Preps Talk

Illinois lands Phillips linebacker Amani Jones

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Illinois lands Phillips linebacker Amani Jones

Phillips junior three-star ranked inside linebacker Amani Jones (6-foot-0, 215 pounds) gave Illinois head coach Tim Beckman his verbal commitment on Thursday after watching the Fighting Illini spring practice.

"I decided that I wanted to play for Illinois so I committed," Jones said. "Illinois is my in-state school and why not Illinois? Illinois was my first offer and I had been thinking about it over spring break. I just didn't want to wait and miss out on a great opportunity at Illinois."

Jones is now going to focus on trying to bring over two of his Phillips teammates, including defensive tackle Amir Watts and wide receiver Quayvon Skanes. Both players already have offers from Illinois.

[MORE PREPS: Busy spring for Hinsdale South DE Josh King]

"I want to now go out and get those guys to come with me to Illinois."

Jones, who was an All-State linebacker for the Wildcats and head coach Tim McAllister in 2014, is the first Chicago area verbal commitment for the Illini. Jones is also the third in-state pledge for Illinois and the fourth Class of 2016 verbal commitment for the Fighting Illini. Jones is joined by O'Fallon running back Kentrail Moran and Rockford Auburn safety Juwuane Parchman as in-state verbal commitments for Illinois.

43 Days to Kickoff: Shepard

43 Days to Kickoff: Shepard

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 Aug. 5, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 30.

School: Shepard

Head coach: John Rone

Assistant coaches: Vincent Holmes, Andy Schindel, Chris Lewis, Justin Harris and Mark Thomas

How they fared in 2018: 8-3 (5-1 South Suburban Red Conference). Shepard made the Class 6A IHSA state football playoff field, defeated Springfield and then lost to Normal West in second round action.

2019 regular season schedule:

Aug. 30 vs Leyden
Sept. 6 vs St Francis
Sept. 13 @ Reavis
Sept. 20 @ Evergreen Park
Sept. 27 @ Eisenhower
Oct. 4 vs Oak Lawn
Oct. 11 @ Lemont
Oct. 18 vs Richards
Oct. 25 vs Argo

Biggest storyline: Coach Rone’s first season was a success. Can the Astros make another state playoff run in 2019?

Names to watch this season: LB Matthew Hightower (Sr.), WR/DB Jalen Smith (Sr.)

Biggest holes to fill: The Astros welcome back six returning starters back on defense, but they will feature nearly an entire starting offense with very limited experience.

EDGY's Early Take: Head coach John Rone was able to get the Astros into the  playoffs in his first season in charge of the Shepard program. It was also the fourth straight playoff appearance for the school. The Astros always have plenty on hand in the skills department. But the defense may need to carry a talented —but younger— offense. If the pieces can gel, they can challenge for another IHSA state playoff appearance.

44 Days to Kickoff: Mundelein

44 Days to Kickoff: Mundelein

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 Aug. 5, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 30.

School: Mundelein

Head coach: Vince DeFrancesco

Assistant coaches: Alex Adams, Dave Whitson, Ken Mooney, John Cowhey, Steve Nolte, Brett Wilhelm, Mike Vukovics, Craig Stocker, Stephen Douglas, Alex Miramontes, Cody Gokan, Joe Lendino and Thomas McArthur

How they fared in 2018: 2-7 (1-6 North Suburban Conference). Mundelein failed to qualify for the IHSA state football playoff field.

2019 regular season schedule:

Aug. 30 vs Maine West

Sept. 6 @ Grayslake Central

Sept. 13 vs Lake Forest

Sept. 20 vs Waukegan

Sept. 27 @ Zion-Benton

Oct. 4 @ Stevenson

Oct. 11 @ Libertyville

Oct. 18 @ Lake Zurich

Oct. 25 @ Warren Township

Biggest storyline: In addition to Coach DeFrancesco bringing his program-building acumen to the northern suburbs, can the Mustangs win on the road? Their last five regular season games of the year are all away from Mundelein.

Names to watch this season: QB Isaac Wellman (Sr.) and OLB Alex Wing (Jr.)

Biggest holes to fill: The Mustangs welcome back 10 returning starters (three offense, seven defense) but will need to replace their entire starting offensive line group from a season ago. 

EDGY's Early Take: First-year head coach Vince DeFrancesco comes over from Lincoln Park and is looking to get the Mustangs on the winning track. DeFrancesco will take on a daunting schedule; however, this program will play with a ton of energy which has been already evident at various team events and 7-on-7’s this summer.