Bulls

Lemming hopes to carry his weight

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Lemming hopes to carry his weight

If you've ever been on a diet, you know how frustrating it is to step on a scale in the morning and see that you haven't lost an ounce.

But Jake Lemming is frustrated because he can't gain an ounce. He eats all day long...protein shakes, steak, chicken, ham, turkey, eggs. You name it, he eats it. But Lemont's 5-foot-9, 160-pound junior defensive back can't gain any weight.

Why is it so frustrating? Because Lemming knows--and Lemont coach Eric Michaelsen, college coaches and recruiting analysts tell him--that if he can boost his weight to 175 without losing any of his 4.49 speed, he can realize his dream of being a Division I football player.

"It motivates me to get bigger and better," he said. "I'll eat anything to help me gain weight. I eat all day. I eat after 6 at night so I'll gain weight. But I'm stuck at 160. I can't get past it. I work really hard to perfect my game but nothing is coming out of it, no scholarship offers. My goal is to weight 170 to 175 before the season begins."

Lemming, who went from 140 pounds to 160 in five months after his junior season, is doing everything he can to gain 10 to 15 more pounds. He consumes a protein shake, oat meal and eggs in the morning, two big turkey, ham and salami sandwiches for lunch and steak or chicken for dinner.

He consumes protein shakes designed for gaining weight--milk, ice cream, strawberries, bananas, Whey protein. "I weigh myself every morning. But it's usually the same every day. I can't make a big jump. When I wake up, I think about eating more and more, at school and at home, any food that will help me to gain weight," he said.

And it wouldn't help if he changed his name. No, the fact that recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS Sports Network is his uncle has no bearing on whether he makes it or not.

His father Terry is a celebrity of sorts, too. As commander of the North Region of the Illinois State Police, he was vice-chairman of transportation for world dignitaries who attended the NATO Summit in Chicago and in charge of 700 state policemen who were assigned to provide protection at the two-day event.

"Sometimes I wish my name was different so I can make a name for myself," Jake said. "I want to show I did it myself so nobody thinks I'm getting a break from my uncle."

Tom Lemming feels the same way. Last year, Jake was the most productive defensive back in the state, intercepting nine passes for 12-1 team that lost to Peoria Richwoods 34-31 in double overtime in the semifinals of the Class 6A playoff. He is ranked among the top 30 players in the class of 2013 in the Chicago area.

"It has been difficult to talk about him because people think because he is my nephew I'm just trying to build him up to be something he isn't," Tom Lemming said. "I told him I didn't want to talk about him or invite him to photo shoots until he earned it. But he had a better season than any defensive back in the state. He earned it.

"What he does is he outworks everyone. He has great football instincts. He is exceptionally quick to the ball. And he is confident. He understands leverage. He is a sure tackler. Realistically, he has Division I skills but he doesn't yet have Division I weight. If he can get up to 175, he will be a Division I player.

"But he has no offers. He must gain weight and strength. He must gain 15 more pounds. He played against some top wide receivers in the junior combine at Phoenix last January and did very well. If his name wasn't Lemming, I wouldn't have a problem. He is one of those kids you cheer for because he works so hard at improving his game."

Jake has been invited to attend several junior days...at Illinois, Indiana, Boston College, Tulsa and Northern Illinois. All are interested but waiting to see if he will tip the scales at 170 or more. To get more exposure, he will return kicks and punts next season, adding another dimension to his game.

"I tell college coaches that size shouldn't be a big factor in deciding how good a football player really is," he said. "It's all about heart and how bad you want it. When you're my size, nobody watches you. You have to work hard to get better every day and hope that someone will take a chance on you."

Tom Lemming often talks about two pint-sized football players who made it big in the NFL, Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders and wide receiver Don Beebe, but Jake prefers to single out two under-sized defensive backs who have made big reputations for themselves.

LSU's Tyrann Mathieu, a 5-foot-10, 175-pounder, was a Heisman Trophy finalist as a sophomore. Jim Leonhard, a 5-foot-8, 188-pounder was a walk-on at Wisconsin, became a two-time All-Big Ten selection, led the nation in interceptions and currently is a free agent in the NFL after playing with the Bills, Ravens and Jets.

"It proves it can be done," Jake said. "I'm motivated to make it."

He knows he could be in demand. He also is open to an appointment to Army, Navy or Air Force. Some schools project him as a safety, others as a cornerback. His uncle has often told him that cornerback is the toughest position to recruit on defense.

"I like both positions," Jake said. "You hit more and tackle more at safety. But as a cornerback, there is no better feeling than locking down a receiver and taking him out of the game. I feel like I should be able to do it. Someone should take a shot at me.

"I'll play anywhere for anybody. I prefer Division I. That's my goal. I set standards high for myself."

Players vote Thaddeus Young, Otto Porter Jr. as Bulls captains

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USA Today

Players vote Thaddeus Young, Otto Porter Jr. as Bulls captains

CHARLOTTE, N.C. --- The tribe has spoken. In a players' only vote administered by coach Jim Boylen, Thaddeus Young and Otto Porter Jr. will be captains for the Bulls.

"They’ve demonstrated an ability to put the team above themselves and the ability to communicate with their teammates in a positive way," Boylen said. "I haven’t felt they’re worried about getting liked. They’re worried about getting it right. Something we talk about here is leadership over likership. And I think they have a great feel of that."

Young, a 12-year veteran, long has commanded respect as the consummate teammate. Porter arrived from the Wizards last season and is in his seventh season.

"It means a lot," Porter said. "Just everything I’m doing is for the team, on and off the court. I gotta represent the team right. Make sure our guys are knowing they’re leaded in the right direction. I take that seriously."

Zach LaVine has voiced desire to assume more leadership and perhaps other players, particularly relatively new ones, earning the captain title over him will be instructional and motivational. In the meantime, look for LaVine to land on Boylen's leadership committee, which he established last season. The practice, which is used more in football than basketball, raised some eyebrows around the league for its unconventional usage.

"The leadership group has not disintegrated. It’ll be structured with the help of the captains. I felt the captains was the first step to that. Captains are very important to me in my career," Boylen said. "I’ve always thought it’s big to the leadership of your team. I’m thrilled with the two players that the team voted on having as our captains. We wanted training camp to go by. We wanted everybody to get a chance to be together and see how people operate. And so we voted on it."

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It's playoff week for several 4-4 teams

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NBC Sports Chicago

It's playoff week for several 4-4 teams

While the official start of the 2019 IHSA State Football Playoffs won't be announced until Saturday night, teams that are holding 4-4 records heading into Week 9 are already in state playoff mode.

Several familiar names are in search of big Week 9 wins just to get into the playoff field. 

Marist (4-4) has been a Class 8A regular yet the Redhawks and head coach Ron Dawczak will need to beat Loyola Academy (6-2) on Saturday in Wilmette just to find a place in the playoffs this year. So how difficult has the Redhawks road been so far in 2019? Marist four losses (Notre Dame/Brother Rice/Mount Carmel and Nazareth Academy) have a combined 28-4 record and beating Loyola on Saturday in Wilmette should count for more like two wins.

Naperville Central (4-4) entered the 2019 season ranked by everyone, yet after a 0-3 start the Redhawks have been able to settle down and win four of its last five games to get into position to land its fifth win Friday night in Naperville. The Redhawks can undoubtedly make a case for having one of the state toughest schedule. Its four losses (Hinsdale Central, Lincoln-Way East, Pickerington Central OH and Neuqua Valley) are a combined 29-3. So who's the Redhawks Week 9 cupcake? None other than the state's top ranked team in East St. Louis (8-0). And much like Marist a win over the Flyers this Friday should count for much more than one win. 

New Trier (4-4) and head coach Brian Doll has made the IHSA state playoff field for the past 16 seasons and 23 out of the last 24 years, yet the Trevians need to beat longtime rival Maine South (6-2) at home tomorrow night to keep it's state playoff streak alive. 

The DuKane Conference has been full of surprises in 2019 and both St. Charles North (4-4) and Wheaton North (4-4) are looking to seek wins on Friday to remain alive. St. Charles North was also highly ranked to begin the season but has dropped three straight games and will need to beat Wheaton South (5-3) at Red Grange Field to advance.  Wheaton North has won two straight games including a big 24-19 win last Friday over St. Charles East (6-2), but now a Friday night showdown against Batavia (6-2) in Batavia looms for the Falcons. 

The North Suburban conference has a ‘Win To Get In Bowl’ Friday night as Stevenson (4-4) travels to Lake Forest (4-4). Libertyville (4-4) needs a wn on Friday night against Zion-Benton (3-5) and the Wildcats will be keeping a close eye on the playoff pairings show since they are low (30) on playoff points. 

The Southwest Prairie East is, well, a mess. Plainfield South (4-4/3-1) and Plainfield East (4-4/3-1) are seeking a win to get in, yet even with wins both Plainfield schools could lose the conference title and automatic bid to Joliet West (3-5/3-1). Joliet West and head coach Bill Lech holds a tie breaker if all three teams win on Friday night and that looks more and more a possibility. Plainfield South will host Romeoville (1-7), Plainfield East travels to Joliet Central (1-7) and Joliet West will travel to Plainfield Central (1-7). 

Both East Aurora  (4-4) and Elgin (4-4) square off on Friday at Elgin's Memorial Stadium for a chance at getting into the state playoff field...and just let that statement sink in. East Aurora. Elgin. State Football Playoffs. Needless to say not too many outside of those programs expected to be playing a meaningful in Week 9 especially with so much on the line. A win for East Aurora would be the Tomcats first state playoff bid since 1982 and for Elgin it would be the Maroons second state playoff appearance since 2001.

Looking for more drama? The West Suburban Silver conference will feature Lyons Township (4-4) and first year head coach Dan Hartman in search of its fifth win on Friday night. All the Lions and Dan Hartman has to do is travel to Hinsdale Central (7-1) and beat Hartman's former team from  a season ago in Hinsdale. Also Oak Park-River Forest (4-4) has a tall task looking to get an upset win over Glenbard West (8-0) in Oak Park on Friday night. 

While several of these on the bubble teams have some tall task this week, never say never especially when teams are playing for their playoff lives and if the 2019 season has taught us anything, it's that anything can happen on any given Friday night/Saturday in IHSA football.