Cubs

Seven Illinois products in nation's top 100

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Seven Illinois products in nation's top 100

The class of 2013 is being touted as perhaps the most talented group of football players produced in Illinois since 1986, according to longtime recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS Sports Network.

Seven Illinois products are ranked among the top 100 senior prospects in the nation with two or three other players capable of earning a spot by the end of the 2012 season. And Joliet Catholic's Ty Isaac is the top-rated running back of all.

In fact, it's the most Illinois players to earn top 100 recognition in more than a decade. And Isaac is only one of three Illinois products to be ranked among the top 100 since St. Rita linebacker John Foley was No. 1 in 1985. Isaac joins Niles West's Rashard Mendenhall and Proviso West's Kyle Prater on the elite list.

"It looks like a better year than last year," Lemming said. "Most positions are solid. Last year was weak at linebacker and tight end, average at defensive back. But all positions are stocked this year. You can find talent if you are looking for it."

Specifically, Lemming said talent in the Midwest is average except for the Chicago area and Ohio. "It's a very good year in Illinois, not only in the Chicago area but also the East St. Louis and Peoria areas. And there are as many good offensive linemen as anywhere in the country."

Robert Nkemdiche, a defensive end from Loganville, Georgia, is universally regarded as the No. 1 player in the nation. He has 15 scholarship offers and is expected to choose Alabama over USC, LSU, Florida, Georgia and Auburn.

Interestingly, four of the top six prospects are already committed.

Quarterback Max Browne of Sammamish, Wash., is headed for USC, linebacker Rueben Foster of La Grange, Georgia, has chosen Alabama, quarterback Tyrone Swoopes of Whitewright, Texas, is committed to Texas and wide receiver Ricky Seals-Jones of Sealy, Texas, will also attend Texas.

Linebacker Su'a Cravens of Vista Murrieta, California, has 30 offers, including Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Texas, Stanford, UCLA and USC.

Offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil of Lake City, Florida, has 20 offers, including Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Miami, USC, LSU, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Texas, Illinois and Michigan.

In fact, 14 of the top 20 players in the nation have made oral commitments, altering a past trend in which the most elite prospects usually waited until a week or two prior to the national signing day in February before announcing a decision.

What it says is the rich continue to get richer, the elite programs continue to dominate the recruiting sweepstakes and the most talented high school players want to play for winners or traditional powers rather than opt for a program that is rebuilding or struggling.

"As in basketball, the best football players want to play for the best programs, the most successful programs, the ones that will give them a chance to play for a national championship and best prepare them for a career in the NFL," Lemming said.

Texas got Browne, Swoopes, Seals-Jones and offensive lineman Darius James of Harker Heights, Texas. Florida got wide receiver Ahmad Fulwood of Jacksonville, Fla., and running back Kelvin Taylor of Belle Glade, Fla. Alabama got Foster and wide receiver O.J. Howard of Prattville, Ala.

USC got defensive lineman Kenny Bigelow of Elkton, Maryland. Oregon got running back Thomas Tyner of Beaverton, Oregon. Georgia got running back Derrick Henry of Yulee, Fla. Auburn got defensive tackle Dee Liner of Muscle Shoals, Ala. Penn State got tight end Adam Breneman of Camp Hill, Pa. And South Carolina got offensive lineman D.J. Park of Dillon, S.C.

Isaac, who is ranked No. 8 in the nation, has 21 offers, including Ohio State, USC, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Auburn, Clemson, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and Northwestern.

Other Illinois products on Lemming's elite list are wide receiver LaQuon Treadwell (30) of Crete-Monee, offensive tackle Ethan Pocic (48) of Lemont, offensive tackle Logan Tuley-Tillman (50) of Peoria Manual, quarterback Aaron Bailey (72) of Bolingbrook, offensive tackle Colin McGovern (75) of Lincoln-Way West and offensive tackle Kyle Bosch (89) of Wheaton St. Francis.

Treadwell has 18 offers, including Alabama, Auburn, Oklahoma, USC, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State and Nebraska.

Pocic, whose brother plays at Illinois, has 10 offers, including Ohio State, Michigan, USC, Florida, Auburn, Illinois and Michigan.

Tuley-Tillman and Bosch have committed to Michigan while McGovern has committed to Notre Dame.

Bailey, who led Bolingbrook to the Class 8A championship last year, has 13 offers, including Illinois, Nebraska, Northwestern, Notre Dame and Wisconsin.

Three players who could crash the top 100 are Northwestern-bound quarterback Matt Alviti of Maine South, defensive end Josh Augusta of Peoria Central and Illinois-bound running back Kendrick Foster of Peoria Richwoods.

TOM LEMMING'S TOP 100 FOR 2012

No. Player, Hometown Pos. Ht. Wt.
1. Robert Nkemdiche, Loganville, Ga. DE 6-4 270
2. Max Browne, Sammamish, Wash. QB 6-5 205
3. Reuben Foster, La Grange, Ga. LB 6-2 242
4. Tyrone Swoopes, Whitewright, Texas QB 6-5 220
5. Su'a Cravens, Vista Murrieta, Calif. LB 6-1 205
6. Ricky Seals-Jones, Sealy, Texas WR 6-6 215
7. Laremy Tunsil, Lake City, Fla. OL 6-6 278
8. Ty Isaac, Joliet (Catholic), Ill. RB 6-2 220
9. Ahmad Fulwood,, Jacksonville, Fla. WR 6-4 200
10. Thomas Tyner, Beaverton, Oregon RB 6-0 205
11. Derrick Henry, Yulee, Fla. RB 6-3 240
12. O.J. Howard, Prattville, Ala. WR 6-5 225
13. Adam Breneman, Camp Hill, Pa. TE 6-5 225
14. Kelvin Taylor, Belle Glade, Fla. RB 5-11 210
15. Robert Foster, Monaca, Pa. WR 6-2 180
16. D.J. Park, Dillon, S.C. OL 6-6 315
17. Kenny Bigelow, Elkton, Maryland DL 6-3 275
18. Marquez North, Charlotte, N.C. WR 6-3 210
19. Dee Liner, Muscle Shoals, Ala. DT 6-4 258
20. Darius James, Harker Heights, Texas OL 6-6 320
21. Tim Williams, Baton Rouge, La. LB 6-4 228
22. E.J. Levenberry, Woodbridge, Va. LB 6-3 220
23. Shane Morris, Warren, Mich. QB 6-3 190
24. Antonio Conner, Batesville, Miss. DB 6-0 190
25. Henry Poggi, Baltimore, Maryland DL 6-4 255
26. Tray Matthews, Newnan, Ga. DB 6-2 200
27. Tramel Terry, Goose Creek, S.C. WR 6-0 190
28. Leon McQuay, Seffner, Fla. DB 6-1 180
29. Vernon Hargreaves, Tampa, Fla. DB 5-11 186
30. LaQuon Treadwell, Crete-Monee, Ill. WR 6-3 190
31. Greg Bryant, Del Ray Beach, Fla. RB 5-10 200
32. Cody Thomas, Colleyville, Texas QB 6-5 215
33. Pegter Kalambayi, Matthews, N.C. LB 6-3 230
34. Jalin Marshall, Middletown, Ohio QB 6-0 198
35. Jaylon Smith, Fort Wayne, Ind. LB 6-3 217
36. Jonathan Allen, Ashburn, Va. DL 6-3 230
37. Kevin Olsen, Wayne Hills, N.J. QB 6-3 200
38. Montravius Adams, Vienna, Ga. DT 6-4 285
39. James Hearns, Tallahassee, Fla. LB 6-3 235
40. Cam Burrows, Trotwood, Ohio DB 6-1 196
41. Matt Thomas, Miami, Fla. LB 6-4 197
42. Kendall Fuller, Olney, Maryland DB 6-0 175
43. Derrick Green, Richmond, Va. RB 6-0 215
44. James Quick, Louisville, Ky. WR 6-0 180
45. Marcell Harris, Orlando, Fla. DB 6-2 200
46. Altee Tenpenny, North Little Rock, Ark. RB 5-11 200
47. Trey Johnson, Lawrenceville, Ga. LB 6-1 218
48. Ethan Pocic, Lemont, Ill. OL 6-6 295
49. Larenz Bryant, Charlotte, N.C. LB 6-1 213
50. Logan Tuley-Tillman, Peoria (Manual), Ill. OL 6-7 304
51. Chans Cox, Pinetop, Arizona LB 6-3 225
52. Hunter Henry, Little Rock, Ark. TE 6-6 235
53. D.J. Ward, Lawton, Okla. DE 6-4 238
54. Jake Raulerson, Celina, Texas OL 6-5 250
55. Bryce Ramsey, Kingsland, Ga. QB 6-4 205
56. Jon McCrary, Ellenwood, Ga. QB 6-4 195
57. Elijah Daniels, Avon, Ind. DL 6-3 253
58. Antwuan Davis, Bastrop, Texas CB 6-3 180
59. ArDarius Stewart, Fultondale, Ala. RB 6-3 190
60. Demarcus Robinson, Fort Valley, Ga. WR 6-2 200
61. Isaac Rochell, McDonough, Ga. DE 6-5 255
62. Torrodney Prevot, Alief, Texas LB 6-4 217
63. Michael McCray, Trotwood, Ohio LB 6-3 235
64. Christian Hackenberg, Fork Union, Va. QB 6-4 215
65. Isaac Savaiineaea, Honolulu, Hawaii LB 6-3 235
66. Ryan Burns, Ashburn, Va. QB 6-5 225
67. Joey Bosa, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. DE 6-4 255
68. Desean Smith, Lake Charles, La. TE 6-5 230
69. Priest Willis, Tempe, Arizona DB 6-2 208
70. A'Shawn Robinson, Arlington Heights, Texas DL 6-5 285
71. Joe Fennell, South Fort Myers, Fla. OL 6-4 312
72. Aaron Bailey, Bolingbrook, Ill. QB 6-2 215
73. Bucky Hodges, Virginia Beach, Va. QB 6-6 235
74. Steve Elmer, Midland, Mich. OL 6-5 300
75. Colin McGovern, New Lenox, Ill. OL 6-7 285
76. Derrick Griffin, Rosenberg, Texas WR 6-6 210
77. Kent Perkins, Dallas, Texas OL 6-6 287
78. David Dawson, Detroit, Mich. OL 6-5 290
79. Tyren Jones Marietta, Ga. RB 5-9 195
80. Carlis Parker, Statesville, N.C. QB 6-4 185
81. Ezekiel Elliott, St. Louis, Mo. DB 6-0 205
82. Taj Williams, Tallahassee, Fla. DB 6-4 187
83. Rod Crayton, Dadeville, Ala. DL 6-1 295
84. Grant Hill, Huntsville, Ala. OL 6-5 315
85. Cooper Bateman, Salt Lake City, Utah QB 6-3 195
86. J.T. Barnett, Wichita Falls, Texas QB 6-2 205
87. Chris Fox, Parker, Colorado OL 6-5 295
88. Ryan Green, St. Petersburg, Fla. RB 5-10 190
89. Kyle Bosch, Wheaton (St. Francis), Ill. OL 6-4 275
90. Greg Gilmore, Hope Mills, N.C. DT 6-4 272
91. Marcus Farria, Peoria, Arizona DL 6-5 245
92. Rashad Kinlaw, Galloway, N.J. DB 6-0 175
93. Taquan Mizzell, Virginia Beach, Va. RB 5-10 180
94. Reeve Koehler, Honolulu, Hawaii OL 6-3 300
95. Uriah LeMay, Matthews, N.C. WR 6-2 195
96. Courtney Love, Youngstown, Ohio LB 6-2 228
97. Cord Sandberg, Bradenton, Fla. QB 6-2 205
98. Keenon Johnson, Kannapolis, N.C. WR 6-3 200
99. Troy Williams, Harbor City, Calif. QB 6-1 185
100. Kenneth Santa Marina, New Orleans, La. OL 6-6 328

In latest twist to Cubs-Nationals, Dave Martinez will interview for Dusty Baker's old job

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AP

In latest twist to Cubs-Nationals, Dave Martinez will interview for Dusty Baker's old job

Dave Martinez – Joe Maddon’s bench coach during unprecedented runs of success with the Cubs and Tampa Bay Rays – is ready to step outside of the star manager’s shadow and run his own big-league team.

A Washington Nationals franchise coming off back-to-back division titles – while having some big personalities in the clubhouse and obvious internal issues – could still be that ideal opportunity.

The Nationals have reached out to set up an interview with Martinez, a source said Monday, confirming a Washington Post report in the wake of Dusty Baker’s messy exit, eight days after a massively disappointing playoff loss to the Cubs.

Martinez had been an X-factor in Washington’s search two years ago, when negotiations broke down with Bud Black and the Nationals eventually circled back to Baker, the former Cubs manager.

Martinez has the built-in credibility that comes from playing 16 seasons in the big leagues, which would be an asset for a team that has Bryce Harper entering his final season before free agency and Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg at the top of the rotation.    

Martinez, who is fluent in Spanish and analytics, spent the last 10 years working as the bench coach for two data-driven organizations, putting him at the cutting edge of defensive shifts, bullpen management and game-planning systems.    

While Maddon thrives in the front-facing aspects of the job, dealing with the media before and after every game and selling a vision to the public, Martinez handles a lot of the behind-the-scenes issues, putting out clubhouse fires and interacting with the players in one-on-one settings.

The partnership worked to the point where the Rays captured the 2008 American League pennant and the Cubs won last year’s World Series. While the Cubs have advanced to the National League Championship Series for three straight seasons, the Nationals have been knocked out of the first round of the playoffs four times since 2012.

In the middle of the grueling five-game playoff series where the Cubs outlasted the Nationals – which may have been a tipping point against Baker for Washington executives – Maddon lobbied for Martinez to be in the manager mix during baseball’s hiring-and-firing season.

“He belongs in the group,” Maddon said. “I know all these people being considered, and I promise you our guy matches up with every one of them.

“He was such a heady, aggressive, gritty kind of player. Bilingual. All that matters. He's not afraid to have the tough conversations (that) people in that position may shy away from.

“Believe me, I see all the names. There are a lot of good names, and I like a lot of these dudes. But I’m just telling you: To not include his name with those other people baffles me.”

Zach LaVine not sweating contract extension, anxious to get back in uniform

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USA TODAY

Zach LaVine not sweating contract extension, anxious to get back in uniform

The Zach LaVine timeline for a Bulls debut remains the same, although he’s ahead of schedule in every metric of his return from ACL surgery this past February.

It doesn’t mean he isn’t angling for more work and pushing his limits to learn the offense he’ll be featured in, along with taking contact “here and there,” in his words. He’s supposed to wait nine months from the day of his February 14 surgery before taking contact, which would put him at a November 14 practice before the Bulls go to Oklahoma City.

“I should be doing contact really soon. It all depends on them,” LaVine said in his first public words since media day several weeks ago. “I’m pushing them as hard as I can, but at the end of the day we still gotta be careful. I feel great. I’m doing everything I was doing before. I’m pretty sure I can do contact, but we’ve got to stick to that schedule. But every day I’m just getting back, trying to as close to 100 percent as I can before I come back.”

LaVine was at Air Canada Centre getting a workout in before the Bulls opener against the Raptors and has gotten in heavy workouts on the off days with the assistant coaches in the meantime.

Sticking to the schedule will be on both LaVine and the Bulls, although both sides could be tempted to cut corners a bit. It would be human nature for the Bulls to show the NBA world their centerpiece from the Jimmy Butler trade on draft night, as well as LaVine to want to be the frontline player he feels he deserves to be.

“Yeah, it’s definitely hard. I don’t like missing games,” LaVine said. “Before the injury I didn’t really miss any games. I think I missed one or two in my career, so it really sucks just sitting there, not being able to help. I try to help as much as I can from the sideline. You know, give a little advice here and there, but yeah it hurts.”

He’s also in line for a big-time extension, having passed the deadline for extensions for players in his 2014 draft class. He’ll have to wait until the summer, especially since it didn’t make sense for him to extend unless it was a max deal.

“Obviously, I want to be here for a long time,” LaVine said. “And I feel the deal is going to get done, either then or next summer. I don’t have any fear in that. I think I know I’ll be in black and red for a little bit longer. I’m very happy and looking forward to that day as well. The main concern is just getting back on the court, get my legs ready and try to help the team as much as possible until then.”

LaVine was averaging a career-high 18.9 points as a third option behind Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, but will be featured in Fred Hoiberg’s offense as a first and maybe even second option, too—especially seeing how anemic the Bulls offense has looked in the first two games.

“With the team that we have and the system that (Fred Hoiberg) put in, we’re going to get up a lot of threes,” LaVine said. “When we’re on we’re going to blow some teams out with those threes. When we’re off, as the last couple games have shown, it’s going to be a struggle to score sometimes, but I think that’s where I can come in and help, and I can’t wait to get out there and start playing.”

Never lacking for confidence, LaVine hasn’t been deterred by the losing or even the unfortunate Bobby Portis-Nikola Mirotic incident from last week.

“We’re building something here. People understand we’re going through a little bit of that process,” LaVine said. “But we’re going to play and win. When I’m on the court, I’m trying to win. Wins and losses do happen. We can always take positives from both of those. That’s how you grow.”

As for Mirotic, LaVine hasn’t spoken to him but has sent texts—as it seems many of the Bulls have reached out to their teammate over the last several days.

“It was unfortunate. That’s what happens when two players are battling I guess,” LaVine said. “I don’t think either of them were in the wrong. It was just something that happened, an altercation. Men are men sometimes. We never should have that happen. But I think we’ve moved past it. Bobby’s in a good spot. We’ve all tried to contact Niko. I think we’ll all be able to move forward.”