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.
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.