Preps Talk

Chicagoland football recruiting heating up this spring

Chicagoland football recruiting heating up this spring

Libertyville junior defensive tackle Ryan O'Malley (6-foot-4, 255 pounds) - who had been committed to Illinois under former head coach Tim Beckman since late February - was told last week that his verbal commitment to the Fighting Illini was being rescinded. O'Malley then Tweeted out that he was reopening up his recruiting process.

"I was asked to call up the coaches at Illinois last week," O'Malley said. "I called and they told me that they decided to rescind my scholarship offer. The coaches said that they decided to go with a different scheme on defense and that it wouldn't be a good fit for me. To be honest I was a bit nervous about the hiring of the new coaches at Illinois. I really liked the old staff and it just didn't feel the same. I'm disappointed because I loved Illinois so much and they are a big part of my family."

Loyola Academy junior offensive guard Jack Badovinac (6-foot-2, 265 pounds) made a visit last week to Colgate and a few days later gave the Raiders his verbal commitment.

"Colgate is just a great fit for me and they offer everything I was looking for in a school," according to Badovinac. "Colgate has an amazing campus. It's just a great looking school and setting in upstate New York. I was also really impressed with the facilities along with the overall football program."

Marist junior defensive back Robert Topps (6-foot-2, 182 pounds) has quickly seen his recruiting stock take off. Topps - who made a weekend visit to Wisconsin - now has 10 scholarship offers having added his latest offers on Tuesday from Nevada and Bowling Green.

"Both Nevada and Bowling Green made in-school visits on Tuesday," according to Topps. "The coaches at both schools asked me to call them after school and that's when they offered. It's been pretty hectic the past few weeks, but in a great way."

Topps is also starting to draw increased recruiting looks from a handful of Big Ten schools. 

"I visited Wisconsin last Saturday and I had a great visit," he said. "Michigan State has also started to text me and they want me to come out and visit them soon."

Topps has scholarship offers so far from Buffalo, Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Illinois State, Miami of Ohio, Nevada, New Mexico, NIU, Western Michigan and Wyoming.

Need proof that the football recruiting process is being pushed ahead earlier and earlier? All you need to do is look at the Rivals.com early spring Class of 2017 Top 20 recruiting rankings. 

Out of the Top 15 recruits in the Top 20 ranking, over half (9) have already given verbal commitment with Jacobs quarterback Chris Katrenick (Bowling Green) being the latest Land of Lincoln top-ranked name to make a verbal commitment. 

Need even more evidence of the recruiting clock being pushed ahead? Out of the Top 5 recruits in the State of Illinois Class of 2017, four out of the five are already verbally committed. Top-ranked Edwardsville defensive end AJ Epenesa (Iowa), Neuqua Valley athlete Isaiah Robertson (Notre Dame), St. Viator tight end Cole Kmet (Notre Dame) and Maine South offensive guard Kevin Jarvis (Michigan State) all committed. Only East St. Louis four-star ranked wide receiver Jeff Thomas is uncommitted and Thomas has scholarship offers from across the country this spring.

I fully expect nearly all of the current Top 20 recruits in the Rivals.com early spring Top 20 to be committed by mid summer at the latest.

36 Days to Kickoff: Glenbard North

36 Days to Kickoff: Glenbard North

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Glenbard North

Head coach: Ryan Wilkens

Assistant coaches: Rich Smelko, John Cassidy, Bruce Donash, John Pullia, Tom Gudella, Kudret Kamabari and Matt Ng

How they fared in 2017: 5-5 (4-4 DuPage Valley Conference). Glenbard North made the Class 7A state playoff field and lost to Batavia in opening round action.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ Neuqua Valley

Aug. 31 vs Warren Township

Sept. 7 @ St. Charles East

Sept. 14 vs Batavia

Sept. 21 @ Wheaton North

Sept. 28 @ Lake Park

Oct. 5 vs St. Charles North

Oct. 12 vs Wheaton Warrenville South

Oct. 19 @ Geneva

[MORE: 50 Days to Kickoff - Neuqua Valley]

Biggest storyline: The Panthers have a new conference home. Can the Panthers reload and fare well in the DuKane Conference?

Names to watch this season: LB Michael Wellman and FB Jake Wilson

Biggest holes to fill: The Panthers will need several players to step up on offense with just one returning starter back from a season ago-- senior FB Jake Wilson.

EDGY's Early Take: Glenbard North says farewell to the DuPage Valley conference and says hello to all things DuKane. The Panthers will undoubtedly be a younger team in 2018. While some of the star power has graduated, head coach Ryan Wilkins will once again focus on establishing a strong, fast and physical running game. Getting off to a good start against a loaded schedule will be a big key for Glenbard North this season. 

Rolling Meadows' Max Christie on the verge of national breakout

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USA TODAY

Rolling Meadows' Max Christie on the verge of national breakout

EMERSON, Ga. -- Rolling Meadows rising sophomore guard Max Christie is having a strong spring and summer on the grassroots circuit as he's emerged as one of the area's newest breakout stars.
 
At 6-foot-5 with an ability to play both on and off the ball, Christie is a versatile perimeter player who can be either a big point guard or a smooth wing. Even though he's only finished one year of high school, Christie already has earned some major college scholarship offers as Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Loyola, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin have all been involved. Playing up an age group with the Illinois Wolves U16 team, Christie is starting to generate a lot of buzz among college coaches and national scouts.
 
"I think I've played well. I've been growing. I have a huge target on my back. So I'm just confident and humble and playing my game," Christie said. "College coaches are coming in everywhere, but I'm just playing my game and not worrying about them. I'm just having fun."
 
Christie is coming off of a positive freshman season at Rolling Meadows in which he had some big games as a freshman while playing on varsity. Although Christie is still very skinny and trying to add strength, he has started to adjust to opponents trying to play physical against him. As he starts to get older, Christie is adjusting to how certain opponents will handle him.
 
"On the court, it's physical. So I have to get used to that. I have encouraging teammates so that's good for me. But everybody is double-teaming me and face-guarding me, so I just have to use screens and everything," Christie said.
 
"I've been in the weight room working. The strength is there. I'm always using it against other teams. I just have to get used to it. I feel like [the physicality] is not as much of a factor as I get stronger."
 
Christie will be one of the marked men in the area this season as he'll draw a lot of attention at Rolling Meadows. He has the potential to be an all-area player. With multiple high-major scholarship offers and national recruiting profiles, Christie is just trying to maintain his focus on staying a versatile player. Playing both on and off the ball, Christie is trying to improve the consistency on his perimeter jumper while also trying to grow his basketball IQ.
 
"Both of them are fine. Off the ball, I like to set screens and get teammates open. I like to get open. On the ball, I like to create, passes, all that stuff," Christie said. "So I'm just trying to make plays, get my teammates open, set better screens."
 
"Leadership is something I need to work on, so it's something I need to accept for this season. So, since I've built this reputation, I'm trying to be more of a leader and encourage. Just being a better teammate."
 
Christie averaged 18 points, eight rebounds and 2.9 assists per game as a freshman at Rolling Meadows, as he has the ability to put up monster numbers as a sophomore. Underclass players don't typically compete for awards in the Chicagoland area, but Christie is a potentially special talent at the high school level as he attempts to ascend into a national-level recruit.