Edgy Tim

Pass or fail? Mixed emotions surround NCAA's new early signing period


Pass or fail? Mixed emotions surround NCAA's new early signing period

John Ivlow could easily add traffic patrol officer to his resume. Or a navigator, perhaps. The Bolingbrook head football coach is very popular and in demand with college recruiters --especially this time of year-- just as much as any other coach in Chicagoland. Ivlow is also never shy about sharing his opinion when it comes to various high school football topics, and that includes recruiting.

But in regards to the upcoming --and inaugural-- NCAA football early signing period, which begins on Dec. 20, Ivlow is taking more of a patient approach.

"I'm a bit indifferent about it," Ivlow said. "It's still too early to tell what the impact will be and like a lot of coaches I'm watching it all pretty closely."

Ivlow has two seniors expected to eventually sign FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) scholarships: DT Dashaun Mallory and WR I'Shawn Stewart. He also has a half-dozen other seniors who will play at the FCS/D-2/NAIA level. He expects to see some potentially serious fallout after the early signing period ends on Dec. 23.

"I know of several FBS schools who are taking the approach that if a kid is not going to sign in December, then they aren't really committed and they will pull that scholarship offer," according to Ivlow. "I think the large majority of kids who are now verbally committed will sign in December just because they don't want to lose out. If kids who are now committed don't sign, they are taking a big risk. Waiting could hurt."

Ivlow's concerns are more with kids who are fringe FBS-level recruits who could turn down scholarship monies from FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) or D-2 level schools in search of spots that could open up after the December signing period at the FBS level.

"Some kids and parents think that the bigger schools will have a lot of spots open up. But I just don't see a lot of kids not signing at the FBS level. I would be surprised to see several kids not sign early and those kids who waited for that spot to open up could end up being hurt. In some cases that's a very expensive gamble and those kids and parents would leave a lot of scholarship money on the table."

One thing seems to be certain starting on Dec. 20: expect the recruiting clock to, once again, be pushed ahead to an even earlier start. 

"I can see the FBS schools using the January recruiting period to focus strictly on the 2019 class even harder than ever."

So will January become the new May? 

Stay tuned. 

Which Chicagoland HS football teams are the ones to watch in 2018?

Which Chicagoland HS football teams are the ones to watch in 2018?

There are a mere 269 days left until IHSA Football Kickoff 2018. Why not look ahead to August? Here are some teams to watch as preseason favorites next season.

Loyola Academy: The Ramblers always seem to find a way to reload. They have advanced to the Class 8A state title game in five of the past seven seasons. Loyola brings back seven underclassmen starters from the 2017 state runner-up team including junior WR Noah Jones and junior OLB Armoni Dixon. Both Jones and Dixon are already drawing early scholarship offers and recruiting interest.

Lincoln-Way East: This year's Class 8A state champions will return just five starters going into next season; that said, very few schools can claim to have as deep of a roster than the Griffins. Sophomore WR AJ Henning already has offers from Illinois, Minnesota and Northwestern and is back along with three starting offensive linemen.

Nazareth Academy: The Roadrunners will bring back 12 starters (six offense, six defense). Those numbers include several top-level 2019 recruits including RB/DB Devin Blakely, WR/DB Michael Love, WR/S Diamond Evans, DB Jermaine Baker and DE/LB Cameron Leach. And the cupboard is more than stocked for just this year. The 2020 Roadrunner class looks to be quite promising. 

Phillips: The Wildcats have a terrific chance at making another deep run in 2018. Phillips features several key juniors including TE Jahleel Billingsley, WR/DB Fabian McCray and WR/DB Joseph Thompson. The sophomore class is equally loaded. It is headlined by DB Ronald Pledger, who already has an early offer from Illinois. 

Other notables: Homewood-Flossmoor, Maine South, Glenbard West, Bolingbrook. Richards, Batavia and Naperville Central.

High School Lites quarterfinal football capsules and picks


High School Lites quarterfinal football capsules and picks

NBC Sports Chicago will have cameras covering the biggest high school football games across Chicagoland on the IHSA playoffs' quarterfinal edition of High School Lites, Saturday at 11:00 p.m. Can we expect a shootout when Naperville Central travels to Maine South?  Can Loyola win on the South Side when they take on Marist? Can Lake Zurich win on the road at St. Rita? Also, can Lemont take down 5A top seed Phillips at Gately Stadium?

All games Saturday. Rankings shown reflect class seeds.

Class 8A

#13 Naperville Central (9-2) at #5 Maine South (10-1), 1:00 p.m. 

EDGY's Take: Naperville Central was able to hold off H-F last Friday 31-28 as the Redhawks stopped the Vikings in the red zone with under a minute to play. Central has plenty to offer including junior QB Payton Thorne, senior RB AJ Deinhart and senior WR Jayden Reed (Western Michigan).  Maine South and head coach Dave Inserra canmatch score-for-score. Their offense features senior RB Fotis Kokosioulis (NIU), senior QB John O'Sullivan and a deep group of receivers led by senior WR/S Cam Stacy.  Can either team's defense slow down and contain each other's offense on Saturday? I fully except a tight, back and forth game here. 

EDGY's Pick: Maine South 41 Naperville Central 35

#6 Loyola (10-1) at #3 Marist (11-0), 7:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Loyola just seems to be getting stronger and better as the season progresses. The Ramblers features senior QB Quinn Boyle. He, along with the always-tough Loyola defensive unit represent the biggest threats. First year head coach Ron Dawczak of Marist has a ton of talent on both sides of the football. Junior QB Mike Markett has several weapons, including RB Delonte Harrell, TE TJ Ivy (Indiana) and a deep group of receivers. The Redhawks defense also has talent with the likes of DE Gavin McCabe (Indiana) and DT Elijah Teague (Minnesota). Can Marist go toe-to-toe with the CCL Blue's finest? The battle in the trenches alone will be well worth the price of admission. 

EDGY's Pick: Marist 27 Loyola 21

Class 7A

#17 Benet  (8-3) at #9 Lincoln-Way Central (10-1), 1:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Benet Academy, under head coach Pat New, has relied on a tough defense all season long. The Redwings have also needed to reload on offense because of various injuries, but they're hitting their stride in the postseason. Keep an eye on senior LB Devin Petersen, junior RB Ben Hickey and sophomore QB Colin Gillespie. Lincoln-Way Central is back in the quarterfinals for the first time since 2000. Head coach Jeremy Cordell will rely on a senior-heavy squad, paced by a strong running game which features FB Mike Morgan and RB Matt Pollack. Senior SS Peyton Nigro is a leader on the defensive side of the ball. Can Lincoln-Way Central run the football consistently against the Benet defense? Can the Redwings offense keep the Knights defense off balance? 

EDGY's Pick: Lincoln Way Central 21 Benet Academy 20

#4 Batavia (10-1) at #12 Lincoln-Way West (9-2), 1:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Batavia and head coach Dennis Piron have won two straight nail biters to make the 7A quarterfinal round. The Bulldogs defense has been the team's strength all season. Keep an eye on senior SS Michael Niemiec, junior D-1 level LB Michael Jansey and LB Luke Weerts. The Batavia offense has also been solid, led by QB Riley Cooper (1,718 yards 21 touchdowns). Lincoln-Way West plays hard-nosed, no-nonsense football under head coach Dave Ernst. The Warriors are led by a strong running game with sophomore RB Caleb Marconi. Their speedy defense is led by senior S Matt Murphy and senior OLB Jake Price. Can West run the football against the Batavia defense?

EDGY's Pick: Batavia 21 Lincoln-Way West 13

#3 Lake Zurich (11-0) at #11 St. Rita (9-2), 5:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Lake Zurich and first year head coach Luke Mertens (who once coached at St. Rita) will travel to the South Side on Saturday. The Bears will bring a balanced offense, led by QB Evan Lewandowski and RB/LB Joey Stutzman along. The are quick and tough-as-nails on defense. Linebacker Jack Sanborn (Wisconsin) leads the unit. St. Rita and had coach Todd Kuska has played lineup roulette all season long because of injuries; however, they keep finding ways to win. The Mustangs will run the football with RB Chris Childers (Indiana State) and a big, very physical offensive line. On defense, the Mustangs plays very fast and physical. Can St. Rita run the football consistently against the Lake Zurich defense?

EDGY's Pick: Lake Zurich 24 St. Rita 17

Class 6A

#4 Willowbrook (10-1) at #1 Prairie Ridge (11-0), Nov. 11, 1:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Willowbrook is making its second straight quarterfinal appearance. They remain the lone West Suburban Conference team in the state playoff field. Coach Nick Hildreth's Warriors will have dominant senior RB/LB Jack Jessen (Northwestern wrestling) in their arsenal. Their defense held a very strong DeKalb running game to just 87 yards in a 29-10 win last week. Prairie Ridge got a last minute, come from behind, miraculous game winning touchdown to beat rival Cary-Grove 17-13. Samson Evans, who scored the game-winning 66-yard TD last week, leads the punishing option attack, They also feature OL/DL Jeff Jenkins (Iowa) and a very quick defense led by LB Joe Perhats and LB Jacob Ommen. Can Willowbrook find the football and contain Samson Evans? Can Prairie Ridge contain Jack Jessen?

EDGY's Pick: Prairie Ridge 24 Willowbrook 14

#7 Hoffman Estates (9-2) at #14 Belvidere North (7-4), 4:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: The Hoffman Estates Hawks, with head coach Tim Heyse, are soaring so far in the postseason. They will rely on their passing game, behind QB Austin Coalson and a deep group of receivers including WR/LB Jaylan Alexander, senior WR Jayvon Blissett and senior WR/DB Trevon Hall. Belvidere North and head coach Jeff Beck will want to run the football-- it will be their first, second and third option. Keep an eye on QB Callahan Diericks and FB Cruz Garza. Can Hoffman Estates get the football back from the Belvidere North offense? Can the Blue Thunder defense match up against the speedy and athletic Hawks' offensive skills department?

EDGY's Pick: Hoffman Estates 27 Belvidere North 20

#13 Providence Catholic (7-4) at #8 St. Laurence (8-3), 2:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Providence Catholic had little issue beating Normal West last week 33-7. The running game, led by RB De'Shon Gavin, QB Caden Kalinowski and a big offensive line took control in the win. St. Laurence, once again, got a huge playoff performance from RB Tori Clinton. The Vikings defense limited a strong Hinsdale South passing attack en route to a 32-16 win. Can the Providence defense limit Tori Clinton's explosive plays? Can the Celtics depth (especially on the offensive and defensive line) be a difference maker on Saturday?

EDGY's Pick: Providence Catholic 28 St. Laurence 21

Class 5A

#1 Phillips (11-0) vs. #4 Lemont (10-1) at Chicago's Gately Stadium, 1:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Phillips, featuring head coach Troy McAllister, rolled over Solorio 55-14 as RB/LB Craig Elmore continues to make a serious case as Chicagoland Player of the Year.  The Wildcats have a roster loaded with college level talent including QB J'Bore Gibbs (South Dakota State), DL Queneil Morrison (NIU) and DE Terrance Taylor (Toledo). They also have an underclassmen group that features another five or six D-1 level prospects. Lemont and head coach Bret Kooi will rely on a balanced offense led by QB Marcus Mathias, RB Anthony Martin and WR Austin Nagel. They also have a defense that has been a strength all season. Can Lemont win time of possession against the Wildcats defense? Can Phillips consistently move the football against the Indians defense? 

EDGY's Pick: Phillips 28 Lemont 17

Class 4A

#2 Raby (10-1) vs. #3 Dixon (10-1) at Chicago's Hanson Stadium, 6:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Raby and head coach Deangelo Dereef trailed Richmond-Burton 18-14 at the half last week before QB Tyler Turnipseed and the Raiders offense kicked things into high gear. They ran away in the second half, rolling to a 38-18 win. Dixon will look to hit the road this week and play Raby on the artificial surface at Hanson Stadium. The Dukes feature RB Arthur Cox and good overall team speed. Can Dixon play well in the big city on Saturday? 

EDGY's Pick: Raby 35 Dixon 29

Class 3A

#8 Wilmington (10-1) at #5 IC Catholic (10-1), 5:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Wilmington and veteran head coach Jeff Reents will rely heavily on the power-running option offense led by QB Conner Dempsay along with RB Matteo Lombardi. Immaculate Conception and head coach Bill Kreft will look towards his big-play offense with QB CJ West and RB Lazerick Eatman. The Knights also feature two talented twins in junior WR/LB Khali and WR/DB Khalil Saunders, both of whom are drawing recruiting looks this fall. Can Wilmington play ball control and run the football against the IC defense? Can the Wildcats defense slow down the Knights multiple weapon offense?

EDGY's Pick: Immaculate Conception 34 Wilmington 20