Preps Talk

National Signing Day 2017 Preview

National Signing Day 2017 Preview

Wednesday is National Signing Day as high school football players from the Class of 2017 sign letters of intent. Here is an early preview of what to expect in Illinois and nationwide:

How will the Class of 2017 shape up compared to previous in-state recruiting classes? 

It will be considered a very strong overall class based off recent history. Heading into the week, I identified 76 players who are expected to sign FBS letters of intent. This would be the highest amount since the Class of 2005 (80 FBS scholarships). There are also 30-40 players expected to sign FCS letters of intent. It will place the class with over 100 DI scholarships, well above the 10 year average.

Top 5 local recruits for the Class of 2017?

1. AJ Epenesa (DE) Edwardsville

Epenesa (6-foot-5, 270 pounds) has been verbally committed to Iowa since Jan. 2016 and is also the son of former Hawkeye lineman Eppy Epenesa. Obviously, Iowa had a relatively easy time recruiting and landing him.

2. Jeff Thomas (WR), East St. Louis

Thomas (5-foot-10, 170 pounds) has been a major impact player for head coach Darren Sunkett's 7A state champion Flyers since his freshman season.

3. Isaiah Robertson (S), Neuqua Valley

Robertson (6-foot-2, 185 pounds) is committed to Notre Dame and already enrolled in classes in South Bend. 

4. Kevin Jarvis (OG), Maine South

Jarvis (6-foot-5, 315 pounds) is committed to Michigan State. Jarvis showed his overall talent and versatility in 2017 by helping lead Maine South to the Class 8A state title. Jarvis was an impact player for the Hawks on both sides of the line, a rarity at the 8A level.

5. Cole Kmet (TE), St. Viator

Kmet (6-foot-6, 240 pounds) rounds out the list. He is another Notre Dame commit who has all the tools that colleges look for in an elite tight end.

Are there any top ranked recruits that will wait until National Signing Day to reveal their college choice?

All eyes will be on East St. Louis Wednesday morning. Thomas will make his college choice known via a national TV audience. The announcement is tentatively set for 9:00 a.m. Last week, Thomas narrowed down his Top 3 schools to Miami (FL), Oregon and Louisville. My best guess? Thomas will commit to the Hurricanes. 

[MORE: Edgy Tim goes 1-on-1 with Warren Township wideout Micah Jones]

When it comes to statewide talent, which positions are considered a strength?

Defensive linemen. Not too long ago, Illinois was known as a stronghold for big offensive tackles. However, over the past few years defensive linemen have taken center stage. Out of the soon-to-be-released EdgyTim.com Top 100 rankings for the Class of 2017, 22 defensive linemen made the cut. It is the largest amount of any position in the class. Offensive linemen, wide receivers and linebackers all feature at least 15 or more recruits in my Top 100.

Which position is considered a weakness in Illinois?

Quarterbacks. In the aforementioned Top 100 rankings, only four quarterbacks made the cut. No quarterbacks made the Top 20. A handful of quarterbacks will ink FCS letters of intent and the rest will fill up several NAIA/DIII rosters in 2017. It's been awhile since we've had a surplus of recruits receive FBS scholarships. However, the Class of 2018 seems to show more promise than this current group at this same stage a year ago.

Which schools will have a good National Signing Day in regards to landing students from Illinois?

I feel that Illinois did pretty well with in-state recruiting. They've landed some impact players who have a solid chance to make an immediate contribution. I also feel that Northern Illinois did well and might have landed one of their better overall in-state classes in years. I was also impressed with Iowa, Wyoming, the service academies (Army/Navy/Air Force) and also Yale. Seriously ...Yale? Yes, the Bulldogs pulled standout Marist linebacker Micah Awodiran away from several Power 5 schools. Yale also added former Iowa State commit in offensive lineman Tyler Jost.

Work to do

While hundreds of recruits will sign letters of intent on Wednesday, several still have to get going in the classroom. I know of at least 5-7 players from my Illinois Top 25 who are — at best — borderline academic qualifiers and/or need post very strong spring semesters to clear various college admissions departments.

*I will have more in-depth looks and breakdowns of all in-state FBS and FCS college recruiting classes later this week.*

73 Days To Kickoff: Fenwick

73 Days To Kickoff: Fenwick

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: Fenwick

Head coach: Gene Nudo

Assistant coaches: Dick Eufrasio, Titcus Pettigrew, Tim Rooney, Brien Rooney, Craig Schneider, Joe Bauers, Mike Herman and Joe Hajek

How they fared in 2018: 3-6 (2-2 Chicago Catholic League/Green Conference). Fenwick failed to qualify for the IHSA state football playoffs.

2019 regular season schedule:

Aug. 30 vs Curie
Sept. 6 vs Dunbar
Sept. 13 @ Nazareth Academy
Sept. 20 @ Joliet Catholic
Sept. 27 vs. Marist
Oct. 4 vs Marmion Academy
Oct. 11 vs. St. Patrick
Oct. 18 @ Leo  
Oct. 25 @ St. Ignatius

[MORE: 75 Days to Kickoff - St. Ignatius]

Biggest storyline: The new conference. Can the Friars bounce back from last season while playing a new and challenging league?

Names to watch this season: OL/DL Sean Carpenter (Sr.) QB Kaden Cobb (Soph.) and WR Bryce Legan (Sr.)

Biggest holes to fill: The Friars welcome back several starters from last fall but will also need to find six new replacements on the defensive side of the football.

EDGY's Early Take: Fenwick struggled last season. The Friars played several underclassmen starters and they're hoping that experience will pay off come August. The new CCL/ESCC mega conference also brings new challenges. It includes a tough path in the middle of the season with games at Nazareth, at Joliet Catholic and then at home vs. Marist. If the Friars can get out of the gate quickly, they have a good shot at earning a state playoff spot in 2019. 

74 Days To Kickoff: Metea Valley

74 Days To Kickoff: Metea Valley

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: Metea Valley 

Head coach: John Parpet Jr.

Assistant coaches: Defensive coordinator - Erik Kramer, Asst. coach - Russ Lorenz, Asst. coach - Albert Zika, Asst. coach - Evan Goodman

How they fared in 2018: 1-8 (0-4 DuPage Valley Conference). Metea Valley failed to qualify for the IHSA state football playoffs

2019 regular season schedule:

Aug. 30 vs. Wheaton Warrenville South
Sept. 6 @ Lake Park 
Sept. 13 @ Belleville East
Sept. 20 @ Naperville Central
Sept. 27 vs. De Kalb
Oct. 4 @ Naperville North
Oct. 11 vs. Neuqua Valley
Oct. 18 @ Waubonsie Valley  
Oct. 25 vs. Neuqua Valley

[MORE: 93 Days to Kickoff: Oswego East]

Biggest storyline: Can the Mustangs get off to a good start under first year head coach John Parpet Jr.?

Names to watch this season: TE/DE Austin Frederick (Sr.) and TE/LB John Belskis (Sr.) 

Biggest holes to fill: The Mustangs will need to replace seven graduated starters on the defensive side of the football for the 2019 season.

EDGY's Early Take: Metea Valley and first year head coach John Parpet Jr. will look to get the Mustangs program on the winning side of the slate after posting back-to-back 1-8 seasons. They will rely on an experienced core of senior multi-year starters. If the underclassmen group can develop sooner rather than later, this program has the potential for a breakout. The regular season schedule in the DuPage Valley conference is always stacked; they need to get off to a good early start.