Preps Talk

What we learned on Signing Day for Class of 2017 in Illinois

What we learned on Signing Day for Class of 2017 in Illinois

The Class of 2017 in the State of Illinois was a good, blue collar roster builder group. While the Class of 2017 had just a handful of highly ranked names this in-state class overall was also a very good and deep class overall. The defensive linemen, offensive linemen and wide receivers remained the deepest positions in this class. 

East St. Louis standout wide receiver is heading to the U. East St. Louis four-star ranked wide receiver Jeff Thomas (5-foot-10, 165 pounds) made his college choice known on live national television, pledging to the University of Miami. Thomas seems to lock in on the Hurricanes after his late January official visit and remained the consensus team to beat.

Illinois and head coach Lovie Smith had a good day. The Fighting Illini had a strong Class of 2017 especially from an in-state perspective. The Illinois class included eight players from the home state led by Brother Rice four-star ranked wide receiver Ricky Smalling. The Fighting Illini added much needed depth in a handful of key spots and the group as a whole is at a much higher talent level compared to the past few classes.

Northern Illinois also fared well. The Huskies also added some nice talent in state in this Class of 2017 group. Homewood-Flossmoor senior wide receiver Ty Richie (6-foot-2, 19-0 pounds) is a potential game breaker while St. Charles North offensive tackle Isaac Hawn (6-foot-6, 280 pounds) could contribute early. Immaculate Conception three-star ranked running back Jordan Rowell (6-foot-1, 190 pounds) decommitted from the Huskies earlier this summer but eventually found his way back to DeKalb.

Northwestern? The Wildcats Class of 2017 was limited to two in-state scholarship players and three preferred walk-ons out of Northwestern's 26 name recruiting class. A concern? No. The Wildcats in-state scope was very limited due to the very low amount of high profiles names who could pass Northwestern admissions, and the Wildcats staff knew this at this same time last year. Several names who signed letters of intent today across the State of Illinois Class of 2017 are by no means a lock to wind up clearing admissions. 

Grades do matter. While several names have struggled with academic issues, a handful of names in-state Class of 2017 passed up "bigger" level scholarship offers instead "settling" on schools that fit better academically. Marist three-star ranked linebacker Micah Awodiran will attend Yale in the fall and turning away 29 combined FBS and FCS offers. Montini Catholic defensive tackle Joe Spivak accepted a preferred walk-on spot from Northwestern, his dream school. Spivak, who had 19 combined FBS and FCS level offers, also received a last minute full scholarship offer from Michigan State. Spivak, whose father Joe was also a walk-up at Illinois State and a two-time All American for the Redbirds decided to keep his commitment to Northwestern. And Libertyville two-star ranked offensive tackle Tyler Jost, who drew nearly 20 offers before deciding to commit to Yale. 

Best name ever? Illinois State drew national attention today as the Redbirds inked Lawrence, Kansas offensive tackle Koby Buffalomeat (6-foot-7, 285 pounds). Buffalomeat was one of seven total Illinois State offensive linemen recruits signed Wednesday.

42 Days to Kickoff: Glenbard East

42 Days to Kickoff: Glenbard 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 Aug. 5, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 30.

School: Glenbard East

Head coach: John Walters 

Assistant coaches: Bob Stone (OC), Tony Bartolotta (OL), Joe Cristina (WR), Brian Fetterolf (RB), Steve Kuchefski (OL), Tiff Hamilton (DL), Jim Walker (DL), Maurice Mason (OLB), Jeff Cherry (DC) and Dennis Lueck (DB)

How they fared in 2018: 10-1 (9-0 Upstate 8 Conference). Glenbard East made the Class 7A IHSA state football playoff field and defeated Prospect. In the second round, they lost to East St. Louis.

2019 regular season schedule:

Aug. 30 @ Elgin

Sept. 6 vs Bartlett

Sept. 13 @ West Chicago

Sept. 20 @ Fenton

Sept. 27 vs South Elgin

Oct. 4 vs East Aurora

Oct. 11 @ Streamwood

Oct. 18 vs Glenbard South

Oct. 25 vs Larkin

Biggest storyline: Last season was one of the most successful seasons in Glenbard East football history. Can the Rams keep the momentum going this fall?

Names to watch this season: S Jason Torrevillas (Sr.) and WR Deon Cook (Sr.)

Biggest holes to fill: The Rams will need to replace 16 graduated starters from last year's roster.

EDGY's Early Take: Glenbard East made the state playoffs in 2018 for just the second time in school history. The Rams will need to reload quite a bit on both sides of the football, yet Walters’ football program has never been in better shape— both from an overall excitement level and community involvement. The 2019 schedule also gives the Rams better than a fighting chance to make a potential state playoff bid this season. 

43 Days to Kickoff: Shepard

43 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 Aug. 5, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 30.

School: Shepard

Head coach: John Rone

Assistant coaches: Vincent Holmes, Andy Schindel, Chris Lewis, Justin Harris and Mark Thomas

How they fared in 2018: 8-3 (5-1 South Suburban Red Conference). Shepard made the Class 6A IHSA state football playoff field, defeated Springfield and then lost to Normal West in second round action.

2019 regular season schedule:

Aug. 30 vs Leyden
Sept. 6 vs St Francis
Sept. 13 @ Reavis
Sept. 20 @ Evergreen Park
Sept. 27 @ Eisenhower
Oct. 4 vs Oak Lawn
Oct. 11 @ Lemont
Oct. 18 vs Richards
Oct. 25 vs Argo

Biggest storyline: Coach Rone’s first season was a success. Can the Astros make another state playoff run in 2019?

Names to watch this season: LB Matthew Hightower (Sr.), WR/DB Jalen Smith (Sr.)

Biggest holes to fill: The Astros welcome back six returning starters back on defense, but they will feature nearly an entire starting offense with very limited experience.

EDGY's Early Take: Head coach John Rone was able to get the Astros into the  playoffs in his first season in charge of the Shepard program. It was also the fourth straight playoff appearance for the school. The Astros always have plenty on hand in the skills department. But the defense may need to carry a talented —but younger— offense. If the pieces can gel, they can challenge for another IHSA state playoff appearance.