Preps Talk

IHSA state finals top underclassmen prospects

IHSA state finals top underclassmen prospects

The IHSA state football finals last weekend at Memorial Stadium saw several top underclassmen performances.

Here are some top underclassmen prospect who emerged:

Peoria: Coran Taylor (QB) | Geno Hess (RB) | Marques Cox (OL/DL)

The 6-foot-3, 204 pound Taylor, who has been on several recruiting radar screens since last season, had a breakout performance in the Lions' 62-48 win over Vernon Hills to capture the first state football title in school history. Taylor, who is still in search of his first offer, has been in steady contact with the likes of Illinois, Iowa, Iowa State, Purdue and Central Michigan.

Juniors' Hess and Cox will draw more DI level looks and offers.

Khali Saunders (WR/S), Immaculate Conception

Saunders (6-foot-3, 195 pounds) is an impressive two-way player with size, speed and real upside.

Sam Barkalow (TE/OLB), Forreston

Barkalow (6-foot-6, 225 pounds) was easily the most intriguing smaller school name on Friday. Barkalow, a junior, has great size and length, showed good speed and instincts on both sides of the football.

Rochester: Sam Brewer (OL/DL) | Mike McNicholas (LB)

Juniors' Brewer (6-foot-4, 230 pounds) and McNicholas (6-foot-1, 215 pounds) are potential recruit names to watch for head coach Derek Leonard's Rockets.

Prairie Ridge: Samson Evans (QB) | Jeff Jenkins (OL/DL) | Jacob Ommen (OLB)

Evans (6-foot-1, 205 pounds), who ran for 274 yards and four touchdowns in the Wolves' 48-17 win over Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin to secure the 6A state title already has early offers from NIU, Central Michigan and Army. Evans, who's older brother Shane is a red-shirt sophomore offensive linemen for NIU, has also been drawing steady contact and interest from Illinois, Indiana and Syracuse. Evans is also listed as an athlete prospect who will draw recruiting interest on both sides of the football (QB/WR/DB).

Jenkins (6-foot-4, 250 pounds) was as impressive as any two-way linemen I saw all weekend and if he can add some size this offseason, expect offers to follow.

Ommen (6-foot-0, 200 pounds) was also an underrated player as a junior on the Wolves defense and will draw recruiting looks.

[RELATED: Where do East St. Louis and Peoria rank among Illinois' best teams?]

Jacardia Wright (RB/S), Decatur St. Teresa

Wright (6-foot-0, 198 pounds) was held in check (14 carries, 46 yards) in St. Teresa's 35-7 loss to Forreston in the Class 1A state title game. However, as just a sophomore, Wright already looks to have the makings of a potential top Class of 2019 name to watch. Wright already has an offer from Iowa and has the overall physical tools and potential to become a major name in recruiting circles in a year or two.

Desmond Taylor (OL/DL), East St. Louis

Taylor (6-foot-3, 267 pounds) is just a sophomore and has a chance to develop into the next major FBS level name out of the City of Champions in the Class of 2019. Taylor has the overall size, strength and explosiveness to become a major impact player who projects to play on the defensive line at the college level. Taylor is just one of about 5-6 other underclassmen names who have DI potential from East St. Louis.

Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin: Tremayne Lee (RB) | Matt Brenneisen (ILB) | Barrett Kraft (OL)

Lee (5-foot-9, 190 pounds) led the Cyclones offense this past season and has a great mix of inside power and speed. Lee is a name that will also see more recruiting looks this winter and spring.

I was also impressed with sophomores' Brenneisen (6-foot-2, 225 pounds) and Kraft (6-foot-2, 250 pounds).

Fotis Kokosioulis (RB), Maine South

Kokosioulis (5-foot-8, 160 pounds) has a great mix of power, speed and explosiveness and there's no question that the junior running back will draw several recruiting inquiries this winter and spring.

Loyola Academy: Charlie Gross (OL) | Marty Geary (DL)

Gross (6-foot-5, 265 pounds) is yet another name to watch for the Ramblers in the Class of 2018. 

Geary (6-foot-2, 250 pounds), a sophomore defensive lineman, is another name to track over the next two years. 

33 Days to Kickoff: Benet

33 Days to Kickoff: Benet

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: Benet Academy

Head coach: Pat New

How they fared in 2017: 9-4 (5-2 East Suburban Catholic Conference). Benet Academy made the Class 7A state playoff field. They defeated Maine West, Hononegah and Lincoln-Way Central before losing to Batavia in the state semifinal round. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ St. Laurence

Aug. 31 @ Moline

Sept. 7 @ St. Patrick

Sept. 14 vs Niles Notre Dame

Sept. 21 vs Nazareth Academy

Sept. 28 @ Joliet Catholic

Oct. 5 vs St. Viator

Oct. 13 @ Marian Catholic

Oct. 19 vs Marist

[MORE: 78 Days to Kickoff - St. Patrick]

Biggest storyline: After back-to-back state semifinal playoff runs, can the Redwings pick things up right where they left off and another make deep playoff run?

Names to watch this season: QB Collin Gillespie and RB/S Ben Hickey

Biggest holes to fill: While the Redwings will welcome back some key starters from a season ago, they will need to reload a bit up front on both the offensive and defensive line. 

EDGY's Early Take: Coach Pat New's Redwings had an early 14-0 lead over eventual 7A state champion Batavia before falling to the Bulldogs. Benet, who has 50 program wins since 2012 (all playoff seasons), is never short on talent. Look for their offensive skills department to carry the load early this season. The Redwings should challenge in the East Suburban Catholic Conference race and into playoff time come October. 

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. 24 @ East Aurora

Aug. 31 vs Glenbard East

Sept. 7 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

[MORE: 53 Days to Kickoff - Glenbard East]

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

Names to watch this season: QB Dean Kotsovetis and 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 head coach Matt Erlenbaugh comes in from Chicago's Solorio High School and takes over the Hawks football program. Look for Bartlett to have a chance to challenge in the newly-realigned Upstate Eight 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.