infamous stress fracture that Fox was accused of knowing about and lying that he didn’t. The real situation was that medical opinions (and the Bears had gotten a bunch) were divided to the point where the Bears opted against surgery until it was conclusive that the shadow on an x-ray was indeed a fracture. Fox refused to call the injury a stress fracture with the doctors so divided, and he was pilloried for it. But not in his locker room.

The organization very much needed Pro Bowl lineman Kyle Long this season for an offense that certainly wasn’t going to live on the arm of Mike Glennon. Long was testy and combative during training camp, and “honestly I’ve been champing at the bit to get back,” he conceded, “but they’ve done a good job of pulling the reins a little bit and making sure that I understand that it’s a long season.”

Small things, not necessarily connected, but as Fox’s third season winds down, what his team shows will factor into decisions on his future. The Bears right now, after the Green Bay and Detroit losses effectively ended the “hope” part of their season, are entering that dreary phase of a year when effort will be critiqued as critically as performance.

The on-field results now will say something about character, Fox’s own and the collective one he has worked to instill since January 2015.

How to watch and/or stream the IHSA football state finals this weekend

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How to watch and/or stream the IHSA football state finals this weekend

It's Thanksgiving weekend, which among other things, means the IHSA football state finals are taking place.

NBC Sports Chicago has live coverage of the finals of all eight classes and is streaming every telecast, including surrounding pre/postgame coverage, to be made available to authenticated subscribers on NBCSportsChicago.com/WatchLive and via the NBC Sports app.

Check out the action taking place in Huskie Stadium in DeKalb, beginning at 10 a.m. on Friday with the Class 1A final and concluding Saturday night with the Class 8A final and a special recap edition of High School Lites following the final game. Highlights from each of the games will be available on our website throughout the weekend.

The live streaming service is currently available to customers of Comcast/Xfinity, DIRECTV, DISH Network, AT&T U-verse, Mediacom, RCN, WOW!, Time Warner Cable and Charter among numerous other carriers.  In addition, NBC Sports Chicago is also available on numerous digital streaming services including DIRECTV NOW, Hulu, fuboTV, Sling TV, CenturyLink Stream, PlayStation Vue, and YouTube TV.  For a full list of carriers and more information about NBC Sports Chicago’s live streaming service, viewers are urged to visit nbcsportschicago.com/live-faq.

Here is the full schedule for the weekend's games and broadcast coverage:

Friday, November 24

LIVE NOW: Class 1A: LENA-WINSLOW (Lena) [13-0] vs. TUSCOLA [13-0]

1:00 PM – Class 2A: GIBSON CITY-MELVIN-SIBLEY (Gibson City) [13-0] vs. MAROA-FORSYTH (Maroa) [12-1]

4:00 PM – Class 3A: IC CATHOLIC (Elmhurst) [12-1] vs. PLEASANT PLAINS [10-3]

7:00 PM – Class 4A: MORRIS [11-2] vs. ROCHESTER [13-0] (NOTE: This game will air on NBC Sports Chicago+; please visit our CHANNEL FINDER for the exact channel location in your area)

Saturday, November 25

10:00 AM – Class 5A: PHILLIPS (Chicago) [13-0] vs. DUNLAP [13-0]

1:00 PM – Class 6A: PRAIRIE RIDGE (Crystal Lake) [13-0] vs. NAZARETH ACADEMY (LaGrange Park) [12-1]

4:00 PM – Class 7A: BATAVIA [12-1] vs. LAKE ZURICH [13-0] (NOTE: This game will air on NBC Sports Chicago+; please visit our CHANNEL FINDER for the exact channel location in your area)

7:00 PM – Class 8A: LINCOLN-WAY East (Frankfort) [13-0] vs. LOYOLA ACADEMY (Wilmette) [12-1] (NOTE: This game will air on NBC Sports Chicago+; please visit our CHANNEL FINDER for the exact channel location in your area)

Further information is available at this link. Edgy Tim previewed each of the eight games here and has players to watch for the weekend.