Preps Talk

Recruiting News and Notes: Jeff Thomas releases his Top 5 schools list

Recruiting News and Notes: Jeff Thomas releases his Top 5 schools list

Class 7A IHSA state champion East St. Louis has been a hub of recruiting activity over the past few weeks and will remain busy until National Signing Day on Feb. 1.

East St. Louis All-State safety James Knight (5-foot-10, 198 pounds) gave head coach Lovie Smith and Illinois his verbal commitment on Monday. 

"It's right next to home and I like their coaching staff," Knight said. "I really like coach Smith and their program. It feels like home for me."

Four-star ranked wide receiver Jeff Thomas (5-foot-10, 170 pounds) released his Top 5 schools on Twitter and plans to announce his college decision on Feb. 1.

Thomas made an official visit to Illinois, but canceled a planned visit to Louisville last weekend because of poor weather in the area. Thomas has one more official visit planned to Miami this weekend and mentioned Oregon and Tennessee on his list.

On Wednesday, East St. Louis two-star ranked quarterback Rey Estes (6-foot-0, 161 pounds) announced that he was giving Minnesota his verbal commitment.
 
Estes was originally committed to Missouri but decided to reopen his recruiting.

[PREPS: Loyola QB takes a different route to college football]

One local player to keep tabs on is Oak Park-River Forest senior wide receiver Jared Scott (6-foot-6, 215 pounds). Scott has been impressive on the hardwood for the Huskies, and has also seen his football recruiting stock take off with a few weeks left before National Signing Day. Scott has added football scholarship offers from Western Michigan and Wyoming, while several FCS schools have shown late recruiting interest.

Johnsburg All-State running back Alex Peete (5-foot-9, 170 pounds) had a handful of DII scholarship offers on the table, but earlier this week decided to give DIII football powerhouse University of Wisconsin-Whitewater his verbal commitment. 

"I just really like the coaches at UW Whitewater," Peete said. "They kept recruiting me hard and I also just feel very comfortable at Whitewater. UWW has a great winning tradition and I want to get a chance to play for national championships. The combination of athletics and academics at Whitewater along with being a bit closer to home really was the biggest difference for me."

40 Days to Kickoff: De La Salle

40 Days to Kickoff: De La Salle

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: De La Salle

Head coach: Mike Boehm

Assistant coaches: Bill Green, John Grubisich, Jim Brinkley, Nick Henton, Rich Blake, Bob Garrett and Terrence Young

How they fared in 2018: 8-5 (2-2 CCL Green Conference). De La Salle failed to make the IHSA state football playoff field, but entered the Chicago Catholic League playoffs and defeated St. Joseph, St. Ignatius and St. Laurence. They lost to St. Rita in the CCL championship. 

2019 regular season schedule:

Aug. 30 vs Niles West 

Sept. 6 vs Kenwood 

Sept. 13 vs Marmion Academy 

Sept. 20 vs Benet Academy 

Sept. 27 vs St. Joseph 

Oct. 4 @ Nazareth Academy 

Oct. 11 @ Mount Carmel 

Oct. 18 @ Montini

Oct. 25 vs St. Laurence

[MORE: 68 Days to Kickoff - St. Laurence

Biggest storyline: A tale of two conferences. How will the Meteors fare in the newly-realigned CCL/ESCC Orange conference in 2019? 

Names to watch this season: TE Matt Byrne (Sr.) and RB/WR/DB Jason Moore (Sr.)

Biggest holes to fill: The Meteors will need to reload at several positions, especially on offense with just two starters back from last year's squad. 

EDGY's Early Take: The Meteors are now in the same league with the likes of St. Laurence, Nazareth Academy and Benet Academy. De La Salle has a handful of key names back this season, but several new faces will need to step up and provide production. De La Salle will also need to come out and take care of business in August and September, as the regular season slate is stacked with traditional power programs from Week 5 thru 9. Five straight home games to start the season should provide a nice boost.

41 Days to Kickoff: Wilmington

41 Days to Kickoff: Wilmington

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: Wilmington

Head coach: Jeff Reents

Assistant coaches: Barry Southall, Rob Murphy, Chad Farrell, Robert Bolser, Drew Tyler, Mark Langusch, Mike Bushnell, Andy Peterson and Mike Lenton

How they fared in 2018: 6-4 (2-2 Interstate Eight ‘Small’ Conference). Wilmington made the Class 3A IHSA state football playoff field and lost to Monmouth-Roseville in opening round action. 

2019 regular season schedule:

Aug. 30 vs Evergreen Park
Sept. 6 vs. Oak Lawn
Sept. 13 @ Streator
Sept. 20 vs Manteno
Sept. 27 @ Lisle
Oct. 4 vs Herscher
Oct. 11 vs Reed-Custer
Oct. 18 @ Coal City
Oct. 25 vs Peotone

Biggest storyline: The Wildcats have made the playoffs 23 seasons in a row. Can they keep up their winning ways in a new conference (Illinois Central Eight) in 2019?

Names to watch this season: OL Hunter Doherty (Sr.) and RB/LB Jake Rodawold (Sr).

Biggest holes to fill: The Wildcats bring back a ton of experience with 14 returning starters but the overall numbers and depth can always be improved upon this summer. 

EDGY's Early Take: The Wildcats and head coach Jeff Reents had a rare early exit from the state playoffs in 2018. Look for this year’s team to rely on a more experienced lineup on both sides of the football. The new Illinois Central Eight conference home is a very familiar collection of teams that Wilmington has competed with for several years, so expect them to fare just fine here.