Preps Talk

EDGY: Top Class of 2016 sleepers still on the board

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EDGY: Top Class of 2016 sleepers still on the board

The Chicagoland Class of 2016 is loaded with some quality names that are still available. Here are some sleepers to watch for as the NCAA football recruiting period reopens Thursday.

Desmond Bland (OL), Homewood-Flossmoor

Bland (6-foot-4, 275 pounds), ranked as a Rivals.com three-star offensive guard, was an impact two-way starter for the Vikings and head coach Craig Buzea in 2015. Bland has interest from several schools including Pitt, Indiana and Iowa State among others. Bland still has academic work to do and is also considering the JUCO or Prep School route. If Bland can get his academics in order, at say the JUCO level, he has a chance to be a nationally sought after name.

Rhashaun Epting (ATH), Proviso West

Epting (6-foot-4, 215 pounds) was verbally committed to Western Michigan before decommitting from the Broncos in the fall. Epting has an official visit set to Minnesota on Jan. 15, but has yet to receive a scholarship offer from the Gophers. Epting has the physical tools and upside to be a real steal for Minnesota.

[MORE PREPS: Class of 2016 Top 5 uncommitted names]

Sean Williams (LB), Morgan Park

Easily one of the more impressive kids on the hoof, Williams (6-foot-2, 225 pounds) has had an early offer from Toledo and the Rockets are a leader. However, Williams also has been drawing more late interest from several other MAC schools including Miami (OH), Buffalo and Eastern Michigan. Williams has the tools to become a serious contributor at the DI level.

Eric Johnson (DE), Plainfield South

Johnson (6-foot-5, 240 pounds), an honor roll student and one of the state's top wrestlers, basically came into his own in his 2015 senior season for the Cougars. Johnson's overall improvement from his junior year to his senior year was highly impressive. South Dakota, Southern Illinois and Missouri State have shown interest and Johnson right now has the overall physical tools and size of a D1 player.

Quarterbacks

Go ahead and pick one. So far just four quarterbacks in Illinois have given verbal commitment to the BCS/FCS level. Names such as Montini Catholic's Justin Blake, Hinsdale South's Sean McCormack, Buffalo Grove's Trey Cervantes, Lake Forest Dan Carrollo and Conant's Kyle Bradley all remain available for now. All have size, potential and skills to play at the college level.

34 Days to Kickoff: Bartlett

34 Days to Kickoff: Bartlett

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: Bartlett


Head coach: Mark Erlenbaugh


How they fared in 2017: 2-7 (2-3 Upstate 8 Valley Conference), Bartlett failed to qualify for the 20127 IHSA state football playoff field.
2018 Regular Season Schedule:
Aug. 25 @ East Aurora
Aug. 31 vs Glenbard East
Sept 8 vs Glenbard South
Sept. 14 @ Elgin
Sept. 21 @ West Aurora
Sept. 28 vs West Chicago
Oct. 5 vs Larkin
Oct. 13 @ South Elgin 
Oct. 19 @ Streamwood


Biggest storyline: Can the Hawks soar in the newly realigned Upstate 8 conference?


Names to watch this season: QB Dean Kotsovetis WR Austin Gates


Biggest holes to fill: The Hawks will need to fill in several spots this summer especially upfront on the offensive and defensive lines due to graduation losses.


EDGY's Early Take: Bartlett new head coach Matt Erlenbaugh comes in from Chicago Solorio and takes over the Hawks football program. Look for Bartlett to have a chance to challenge in the newly realigned Upstate 8 schedule. The Hawks schedule this season won't include the likes of several 2017 state playoff teams like Lemont, Prairie Ridge and St. Charles East.

35 Days to Kickoff: Oak Forest

35 Days to Kickoff: Oak Forest

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: Oak Forest

Head coach: Brian McDonough

How they fared in 2017: 4-5 (3-3 South Suburban Conference). Oak Forest failed to qualify for the IHSA state football playoff field.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 vs Pekin
Aug. 31 @ Niles Notre Dame
Sept. 7 @ T.F. South
Sept. 14 @ Hillcrest
Sept. 21 @ Eisenhower
Sept. 28 vs T.F. North
Oct. 5 vs Tinley Park
Oct. 12 @ Bremen
Oct. 19 vs Lemont

Biggest storyline: Can the Bengals get back into the IHSA state playoffs this season?

Names to watch this season: LB Anthony Kluk and OL/DL Julian Ramirez

Biggest holes to fill: The Bengals will need to reload on both sides of the football especially on offense with the graduation losses of several starters including QB Tyler Morrison and RB Waitari Wilson.

EDGY's Early Take: It was a rare season for the Bengals in 2017, having missed the IHSA state playoff field for the first time since 1999. Look for Oak Forest to rely on its defense while a newer group on offense develops. The Bengals and veteran head coach Brian McDonough will need to get out to a good early start with a front-loaded regular season schedule.