Preps Talk

2020 vision? Lovie Smith adds three to upcoming class

NBC Sports Chicago

2020 vision? Lovie Smith adds three to upcoming class

Illinois and head coach Lovie Smith hosted several of the state's top-ranked names on Saturday for a Junior Day event. And so far, it's paid dividents. The Fighting Illini have added two big in-state verbal commitments over the last 24 hours: Marist's four star-ranked wide receiver Jadon Thompson (6-foot-2, 170 pounds) and Simeon's three star-ranked offensive guard Marcus Harper (6-foot-4, 290 pounds). 

Thompson, who posted his commitment via a video on his Twitter account Monday afternoon, discussed why he decided to give the Fighting Illini his verbal commitment.

"I chose Illinois because it simply felt like home," Thompson said. "From the first time I visited Illinois...just got better every time."

Harper, who gave Illinois his verbal commitment on Sunday afternoon, felt a desire to remain close to home as one of the keys factors in his decision. 

"I decided to commit to Illinois because it's my home state. I fit well into the system and I really connected with the guys on the team and the coaches," Harper said. "Instead of asking why I committed to Illinois to me it's more of why not commit to them instead."

Harper, who played his junior year at Homewood-Flossmoor before transferring to Simeon this semester chose the Fighting Illini over scholarship offers from schools such as Michigan State, Oregon, Nebraska, Indiana, Iowa State, Kansas State and Cincinnati.

Thompson also discussed why he decided to give Illinois his early verbal commitment.

"Why wait?"according to Thompson. "Now I can go out and recruit and get more players to join me at Illinois. What's better than playing for your home state?"

Illinois also added a third verbal commitment in the Class of 2020 on Sunday: St. Louis (Mo.) Trinity Catholic four star-ranked RB Reggie Love (5-foot-10, 185 pounds). Love was also a nationally sought-after recruit with an impressive scholarship offer sheet.

Breaking: RB Williams pledges to Iowa


Breaking: RB Williams pledges to Iowa

It didn't take very long for Oak Lawn Richards three star ranked junior RB LeShon Williams (5-foot-10, 205 pounds) to give the Iowa Hawkeyes his verbal commitment. Williams, who added a scholarship offer from Iowa yesterday decided this afternoon to commit to the Hawkeyes and announced his college decision via his Twitter account. 

"For me it was really all about the tradition and the culture (at Iowa)," according to Williams. "It's always been a dram of mine to play in the Big 10 conference, so why not play for Iowa and get to play again with one of my old teammates."

Williams, who is holding 16 scholarship offers this spring will join former Richards quarterback/safety Sebastian Castro who is part of the Class of 2019 for the Hawkeyes. Williams is now the 10th known verbal commitment in the Iowa Class of 2020 and is also the third known State of Illinois pledge for Iowa. Williams joins Byron three star ranked OL Tyler Elsbury along with Lena-Winslow three star ranked defensive end Isaiah Bruce as Land of Lincoln commitments. 

Quarterback JJ McCarthy commits to Michigan

NBC Sports Chicago

Quarterback JJ McCarthy commits to Michigan

Nazareth Academy sophomore quarterback JJ McCarthy (6-foot-2, 180 pounds), who had an All State season in 2018 leading the Roadrunners to the Class 7A state title decided to give the Michigan Wolverines his verbal commitment today while making a return unofficial visit to the Ann Arbor, Michigan, campus.

“I have a list of all the things I need to check off before I make my decision,” McCarthy told's Midwest Recruiting Expert Josh Helmholdt. “It’s a literal piece of paper I have at home, and Michigan checked every single one of those boxes.”

Among the various factors for McCarthy in deciding upon Michigan included location, academics along with preparing him for the next level of football.

“With all the NFL ties Michigan has, especially quarterback-wise with coach (Jim) Harbaugh and coach (Ben) McDaniels, it’s really a no-brainer for me,” McCarthy said. “When I hear ‘Michigan,’ I think of Tom Brady. He’s the greatest of all time and he’s an alum… at my position too.”

McCarthy, who was already holding over 30 verbal scholarship offers including offers from multiple Power 5 programs is the second known verbal commitment in the Michigan Wolverines Class of 2021 joining Stevenson Sterling Heights (Mich.) ranked offensive tackle Giovanni El Hadi.

McCarthy is now the fourth known verbal commitment from the state of Illinois Class of 2021, joining Antioch sophomore QB Athan Kaliakmanis (Minnesota) and his brother Dino Kaliakmanis (Minnesota) and Naperville Central sophomore QB/ATH Sam Jackson (Minnesota).