Bears

Four locals make Rivals' Top 100 for Class of 2013

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Four locals make Rivals' Top 100 for Class of 2013

Joliet Catholic running back Ty Isaac may have slipped in the postseason evaluations after being slowed by a series of injuries. But Crete-Monee wide receiver Laquon Treadwell emerged with a five-star rating and the No. 10 spot in Rivals' top 100 in the class of 2013.

"We finally have a wide receiver as a five-star, something we have every year but hadn't found yet this season," said Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell.

Treadwell, a 6-foot-3, 198-pounder, boosted his stock by leading Crete-Monee to a 14-0 record and the Class 6A state championship. After making his third visit to the Ole Miss campus last week, he said Ole Miss was the "clear leader" in his recruiting. But he still plans to make other visits before announcing his decision.

One plus in Ole Miss' favor is the presence on its roster of freshman defensive back Anthony Standifer, a star on Crete-Monee's 2011 football team and a close friend of Treadwell's who originally committed to Michigan before opting for Ole Miss.

"Coming out of the summer, Treadwell had clearly established himself as the nation's top receiver in the class of 2013," said Rivals.com Midwest recruiting analyst Josh Helmholdt.

"This fall, though, he took his game to the next level and turned in one of the most impressive high school seasons we have seen in the Midwest in some time. He is so big, so fast, so powerful and so fundamentally sound, he could help out a college team right now."

Related: Rivals.com top 100 prospects

Isaac, who ranked as high as No. 8 in some preseason surveys, fell to No. 20 in Rivals' postseason evaluations. Named the Chicago area's Player of the Year for the 2011 season, he remains committed to USC.

The other two Chicago area players who earned Top 100 recognition are LSU-bound offensive tackle Ethan Pocic (44) of Lemont and Michigan-bound offensive tackle Kyle Bosch (99) of Wheaton St. Francis.

Rivals' top five picks are defensive end Robert Nkemdiche of Logansville, Ga., defensive end Carl Lawson of Alpharetta, Ga., linebacker Jaylon Smith of Fort Wayne, Ind., quarterback Max Browne of Sammamish, Wash., and defensive back Su'a Cravens of Murietta, Calif.

Related: Te'o, Smith win NCAA, prep Butkus Awards

Ironically, like Treadwell, Nkemdiche also is seriously considering Ole Miss. He originally committed to Clemson but reopened his recruiting. He also is considering Alabama, LSU and Georgia. But his mother has made it clear that she favors Ole Miss. And Robert's brother Denzel is a starting outside linebacker for the Rebels.

Lawson is committed to Auburn, Smith to Notre Dame and Browne and Cravens to USC. In fact, USC has five commitments from five of the top 20 players and the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation according to Rivals.com.

Notre Dame, which has the No. 2 recruiting class in the nation according to Rivals.com, has commitments from five other top 100 players -- running back Greg Bryant (16) of Delray Beach, Fla., linebacker Alex Anzalone (50) of Wyomissing, Pa., offensive lineman Steve Elmer (56) of Midland, Mich., offensive lineman John Montelus (65) of Everett, Mass., and defensive back Cole Luke (95) of Chandler, Ariz.

Even in a controlled gameplan, Mitchell Trubisky's playmaking ability shines through

Even in a controlled gameplan, Mitchell Trubisky's playmaking ability shines through

While the Bears praised Mitchell Trubisky’s operation of a controlled gameplan in his second NFL start, they’re not losing sight of the special kind of athleticism and playmaking ability the rookie quarterback possesses. Two plays in particular stand out — plays that led to anywhere from a five-to-10 point swing in the game. 

Trubisky’s 18-yard third down completion to Kendall Wright in overtime seems to looks better every time you watch it on film. Trubisky was pressured by two Baltimore Ravens pass rushers, but managed to wriggle free and slide to his right, only to find linebacker C.J. Mosley waiting in front of him. The blend of athleticism and aggressiveness Trubisky displayed in firing high over the middle toward Wright — who made a specular play of his own — is one of the many reasons why the Bears are so excited about him. 

“To be able to throw that ball with both hands in the air and changing your arm angle – that’s why you draft a kid second,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. “Because of things like that.”

But there was another instinctual, athletic play Trubisky made that was just as impressive, and just as important. Cody Whitehair’s snapping issues cropped up at the Bears’ 13-yard line, with the center sailing a snap over Trubisky’s head and toward the end zone. 

If Baltimore recovered that ball, it would’ve tied the game; had Trubisky simply fell on the ball, it very well could’ve led to a safety that would’ve brought the Ravens within five points about a minute after the Bears took a 17-3 lead. Instead, Trubisky picked up the ball, scrambled to his right and threw the ball away — one of six throwaways he had on Sunday. 

“(That) was a critical, critical play at that time,” Loggains said. 

This isn't to say that two plays — only one of which gained yards — are enough to say the Bears' offense is in a good place. It's still a group that necessitates a controlled gameplan, similar to the one they used with Mike Glennon. But the difference: Trubisky can make plays. 

Briefly, on Whitehair

Since we’re on the subject of another poor snap by Whitehair, here’s what Loggains had to say on that topic: 

“He’s gotten better. We still had one too many. The thing and point I want to make with Cody Whitehair is, obviously wants to talk about the snap, but you’re talking about two weeks in a row of completely dominating. We’re an outside zone team that ran 25 snaps of inside zone because of what they were playing. It changed our game plan and Cody’s a big part of that. The last two weeks we’ve been able to move those guys inside. He’s a really good football player. 

“We’re going to battle through these snap issues. We’re cutting them down. He’s more accurate. He did have the one that obviously is unacceptable and no one owns that more than Cody Whitehair does. But he is a really good football player and let’s not lose sight of the 79 snaps where he really helped the team run the football and you can’t do that without a Cody Whitehair at center.”

Loggains has a point here — if Whitehair were struggling in the run game, against the defensive looks the Ravens were showing, the Bears wouldn’t have been able to run the ball 50 times with the kind of success they had. But the poor snaps nonetheless are ugly and have to be eliminated — imagine the uproar over them if Trubisky didn’t make that play in Baltimore. The Bears' offense won't always be good enough to overcome those kind of self-inflicted mistakes. 

Loggians and coach John Fox have praised Whitehair’s attention to the problem, and as long as Hroniss Grasu is still limited with a hand injury, Whitehair will have some time to work through these issues. One final thought: Who would’ve expected, back in May, that Whitehair would have the problems with snaps, and not Trubisky? 

In another huge playoff moment, Wade Davis stays cool while everything else around Cubs goes crazy

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USA TODAY

In another huge playoff moment, Wade Davis stays cool while everything else around Cubs goes crazy

This became a three-ring circus on Wednesday night at Wrigley Field, Cubs manager Joe Maddon screaming at the umpires, the video board showing the replay of Curtis Granderson’s swing and the crowd of 42,195 booing and chanting “BULLS#$!!”

The Los Angeles Dodgers are still in command of this National League Championship Series, but the Cubs won’t go quietly into the offseason, unleashing All-Star closer Wade Davis for the final two innings of a 3-2 thriller that kept them alive for at least another night.

The Cubs can worry about the daunting task of winning three more elimination games in the morning. Once Davis forced Cody Bellinger into the double-play groundball that left Justin Turner stranded in the on-deck circle and this one ended at 11:16 p.m., he pulled at his right sleeve and buttoned the top of his jersey while waiting for the Cubs to start the high-five line. “Go Cubs Go” blasted from the stadium’s sound  system and fireworks erupted beyond the center-field scoreboard and Davis acted as if nothing had happened.

To put the idea of beating the Dodgers three times in a row in perspective, the Cubs blasted three homers and got a classic big-game performance out of Jake Arrieta and still needed Davis for a heart-stopping, high-wire act.

Maddon already ruled out Davis for Thursday night’s Game 5 after the closer fired 48 pitches – or four more than he did during last week’s seven-out save that eliminated the Washington Nationals. But at least the Cubs will have those decisions to make instead of cleaning out their lockers.

“I don’t know,” Davis said. “We’ll definitely come in tomorrow and get some treatment and go out and play catch and see how I feel.”

It looks like Davis doesn’t feel anything on the mound. Davis didn’t react to Turner chucking his bat and yelling into the visiting dugout after crushing a 94-mph fastball for a home run to begin the eighth inning. Davis didn’t seem bothered by Yasiel Puig flipping his bat after drawing a walk. And Davis never lost his composure while Maddon got ejected for the second time in four NLCS games.

Maddon flipped out at home plate umpire Jim Wolf – and really the entire crew – when what was initially called a swinging strike three on Granderson got overturned and ruled a foul tip.

“Wade doesn’t care about any of that,” first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “That’s the right guy to have on the mound. With the mentality he has, he’s going to strike the guy out on the next pitch. Obviously with the replay, it’s not easy to keep your composure. But he’s just different. He’s a different animal.”

While the fans at Wrigley Field got loud and turned angry, Davis chatted with catcher Willson Contreras: “I was just trying to think of the next pitch I was going to throw if he ended up staying in the box.”

Davis got Granderson (0-for-4, four strikeouts) swinging at strike four, walked Yasmani Grandal and then blew away Chase Utley with a 95.1-mph fastball, needing 34 pitches to finish the eighth inning. Davis wasn’t finished, using a Kris Bryant bat to hit against Dodger lefty Tony Cingrani, fouling off five pitches before striking out looking at a 94.9-mph fastball.

“Yeah, I gave up there after a little bit,” Davis said with a look that sort of resembled a smile. “He was bringing it pretty good, and I hadn’t seen a baseball in a while coming in like that.”

If the Cubs are going to match the 2004 Boston Red Sox – the only other team to come back from an 0-3 deficit since the LCS format expanded to seven games in 1985 – they are going to need the offense to generate more runs, a great start from Jose Quintana on Thursday night and someone else to run out of the bullpen. Not that Davis is ruling himself out for Game 5.

“Go get some sleep and then come in tomorrow and start getting ready,” Davis said.