Preps Talk

EDGY: Breaking down the class of 2016 for National Signing Day

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EDGY: Breaking down the class of 2016 for National Signing Day

The Class of 2016 will begin to ink letters of intent tomorrow nationwide. Here is EDGYTIM's breakdown for the state of Illinois:

Overall Grade for the Class of 2016: C-

Simply put, in the amount of years I’ve been tracking football recruiting in this state (over 20 years), this could be one of the lowest amount of statewide D-1 level names for one class. As of Tuesday morning, I show 61 kids committed to BCS level schools and 29 kids committed to FCS schools (I count only FCS schools who offer athletic scholarship monies).

Below are the past five signing classes, which reflect the downturn in high college level talent in Class of 2016.

2015: 79 BCS level names, 21 FCS level names

2014: 74 BCS level names, 23 FCS level names

2013: 77 BCS level names, 22 FCS level names

2012: 68 BCS level names, 17 FCS level names

2011: 72 BCS level names, 21 FCS level names

Coincidence

For your consideration, the Class of 2016 was part of a considerably large drop off nationally according to the National Federation of State High School Associations regarding overall participation numbers in football. The numbers are traced back to when this class became freshmen back in the fall of 2012. Several traditional football power high schools in Illinois in 2012 reported sizable freshman number drop-offs. Coincidence?

[RELATED: EDGY's Top 50 players in Illinois from class of 2016]

Reservation for One

Recruiting these days seems to be more about making an early "verbal" reservation than anything else. In Illinois as well as across the nation, the Class of 2016 has never seen as many kids verbally commit early only to wind up decommiting before National Signing Day. Several factors come into play for the rash of decommitments including verbally committing too early to a school and most notably college coaching changes. Solutions? Several have been thrown out there including adding an early signing period or two (I say mid-August and then again in mid-December) as well as allowing schools to offer a prospect to sign a binding letter of intent at anytime.  In most proposals, only a head coach firing would void the legally binding letter of intent for schools and prospects. 

Position of strength

Just take a look at my Top 50 Class of 2016 final recruit rankings. Three out of my top four are defensive linemen including two defensive tackles in Lake Park Mike Panasiuk and Evanston's Naquan Jones. Also impressive is the fact that that 12 out of the Top 50 names play on the defensive line. I can't remember when this state has had as strong of a defensive linemen class to be honest. I also expect the large majority of this defensive linemen class to have the chance to become early impact types at the college level.

Positions that didn't fare well

Offensive tackles

This class no question definitely has a lack of quality offensive tackle body types. That's never a good sign. The overall offensive tackle group fell just short over having the usual abundance of big tackle bodies that Illinois has become known for over the years. Sure, kids like Downers Grove South's Erik Swenson (who I still feel is more of a guard), Carmel's Sean Foster, Nashville's Royce Newman, Lincoln-Way West’s Justin Witt and Maine South's Liam O'Sullivan are all ranked in my Top 50. Yet more than a few of those names are to be considered more "developmental" guys from a physical standpoint for now. You also won't find a ton of offensive tackle body types that got scooped up by, say, the 1-AA or D2 and below levels, either.

[RECRUITING: Swenson picks Oklahoma]

Quarterbacks

The Rivals database has 31 quarterbacks listed in the Class of 2016 with only four known names inking D1/1AA level Letters of Intent. That's not good. The position itself remains one of the hardest spots to gain an offer for several good reasons. First you have a limited amount of spots available. Throw in an evaluation process that gets earlier and earlier in a day and age where 8th graders are already drawing serious interest.  I have no doubt that the quarterbacks in Illinois have never had it any harder in recruiting circles than they do in this era of college football recruiting.

Winners

Michigan State

The Spartans had this one wrapped up by mid summer to be honest. Head coach Mark Dantonio was in need of defensive linemen in particular and discovered a bonanza here in Illinois. Michigan State always works this state hard and give the Spartans credit for securing early verbal commitments and for also not letting those recruits slip away from them. 

[RELATED: Spears Jr. decommits from Illinois]

Iowa

It's been a while since the Hawkeyes were able to come away with a sizable haul from Chicagoland, yet Iowa's recruiting efforts in Illinois for this class were just very steady and solid. Naperville Central wide receiver Manny Rugamba leads a group of five 3-star ranked Land of Lincoln commits. All five have the potentiual to become longer term answers in several spot for Iowa.

Western Michigan

The Broncos have added a few top ranked MAC classes back-to-back, and at least from an Illinois perspective, former Kaneland and NBIU standout player and current WMU head coach PJ Fleck and staff added a handful of names to watch. Evanston three-star ranked QB Matt Little (6-foot-4, 210 pounds) was locked up very early by the Broncos and many feel that Little has Big 10 level physical tools and potential. Neuqua Valley tight end Brett Borske (6-foot-6, 230 pounds) is a huge target, and Borske physically has the look of a Power 5 conference level prospect. 

So how did the in-state BCS and FCS level schools fare? Stay tuned more breakdowns to follow.

Just missed the Class of 2016 Top 50 rankings

ATH Rhashaun Epting, Proviso West - Committed to New Mexico after decommitting from Western Michigan, Epting has the look (6-foot-4, 210 pounds) and feel of a name that can head down to Lobo country and return as an NFL looking name. He could wind up playing defensive line/linebacker at the college level.

DE Allen Stallings, Oak Park-River Forest - Stallings (6-foot-2, 230 pounds) committed to Indiana after decommiting from Central Michigan. He was a tweener from a positional standpoint and didn't add his offer from the Hoosiers until last week. Stallings was simply one of the hardest hitters I saw all season and has a chance to become a disruptive hybrid pass rusher/linebacker for the Hoosiers.

LB Corey Lersch, McHenry - Lersch (6-foot-4, 210 pounds) camped with NIU this past summer, landed an offer and committed before his recruiting really took off. Lersch has great size and speed and just has the look of a player who still has a ton of upside.

DB Andrew Gregory, Normal Community - Gregory (6-foot-1, 196 pounds) has the potential to be yet another steal for the Huskies. He has the physical tools to grow into a safety/outside linebacker and has real potential.

Public League champion Simeon remains clear No. 1 in latest Preps Power Rankings

Public League champion Simeon remains clear No. 1 in latest Preps Power Rankings

The Class 1A and 2A regionals begin this week and the regular season is finishing up for every other team in the state. We're getting that much closer to state titles being decided in Peoria. Simeon remains the clear No. 1 in the latest Power Rankings after beating No. 4 Whitney Young and No. 2 Orr by double digits on the way to earning a third straight Public League Playoff title, while a couple of familiar faces are back in the tail end of the rankings.

1. Simeon (25-3, 9-0) (1) -- Simeon stays at No. 1 after winning the Public League Playoffs for the third consecutive year. The Wolverines have now defeated teams No. 2 through No. 6 in the Preps Power Rankings for a 6-0 record on the season in which the average margin of victory has been 14.5 points per game. The clear No. 1 in the state of Illinois, Simeon has the week off before the Class 4A playoffs.

2. Orr (22-4, 9-0) (2) -- Orr put up a good fight but they ultimately fell short to No. 1 Simeon in the Public League Playoff title game. The Spartans did gain revenge on No. 3 Curie, however, with a big semifinal win on Friday. Orr has to forget the title loss ahead of the Class 2A Playoffs that begin this week as the Spartans try to repeat as champions.

3. Curie (23-4, 8-1) (3) -- The Condors have only lost to No. 1 and No. 2 when it comes to in-state losses as they remain one of the most complete and balanced teams in the state. Curie has the week off before the IHSA Playoffs.

4. Whitney Young (22-7, 7-2) (4) -- Whitney Young earned a huge quarterfinal win over Morgan Park before falling to Simeon in the Public League Playoff semifinals. The Dolphins also have the week off before they attempt to repeat as Class 4A champions. 

5. Morgan Park (18-9, 7-2) (5) Disappointing result for the Mustangs as they lost on a buzzer-beater in the Public League Playoffs to Whitney Young. Defending champions in Class 3A, the Mustangs will rest this week before the playoffs begin.

6. Fenwick (18-7, 8-0) (8) -- The Friars earned two wins during the week as they beat Marmion while also getting a huge conference road win at Loyola. Fenwick will battle Taft during the week.

7. New Trier (22-3, 8-1) (9) -- New Trier had one of the best weeks of any team in the area as they picked up wins over Maine South and Evanston. Now the leaders in the rugged CSL South, the Trevians have some more tough games against Niles North and Glenbrook North this week. 

8. Evanston (20-5, 8-2) (6) -- Evanston's red-hot recent play was finally slowed down as they fell to rival New Trier. The Wildkits will try to bounce back when they play Vernon Hills in a Central Suburban crossover this week.

9. Oak Park-River Forest (21-5, 12-0) (11) -- The Huskies finished the West Suburban Silver season unbeaten following wins over York and Proviso West. OPRF gets a great test right before the playoffs when they face Hinsdale South in the West Suburban championship game.

10. Benet (21-4) (6-1) (12) -- Two wins for the Redwings this week when they beat Joliet Catholic and Stevenson. Things aren't easy for Benet this week as they head to Marian Catholic before hosting Carmel in two tough ESCC games. 

11. West Aurora (19-4, 8-0) (13) -- The winning streak is now 11 for the Blackhawks after beating South Elgin. West Aurora will play Bartlett and crosstown rival East Aurora this week as they try to keep the momentum going into the playoffs. 

12. Marist (23-4, 6-2) (15) -- Marist picked up a double-digit win over St. Patrick during the week as they prepare for the Class 4A draw. The RedHawks will have an ESCC game against Marian Central this week. 

13. Niles North (22-4, 5-4) (8) -- The Vikings fell to CSL South rival Maine South and followed that up with an overtime win over a tough Wisconsin team in St. Catherine's. The Vikings get a crack at conference leader New Trier this week before playing Maine West in a tough Central Suburban crossover. 

14. Marian Catholic (20-4, 5-3) (16) -- Three wins for the Spartans during the week as they knocked off Nazareth, Rich Central and Marian Central. Marian Catholic gets a tough test this week when they host Benet in its final ESCC game.

15. Naperville North (23-2, 14-1) (17) -- The Huskies have won eight straight games as they clinched at least a share of the DuPage Valley Conference with a win over Waubonsie Valley this week. Naperville North hosts Wheaton-Warrenville South this week to decide the DVC title.

16. DePaul Prep (20-6, 5-3) (19) -- Picking up a convincing double-digit win over Mount Carmel, the Rams got back on track after the loss to Brother Rice. DePaul Prep will host Montini during the week as they prepare for Class 3A. 

17. Loyola (21-6, 5-3) (10) -- Tough recent stretch for the Ramblers as they fell to St. Joseph and Fenwick to fall out of the Catholic League Blue race. Loyola hosts Steinmetz for a tune-up this week. 

18. Hillcrest (21-5, 13-0) (21) -- Hillcrest survived a tight win over T.F. North before winning convincingly against Oak Forest. The Hawks have the week off as they prep for Class 3A. 

19. Leo (19-5, 8-0) (22) -- Finishing the regular season with a big win over Marmion, the Lions will be one of the area teams to watch in the Class 2A playoffs as they are in the Marshall Regional. 

20. Homewood-Flossmoor (16-6, 7-1) (23) -- Another huge win for Homewood-Flossmoor as the Vikings took down Bolingbrook to keep a lead in the SouthWest Suburban Blue. Homewood-Flossmoor goes on the road this week to battle Sandburg and Lockport. 

21. Hinsdale South (20-5, 10-2) (24) -- The Hornets stayed hot with wins over Addison Trail and Proviso East as they clinched the West Suburban Gold. Hinsdale South has a tough battle against Oak Park-River Forest in the West Suburban championship game this week. 

22. St. Viator (22-5, 8-0) (25) -- The Lions picked up some wins against Carmel and Bartlett. St. Viator will try to close out the ESCC with an undefeated record when they play Nazareth this week. 

23. Bolingbrook (17-6, 5-3) (18) -- Bolingbrook fell out of the SouthWest Suburban Blue conference race when they lost to Homewood-Flossmoor. The Raiders still have some tough games to close out the regular season when they play Lincoln-Way East and Stagg.

24. Maine South (20-7, 6-4) (NR) -- Huge win for Maine South as they knocked off Niles North after losing to New Trier in overtime earlier in the week. The Hawks close out the regular season with a Central Suburban Crossover against Highland Park.

25. Willowbrook (22-5, 9-3) (NR) -- Willowbrook is back in the rankings by earning three double-digit wins over Morton, Leyden and Downers South. The Warriors have only lost to ranked teams like West Aurora and Hinsdale South lately as they've been playing well. 

Five top-25 matchups highlight loaded episode of High School Lites

Five top-25 matchups highlight loaded episode of High School Lites

High School Lites had five matchups between top-25 teams on Friday night as the Public League Playoff semifinals and big matchups in the CSL South, Catholic League Blue and SouthWest Suburban Blue took shape.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @NBCSPreps for the latest news and scores for IHSA basketball.

Wintrust Athlete of the Week: Palatine's Eduardo Orozco

Saint Xavier Team of the Week: Maine West girls basketball

Highlights

No. 1 Simeon holds off No. 4 Whitney Young

No. 2 Orr gets revenge on No. 3 Curie

No. 9 New Trier takes down No. 6 Evanston

No. 8 Fenwick handles No. 10 Loyola Academy

No. 23 Homewood-Flossmoor rallies past No. 18 Bolingbrook

Oswego East upsets No. 20 Joliet Central

Andrew shuts down Thornridge

Sandburg tops Lockport in OT

Richards runs by Shepard

Maine West captures second straight girls basketball regional title