Preps Talk

Edgy recruiting: A.J. Epenesa visits, enjoys Iowa

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Edgy recruiting: A.J. Epenesa visits, enjoys Iowa

Edwardsville junior four-star defensive end A.J. Epenesa (6-foot-5, 255 pounds) made an unofficial visit to Iowa for the Hawkeyes' last-second win over Pitt, and the state's top ranked junior - according to Rivals.com - came away impressed with the Hawkeyes.

"The fans were amazing (at Iowa)," he told HawkeyeReport.com's Tom Kakert. "Not many people come out of the tunnel and hear their name chanted by the student section that they want you to come to their school. It was awesome to come out and hear that. The whole visit was awesome. I always enjoy getting back to Iowa City for a visit. The game was awesome and what a way to win a game."

Epenesa is the son of Eppy Epenesa, who played for the Hawkeyes in the late 90s and Iowa is the only fall visit that Epenesa has planned. He has well over 20 verbal scholarship offers so far this fall.

Neuqua Valley junior four star ranked wide receiver Isaiah Robertson (6-foot-2, 185 pounds) has been showing his potential to also play defense at the college level this season.

"I've been playing safety all season," Robertson said. "It's a new position for me but it's also not new to me. I'm playing safety for the first time since I've been at Neuqua (Valley) but until I got here I always played defense."

[MORE: CSN Preps Power Rankings -- Week 5]

Robertson just added his latest offer from Vanderbilt earlier this week and has remained in touch with "Penn State, Maryland, Michigan State and Ohio State pretty much once a week or so."

Robertson has yet to make any college games in person this fall but plans to change that.

Missouri continues to dip into Southern and Central Illinois with success. The Tigers and head coach Gary Pinkel this past weekend added a verbal commitment from Springfield Sacred Heart Griffin three-star athlete Albert Okwuegbunam (6-foot-5, 215 pounds), who made an unofficial visit. 

"I just liked everything about my visit to Missouri," Okwuegbunam said. "The environment was just really good at Missouri. The coaches and the players are great and they made me feel welcomed."

Okwuegbunam joins Nashville (Ill.) senior three-star offensive tackle Royce Newman (6-foot-7, 260 pounds) and O'Fallon (Ill.) three-star senior kicker Tucker McCann (6-foot-1, 185 pounds) in the Tigers' 2016 class.

Crete-Monee senior wide receiver Landon Lenoir (6-foot-1, 170 pounds) gave Southern Illinois his verbal commitment on Monday. Lenoir, who had offers and interest from the Salukis, along with Western Illinois and Northern Iowa, had a chance to play at WIU along side his older brother, junior wide receiver Lance Lenoir, who's been a starter for the Leathernecks since his freshman season.

"Western Illinois recruited me and gave me a lot to think about," Lenoir said. "I talked to my brother already about my decision and he's cool about it. He just was happy for me and told me to keep grinding. I also always felt like I wanted to go and do my own thing and be my own man. I'd love to play with my brother again but I made my decision for myself, and SIU is the best place for me."

68 Days to Kickoff: Oswego East

68 Days to Kickoff: Oswego East

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: Oswego East

Head coach: Tyson LeBlanc

Assistant coaches: Dan Dunbar, Andy Brogan, Jeremy Main, Erik Aister, Dru Filkins, Connor Downs, Zac Sadek, Reggie Cribbs and Mike Harden

How they fared in 2017: 7-3 (7-2 Southwest Prairie Conference). Oswego East made the Class 8A state football playoff field. The Wolves lost to St. Charles East in opening round action.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 vs Plainfield East

Aug. 31 @ Joliet West

Sept. 7 vs Romeoville

Sept. 14 vs Joliet Central

Sept. 21 @ Plainfield South

Sept. 28 @ Plainfield North

Oct. 5 vs Oswego

Oct. 12 vs Plainfield Central

Oct. 19 vs Minooka

[MORE: 73 Days to Kickoff - Joliet Central]

Biggest storyline: Can the Wolves get out of the rugged Southwest Prairie conference and make a run in the IHSA state playoffs?

Names to watch this season: ATH Justin Clark and WR Kieon Battle

Biggest holes to fill: The Wolves will need to replace their entire starting defensive line from a season ago.

EDGY's Early Take: Oswego East head coach Tyson LeBlanc is shooting to make the IHSA playoff field and the fourth straight year in 2018. He has a 36-24 record since coming over from Curie High School back in 2012. Oswego East will rely on a strong group of returning offensive skills led by D-1 recruit Justin Clark, who can --and will-- play multiple positions this season for the Wolves. 

69 Days to Kickoff: Lincoln-Way West

69 Days to Kickoff: Lincoln-Way West

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: Lincoln-Way West

Head coach: Dave Ernst

Assistant Coaches: Luke Lokanc, Larry Lokanc, Mike Villa, Eric DoornKaat, George Czart, Bob Lombardi, Sean Lucas, Rob Glielmi, Steve Bauer and Al McKellar

How they fared in 2017: 9-3 (6-1 Southwest Suburban Conference), Lincoln-Way West made the Class 7A state football playoff field. The Knights defeated Jacobs and Alton and then lost to Batavia in the quarterfinal round.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 vs. Racine Case (Wisc.)

Aug. 31 @ Lincoln-Way Central

Sept. 7 vs. Bradley-Bourbonnais

Sept. 14 vs. Thornridge

Sept. 21 @ Homewood-Flossmoor

Sept. 28 @ Sandburg

Oct. 5 vs. Thornton Township

Oct. 12 @ Stagg

Oct. 19 @ Andrew

Biggest storyline: Can the Warriors get back to the 7A playoffs and make a deeper run this season?

Names to watch this season: OL Martin Bender and RB Caleb Marconi

Biggest holes to fill: The Warriors welcome back 10 returning starters but just three are back on the defensive side of the football. In particular, they will need to replace their entire starting secondary from a season ago.

EDGY's Early Take: Ernst has guided the Warriors to the IHSA playoffs in each the past six seasons. If West can reload a bit on the defensive side of the football they have a good chance of getting to the postseason again this fall. The good news is that the offense brings back four starting offensive linemen along with bruising RB Marconi. Look for the running game to pace the offense. It should be a big strength this fall.