Preps Talk

Preps recruiting news and notes: Tuscola's Hunter Woodard headed to Oklahoma State

Preps recruiting news and notes: Tuscola's Hunter Woodard headed to Oklahoma State

Tuscola junior offensive tackle recruit Hunter Woodard (6-foot-5, 296 pounds) decided to end his recruiting process on Tuesday and gave Oklahoma State his verbal commitment. Woodard, who recently added scholarship offers from both Illinois and Syracuse pointed towards his recent unofficial visit to Oklahoma State as a big factor in his early decision.

"The visit I made to Oklahoma State really blew me away." according to Woodard. "The offensive line coach Josh Henson and I have a similar background and personality and it's just a great fit for me. It's hard to describe just how amazing everything was at Oklahoma State. It's truly the best of everything you could ask for. I'm just extremely happy."

Marist will easily be one of the busiest schools over the next few months as the NCAA football spring evaluation period began on Monday. A handful of Power 5 coaches have already made in school visits to the Home of the Redhawks according to Marist three-star ranked defensive tackle Gavin McCabe (6-foot-3, 255 pounds).

"So far Michigan State, Minnesota, Illinois and Toledo have been into school," McCabe said. "They came in and watched one of our team workouts. Having the college coaches at our workouts definitely brings energy and a lot more focus from everyone. Just the attitude in the weight room is more intense at this time of the year and it's been exciting."

McCabe, who will be visiting Arkansas this weekend and both Boston College and Syracuse in a few weeks is starting to inch closer to a college decision.

"I'm aiming for early summer for making a decision. I'm waiting until after the spring evaluation period is over before I name any favorites. Once the spring evaluation is over I'll name a Top 5 schools list then narrow it down from there. "

Class 4A state power Phillips is no stranger to having FBS level players and sophomore athlete Joseph Thompson (5-foot-10, 160 pounds) just added his second FBS level scholarship offer earlier this week.

"Toledo just offered me a scholarship," Thompson said. "They offered me over the phone when I was talking to them. I know that Toledo is pretty good, that they run the football pretty well and they also have a nice defense, good wide receivers and that overall they are a good team. I think they played in a bowl game last year as well."

Thompson, who has offers so far from NIU and Toledo has also drawn recruiting looks this spring from Penn State, Western Michigan and Central Michigan.

Another familiar name to watch in the Class of 2019 is Wheaton Academy sophomore quarterback Ben Thorson (6-foot-3, 180 pounds). Thorson, who is the younger brother for former Wheaton North and current Northwestern starting quarterback Clayton Thorson has begun to attract early recruiting interest this spring.

"I camped at both Wisconsin and Northwestern last summer and I stay in touch with the coaches from both schools," per Thorson. "I also have also drawn interest from Duke and Iowa. I would say that my dream school would be anyone in the Big Ten. I'm just a Midwest guy and I've watched Big Ten football forever."

Thorson is already lining up a full slate of upcoming summer one day camps.

"I'm looking at camping at Duke, Northwestern, Iowa, Wisconsin, NIU and Illinois so far."

IHSA moves football, boys soccer and girls volleyball to Spring 2021

IHSA moves football, boys soccer and girls volleyball to Spring 2021

February football will not just be limited to the Super Bowl. It’ll be coming to many Illinois high school football fields in 2021.

The IHSA Board announced Wednesday that the 2020-2021 sports calendar will be significantly altered, with football, boys soccer and girls volleyball moving to the Spring 2021 season, in conjunction with Governor J.B. Pritzker's guidelines on COVID-19 safety protocol.

Boys and girls golf, girls tennis, boys and girls cross country and girls swimming and diving will play this fall. The season gets underway Aug. 10.

The winter sports schedule, which begins Nov. 16 and runs to Feb. 13, includes boys and girls basketball, wrestling, boys swimming and diving, competitive cheerleading, competitive dance, boys and girls bowling and girls gymnastics. Contests can begin on Nov. 30.

In spring season, which begins Feb. 15, football, boys soccer, girls volleyball, girls badminton, boys gymnastics and boys and girls water polo. Contests begin Mar. 1

The summer sports season, which starts May 3 and goes to June 26, includes baseball, softball, boys and girls track and field, girls soccer, boys volleyball, boys and girls lacrosse and boys tennis. Contests begin May 17.

“I applaud our Board of Directors for choosing a model that allows every student-athlete the opportunity for a modified season,” IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said in a statement. “This plan, like nearly every aspect of our current lives, remains fluid. Changes may come, and if they do, we will be agile while putting safety and students first.”

Pritzker announced a series of restrictions on high school sports, travel clubs, park district leagues and other adult recreational sports programs earlier this afternoon.

The guidelines, which go into effect on Aug. 15, will place sports into three risk levels: low, medium and high based on the amount of contact between athletes and their proximity during practices and game competition.

Lower-risk sports include badminton, baseball (if players can be at least six feet apart in dugouts or in bleachers; otherwise considered medium-risk), bass fishing (if room on boat permits social distancing), bowling, cross country (if teams are limited), golf, gymnastics, softball (same rules as baseball), swimming and diving (single lanes/single diving, no relays; otherwise it’s medium-risk), tennis and track and field (if delayed starts, every other lane and cleaning of equipment between usage otherwise medium-rosh).

Medium-risk sports include basketball, flag football/7-on-7 football, soccer, volleyball, water polo and wheelchair basketball.

High-risk sports include competitive cheerleading, competitive dance, football, hockey, lacrosse and wrestling.

In tandem with those guidelines, the measures also dictate four additional levels by which these sports can be played based on current public health statue, with level 1 allowing only no-contact outdoor practices and level 2 allowing intra-team scrimmages (but not competitive play). In level 3, intra-conference and intra-league play is allowed, with the possibility of state championship games for low-risk sports. Level 4 is with the least amount of restrictions, where inter-conference and interstate competition can occur, along with the other state championship games.

Lower risk sports are currently allowed to play in the first three levels, medium-risk sports are allowed to play in the first two levels and the high-risk sports are first-level only.

The 2019-20 IHSA calendar was thrust into uncertainty back on March 12 when the 1A and 2A boys basketball state finals were called off, due to the COVID-19 outbreak. It was soon followed by the cancellation of the 3A and 4A boys hoops and the rest of the IHSA spring sports calendar.

Max Christie selects Michigan State over Duke, several Big Ten schools

Max Christie selects Michigan State over Duke, several Big Ten schools

Sparty Nation got another reason to flex. And it may have Coach K seeing green.

Max Christie, a five-star shooting guard (Rivals) and the top Illinois player in the Class of 2021, is headed to play for Michigan State and legendary head coach Tom Izzo. The Rolling Meadows High School product made his decision Tuesday in an interview with Fox’s Andy Katz.

“It just felt like it was a place that I was needed and a place I wanted to go to,” Christie said. “I think Coach Izzo and his staff and all my teammates there can push me to be the person I want to be, not just on, but off the court.”

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Christie selected Michigan State —his only official visit— over, namely, Coach Mike Krzyzewski and Duke. Also on his list of potential choices were Villanova, Virginia, Purdue, Ohio State, Northwestern, Illinois and several others. While Christie is excited for Izzo to help improve his game, he also prides himself on his versatility and making an immediate impact.

“I think I can be a great facilitator and a great scorer,” Christie said. “I feel like I can do anything that Coach Izzo or the players need be to do if that means rebounding, pushing the ball, setting up an offense or coming off screens, I feel like I am versatile enough of anything that is asked of me.”

The 6-foot-6 Christie may get another boost on the court a few years down the line, as Class of 2022 phenom Emoni Bates, the top player in the current junior class, committed to play for MSU on June 30. All of this assumes Bates keeps his commitment to East Lansing and doesn’t hop the NBA. Christie remains steadfast in his committed to Michigan State and is not exploring any G-League options at the moment.

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Christie has grabbed headlines in Chicagoland since his freshman year. He has tallied a 50-point game and a triple double and had several clutch moments during his junior season. He is coming off the first 20-win campaign at ‘Meadows in nearly 30 years.

And there’s more Christie magic in the pipeline. Cameron, his younger brother, is one of the quickly-rising sophomores in the area.