Ball State

Recruiting News and Notes: Marist's TJ Ivy inching closer to college decision

Recruiting News and Notes: Marist's TJ Ivy inching closer to college decision

JJ McCarthy (QB), Nazareth Academy

Nazareth Academy quarterback JJ McCarthy added his first scholarship offer late last week from the Iowa State Cyclones after putting on an impressive showing at the North Central College satellite camp which had the entire Cyclones staff in attendance. While landing a scholarship after a college camp is common, it's not very common when an incoming high school freshman adds an offer.

McCarthy (5-foot-11, 150 pounds) whose 8th grade Hudl highlight video is approaching 3,400 views was, in all honesty, one of the top overall quarterbacks I observed at the NCC satellite camp. McCarthy has also been impressive on the 7-on-7 circuit this offseason for Midwest Boom. McCarthy, despite his abilities and potential, has yet to step on a high school football field. Drawing such an early offer from the Iowa State is proof positive that the recruiting process is drawing attention, and eventual offers at an alarmingly earlier and earlier rate.

TJ Ivy (TE), Marist

Marist three-star ranked senior tight end TJ Ivy (6-foot-5, 220 pounds) is down to his Top 4 schools and seems to be getting closer to making a college decision.

"I'm still down to my Top 4 schools (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and West Virginia," Ivy said. "I'm planning to get out to make some campus visits next month and then I'll make my college decision."

Ivy has made several visits to Illinois, Indiana and Iowa, but has yet to see West Virginia.

"I've never been to West Virginia," Ivy said. "I'm looking forward to visiting them in person next month. I just want to see how I fit in with West Virginia, see the campus and the surrounding area and just get a better feel for them."

[RELATED: Hoffman Estates linebacker pledges to Purdue]

Phil Saleh (OL), OPRF

Oak Park-River Forest senior offensive linemen Phil Saleh (6-foot-4, 260 pounds) is a two-sport athlete (football/basketball) whose football recruiting stock has climbed this summer.

"I have offers now from Ball State, Indiana State, Western Illinois, Eastern Illinois and Fordham," Selah said. "I went to the Northwestern camp and I'm not sure where else I will camp this summer. I'm juggling both my team football camp and basketball camp. NIU has been pushing me pretty hard to come and camp with them this summer so I might end up at NIU for a camp."

Noah Shannon (DT), Oswego

Oswego senior three-star ranked defensive tackle Noah Shannon (6-foot-2, 290 pounds) has been busy since decommitting from Minnesota last month. Shannon camped with the Gophers at the North Central College satellite camp last week which featured several Minnesota coaches, including head coach PJ Fleck. Shannon also has more camps and visits planned.

"I'm heading out to NIU on Wednesday for a camp that will have Penn State, Arkansas and other schools," Shannon said. "I'm pretty sure I'm done with camps after NIU. I also want to get out to visit Indiana, Missouri and Arkansas later this summer."

Bears sign fullback Michael Burton, waive tight end Franko House

Bears sign fullback Michael Burton, waive tight end Franko House

The Bears announced on Wednesday they have signed free agent fullback Michael Burton and waived undrafted rookie tight end Franko House.

Burton, 25, was waived by the Detroit Lions on Tuesday after spending the first two years of his NFL career with the club. 

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Burton, originally a fifth round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft out of Rutgers, has appeared in 31 games and has accumulated six receptions for 39 yards and a touchdown.

Burton will likely head into training camp to compete with undrafted free agent Freddie Stevenson as the Bears' starting fullback.

House was signed by the Bears out of Ball State earlier this month after a a standout basketball career for the Cardinals.

Bears sign standout WR Tanner Gentry, 13 undrafted free agents

Bears sign standout WR Tanner Gentry, 13 undrafted free agents

The Bears have found success in the undrafted free agent market with the likes of wide receiver Cameron Meredith, linebacker Christian Jones and safety Harold Jones-Quartey among others during GM Ryan Pace's tenure with the club. 

Pace and the Bears hope to continue that trend and uncover some hidden gems in this year's crop of undrafted free agents.

Ahead of rookie minicamp this weekend, the Bears announced on Thursday they have signed 13 undrafted free agents.

Here's a look at some of the notable UDFA's the Bears signed:

Tanner Gentry (WR), Wyoming: The 6-foot-2 wideout ran a 4.40-yard dash at his Pro Day and had 72 catches for 1,326 yards with 14 touchdowns for the Cowboys last season. Gentry also led the country in deep targets (49) last season.

Dieugot Joseph (OT), Florida International: After a switch from defensive end to the offensive line, Joseph became a stalwart at left tackle for the Panthers. Joseph was named honorable mention All-Conference USA in 2016.

Andy Phillips (K), Utah: A former member of the United States National Ski Team, Phillips walked on to the Utah football team in 2012. As the Utes starting kicker from 2013-16, Phillips converted 84 percent of field goals and missed just one extra point.

Freddie Stevenson (FB), Florida State: For three seasons Stevenson served as the lead blocker for All-American running back Dalvin Cook. A former four-star recruit as a linebacker, Stevenson had 292 total yards and seven touchdowns with the Seminoles.

Kermit Whitfield (WR), Florida State: One of the most explosive athletes in the country, Whitfield accumulated 2,386 yards as a kick returner at Florida State. Whitfield broke the ACC record for yards per return (36.4) during his freshman season.

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Jhajuan Seales (WR), Oklahoma State: Seales has the ability to climb the ladder and make the contested catches with a 41.5-inch vertical leap. After subpar sophomore and junior seasons, Seales rebounded as a senior with 37 receptions for 615 yards and four touchdowns.

Franko House (TE), Ball State: House was a standout basketball player for the Cardinals. House will use his 6-foot-6, 247-pound frame to make the transition to the gridiron after not playing the sport since his senior year of high school.

Joel Bouagnon (RB), Northern Illinois: The ex-Huskies running back couldn't quite replicate his junior year numbers, but still posted a respectable 4.9 yards per carry with nine total touchdowns in 2016.

Rashaad Coward (DL), Old Dominion: Coward was a second-team All Conference USA selection last season, finishing with 50 tackles, 7.5 tackles for a loss and 1.5 sacks. Coward fits the Bears 3-4 base defense as somebody who could rotate either inside or outside on the defensive line.

Mitchell Kirsch (OL), James Madison: Kirsch was the starter at right tackle for the Dukes since 2014, and was named an FCS All-American last year.

Hendrick Ekpe (LB), Minnesota: Ekpe started 11 games for the Gophers and notched 28 tackles, 7.5 tackles for a loss and 3.5 sacks. Ekpe played defensive end at Minnesota, but with his size (6-foot3, 245 pounds) he'll play outside linebacker for the Bears.

Isaiah Irving (LB), San Jose State: The 6-foot-3, 255 pound Irving led San Jose State with seven sacks as a senior.

Alex Searce (LB), Coastal Carolina: Searce was a finalist for the Buck Buchanan National Defensive Player of the Year Award. He had eight sacks for the Chanticleers in 2016.

Below are some standout players who have been invited to rookie minicamp:

Denard Robinson (RB): The artist formerly known as "Shoelace" from his days as a quarterback at Michigan is one several veterans that will try to impress the Bears' brass at rookie minicamp this weekend. Robinson was used as an "offensive weapon" during his four years with the Jacksonville Jaguars (2013-2016) and accumulated 1,058 rushing yards, 310 receiving yards and five total touchdowns.

Tyler Gaffney (RB): The former Stanford star will be at rookie minicamp for the Bears after he was released by the New England Patriots in March. Gaffney, originally a sixth-round selection by the Patriots in 2014, spent the majority of the last three seasons on injured reserve. During his season year at Stanford, Gaffney started 14 games and had 1,709 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns.

Titus Davis (WR): Davis, a standout wide receiver at Wheaton South High School, is the older brother of Tennessee Titans' 2017 first-round selection Corey Davis. Titus Davis played at Central Michigan from 2011-2014 and registered 204 receptions for 3,700 yards and 37 touchdowns. 

D.J. Johnson (TE), Kansas State: Johnson joins House as one of two college basketball players the Bears will have in rookie minicamp. Johnson averaged 11.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per game with the Wildcats in 2016-17 and helped the team to an appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Johnson was an All-Conference defensive end and tight end at Parkway North High School in St. Louis.

Mark Spelman (OL), Illinois State: Spelman was one of the key members of the Redbirds offensive line last season and garnered third-team All-American honors.

D'Nerius Antoine (S), Southern Mississippi: A two-year starter for the Golden Eagles, Antoine had 189 tackles, 10.5 tackles for a loss, 2 interceptions and 10 passes defended. Antoine also has experience as a returner.

DeSean Smith (TE), LSU: Smith wasn't often utlized in the Tigers passing game, ending his collegiate career with 19 receptions for 346 yards and one touchdown.

Lance Lenoir (WR), Western Illinois: Lenoir, a high school teammate of 2016 Minnesota Vikings first-round pick Laquon Treadwell at Crete Monee, finished his Leathernecks career as the school's all-time leader in receptions (273), yards (3,796) and touchdowns (28).