Preps Talk

Edgy Tim goes 1-on-1 with Homewood-Flossmoor's Justin Hall


Edgy Tim goes 1-on-1 with Homewood-Flossmoor's Justin Hall

Homewood-Flossmoor sophomore athlete Justin Hall simply put on a show at the recently held EDGYTIM Underclassmen Showcase. Hall, who started at defensive back last season for the Vikings, worked out at this event as a running back. Hall was one of the top overall performers, showcasing a high level mix of speed, athleticism and moves. 

[MORE PREPS: Edgy Tim goes 1-on-1 with Phillips' Malcolm Fox]

Hall, who at this stage of his career reminds me of former East St. Louis and Illinois standout wide receiver/defensive back Terry Hawthorne (who in fact was at this event with a group of East St. Louis Flyers where he is now an assistant coach), is a name you will undoubtedly need to know from the Class of 2018.

14 Days to Kickoff: Montini Catholic

14 Days to Kickoff: Montini Catholic 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 Aug. 5, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 30.

School: Montini Catholic

Head coach: Mike Bukovsky

Assistant coaches: Brian Casey, Mark Placey, Kyle Petros, Joe DiCanio, Thomas McLaurin, Ted Fleckles, Larry Sheppard, Roosevelt Holiday, Joe Consalvo and Jack Bruscianelli

How they fared in 2018: 12-2 (3-1 CCL Blue Conference). Montini made the Class 5A state playoff field and defeated Woodstock North, Sycamore, Evergreen Park and Sterling. They advanced to the state title game where they lost to Joliet Catholic.

2019 regular season schedule:

Aug. 31 @ Hudson (WI)
Sept. 6 vs Collins
Sept. 13 @ Mount Carmel
Sept. 20 vs St. Rita
Sept. 27 vs St. Viator
Oct. 4 @ (Niles) Notre Dame
Oct. 11 @ St. Joseph
Oct. 18 vs De La Salle
Oct. 25 vs Providence Catholic

Biggest storyline: Finishing. Can the Broncos get to DeKalb for the 5A state title game and walk away with a championship trophy?

Names to watch this season: WR/TE Nate Muersch (Sr., Miami OH), OL Jeremiah Banks Wall (Sr.), QB Deontay Bell (Sr.)

Biggest holes to fill: The Broncos welcome back 12 starters (five offense, seven defense) from last season's squad but they will have new faces at receiver, running back and defensive back. 

EDGY's Early Take: Montini Catholic has been chomping at the bit to get back on the field. They had a great run last season and fell short in Champaign against JCA. Several key names return this season, including quarterback Deontay Bell and a sure-handed, tall receiver in Nate Muersch. The offensive line brings back three starters as well.

The Broncos defense has speed and experience on the line and at linebacker. Senior defensive back CJ Bufkin is a name to watch this fall. The newly-realigned CCL/ESCC schedule is strong but the Broncos should be well prepared after playing in the old CCL Blue the past few seasons. 

Schaumburg junior Chris Hodges commits to Wisconsin

Chris Hodges

Schaumburg junior Chris Hodges commits to Wisconsin

Wisconsin grabbed its first Illinois commitment in years on Thursday night as the Badgers landed Schaumburg junior forward Chris Hodges.

The 6-foot-8 Hodges is more of a traditional big man for the Saxons on the high school level, but the Badgers have visions of making him more of a versatile forward at the college level. As one of the nation's best programs at developing frontcourt talents, it's easy to see why Hodges would end his recruitment early and pledge to the Big Ten program.

Hodges' commitment also signals that Wisconsin has been more active in the Land of Lincoln than in recent years. Since taking commitments from great four-year big men like Benet's Frank Kaminsky (2011) and Rockridge's Ethan Happ (2014) earlier this decade, the Badgers have focused on local Wisconsin in-state recruiting and hitting other pockets of the Midwest like Minnesota and Ohio. Taking over for Bo Ryan several seasons ago, head coach Greg Gard has stayed away from the area as Illinois hasn't produced as many high-major prospects in the last five classes.

But that could be changing in a big Class of 2021 recruiting haul for the Badgers. Hodges is the first pledge for Wisconsin in the junior class and he's also the first junior in a deep Illinois prep class to make a commitment. Hodges has plenty of talented teammates with the Illinois Wolves and it is still very early in the recruiting process. It'll be interesting to see where Wisconsin stands with local prospects within the next year with this first commitment.

Hodges was one of a handful of local high-major juniors to make noise as a sophomore last season as he put up 16 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. During a season that lacked a lot of talented big men, Hodges was a standout player in the MSL as he helped the Saxons grab a regional title. Although high-major programs were slow to offer Hodges coming off of the summer, Wisconsin made him an early priority recruit by offering him in June during one of their camps.

The early commitment should allow for Hodges to focus on his game as he'll try to become more skilled handling perimeter responsibilities at both ends over the next several years. An All-Area candidate, Hodges has a chance to put up big numbers this season if he continues to develop. Not many big men in the area have as much talent and upside.