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.
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.