Preps Talk

Recruiting News and Notes: Mariano Sori-Marin commits to Minnesota

Recruiting News and Notes: Mariano Sori-Marin commits to Minnesota

Mariano Sori-Marin (OLB), Providence Catholic

Providence Catholic junior outside linebacker Mariano Sori-Marin (6-foot-2, 225 pounds) added a recent offer from Minnesota and gave the Gophers his verbal commitment late last week.

"It's been pretty overwhelming," Sori-Marin said. "Minnesota just offers the best fit for me so I committed. Minnesota also offers strong academics, plus they also play in the Big Ten. After I visited, I knew that Minnesota is a great place to be so I talked it over with my family and I committed."

Sori-Marin, who missed nearly the entire 2016 season after suffering an injury in Week 1, went from largely under the radar to Gophers pledge in a hurry. 

"Both my recruiting coach at Minnesota (Brian Callahan) and the defensive coordinator (Robb Smith) came to watch one of my workouts in person a few weeks ago," Sori-Marin said. "The Minnesota coaches called me a few days later and invited me to come up and make a campus visit. I went to Minnesota last week with my parents for a visit and they offered me before we left campus. We went home and talked it over and gave it a few days to sink in. Minnesota is just a great fit for me and I'm very excited to be committed to the University of Minnesota."

Sori-Marin is now the third Illinois verbal pledge to Minnesota's Class of 2018, joining Glenbard North defensive back Tyrik Henderson and Marist defensive tackle Elijah Teague.

Denver Warren (DT), West Aurora

West Aurora freshman defensive tackle Denver Warren (6-foot-3, 285 pounds) has been highly impressive on the camp circuit. Warren added his first two scholarship offers last weekend from Iowa State and Central Michigan.

"It's awesome to add two offers already," Warren said. "I spoke with the coaches at Iowa State on Saturday and then about a half hour later I also talked to Central Michigan and they also extended me an offer. I'm just really excited and so is my family."

Warren, who played for Aurora Christian last season before transferring to West Aurora, has also started to draw more recruiting attention after adding his first two offers. 

"I've had 5-6 different college coaches start to follow me on Twitter right after I tweeted out my offers," Warren said.

[RELATED: Recruiting news and notes - Fenwick's Mike O'Laughlin headed to West Virginia]

Jaylan Alexander (ILB), Hoffman Estates

Hoffman Estates junior inside linebacker Jaylan Alexander (6-foot-2, 225 pounds) has added several scholarship offers and increased recruiting attention this spring. 

"I have offers so far from NIU, Western Kentucky, Illinois State, Eastern Michigan, Western Illinois, Central Michigan and Bowling Green," Alexander said. "We've also been seeing a lot of college coaches in school this spring. Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Central Michigan, NIU, Illinois, Western Kentucky and a few others have all been in so far. Most of the coaches come and watch our team workouts. Michigan State has also invited me to come and camp with them this summer."

Alexander also is lining up his summer college one-day camp schedule.

"I'm planning to go to the North Central College camp with Minnesota and then the following day when Iowa State is at NCC," Alexander said. "I'm also going to the Northwestern showcase camp and also NIU for a one day camp."

Alec Pierce (WR), Glenbard West

Glenbard West junior wide receiver Alec Pierce (6-foot-3, 191 pounds) has a half dozen scholarship offers, along with several BCS schools paying close attention to him.

"We've seen a lot of coaches in school so far," Pierce said. "Most of the college coaches come into school in the morning to watch our morning workouts. Illinois was in school, along with Minnesota, Purdue, Vanderbilt, Boston College, Northwestern and Wisconsin over the past week. It also seems like the entire Mid-American conference as been in school this spring."

Pierce has scholarship offers from Illinois State, Fordham, Central Michigan, Columbia, South Dakota and Western Illinois.

Jerry Sloan, Bulls player and Jazz coaching legend, stayed true to Illinois roots

Jerry Sloan, Bulls player and Jazz coaching legend, stayed true to Illinois roots

There’s country strong. And then there’s Jerry Sloan.

The NBA Hall of Fame player and coach, a tenacious defender and steady offensive threat, became a household name with the Chicago Bulls in the 1970s. Four-time NBA All-Defensive First Team. Two-time NBA-All-Star.

Sloan died Friday after a courageous battle against Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia. He was 78.

But it was Sloan’s perseverance as a child and his dedication to the game of basketball —and his home town— 300 miles south of the Windy City that made him a real star.

[MORE: Remember ‘Original Bull’ Jerry Sloan as he lived: tough, humble and honest]

The former Bull, who went on to lead the Utah Jazz to the playoffs in 15 of his 23 seasons there as a head coach, grew up on a farm near McLeansboro, Illinois. The youngest of 10 children, Sloan would routinely wake up in the wee hours to do family chores. He’d then walk two miles to the town’s high school for basketball practice.

The foundation of a hard work ethic and a ferocious competitive nature paved the way for Sloan’s rise to stardom.

Sloan played on several great McLeansboro teams in the late-50s. In his junior season, he helped guide his squad to a 19-6 record for coach Gene Haile. He followed that up with a senior season most kids would dream of: 26 wins, 3 losses. He was named to the All-State team.

He would later guide the Evansville Purple Aces to two Division II national championships. He became known as “the Original Bull” shortly after the startup Bulls franchise drafted him in the 1966 expansion draft. The rest was history—a brilliant 10-year career in Chicago as a player and nearly three more as a head coach on West Madison before becoming a legend in Salt Lake City.

But it was his small-town roots that made Jerry Sloan all the more genuine.

He would return to McLeansboro several times in 1984 —the year he became an assistant with the Utah Jazz— to watch his high school team play. His son, Brian, led the Foxes to the Class A state championship that year, going 35-0 in the process. Brian went on to play for Bobby Knight at Indiana.

Sloan would return frequently to this Southern Illinois town many times during his run with the Jazz— a run where he only finished below .500 once and racked up an astonishing career 1,221 wins. Hamilton County High School, formerly known as McLeansboro, dedicated its gym in Sloan’s honor in Dec. 2012. A road in McLeansboro is now called Jerry Sloan Avenue.

In a statement, a representative from McLeansboro High School said the following:

“Today is a sad day for Hamilton County and the Foxes. Coach Jerry Sloan has passed away. Coach Sloan graduated from McLeansboro High School in 1960 and was always a hometown boy. Whenever he returned he was just one of us. He will be greatly missed. RIP Coach Sloan.”

McLeansboro will always be Sloan Country.

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Michigan recruit J.J. McCarthy to transfer from Nazareth to Florida's IMG Academy

Michigan recruit J.J. McCarthy to transfer from Nazareth to Florida's IMG Academy

J.J. McCarthy, the state’s top-ranked high school quarterback and overall player according to Rivals, is transferring from Nazareth Academy to IMG Academy in Florida.

McCarthy made the announcement on his Twitter page Monday afternoon.

The news sent shock waves throughout the national prep football landscape. McCarthy, committed to play at Michigan, led the Roadrunners to an IHSA 7A second place finish back in November. As a sophomore in 2018, he threw for over 3,200 yards and 36 touchdowns. It culminated in a state title win and a 13-1 season.

The move makes sense for McCarthy, as he will team up with offensive lineman Greg Crippen, a fellow Michigan commit. According to Rivals, McCarthy (6-foot-2, 195 pounds) is ranked as the No. 5 pro-style quarterback and No. 33 overall recruit in the country.

The loss is a huge one for head coach Tim Racki and company at the La Grange Park school. That said, the Roadrunners are one of the dominant programs in IHSA football, compiling a 38-4 record the past three seasons with three state titles in the previous six campaigns.

The big questions: Will other high-caliber Illinois high school athletes follow McCarthy? When will the IHSA commit to a fall sports schedule? What will Illinois high school football look like in the fall? What guidelines will be in place? There are many uncertainties.

What is known: The IHSA chose to cancel the state basketball tournament and all 2020 spring sports due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Illinois is currently in a phased reopening of businesses and other institutions. Florida is ahead of Illinois in respect to some of those aforementioned facilities.

The risk, or perhaps the unknown, was worth it for McCarthy and his family. Will Florida —or other states, including Illinois— even be cleared to play football come August? Will his move be a productive one in retrospect?

Time will tell.