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.

91 Days to Kickoff: Warren

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NBC

91 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 July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Warren Township

Head coach: Bryan McNulty

Assistant coaches: Jim Voutiritsas, Brandon Schild, Justin Van Schaik, Tayler Erbach and Mark Mika

How they fared in 2017: 7-4 (5-2 North Suburban Conference). Warren Township made the IHSA 8A playoff field. The Blue Devils defeated Bolingbrook then lost to Maine South in second round action.

2018 Regular Season Schedule

Aug. 24 vs Barrington

Aug. 31 @ Glenbard North

Sept. 7 vs Waukegan

Sept. 14 vs Libertyville

Sept. 21 @ Lake Forest

Sept. 28 @ Zion-Benton

Oct. 5 vs Lake Zurich

Oct. 12 vs Stevenson

Oct. 19 @ Mundelein

Biggest storyline: Can The Blue Devils make it back-to-back postseason appearances and challenge for the North Suburban Conference title?

Names to watch this season: DL Zack Pelland, DT Willis Singleton and RB Martin Walker

Biggest holes to fill: The Blue Devils will need to find a new pass/catch tandem to replace graduated QB Ian Schilling and a strong group in the skills department, led by WR Micah Jones (Notre Dame).  

EDGY's Early Take: The Blue Devils had a nice 2017 season. After starting seven sophomores on the varsity level a year ago, head coach Bryan McNulty has the rare combination of youth and experience this fall. The defense will be a definite strength going into the season. The offense will rely on the running game, which features four starting offensive linemen back in the fold along with senior RB Martin Walker. If the passing game can come along, this team can once again challenge in the North Suburban Conference race and also in the overall 8A picture. 

91 Days to Kickoff: Joliet Catholic

91 Days to Kickoff: Joliet Catholic

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 July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Joliet Catholic Academy

Head coach: Jake Jaworski

Assistant coaches: Dave Douglas, Cory McLaughlin, Chris Kinsella, Mark Mettille, Jake Ziesmer, Zach Dolph, Josh Greenback and Craig Slowik

How they fared in 2017: 3-6 (2-5 East Suburban Catholic Conference). JCA failed to make the 2017 IHSA state playoff field.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 vs. St. Rita

Aug. 31 @ IC Catholic Prep

Sept. 7 @ St. Viator

Sept. 14 vs. Carmel

Sept. 21 @ Marist

Sept. 28 vs. Benet Academy

Oct. 5 vs. Marian Catholic

Oct. 12 @ Nazareth Academy

Oct. 19 @ Notre Dame

Biggest storyline: Can Joliet Catholic snap a two-year hiatus from the state football playoffs?

Names to watch this season: OT Dave Monnot and RB Kenyetta Williams

Biggest holes to fill: The Hilltoppers will need to reload at the quarterback and wide receiver positions. 

EDGY's Early Take: It's been a rough few seasons at one of the state's best football programs. That said, 2018 has the potential to be the turnaround year the Hilltoppers have been looking for. Second-year head coach Jake Jaworski will feature four big and experienced offensive linemen, led by senior OT Dave Monnot (6-foot-6, 287 pounds). They also have a name to watch in junior-to-be RB Kenyetta Williams. If Joliet Catholic can survive another challenging early season non-conference schedule, they will compete in the always-tough ESCC.