Joliet Catholic's Ty Isaac is in an enviable position that few high school athletes ever have the privilege to experience. As the top-rated running back in the nation in the class of 2013, he is being recruited by arguably the three most storied college football programs of all time.Notre Dame, Michigan and Southern California.That's like walking into an automobile dealership and trying to choose between a Ferrari, Bentley or Rolls-Royce.Isaac isn't in a hurry to make a decision."I have no timetable," he said. "I will wait until it feels right. It could be tomorrow or Feb. 2 when I get a gut feeling, when the light bulb goes on. I haven't narrowed my list. Sometimes circumstances change. I don't want to rule out anyone. It's still early. It's April. I have until February."When he visited Notre Dame, he was struck by "all the stuff, the great intangibles, campus, nothing off the charts positive or negative. You go into the football building and see all the Heismans, national championship trophies, pictures of past All-Americans, Rockne, Leahy, Parseghian. It's a good place, a little different from anywhere else because it's Notre Dame."At Michigan, he was overwhelmed by the size of the football stadium and "the type of people, good people, big tradition." He has been to Michigan Stadium three or four times. "It's as big as they say, bigger than anyplace else. When you get in there, you know why they call it the Big House," he said.USC wasn't what he expected. "I expected maybe more white collar than blue collar but I got the opposite. I got a lot of high-profile guys, Los Angeles, a lot of Heismans and national championship trophies and retired jerseys. I said: 'I wish you guys could retire my jersey. Who has my number on the team? Will they be here when I get here?' But my number, 32, already is retired at USC. O.J. Simpson wore it," he said.Isaac also has visited Illinois, Ohio State, Iowa and Auburn. He said he probably will choose one of the seven. But he won't make any promises."I took unofficial visits in March, when it worked out for my parents," he said. "Now my visits are out of the way. Nothing else is planned now. To be honest, I don't know if I will visit any more schools. Some have asked me to visit. But if I don't have any interest, I don't want to waste either side's time. If the schools I have visited, I'd be perfectly fine to go to either one of them."However, he is sure of one thing at the moment. "I'm not a fan of the recruiting process at all. When I started, like everybody, I was excited. After you get the first couple of offers, you know you will have an opportunity to play at the next level. But now it gets overwhelming. It feels like it never stops," he said.So while many prospects were making unofficial visits during their recent spring breaks, Isaac stayed home. At last count, he has 23 scholarship offers. He can expect more. But he doesn't plan to make any more visits. He has no dream school. Unless he is really interested in a school, he said, he'd rather be at home."I want to make an educated decision," he said. "If I decide now, it would be a good choice. I want to be sure it is absolutely right. I feel I asked the right questions and got the answers I wanted. Sometimes people just tell you want you want to hear. Maybe it works for some. But I want to hear the truth. In general, I'm not a fan of the whole process."Isaac, rated as the No. 8 player in the nation by Chicago-based recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS Sports Network, is more interested in preparing for his senior season. He is working out a lot. He dropped baseball to concentrate on football. The 6-foot-3, 225-pounder is putting on more muscle while retaining his 4.5 speed."This year is the most focused I have been for a season," he said. "I never felt like this about something going into it. I'm sitting where I want to be. I'm happy where I am. I just want to be stronger for the season. I'm not worried about getting beat up. I'm trying to take steps to get ready for the next level."His goals for 2012? Joliet Catholic's 70-45 loss to Montini in last year's Class 5A championship still leaves a sour taste in his mouth, despite the fact that he set a playoff record by rushing for 515 yards and six touchdowns. Afterward, Isaac said his sensational performance was "irrelevant" in the wake of the defeat."How disappointing was the finish? It sucked," he said. "Good things came from the game but not what I wanted. Everyone wanted to have something to show for that game rather than a second-place medal. But I feel great as a team and as an individual about the upcoming season."Isaac wants to do better than last year. Better than rushing 178 times for 2,114 yards, averaging 11.9 yards per carry and scoring 45 touchdowns? Better than that? Without 1,000-yards-plus rusher Malin Jones, who is now at Northwestern, in the same backfield? With a huge target on his back?"Ever since I was a freshman, my goal has been to be more productive than the year before," he said. "I will see how much better I got during the off-season. I know I will be a marked man. But that's the way I want it. I am confident with the guys I have in front of me."I have no problem being a prime target because I know others will make plays. I feel I have more of an edge, being able to use my vision and see things before they happen. There won't be a dropoff in carries. I will get the ball as much as last year. I handled it well. Nothing bothered me. I will be prepared for whatever for whatever I have to do."
On this edition of the Bulls Talk Podcast, Mark Schanowski and Kendall Gill discuss the NBA Draft and what happened at the NBA combine that shifted most experts mock drafts.
Kendall also explains why a "promise" to draft a player isn’t guaranteed. He also shares his experience on getting drafted by the Hornets and why he initially felt they were the wrong team for him.
North Carolina "News and Observer" Duke basketball beat writer Jonathan Alexander gives us his opinion on Wendell Carter and the other Duke draft prospects including why he thinks Carter will be a future all-star. Also includes an interview with Carter from the draft combine.
Listen to the full Bulls Talk Podcast right here:
Call it a small Bears reality check, if not a full wake-up call, then at least a nudge in the night. And this sort of thing should be expected, not just in OTAs, not just in training camp or preseason, but when it all counts.
And it should serve as a lesson of sorts. Because some of the underlying reasons are worth a little highlighting and patient understanding around a team that has spent its offseason and millions of dollars refashioning an offense, beginning with coach Matt Nagy and coordinator Mark Helfrich, and that offense wasn’t particularly good on Wednesday.
In a sport where the operative cliché is “just get better each and every day,” the Bears didn’t, but as far as their coach is concerned, “there’s two ways to look at it,” Nagy said. “Whether you say on our side, on offense, trying to see a bunch of different looks a defense can give you, is it too much or not? It’s good for us. It’ll help us out in the long run. It’s good for our players and they’ve handled it well. There’s going to be mistakes but they have it on tape to be able to look at. “
This is about more than just a few bad reps or missed assignments. It’s part of the good-news-bad-news reality that a sea change brings to a team.
The good news is that the Bears have a new coaching staff on offense.
The bad news is that the Bears have a new coaching staff on offense.
The Bears defense is predictably ahead of the offense, hardly a surprise, given that most of the core of the top-10 unit has remained in place. That said, you do have to like the attitude of the barely-above-rookie No. 1 quarterback challenging that assessment Wednesday, with a “Who says that?”
This while the offense has myriad moving and new parts, and interceptions, blown plays and such were occurring for an offense that, like Halas Hall, is a massive building work in progress.
“Well, today was a bad ‘build,’ but that’s to be expected,” Helfrich acknowledged. “We’re adding a chunk each day, I thought today was the first day where we had somebody do something that just like, ‘wait, OK’ – a few positions here and there, a few new guys, obviously a few veterans here and there that it’s all new to, hit the wall.”
It’s a “wall” that arguably is inevitable with a coaching change.
Not to make excuses, but….
For a sense of perspective, scroll back to Jay Cutler, who went through offensive coordinators perhaps faster than he went through socks: a year with Ron Turner, two with Mike Martz, one with Mike Tice, two with Aaron Kromer, one with Adam Gase, one with Dowell Loggains, who at least was a holdover from the Gase year. (Whether Cutler’s failure to match potential with production was the cause of or because of that turnover, this humble and faithful narrator leaves to you, the reader).
More than a few current Bears can only dream of that kind of “stability.” And because of that, the 2018 pre- and regular seasons may be bumpier than the optimism surrounding the Nagy hire was anticipating.
Guard Kyle Long, still not practicing full-go while he rehabs from surgeries, is on his fifth offensive-line coach in six NFL seasons. Center Cody Whitehair, who has started every game since the Bears drafted him in the 2016 second round, has had three different line coaches in as many seasons: Dave Magazu for 2016, Jeremiah Washburn for 2017 and now Harry Hiestand. Left tackle Charles Leno was drafted in 2014, making Hiestand Leno’s fourth O-line coach.
And this is the offensive line, the unit that most engenders use of the term “continuity.”
“Each coach brings in a little bit, different techniques,” Whitehair said. “There’s a lot of time for us to hone in and get to know what he’s trying to teach us. But in the end it’s still football.”
Kevin White is entering his fourth NFL season. He is on his fourth receivers coach (Mike Groh, Curtis Johnson, Zach Azzanni, Mike Furrey) and third different season-starting quarterback (Jay Cutler, Mike Glennon, Mitch Trubisky), not including offseason battery mates ranging from Jimmy Clausen, Brian Hoyer, David Fales and Connor Shaw, depending on how much rep time he spent with which unit at various times during his training camps.
“It doesn’t matter,” White said. “Roll with the punches, come here and do my job every day.”
Regardless of how many bosses you’ve reported to.