Preps Talk

Recruiting News and Notes: Bill Cubit, Illinois off to quick start

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Recruiting News and Notes: Bill Cubit, Illinois off to quick start

The Class of 2017 recruiting season is off and running as several schools have already begun to extend verbal scholarship offers.

Bill Cubit and the University of Illinois are off to a quick start, having extended verbal scholarship offers to at least 25 in-state prospects. Illinois was able to ink just two in-state names in the Class of 2016. They have made it known to recruits that a priority will be made on local talent going forward.

"Illinois made it pretty clear to me that they want to keep a lot of in-state kids at home," Bolingbrook junior wide receiver Kendall Smith (6-foot-2, 180 pounds) said after adding an offer from the Fighting Illini. "When they offered they told me that this is ‘our state and our team’ and want to keep as many of us in-state as possible."

[MORE PREPS: IHSFCA announces 2016 Hall of Fame class]

Several Mid-American Conference schools have also extended multiple offers to local athletes.

Miami (OH) and head coach Chuck Martin’s staff was one of the first MAC schools to extend several early scholarship offers to the upcoming class. The Redhawks, who added four Land of Lincoln names to its 2016 signing class, have also extended over 20 verbal scholarship offers to in-state athletes. Also Buffalo, Bowling Green, Toledo, Central Michigan and Western Michigan have all been very active in Illinois this winter.

Illinois State, led by coach Brock Spack, is another program that is off and running for the 2017 class. The Redbirds hosted several top names last week for a “Junior Day” event. They extended nearly a dozen early scholarship offers. Several FCS-level teams have been a bit more reserved when it comes to offering kids this early, not wanting to tip off either bigger level BCS schools or their own FCS-level rivals. That said, the Redbirds have fared well overall by offering kids early scholarship offers on the recruiting trail the past few seasons. 

[MORE PREPS: Edgy Tim's Fighting Illini 2016 in-state recruiting review]

Bolingbrook junior three-star defensive end Izayah Green-May (6-foot-6, 205 pounds) is easily one of the hottest names, not just in Illinois, but the entire Midwest over the past month. Green-May has a dozen scholarship offers since late January, with his most recent offer coming Tuesday night from Northern Illinois. Green-May has also added offers from Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Virginia and Cincinnati. Several other major Power 5 conference coaches are all taking notice of Green-May.

West Aurora three-star senior safety Drake Spears Jr. (6-foot-1, 215 pounds), who decommitted from Illinois in mid-January and failed to sign a Letter of Intent on Signing Day, ended his recruiting process over the weekend after making an official visit to Western Michigan. Spears Jr, who is a full NCAA academic qualifier could wind up becoming an impact performer for Western Michigan and head coach P.J. Fleck. 

Speaking of potential steals, Eastern Illinois head coach Kim Dameron added a late signee in Morgan Park senior three-star inside linebacker Sean Williams (6-foot-2, 225 pounds). Williams, who had offers from a half dozen MAC schools, was also on the recruiting radar of a handful of Big Ten schools leading up to Signing Day.

67 Days to Kickoff: Hillcrest

67 Days to Kickoff: Hillcrest

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: Hillcrest

Head coach: Morgan Weaver

Assistant coaches:  Mike Young, Kyran Weaver, Rob Hancock, Ryan Keen, Nicholas Schultz, Tramaine Weaver, Phillip Burkett and Langdon Mattox

How they fared in 2017: 9-3 (5-1 South Suburban Blue Conference). Hillcrest made the Class 5A state football playoff field. The Hawks defeated Peoria and Glenwood then lost to Dunlap in the quarterfinal round.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 vs Rich Central

Sept. 1 @ Rich South

Sept 7 @ Shepard

Sept. 14 vs Oak Forest

Sept. 21 vs Lemont

Sept. 28 @ Tinley Park

Oct. 5 @ T.F. South

Oct. 12 @ T.F. North

Oct. 19 vs Bremen

[MORE: 79 Days to Kickoff - Crete-Monee]

Biggest storyline: Consistency. After two straight postseason berths, can the Hawks reload and get back into the IHSA playoff field once again this fall?

Names to watch this season: WR Corey Crooms (Western Michigan) and DE Cam Mattox (NIU)

Biggest holes to fill: The Hawks welcome back 11 returning starters (six offense, five defense); hoewever, they will need to reload on the offensive line and at linebacker. 

EDGY's Early Take: Head coach Morgan Weaver was able to get the Hawks into the state playoffs in his first season. What can they do as an encore? Hillcrest has the potential to be a real threat in 5A. Keep an eye on a strong and experienced group of receivers and backs led by senior Corey Crooms (Western Michigan). They also boast a defense that features an experienced secondary and a ton of speed. 

68 Days to Kickoff: Oswego East

68 Days to Kickoff: Oswego East

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: Oswego East

Head coach: Tyson LeBlanc

Assistant coaches: Dan Dunbar, Andy Brogan, Jeremy Main, Erik Aister, Dru Filkins, Connor Downs, Zac Sadek, Reggie Cribbs and Mike Harden

How they fared in 2017: 7-3 (7-2 Southwest Prairie Conference). Oswego East made the Class 8A state football playoff field. The Wolves lost to St. Charles East in opening round action.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 vs Plainfield East

Aug. 31 @ Joliet West

Sept. 7 vs Romeoville

Sept. 14 vs Joliet Central

Sept. 21 @ Plainfield South

Sept. 28 @ Plainfield North

Oct. 5 vs Oswego

Oct. 12 vs Plainfield Central

Oct. 19 vs Minooka

[MORE: 73 Days to Kickoff - Joliet Central]

Biggest storyline: Can the Wolves get out of the rugged Southwest Prairie conference and make a run in the IHSA state playoffs?

Names to watch this season: ATH Justin Clark and WR Kieon Battle

Biggest holes to fill: The Wolves will need to replace their entire starting defensive line from a season ago.

EDGY's Early Take: Oswego East head coach Tyson LeBlanc is shooting to make the IHSA playoff field and the fourth straight year in 2018. He has a 36-24 record since coming over from Curie High School back in 2012. Oswego East will rely on a strong group of returning offensive skills led by D-1 recruit Justin Clark, who can --and will-- play multiple positions this season for the Wolves.