Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011
Posted: 12:22 p.m.

By Taylor Bell
The 2011 NFL season is about to kick off and 18 Chicago area high school products are listed as starters, including five who played at Illinois, four at Iowa and three at Northern Illinois.

The former Illini are running back Rashard Mendenhall of Niles West (Steelers), left guard David Diehl of Brother Rice (Giants), right tackle Tony Pashos of Lockport (Browns), running back Pierre Thomas of Thornton Fractional South (Saints) and right guard Jon Asamoah of Rich East (Chiefs).

The Iowa graduates are left guard Eric Steinbach of Providence (Browns), right tackle Bryan Bulaga of Marian Central (Packers), defensive end Matt Roth of Willowbrook (Jaguars) and tight end Tony Moeaki of Wheaton Warrenville South (Chiefs).

From NIU are right tackle Ryan Diem of Glenbard North (Colts), running back Michael Turner of North Chicago (Falcons) and linebacker Larry English of Marmion (Chargers).

Other local products are strong safety Tom Zbikowski of Buffalo Grove (Notre Dame, Ravens), linebacker Rob Ninkovich of Lincoln-Way Central (Purdue, Patriots), wide receiver Jason Avant of Carver (Michigan, Eagles), left tackle Anthony Castonzo of Lake Zurich (Boston College, Colts), quarterback Donovan McNabb of Mount Carmel (Syracuse, Vikings) and tight end Owen Daniels of Naperville Central (Wisconsin, Texans).