Preps Talk

EDGY: Breaking down the class of 2016 for National Signing Day

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EDGY: Breaking down the class of 2016 for National Signing Day

The Class of 2016 will begin to ink letters of intent tomorrow nationwide. Here is EDGYTIM's breakdown for the state of Illinois:

Overall Grade for the Class of 2016: C-

Simply put, in the amount of years I’ve been tracking football recruiting in this state (over 20 years), this could be one of the lowest amount of statewide D-1 level names for one class. As of Tuesday morning, I show 61 kids committed to BCS level schools and 29 kids committed to FCS schools (I count only FCS schools who offer athletic scholarship monies).

Below are the past five signing classes, which reflect the downturn in high college level talent in Class of 2016.

2015: 79 BCS level names, 21 FCS level names

2014: 74 BCS level names, 23 FCS level names

2013: 77 BCS level names, 22 FCS level names

2012: 68 BCS level names, 17 FCS level names

2011: 72 BCS level names, 21 FCS level names

Coincidence

For your consideration, the Class of 2016 was part of a considerably large drop off nationally according to the National Federation of State High School Associations regarding overall participation numbers in football. The numbers are traced back to when this class became freshmen back in the fall of 2012. Several traditional football power high schools in Illinois in 2012 reported sizable freshman number drop-offs. Coincidence?

[RELATED: EDGY's Top 50 players in Illinois from class of 2016]

Reservation for One

Recruiting these days seems to be more about making an early "verbal" reservation than anything else. In Illinois as well as across the nation, the Class of 2016 has never seen as many kids verbally commit early only to wind up decommiting before National Signing Day. Several factors come into play for the rash of decommitments including verbally committing too early to a school and most notably college coaching changes. Solutions? Several have been thrown out there including adding an early signing period or two (I say mid-August and then again in mid-December) as well as allowing schools to offer a prospect to sign a binding letter of intent at anytime.  In most proposals, only a head coach firing would void the legally binding letter of intent for schools and prospects. 

Position of strength

Just take a look at my Top 50 Class of 2016 final recruit rankings. Three out of my top four are defensive linemen including two defensive tackles in Lake Park Mike Panasiuk and Evanston's Naquan Jones. Also impressive is the fact that that 12 out of the Top 50 names play on the defensive line. I can't remember when this state has had as strong of a defensive linemen class to be honest. I also expect the large majority of this defensive linemen class to have the chance to become early impact types at the college level.

Positions that didn't fare well

Offensive tackles

This class no question definitely has a lack of quality offensive tackle body types. That's never a good sign. The overall offensive tackle group fell just short over having the usual abundance of big tackle bodies that Illinois has become known for over the years. Sure, kids like Downers Grove South's Erik Swenson (who I still feel is more of a guard), Carmel's Sean Foster, Nashville's Royce Newman, Lincoln-Way West’s Justin Witt and Maine South's Liam O'Sullivan are all ranked in my Top 50. Yet more than a few of those names are to be considered more "developmental" guys from a physical standpoint for now. You also won't find a ton of offensive tackle body types that got scooped up by, say, the 1-AA or D2 and below levels, either.

[RECRUITING: Swenson picks Oklahoma]

Quarterbacks

The Rivals database has 31 quarterbacks listed in the Class of 2016 with only four known names inking D1/1AA level Letters of Intent. That's not good. The position itself remains one of the hardest spots to gain an offer for several good reasons. First you have a limited amount of spots available. Throw in an evaluation process that gets earlier and earlier in a day and age where 8th graders are already drawing serious interest.  I have no doubt that the quarterbacks in Illinois have never had it any harder in recruiting circles than they do in this era of college football recruiting.

Winners

Michigan State

The Spartans had this one wrapped up by mid summer to be honest. Head coach Mark Dantonio was in need of defensive linemen in particular and discovered a bonanza here in Illinois. Michigan State always works this state hard and give the Spartans credit for securing early verbal commitments and for also not letting those recruits slip away from them. 

[RELATED: Spears Jr. decommits from Illinois]

Iowa

It's been a while since the Hawkeyes were able to come away with a sizable haul from Chicagoland, yet Iowa's recruiting efforts in Illinois for this class were just very steady and solid. Naperville Central wide receiver Manny Rugamba leads a group of five 3-star ranked Land of Lincoln commits. All five have the potentiual to become longer term answers in several spot for Iowa.

Western Michigan

The Broncos have added a few top ranked MAC classes back-to-back, and at least from an Illinois perspective, former Kaneland and NBIU standout player and current WMU head coach PJ Fleck and staff added a handful of names to watch. Evanston three-star ranked QB Matt Little (6-foot-4, 210 pounds) was locked up very early by the Broncos and many feel that Little has Big 10 level physical tools and potential. Neuqua Valley tight end Brett Borske (6-foot-6, 230 pounds) is a huge target, and Borske physically has the look of a Power 5 conference level prospect. 

So how did the in-state BCS and FCS level schools fare? Stay tuned more breakdowns to follow.

Just missed the Class of 2016 Top 50 rankings

ATH Rhashaun Epting, Proviso West - Committed to New Mexico after decommitting from Western Michigan, Epting has the look (6-foot-4, 210 pounds) and feel of a name that can head down to Lobo country and return as an NFL looking name. He could wind up playing defensive line/linebacker at the college level.

DE Allen Stallings, Oak Park-River Forest - Stallings (6-foot-2, 230 pounds) committed to Indiana after decommiting from Central Michigan. He was a tweener from a positional standpoint and didn't add his offer from the Hoosiers until last week. Stallings was simply one of the hardest hitters I saw all season and has a chance to become a disruptive hybrid pass rusher/linebacker for the Hoosiers.

LB Corey Lersch, McHenry - Lersch (6-foot-4, 210 pounds) camped with NIU this past summer, landed an offer and committed before his recruiting really took off. Lersch has great size and speed and just has the look of a player who still has a ton of upside.

DB Andrew Gregory, Normal Community - Gregory (6-foot-1, 196 pounds) has the potential to be yet another steal for the Huskies. He has the physical tools to grow into a safety/outside linebacker and has real potential.

VOTE: Viewers' Choice Game Of The Week

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NBC Sports Chicago

VOTE: Viewers' Choice Game Of The Week

Who wants it more?

We are putting High School Lites, Chicagoland's top prep sports show, in the hands of area football fans in our "Viewers' Choice Game of the Week." Fans will get the chance to pick one game that the @NBCSPreps crew will cover on Friday night. We will send our cameras to the game that gets the most votes; highlights and postgame reaction of that game will appear on that night's "High School Lites" broadcast at 11 p.m. The show also live streams at www.nbcsportschicago.com/watchlive. High School Lites will also have broadcast replays at 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. the following Saturday. 

Week 9 is “Bubble Week” for many teams fighting to stay on the right side of the postseason bubble. Who moves on? Whose bubble will burst? Will Wauconda advance to the playoffs after finishing 2-7 last year? Or will Grant end their season on a winning note? Schaumburg and Fremd both stand at 4-4. The winner goes to the postseason. The winner stays home for November. Zion-Benton hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2003. A win over Libertyville gets them there. But for the Wildcats, this ‘is’ their playoff game. Who wins in the North Suburban conference? We’ll send our cameras to one of the following:

Grant at Wauconda, 7:15 p.m.

Schaumburg at Fremd, 7:30 p.m.

Libertyville at Zion-Benton, 7:30 p.m.

— Follow @NBCSPreps on Twitter.
— Note the "pinned Tweet" atop the @NBCSPreps feed. Vote for the game you want us to cover.
— Spread the word! 

We will make an announcement on @NBCSPreps just after 4 p.m. Thursday with the official results of which game will be covered. And as a reminder, be sure to follow @NBCSPreps for updates on the "Viewers' Choice Game of the week," along with other high school sports news, scores and highlights this season.

Edgy Tim's Preps Power Rankings: Week 9

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NBC Sports Chicago

Edgy Tim's Preps Power Rankings: Week 9

Here are the latest @NBCSPreps Top 25 Power Rankings.
 
1. Lincoln-Way East 8-0 (1)
Last Week: Beat Thornwood, 56-18
This Week: vs Bolingbrook
EDGY's Take: The Griffins get a nice Week 9 test hosting Bolingbrook. Can the Raiders push the Griffins for four quarters?

2. Batavia 8-0 (2)
Last Week: Beat St. Charles North, 27-24
This Week: @ Wheaton North
EDGY's Take: An epic drive late in the game with no timeouts. The Bulldogs pull out the close-call win over St. Charles North.  

3. Brother Rice 8-0 (3)
Last Week: Beat Leo, 48-0
This Week: @ Montini Catholic
EDGY's Take: What were the preseason that the biggest Chicago Catholic League game of the year would be Brother Rice at Montini?

4. Marist 7-1 (4)
Last Week: Beat Marian Central Catholic, 42-6
This Week: @ Benet Academy
EDGY's Take: The Redhawks will get a nice Week 9 on Friday from Benet at Benedictine University. 

5. Mount Carmel 7-1 (5)
Last Week: Beat St. Laurence, 40-0
This Week: vs Fenwick
EDGY's Take: The Caravan have been playing as well as any contenders ranked here.

6. Homewood-Flossmoor 7-1 (6)
Last Week: Beat Andrew, 35-3
This Week: vs Sandburg
EDGY's Take: Head coach Craig Buzea got his 200th career win last Friday over Andrew.

7. Cary-Grove 8-0 (7)
Last Week: Beat Prairie Ridge, 21-14
This Week: vs Naperville Central
EDGY's Take: The Trojans rallied from being down 14-0 and scored 21 unanswered points to defeat their bitter rivals.

8. Simeon 8-0 (8)
Last Week: Beat Taft, 58-7
This Week: @ Curie
EDGY's Take: The big question coming Saturday night-- Will the Wolverines wind up in 8A or 7A? 

9. Nazareth Academy 7-1 (9)
Last Week: Beat Joliet Catholic, 49-20
This Week: vs Marian Catholic
EDGY's Take: The Roadrunners get a nice bounce-back win last Friday over Joliet Catholic.

10. Maine South 7-1 (10)
Last Week: Beat New Trier, 38-21
This Week: vs Niles West
EDGY's Take: The Hawks get another big Central Suburban South win. 

11. Oswego 8-0 (11)
Last Week: Beat Joliet Central, 49-0
This Week: @ Plainfield South
EDGY's Take: The Panthers will take on a very defensive-minded Plainfield South team on Friday.
 
12. Richards 8-0 (13)
Last Week: Beat Reavis, 51-0
This Week: vs Eisenhower
EDGY's Take: The Bulldogs continue to cruise and are gearing for a high seed in Class 6A.
 
13. Phillips 6-2 (14)
Last Week: Beat Westinghouse, 46-6
This Week: @ Raby
EDGY's Take: The Wildcats will look to finish strong this week against Raby.

14. Willowbrook 8-0 (15)
Last Week: Beat Proviso East, 40-7
This Week: @ Downers Grove South
EDGY's Take: The Warriors will look to send Downers Grove South (4-4) home for the holidays on Friday.

15. Naperville Central 6-2 (16)
Last Week: Beat Waubonsie Valley, 35-14
This Week: @ Cary-Grove
EDGY's Take: The Redhawks have won six straight games and have the makings of a team that could make some postseason noise. 

16. Bolingbrook 7-1 (17)
Last Week: Beat Thornton, 43-7
This Week: @ Lincoln-Way East
EDGY's Take: The Raiders will look to derail the "Big Cobalt Blue Machine" this Friday in Frankfort. 

17. Montini 8-0 (18)
Last Week: Beat Providence Catholic, 27-3
This Week: vs Brother Rice
EDGY's Take: The Broncos will host Brother Rice on Friday in the biggest game of the year in the Chicago Catholic League.

18. Oak Park-River Forest 6-2 (NR)
Last Week: Beat Glenbard West, 10-7
This Week: vs Lyons Township
EDGY's Take: The Huskies have a top-notch defense and found a way to beat Glenbard West at Duchon Field. It was OPRF's first win there since 1998.

19. Warren Township 7-1 (NR)
Last Week: Beat Stevenson, 21-0
This Week: @ Mundelein
EDGY's Take: The Blue Devils defense came to play. An impressive 21-0 shutout over Stevenson 21-0 last Friday.

20. Glenbard West 6-2 (12)
Last Week: Lost to Oak Park-River Forest, 10-7
This Week: @ Proviso West
EDGY's Take: The Hilltoppers defense is still salty as ever. But can the offense find a few more options besides standout RB Tyquan Cox?

21. Hillcrest 8-0 (22)
Last Week: Beat TF North, 50-6
This Week: vs Bremen
EDGY's Take: The Hawks have made it look easy this regular season. They'll go for a 9-0 sweep later this week in an effort to claim a high seed in 5A.

22. Notre Dame 7-1 (23)
Last Week: Beat Carmel, 21-7
This Week: vs Joliet Catholic
EDGY's Take: The Dons now host JCA and will try to knock out the Hilltoppers from the state playoff field.

23. Hinsdale Central 8-0 (24)
Last Week: Beat Lyons Township, 57-0
This Week: vs Hinsdale South
EDGY's Take: The Red Devils will get challenged this Friday against crosstown rival Hinsdale South (The "Doings Cup" game).

24. Rolling Meadows 8-0 (NR)
Last Week: Beat Hersey, 38-35
This Week: @ Buffalo Grove
EDGY's Take: The Mustangs get a huge win over Hersey. Why do I get the feeling we could see an RM-Hersey rematch in the postseason?
 
25. St. Charles North 6-2 (21)
Last Week: Lost to Batavia, 27-24
This Week: vs Wheaton South
EDGY's Take: The North Stars drop a last-second loss to Batavia last Friday; they will look to get back on track this week against another tough opponent in Wheaton South.