The class of 2014 may not measure up to 1985, the gold standard of recruiting classes ever produced in the Chicago area. And it might not even compare to the class of 2013. But this year's sophomores show plenty of promise -- and they have two years to get even better.
By then, everybody -- analysts, college recruiters, media, fans -- should be able to correctly spell the first name of Parrker Westphal, Bolingbrook's outstanding cornerback. That's right, P-A-R-R-K-E-R.
"Everybody drops one of the r's, even our school's registrar," Bolingbrook coach John Ivlow said. "Nobody believes his name is spelled with two r's. We sent our roster to the Illinois High School Association for the official program in the state finals and they changed it, too."
Westphal made a name for himself -- no matter how you choose to spell it -- in Bolingbrook's victory over unbeaten and top-ranked Loyola in the Class 8A final, constantly harassing Loyola's wide receivers, and Ivlow predicts he will be a genuine Division I recruit as a senior.
But tackle Shane Evans of newly crowned Class 6A champion Prairie Ridge and wide receiver Nic Weishar of Marist already had established their reputations. They are popular choices as the 1-2 players in the class of 2014. But the list is long and distinguished.
Evans, a 6-4, 255-pound offensive tackle, was a full-time starter as a freshman and started all 14 games for Prairie Ridge's state championship team last fall.
"We always run to his side," coach Chris Schremp said. "He is a great run blocker. He can move people. As a senior, he could be the best lineman ever to come out of the Fox Valley."
Weishar, a 6-5, 205-pounder, caught 77 passes for 1,160 yards and 13 touchdowns last fall. He has been offered by Illinois and Northwestern and Notre Dame has expressed interest.
Others who already are attracting interest from Division I colleges are Glenbard North running backdefensive back Justin Jackson, Joliet Catholic tackle J.B. Butler, Kaneland quarterback Drew David, Bishop McNamara linebacker Robbie Odeneal, Naperville Central quarterback Zach Kolbe, Hinsdale Central wide receiver Ian Bunting, St. Rita defensive end Eddie Randle and Stevenson safety Matt Morrissey.
David, a 5-11, 165-pounder, could emerge as the most prolific passer in state history if he stays healthy for the next two years. As a sophomore, he passed for 3,306 yards and 39 touchdowns for a 12-1 state semifinalist. He also was academic all-state.
Rich Zinanni, Bishop McNamara's veteran coach who recorded his 300th career victory in 2011, said linebacker Robbie Odeneal is "one of the best players I have coached in 37 years," comparing him to former McNamara stars Tyjuan Hagler, Thomas Guynes and Kurt Belisle.
Two sophomores who missed the top 20 list but definitely are on the short list of the leading prospects in the class are linebacker Clifton Garrett of Plainfield South and offensive lineman Logan Plantz of Providence.
Top 20 (Class of 2014)
1. Shane Evans, Prairie Ridge, OT
2. Nic Weishar, Marist, WR
3. Justin Jackson, Glenbard North, RBDB
4. J.B. Butler, Joliet Catholic, OT
5. Drew David, Kaneland, QB
6. Robbie Odeneal, Bishop McNamara, LB 7. Jake Kolbe, Naperville Central, QB 8. Ian Bunting, Hinsdale Central, WR 9. Eddie Randle, St. Rita, DE 10. Matt Morrissey, Stevenson, DB 11. Corey Davis, Wheaton Warrenville South, WR 12. Jake VandeMerkt, Riverside-Brookfield, QB 13. Nyles Morgan, Crete-Monee, LB 14. Desean Brown, Naperville North, RB 15. Ryan Graham, Wheaton Warrenville South, QB 16. Mikael Wilbon, De La Salle, RB 17. Parrker Westphal, Bolingbrook, DB 18. Jesse Balluff, Kaneland, RB 19. Tommy Mister, Richards, QB 20. Anthony Thielk, Batavia, RB