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.

8 Days to Kickoff: Warren

8 Days to Kickoff: Warren

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: Warren Township

Head coach: Bryan McNulty

Assistant coaches: Jim Voutiritsas, Justin VanSchaick, Brandon Schild, Josh Williams, Tayler Erbach, Kurt Weinberg and Chris Caballero

How they fared in 2018: 10-2 (7-0 North Suburban Conference). Warren made the Class 8A state playoff field and defeated Neuqua Valley and Hinsdale Central. They advanced to the quarterfinal round where they lost to Brother Rice.

2019 segular season schedule:

Aug. 30 vs Barrington

Sept. 6 vs Glenbard North

Sept. 13 @ Waukegan

Sept. 20 @ Libertyville

Sept. 27 vs Lake Forest

Oct. 5 vs Zion-Benton

Oct. 11 @ Lake Zurich

Oct. 18 @ Stevenson

Oct. 25 vs Mundelein

[MORE: 19 Days to Kickoff: Barrington

Biggest storyline: The Blue Devils featured one of the state’s best defenses in 2018. It resulted in their best season since 1991. Can they maintain some of that momentum and advance deeper in the Class 8A playoffs come November?

Names to watch this season: DT Willis Singleton Jr. (Sr., Iowa State) and LB Juan Delacruz (Sr.) 

Biggest holes to fill: The Blue Devils welcome back 10 returning starters (five offense, five defense). And while several of those 10 returnees are key playmakers, Coach McNulty and company will have to reload in the offensive skills department and in the defensive backfield.

EDGY's Early Take: Warren had a terrific season in 2018. Several big names are back for 2019. The Blue Devils defense was a strength last season—they shut out five opponents and kept three more to a touchdown or less. This year’s unit is led by senior DT Willis Singleton Jr. The offense will look to improve on last season’s numbers with junior QB Phil Hirt. He and senior ATH Christian Phillips will bring experience. If the Blue Devils can come close to the high-level of defense they played with last season –and if the offense can generate more points-- this team could be a big time factor in the Class 8A playoffs. 

9 Days to Kickoff: Brother Rice

9 Days to Kickoff: Brother Rice

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: Brother Rice

Head coach: Brian Badke

Assistant coaches: Dan O'Brien (OC/QB), Anthony Malopsy (DC/LB), Bob Wilcox (DL), Tim McAplin (DB) and Dan Nicholson (WR)

How they fared in 2018: 13-1 (4-0 CCL Blue Conference). Brother Rice made the Class 8A state playoff field and defeated Zion-Benton, Oak Park-River Forest, Warren Township and Marist. They advanced to the state title game and lost to Loyola Academy.

2019 regular season schedule:

Aug. 30 vs Hillcrest
Sept. 6 vs Perspectives
Sept. 13 vs Providence Catholic
Sept. 20 vs Marist
Sept. 27 @ Joliet Catholic Academy
Oct. 5 @ Loyola Academy
Oct. 11 vs St. Laurence
Oct. 18 @ Carmel
Oct. 25 @ Mount Carmel

[MORE: 10 Days to Kickoff: Mount Carmel] 

Biggest storyline: What will Brother Rice will do for an encore? Can the Crusaders, who sprinted past a rough 2017 season (2-7 record) to a 13-1 mark in 2018, reload on offense and make another run toward the 8A title game?

Names to watch this season: DT Justin Jefferson (Sr.), S Giacomo Iraci (Sr., Western Michigan)

Biggest holes to fill: The Crusaders will need to replace 10 graduated starters on the offensive side of the football. Senior RB Jahlil Pettis is the lone starter back on 'O this season.
  
EDGY's Early Take: Brother Rice had a terrific run in 2018-- one of the best seasons in school history. While the graduation losses are a big issue, the Crusaders also have plenty of talent waiting in the wings. The defense will feature six returning starters including DT Justin Jefferson and S Giacomo Iraci. Incoming transfer DT Denver Warren (West Aurora) has a chance to become another impact player. On offense, senior QB Colin Smyth and junior RB Willie Shaw will make waves. Shaw has already added FBS-level scholarship offers this summer and has a chance to have a big breakout season. Developing a young offensive line was a top priority this summer. They'll have an intriguing battle against a good Hillcrest program in the opener.