Preps Talk

Recruiting News and Notes: Edwardsville's AJ Epenesa visits Missouri

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Recruiting News and Notes: Edwardsville's AJ Epenesa visits Missouri

AJ Epenesa (DE), Edwardsville

The junior four-star defensive end made an unofficial gameday visit to Missouri.

"It was exciting," Epenesa told Rivals.com's Brian Austin. "I was really looking forward to going to check out Mizzou and see what they're all about on game day. It was fun being there. The fans were definitely loud and crazy. It was fun to be around. They're a good team, but they had a rough game. Other then the loss it was a really enjoyable visit. I had a good time."

Epenesa (6-foot-5, 255 pounds), the 23rd ranked player in the nation according to Rivals.com's Class of 2017 Top 100 recruit rankings, has 20 scholarship offers so far. 

Jake Marwede (TE), Loyola

The junior tight end was able to add his first offer from Central Michigan last week.

"It's pretty exciting," Marwede said. "I went to a Central Michigan satellite camp last summer in Paw Paw and I was able to get to know the coaches a bit better. I felt I had a pretty good camp and I've been staying in touch with the CMU coaches ever since. I haven't had a chance to make it on campus just yet but I'm planning to visit Central Michigan soon."

Marwede is also drawing recruiting interest from the likes of Penn State, Michigan, Duke, North Carolina, NC State, Vanderbilt and Virginia.

[MORE PREPS: CSN Preps Power Rankings - Week 9]

Matt Norton (TE), Stevenson

Norton (6-foot-6, 235 pounds) was beginning to draw more recruiting looks from DI level colleges this fall, but decided to accept a roster spot invite from Penn last week.

"I just loved it at Penn on my visit," the senior tight end said. "It's more of an urban campus in Philadelphia and it's exactly what I was looking for in a school. I was able to get to know the coaches and the players and everyone was great. I'm planning to to major in business and Penn offers a world class education and an amazing business program. I narrowed it down to Penn or Princeton and in the end it was just the feeling I had at Penn that sealed it for me."

Justin Blake (QB), Montini

One Class of 2016 name to keep an eye on from a recruiting standpoint is Blake (6-foot-0, 180 pounds). Blake, who is playing quarterback for the Broncos this season, has amassed nearly 2,000 yards of total offense heading into this week's game at Marmion Academy.

"I'm still staying in touch with the coaches from NIU, Illinois State, Eastern Illinois, Western Illinois, Western Michigan and Toledo," Blake said. "I was able to go visit NIU, along with Western Illinois already, and I'm trying to find a way to get down to Eastern Illinois soon. The coaches either call or text me once a week and I also keep sending them my updated film each week."

Blake, who played wide receiver last season, is also a high-level caliber athlete who could draw offers at various positions at the college level.

Under Armour All-American Game Fan Vote

Both Lake Park senior defensive tackle Mike Panasiuk (Michigan State) and Nazareth Academy senior defensive back Julian Love (Notre Dame) need your vote. Panasiuk and Love have been added to the Under Armour All-American Game first ever fan vote. The fans will decide the final two roster spots in the Under Armour All-American Game held on Jan. 2 at the Orlando Citrus Bowl televised live on ESPN2. Round 1 voting is underway and you can cast your votes here.

62 Days to Kickoff: Lincoln Park

62 Days to Kickoff: Lincoln Park

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: Lincoln Park

Head coach: Vince DeFrancesco

Assistant coaches: Steve Karoff, Grant Magnuson, Tyler Clark, Brandon Randolph, Alex Green and Tom Dellota

How they fared in 2017: 8-2 (7-0 Chicago Public League Chicago Big Shoulders Conference). Lincoln Park made the Class 7A state football playoff field. The Lions lost to Alton in opening round action. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ IWT Speer

Sept. 1 vs. Kenwood

Sept. 7 vs. Hubbard

Sept. 14 @ Phillips

Sept. 21 vs. Lane Tech

Sept. 28 vs. Taft

Oct. 5 vs. Westinghouse

Oct. 12 vs. Raby

Oct. 19 vs. Morgan Park

Biggest storyline: The Lions' new conference. Can Lincoln Park keep its winning ways when they start playing in the CPL/Illini Land of Lincoln this fall?

Names to watch this season: RB/LB Dane Romberger and DB Jalen Jenkins

Biggest holes to fill: The Lions will need to reload on the offensive side of the football this summer with just three starters back this fall.

EDGY's Early Take: Coach Vince DeFrancesco's Lions have been on a nice roll, getting to the IHSA state playoffs in each of his past three seasons (four straight for the school overall). However, the price for the Lions' success is extremely high. The CPL Illini Land of Lincoln is loaded. The schedule includes the likes of Kenwood, Hubbard, Phillips, Raby and Morgan Park...just to name a few. If the Lions can develop their less experienced offense this summer, all the better for them.

63 Days to Kickoff: Shepard

63 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 July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Shepard

Head coach: John Rone

Assistant coaches: Andrew Porter, Ron Rivera, Chris Lewis, Ryan McGuire and Clint Connelly

How they fared in 2017: 8-2 (5-1 South Suburban Red Conference). Shepard made the Class 6A state football playoff field. The Astros lost to Marmion Academy in opening round action. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ Leyden

Sept. 1 @ Stagg

Sept 7 vs Hillcrest

Sept. 14 vs Eisenhower

Sept. 21 @ Richards

Sept. 28 @ Oak Lawn

Oct. 5 vs Reavis

Oct. 12 vs Evergreen Park

Oct. 19 @ Argo

Biggest storyline: First-year head coach John Rone. Can the Astros challenge once again for the South Suburban Red conference title under a new head coach?

Names to watch this season: RB/LB Chris Harrison and TE/DE Kevin Graham

Biggest holes to fill: The Astros bring back 10 returning starters (five offense, five defense). Overall depth could also be a concern.  

EDGY's Early Take: Shepard will be led by former Eisenhower assistant Rone, who was able to retain an experienced staff at Shepard. It will help ease the transition from former head coach Dominic Passolano this summer. If the Astros can get off to a good early start they have the overall talent to again make a state playoff appearance in 2018. Can they challenge conference power Richards in the South Suburban Red race?