Preps Talk

5 lower seeds you don't want to see in Round 1 of IHSA playoffs

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5 lower seeds you don't want to see in Round 1 of IHSA playoffs

Here are five lower-seeded teams in Classes 8A thru 4A that shouldn’t be overlooked heading into this weekend's first round of the IHSA state football playoffs.

Class 8A

No. 23 seed Palatine (6-3): First-year head coach Corey Olson had an up-and-down regular season. But don't let the Pirates’ record fool you. Palatine lost to three state playoff teams in Stevenson (14-7 in Week 1), Maine South (17-14 in Week 4) and Barrington (26-24 in Week 6). The combined record of all three opponents was a stout 23-4. Palatine will rely on senior QB DJ Angelaccio, senior WR Johnny O'Shea and senior WR Jack Orlando. The defense is led by senior LB Cortez Hogans (NIU), senior DE Bryant Smith and versatile senior DB Jake Moertl.

Class 7A

No. 29 seed Glenbard North (5-4): Yes, the Panthers struggled at times this season. Yes, they needed to beat Neuqua Valley last Friday just to make the 7A playoff field. That said, when this team is on they can hang with anyone and everyone in their class. The Panthers have gotten a big season from senior RB/LB Jayleen Fitzpatrick, senior QB Lee Rady and a veteran offensive line anchored by senior Jose Vazquez. GBN’s defense is the program’s calling card. Their secondary, featuring senior Tyrik Henderson (Minnesota), is just one of several names to watch on the defense.

Class 6A

No. 13 seed Providence Catholic (5-4): The Celtics also stumbled to the finish line in regular season play, losing their last two games. But Providence, whose four losses came to opponents with a combined 30-6 record (East St. Louis, Missouri’s Vianney Prep, Loyola Academy and Mount Carmel) are undoubtedly playoff tested. Their running game, featuring senior RB De'Shon Gavin (Western Illinois) and their big, experienced offensive line are included in their many strengths. Providence Catholic, who plays mainly 8A/7A level competition most of the regular season, will have an old-school battle in the opening round against Richards (7-2). Should Providence win that game, the Emerald Isle could go on a deep run.

Class 5A

No. 14 seed Marian Central Catholic (5-4): Head coach Mike Maloney's sideline at times resembled more of a MASH unit than a playoff-ready team. The Hurricanes have survived that storm of injuries and could be primed for a nice run in 5A. Marian Central Catholic has gotten some key names back to the lineup including former QB Gavin Scott, who has been moved to running back. The Hurricanes are also battle-tested coming off an East Suburban Catholic Conference schedule.

Class 4A

No. 14 seed Geneseo: The Maple Leafs are one of the state's traditional power football programs. They have struggled at times but were able to upset state-ranked Morris 21-17 to become playoff eligible. Geneseo also played a tough schedule and posted losses to bigger enrollment playoff names Quincy (6-3), Sterling (9-0), Rochelle (6-3) and Kaneland (6-3). Geneseo is a power running offense built for playoff football. Keep an eye on senior RB Drew Rapps and junior RB Zac Olson. 

Recruiting news and notes: Nazareth Academy's Devin Blakley verbally commits to Miami of Ohio

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Recruiting news and notes: Nazareth Academy's Devin Blakley verbally commits to Miami of Ohio

Nazareth Academy junior three star ranked defensive back Devin Blakley (5-foot-10, 190 pounds) decided to give Miami of Ohio his verbal commitment earlier this week.

"Miami of Ohio is just a great fit for me so I decided to commit," Blakley said. "I've known for a while now that Miami was the place for me. I just didn't see any reason to keep waiting so I called up the coaches and committed."

Blakley, who had offers from the likes of Iowa State and Air Force long with multiple Mid American Conference schools is the second State of Illinois pledge for the Redhawks Class of 2019. Blakley joins Simeon QB Alante Brown who earlier this month gave Miami of Ohio his verbal commitment. 

New Trier junior three star ranked athlete recruit Duke Olges (6-foot-5, 240 pounds) has been looking harder at his multiple college offers and options. Olges, who has been playing baseball for the Trevians this spring will make two unofficial visits this weekend then will begin to narrow down his favorite schools.

"My plan is to go see Duke and Virginia this weekend and see how everything goes with those visits," according to Olges. "After that I'm either going to narrow things down to a top schools list or I might even make a decision. I just feel that I have some great offers right now and don't want to wait too long in making a decision. Playing the waiting game is a risk because kids are already starting to make decisions. I don't want to miss out and lose some great offers."

Stevenson junior inside linebacker recruit Maema Njongmeta (6-foot-1, 210 pounds) has continued to add scholarship offers this spring including recent offers from both NIU and Toledo. Njongmeta was also able to head out east over his recent spring break and made a handful of college visits.

"I was able to go out to visit Princeton, Army and Penn over my spring break then we headed up to Canada to visit with some family," Njongmeta said. "All three visits I felt went very well and overall it was a fun trip. I thought it was very beneficial to see all three schools in person. Army has the whole military stigma but it was good to see the academy in person. It was great to see what West Point and academy life is all about in person and it was super cool. Every school brings something different to the table. I was able to definitely get a better feel for each school I visited."

Njongmeta has reached also out to someone very familiar with the recruiting process in former Stevenson and current Northwestern super back Cameron Green.

"We have a wonderful lady who works at our school who was able to get me in touch with Cameron Green. I knew of Cameron since I was in eight grade but didn't know him at all. He's a great guy and has been a big help for me. He's given me some good advice and is someone who's been through the process and knows what I'm going through with the recruiting process."

Urban Prep Bronzeville junior defensive back Jeremiah Webb (6-foot-1, 187 pounds) was able to add his first scholarship offer earlier this week from Northern Illinois University. 

"I'm still really excited (about adding his first offer from NIU) and my phone has been blowing up," Webb said. "I've been working hard for a long time now and it just feels good to add my first offer from NIU."

Webb has been eyeing the NIU Huskies program for some time now.

"I've been looking into NIU for a long time. They have a great, winning program and have been to multiple bowl games over the years. NIU is also close to home and I've been to NIU for a camp last summer and I also went to the NIU spring game. It's great to get my first offer from such a good program like NIU."

Webb has also drawn recruiting attention from Northern Iowa, Iowa State, Cornell and Holy Cross so far this spring. 

Recruiting news and notes: Simeon's Alante Brown verbally commits to Miami of Ohio

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Recruiting news and notes: Simeon's Alante Brown verbally commits to Miami of Ohio

Simeon junior quarterback Alante Brown (5-foot-10, 170 pounds) earlier this week decided to give Miami of Ohio his verbal commitment. Brown, who narrowed down his Top 4 schools to the Redhawks along with NIU, Western Michigan and Toledo pointed towards a few key reasons he gave Miami of Ohio his commitment.

"I was able to see everything that Miami has to offer," Brown said. "They offer a great education and very strong overall academics. The football program is heading in the right direction plus they already have a younger team. I'm hoping to help bring in even more kids in my class and I've already started to work on a few guys from here about Miami."

West Aurora sophomore defensive tackle Denver Warren (6-foot-3, 300 pounds) has been one of the top recruit names to watch in the Class of 202 in Illinois. Warren, who has scholarship offers from the likes of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan State and Iowa State made a recent visit to Illinois.

"I had a good visit to Illinois," according to Warren. "They have a great overall energy and I just liked it. Illinois also has a strong brotherhood between the players and the coaches. The coaching staff at Illinois is pretty amazing. It was my first time ever at Illinois and I liked the facilities and the stadium. Illinois is also pretty close to home. I just came away impressed with the bond between the players and the coaches at Illinois."

Warren is also planning to transfer at the end of the spring semester to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. 

"It's a great opportunity and I want to go and get better and take my game to the highest level. My Mom and I have looked really hard at everything and I made my final decision and talked to my coaches about it. I'm going to visit IMG Academy on May 10th and 11th and I'll go back to register for school on July 14th."

St. Charles North junior three-star ranked defensive back Tyler Nubin (6-foot-2, 185 pounds) made a verbal commitment to Minnesota Thursday morning.

"I had a really good visit to Minnesota," Nubin said. "I spent the day with Coach (PJ) Fleck and the defensive backs coach Jahmile Addae. Their coaching staff is just unbelievable and the facilities are top notch."

Nubin held 16 scholarship offers this spring, including six offers from the Big Ten conference.  

Momence junior three-star ranked athlete Jason Bargy (6-foot-5, 240 pounds) has drawn nine Power 5 scholarship offers so far this spring and made a recent visit to Illinois.

"I wanted to see the tempo and how the coaches get after the players," Bargy told Orange and BlueNews.com's Doug Buschon. "How the guys interact with each other. "

Bargy, who doesn't plan to announce any Top schools list is planning to make a college decision "over the next few months."