White Sox

Marshall creating more than just separation or catches

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Marshall creating more than just separation or catches

Brandon Marshall is doing things hes never done before, and the effect is bringing an almost palpable change in the chemistry within the Bears wide-receiver group. (Put another way, Roy Williams is gone, in more ways than one.)

Indeed, the first thing you notice isnt Marshall catching passes in drills or 7-on-7s or team sessions. Its what he was doing in warmups.

Marshall is treating the casual throw-and-catch prelim of organized team activity sessions with the same kind of spirit that is typically reserved for those drills when theyre run before a game.

Without degenerating into wanton rah-rah, Marshall is giving a high-five or back slap to each teammate coming in after making his catch. He runs even his warmup routes like they matter.

If hes seeming like a teacher or role model, its because he is, and thats exactly how he sees himself.

I guess its in me, in a way, Marshall said. It took seven years to harness it and put it in a positive direction, and Im excited about it.

This is the first year that Ive actually felt pressure as far as, Ive got to work because theres some young guys and Im getting older, but also, Im recognizing how important it is to bring those guys along. This is a first for me, but Im embracing the opportunity.

The contrast is nothing less than stark between this situation and last years with Williams, signed post-lockout to reprise the kind of season he had once under Mike Martz in Detroit, being anything but a role model for the Bears group of young wideouts.

Williams reported admittedly out of football shape, compromising his effectiveness with unfamiliar quarterbacks who were throwing to a receiver who was sub-standard out of breaks and achieving separation.

His suspect effort grated on some in his group, particularly when he was installed over Johnny Knox as one of the starting wideouts.

That is gone now. Instead of a receiver who fell well short of greatness, the Bears this year have brought in one who is at a point in his career when that has to be the absolute goal.

We strive for greatness, Marshall said. Even in warm-ups and in route running, we get upset when we drop balls or miss throws or call the wrong plays. We know what we expect out of each other, and we know what we expect of guys around us. So were excited.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Chuck Garfien on Yasmani Grandal signing with the White Sox

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Chuck Garfien on Yasmani Grandal signing with the White Sox

SportsTalk Live is at the United Center for Blackhawks Authentic Fan Night. David Haugh, Charlie Roumeliotis and Scott King join Kap on the panel.

0:00 - The Blackhawks look to get back in the win column with the Lightning in town.

5:00 - Chuck Garfien joins Kap to talk about Yasmani Grandal signing with the White Sox. How much will this help the Sox sign more free agents? Plus the panel discusses how much this improves Willson Contreras' trade value as the Cubs reportedly shop him.

17:00 - Chase Daniel said Mitch Trubisky looked great in practice. Will that translate to the game on Sunday?

Listen here or in the embedded player below.

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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Morgan Park's Adam Miller another program-changing recruit for Illinois

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ADAM MILLER

Morgan Park's Adam Miller another program-changing recruit for Illinois

Illinois and head coach Brad Underwood landed their most important recruiting target for the second time in three seasons on Thursday night.

Morgan Park senior guard Adam Miller became the latest Mustang guard to commit to the Illini and Underwood when the preseason co-favorite for Player of the Year announced his decision during a public press conference at the Jordan Brand store on State Street.

A consensus top-40 national prospect in the Class of 2020, Miller's commitment to Illinois gives the program another highly-regarded in-state prospect. Just two years earlier, at the very same Jordan store and under very similar circumstances, Morgan Park guard Ayo Dosunmu announced his college decision to go to Illinois -- a commitment that changed local recruiting momentum at Illinois during Underwood's first full season.  

Although Miller's commitment shares similarities to Dosunmu's, Miller's pledge is also slightly different from his former high school teammate. Any program can win one major recruiting war over the big boys. By doing it twice in three years, it's a major signal that Underwood and Illinois are a force to be reckoned with when it comes to local recruiting. Landing Miller's commitment in a hotly-contested race over his other finalists of Arizona and Louisville, Miller's announcement on Thursday signifies that Illinois and Underwood are ready annually to compete with national powerhouse programs when it comes to keeping local talent at home.

While former Illinois coaches like Bruce Weber and John Groce failed to consistently keep, and develop, top in-state talents late in their tenures, Miller's commitment is a significant indication that Underwood and his staff are making positive recruiting inroads at home that could continue to last.

The term "pipeline" has become cliche in the recruiting world. But it certainly can't hurt Illinois to be continually involved with Morgan Park's best players. The Mustangs continue to churn out Division I prospects every single season. And Morgan Park has another high-major junior -- guard Brandon Weston -- waiting in the wings that Illinois is already recruiting. 

Illinois will certainly need to spread its recruiting efforts more throughout the Chicagoland area to maintain recruiting stability of top in-state talents. Grabbing a top-50 player in two out of three classes -- particularly in a basketball-crazy hotbed like Chicago -- is significant.

During his junior season, Miller took the city by storm as he was the state's most dominant scorer. The lefty averaged 28.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game -- putting up multiple 40-point games and looking virtually unstoppable during certain stretches of play. Even as opposing defenses threw exotic zones and double-teams his way, it didn't do much to slow Miller down. 

Miller already faced a tough set of local expectations entering the 2019-20 season. Morgan Park returns a loaded, nationally-ranked team. There's a baseline expectation for Miller to replicate his stellar junior season. Those local expectations now become enormous since Miller is staying home and going to Illinois. 

Now that Miller's commitment is under his belt, he can focus on pushing Morgan Park to a potential city and state title as the preseason's No. 1 team in the area. Illinois can focus its recruiting efforts on getting additional reinforcements for Miller and his fellow 2020 recruits. And by the time Miller reaches Champaign next season, Illinois is optimistic that they'll be a consistent NCAA tournament presence once again.