Preps Talk

Recruiting News and Notes: Justin Hall commits to NIU

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Recruiting News and Notes: Justin Hall commits to NIU

Justin Hall (ATH), Homewood-Flossmoor

Northern Illinois University landed its ninth in-state verbal commitment when Homewood-Flossmoor senior athlete Justin Hall (5-foot-10, 170 pounds) decided to stay closer to home and commit to the Huskies.

"I just really interacted well with the coaches as well as the players at NIU," Hall said. "It's really a family feeling in the football program at NIU and I just always have felt comfortable there. I was looking to also stay closer to home and it all just came together for me at NIU. I can stay closer to home and play for a team that has had a lot of success. NIU also offers a good education and it just feels like the best fit for me so I committed."

Hall, who was recruited by NIU head coach Rod Carey as a defensive back, can also return kicks and punts and plans to contribute to the Huskies return teams. Hall joins his Homewood-Flossmoor teammate in defensive linemen Jeff Griffin, Andrew defensive end Mike DeHaan, Decatur MacArthur wide receiver Amir Brummett, Phillips defensive tackle Queneil Morrison, Palatine outside linebacker Cortez Hogans, Simeon wide receiver Leon Payne, Rich Central athlete Jyran Mitchell and Maine South running back Fotis Kokosioulis in the NIU in-state Class of 2018. 

Brett Groves (OT), Cary-Grove

Cary-Grove senior offensive tackle Brett Groves (6-foot-5, 305 pounds) decided last week to end his recruiting process and give Southern Illinois head coach Nick Hill his verbal commitment.

"It was ready to make my decision so I called up coach Hill and gave SIU my verbal commitment," Groves aid. "I never had any set date to make my decision but with the start of practices I wanted to make my decision so I can focus on my team and my season."

Groves, who also was drawing recruiting looks from FBS schools such as Iowa State and NIU, decided he didn't want to pass up his opportunity at Southern Illinois.

"SIU just has a lot to offer. I really get a long great with the coach. Both coach Hill and coach (Trevor) Olson are good people and also very good coaches. I like the direction that the football program is headed. SIU also has a great looking campus and I just really like the surrounding area. SIU is a bit of a smaller school but still has that bigger school feel. I was also impressed with the facilities at SIU along with the academic support for athletes. I know that I'll get a good education at SIU. It's just the best for me."

Josh Shodipo (DB), Oswego

Oswego senior defensive back Josh Shodipo (5-foot-11, 165 pounds) also decided to make his college decision before the opening of team practice and give Western Illinois University his verbal commitment.

"My recent visit was a big reason why I decided to commit to WIU," Shodipo said. "WIU is a good school and I already know some people going to school there. I really like the coaches at WIU along with the players. I'm also a good fit into the WIU defense. They recruited me as a corner back but the coaches also feel I could also play some safety for them. The visit to WIU just made me feel really comfortable with the school along with the coaches and the team. WIU feels like home to me."

Jayleen Fitzpatrick (LB), Glenbard North

No one was as happy to see the official start of IHSA football practices last Monday than Glenbard North senior linebacker Jayleen Fitzpatrick (6-foot-0, 205 pounds). Fitzpatrick, who suffered an 2016 early season-ending injury, is back and 100 percent ready to go.

"I am so ready to go," Fitzpatrick said. "I'm like overly excited for the season. It's been a lot of work and rehab to get back but now I'm back."

Fitzpatrick, who will be one of the leaders for the Panthers defense this fall, will draw several college coaches attention and serious looks at his early senior year game video.

"This month I've been in touch with a lot of different schools and they all want to know when I was cleared and back with the team. I've been talking to some DII schools like Grand Valley State and the University of Indianapolis, plus some smaller schools like UW Whitewater. They all want to see some of my senior tape."

VOTE: Wintrust Viewers' Choice Game of the Week

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NBC Sports Chicago

VOTE: Wintrust Viewers' Choice Game of the Week

Who wants it more?              

NBC Sports Chicago and Wintrust present our “Viewers’ Choice Game of the Week.” We are putting High School Lites, Chicagoland’s top prep sports show, in the hands of passionate high school basketball followers. Fans will get the chance to pick one game that the @NBCSPreps crew will cover on Friday night. We will send our cameras to the game that gets the most votes; highlights and postgame reaction of that game will appear on that night’s “High School Lites” broadcast at 11:00 p.m. The show also live streams at www.nbcsportschicago.com/watchlive and appears in the MyTeams app.  High School Lites will also have broadcast replays at 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. the following Saturday on NBC Sports Chicago. 

Let's hear you, River Valley Conference! Which game should we cover on Friday night?

Donovan at Gardner-South Wilmington, 7:00 p.m.

Illinois Lutheran at Beecher, 7:00 p.m.

Tri-Point at St. Anne, 7:00 p.m.

To participate, our fans are encouraged to do the following:

**Follow our NBC Sports Chicago preps Twitter page: @NBCSPreps.

**Note the pinned tweet that is atop the feed.

**Vote for the game you want NBC Sports Chicago to cover Friday night.

**Spread the word!

The poll will start promptly at 12:00 p.m. Monday. We will make an announcement with the official results on @NBCSPreps just after 4 p.m. Thursday. And as a reminder, be sure to follow @NBCSPreps for updates on the “Viewers’ Choice Game of the Week,” along with other high school sports news, scores and highlights, all season long.

Major changes in the latest Preps Power Rankings

Major changes in the latest Preps Power Rankings

Over the last six days, we saw eight members of the Power Rankings lose. It led to some major changes, including multiple top-ten teams shuffling up and down the order.

Conference play continues with some big games this week as we near the Public League Playoffs next week as well.

1. Curie (19-1, 8-0) (1) -- Two more solid wins for the Condors as they take down Corliss and Hazelwood Central (MO). Curie will try to close out Public League play unbeaten when they play Morgan Park at home this week.
2. Bogan (19-2, 8-1) (5) -- Bogan throttled Hyde Park during the week to finish a very impressive 8-1 in Red South/Central play. The Bengals take on Bosse (IN) in the Alton Shootout this week as a tune-up for the Public League Playoffs. 
3. Thornton (21-0, 9-0) (7) -- Still unbeaten, Thornton earned its biggest road win of the season in knocking off Kankakee. The Wildcats stay on the road this week with a showdown against No. 6 Bloom in Southland play. 
4. Young (13-7, 8-0) (4) -- The Dolphins dropped an out-of-state matchup to Vashon (MO) but remain very strong when it comes to area competition. Whitney Young closes out the conference season with a road game at Orr before two games in California against elite west-coast teams.
5. Evanston (20-1, 6-0) (2) -- Finally dropping a game, the Wildkits fell to Zion-Benton before rallying for wins over rival New Trier and No. 6 Bloom. Things stay difficult for Evanston this week as they play No. 11 Loyola, No. 19 Glenbrook South and OPRF.
6. Bloom (19-5, 8-1) (3) -- The Blazing Trojans fell to Evanston in a huge top-ten matchup. Bloom continues a crazy stretch when they host No. 3 Thornton and No. 13 Marian Catholic for games this week. 
7. Notre Dame (21-3, 5-0) (6) -- Notre Dame dropped a matchup with No. 14 Simeon to drop a spot this week. The Dons are still ahead in the ESCC as they host Nazareth this week.
8. Lincoln Park (19-3, 8-1) (8) -- The Lions won three more games after the MLK weekend as they continue to win without head coach Pat Gordon. Lincoln Park is off this week before the Public League Playoffs get started. 
9. Homewood-Flossmoor (17-2, 2-0) (9) -- Two more double-digit wins for the Vikings as they are off to a good start in Southwest Suburban Blue play. Homewood-Flossmoor battles Hillcrest in an intriguing matchup this week.
10. DePaul Prep (18-2, 9-0) (10) -- The Rams continue to stay atop the Catholic League Blue with a win over St. Laurence. DePaul Prep gets some good matchups this week when they host Brother Rice and travel to Benet. 
11. Loyola (20-2, 9-0) (11) -- Loyola ran past St. Joseph to stick with the Catholic League's top teams. The Ramblers get their biggest road test of the season this week at Evanston. They will also host De La Salle in conference play.
12. Stevenson (16-3, 7-0) (12) -- The Patriots made quick work of Waukegan as they've been rolling inferior opponents since the Mundelein win. A road game at Zion-Benton should be a stiffer test with the Zee-Bees coming off a huge win over Evanston.
13. Marian Catholic (15-6, 3-1) (13) -- Dropping an out-of-state game at Quincy, Marian Catholic stays in the same spot. The Spartans will have two ESCC games and a road game at Bloom this week.
14. Simeon (15-8, 5-2) (NR) -- The Wolverines shoot back up the Power Rankings with wins over Morgan Park and Notre Dame during the week. Senior Jeremiah Williams is starting to have some huge games and this team is dangerous heading into the Playoffs.
15. Bolingbrook (17-4, 2-0) (15) -- Bolingbrook has played one of the toughest January schedules of any area team. The Raiders beat East Aurora and Bradley-Bourbonnais during the week. A top-25 game against Joliet West will be a fun one at Lewis this weekend.
16. Morgan Park (14-8, 6-2) (14) -- The Mustangs ran past Leo and Lindblom but stumbled at home against rival Simeon. Morgan Park has a chance to make a statement when they play Curie in the final conference game of the season.
17. Fenwick (18-4, 8-1) (NR) -- Winners of six straight, Fenwick has rounded into form after a sluggish stretch to start 2020. Junior Bryce Hopkins is a legitimate Player of the Year candidate as he continues his huge scoring outbursts. 
18. Cary-Grove (20-2, 10-0) (19) -- The Trojans earned double-digit wins over Burlington Central and Prairie Ridge to stay unbeaten in the Fox Valley. A tough road game with Huntley makes for an interesting week for Cary-Grove. 
19. Glenbrook South (18-3, 6-0) (20) -- Glenbrook South earned a win over Niles West to bounce back after falling to Cary-Grove. The Titans will have a huge conference clash with Evanston this week as the winner will be the leader of the CSL South.
20. Mundelein (17-3, 5-1) (21) -- The Mustangs knocked off Lake Zurich twice during the week. Two road games for Mundelein this week when they travel to Warren and Waukegan. 
21. Oak Forest (18-1, 9-0) (22) -- Taking care of business against Bremen, it sets up for a big week for Oak Forest. The Bengals play three games, including a big matchup with Tinley Park and Lincoln-Way East.
22. Waubonsie Valley (20-2, 4-1) (23) -- A big win over Metea Valley pushes the Warriors to 20 wins. Waubonsie Valley has two home games during the week, including a conference matchup with Naperville North. 
23. Joliet West (19-3, 11-0) (24) -- Joliet West stayed unbeaten in the Southwest Prairie with two more wins. This week gets significantly tougher for the Tigers with matchups against Romeoville and Bolingbrook. 
24. Kankakee (16-2, 6-2) (17) -- The Kays fell to Thornton before rallying for two wins to close out the week. Kankakee gets two winnable home games during the week as they try to keep pace with the Wildcats and Bloom in the Southland.
25. Hinsdale South (21-2, 7-0) (25) -- The Hornets claimed two more wins to push their winning streak to nine as they remain red hot. Hinsdale South gets a solid test at home against Morton this week.