Preps Talk

EDGY: Start the NCAA football recruiting clock

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USA TODAY

EDGY: Start the NCAA football recruiting clock

Moving the clock an hour ahead is an annual right of passage in the Central time zone every spring. Similarly, moving the clock ahead seems to also include the NCAA football recruiting clock.
 
Need proof?
 
Northwestern already has six Class of 2018 verbal commitments, launching the Wildcats to one of their best early in-state recruiting efforts in recent memory. Head coach Pat Fitzgerald has locked in a verbal from one of the top defensive ends in the Midwest: Rivals.com's four star-ranked Devin O'Rourke (6-foot-6, 240 pounds) from Lincoln-Way East. He also has commitments from three in-state names in Libertyville offensive linemen Charlie Schmidt, New Trier's three star-ranked tight end Brian Kaiser (6-foot-7, 220 pounds) and Dunlap's three star-ranked tight end Charlie Mangieri (6-foot-4, 230 pounds). 

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The Wildcats are not the only in-state school making early progress on the recruiting front. Northern Illinois and head coach Rod Carey's staff has made a major philosophy change in recruiting approach. No longer are the Huskies playing the wait-and-see game when it comes to extending early scholarship offers. Northern Illinois already has three in-state verbal commitments so far: Danville offensive linemen Julian Pearl (6-foot-7, 245 pounds), Andrew defensive end Mike DeHaan (6-foot-6, 230 pounds) and Plainfield East defensive tackle Jack Sullivan (6-foot-5, 245 pounds). The Huskies have also have extended more in-state scholarship offers for 2018 than any others in recent memory.
 
While several of the in-state FCS schools have yet to lock up any known verbal commitments, the recruiting calendar has indeed moved up for the likes of Illinois State, Southern Illinois and Western Illinois. Both Illinois State and Southern Illinois have already hosted several in-state recruits this winter for various Junior Day events and have extended early offers to a few athletes. And on Monday, Western Illinois extended several early in-state offers as well.
 
So why offer a scholarship this early in the process? The reasons vary. Colleges want to be the first school to offer prospects after making earlier college visits and camps. Also, with the NCAA expected to add at least one additional early football signing period starting with the Class of 2019, I fully expect more and more early offers and verbal commitments to follow from here on out.

Power Rankings: #11 - Stevenson

Power Rankings: #11 - Stevenson

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: Stevenson

Head coach: Josh Hjorth

Assistant coaches: Brent Becker (OL/Assistant Head Coach), Tom Baumann (DBs), Brian Burja (DC), Chris Caballero (OL/DL), Jason Ford (LBs), Pat Grady (WRs/Special Team Coordinator) Erik Jensen (Quality Control Coach), Redelle Lawrence (DBs), Joey Weber (QBs)

How they fared in 2017: 6-4 (5-2 North Suburban Conference). Stevenson made the 8A state playoff field and lost to Hinsdale Central in opening round action. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 vs Palatine

Aug. 31 @ Neuqua Valley

Sept 7 @ Libertyville

Sept. 14 @ Zion-Benton

Sept. 21 vs Lake Zurich

Sept. 28 @ Mundelein

Oct. 5 vs Waukegan

Oct. 12 @ Warren Township

Oct. 19 vs Lake Forest

[MORE: 29 Days to Kickoff - Palatine]

Biggest storyline: Can the Patriots, under second-year head coach Josh Hjorth, make another run at the North Suburban title --and beyond-- this season?

Names to watch this season: RB JM Eitenne and LB Maema Njongmeta

Biggest holes to fill: The Patriots welcome back 15 returning starters from a season ago including nine back on offense. On defense, they'll be looking to fill holes on the defensive line and in the secondary. 

EDGY's Early Take: The Patriots went young in 2017 as then-first year head coach Josh Hjorth was able to get varsity experience to several key players. That should pay dividends this fall. Stevenson, led by three returning offensive lineman, will look to establish their running game early in the season. Senior QB Cole Okmin will have a deep and experienced group of backs and receivers to utilize. The key in the first few weeks will be the development of the defensive line and secondary. Defensive team leaders such as senior OLB Maema Njongmeta will play a big role in bringing along a younger but very talented group. 

Power Rankings: #12 - Hinsdale Central

Power Rankings: #12 - Hinsdale Central

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: Hinsdale Central

Head coach: Dan Hartman

Assistant coaches: Ray Mankowski Todd Koehler Matt McNiff Brian Griffin Preston Letts Tom Dorrance Tim Lambert

How they fared in 2017: 8-3 (5-1 West Suburban Silver Conference), Hinsdale Central made the Class 8A state playoff field, defeated Stevenson then lost to Loyola Academy in second round action.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ Naperville Central

Aug. 31 @ Willowbrook

Sept. 7 vs Oak Park-River Forest

Sept. 14 @ Downers Grove North

Sept. 22 vs York

Sept. 28 @ Proviso West

Oct. 5 vs Glenbard West

Oct. 12 @ Lyons Township

Oct. 19 vs Hinsdale South

[MORE: 33 Days to Kickoff - Benet]

Biggest storyline: Can the Red Devils, a perennial playoff candidate, make the postseason and play into November? Can they also challenge for the West Suburban Silver conference title?

Names to watch this season: QB Matt Rush and RB Luke Skokna (WIU)

Biggest holes to fill: The Red Devils will welcome back 16 returning starters (eight offense, eight defense) but will need to develop some depth in a few key areas to make a deep run in Class 8A. 

EDGY's Early Take: Dan Hartman might have his best Red Devils team since taking over the football program back in 2014. Keep an eye on Central's offense, led by senior QB Matt Rush and WIU commit RB/WR Luke Skokna plus. They also boast four returning starters on the offensive line. The Red Devils' defense is also experienced. Senior DE Sean Kelly, senior LB Vincent Zelisko and senior DB Aiden Cruickshank are names to watch. The Red Devils will need to come firing out of the gates this early season opening. Two big challenges are on deck in August, first on the road at Naperville Central and then at Willowbrook.