Preps Talk

Where do East St. Louis and Peoria rank among Illinois' best teams?

Where do East St. Louis and Peoria rank among Illinois' best teams?

How high would you rank both the 7A state champion East St. Louis Flyers and 5A state champion Peoria Lions if they were included in the final 2016 CSN Preps Top 25 Power Rankings?

That's a pretty good question and one I was asked a few minutes after both teams stepped off the trophy stand Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Champaign.

Should East St. Louis be the top-ranked high school football team in Illinois?

I can definitely make a case that this year’s Flyers could compete — and beat — anyone in the state. That includes Maine South, our CSN Preps Power Rankings No. 1 team and 8A state champion.

East St. Louis showed a suffocating, physical and speedy defense in beating Plainfield North, 26-13, while possessing an offense capable of putting up numerous big plays. They were paced by quarterback Rey Estes, a Missouri commit, along with four-star wide receiver Jeff Thomas.

And where would Peoria end up in the Chicagoland top-25 rankings?

Head coach Tim Thornton's record-setting Lions offense, led by junior quarterback Coran Taylor, a deep backfield and stellar line play, could undoubtedly put up points against all challengers in Class 5A and above.

The Lions' approach of scoring quickly and making the opposing team run itself out of steam would also cause multiple problems for opponents. Lost in Peoria's winning formula is a defense that was able to force multiple turnovers. Sure, the Lions gave up a ton of points all season long. But their defense caused enough turnovers and big plays to win 13 games and a state title.

So, where would the Flyers and Lions rank in the Chicagoland picture?

I like East St. Louis to end the season as my top-ranked team, while the Lions would be in the top five, six or seven.

That said, rankings — as we all know — mean nothing now. Instead, can I have one more week of football in two weeks? Maybe it’s a game at the Rams’ old stomping grounds in St. Louis? Perhaps the Flyers could take on Maine South? And then perhaps Prairie Ridge could battle Peoria?

Now that would be a huge way to finish off a terrific 2016 season.

Edgy's recruiting news and notes: LWE's Dzioban commits to Miami (OH)


Edgy's recruiting news and notes: LWE's Dzioban commits to Miami (OH)

Lincoln-Way East junior kicker Dominic Dzioban (6-foot-1, 180 pounds) added a recent scholarship offer from Miami of Ohio and has since given the Redhawks and head coach Chuck Martin his verbal commitment. 

"I just had a great visit on Saturday to Miami of Ohio and I was able to get every question I had about the school and the program answered on Saturday," Dzioban said. "When I was first offered by Miami (Ohio) I had no idea what they had to offer or what they are all about. Miami (Ohio) has a historic campus and they also offer an amazing education. It seems like every facility at Miami (Ohio) is brand new and Oxford is just a great small college town. Miami (Ohio) really offers everything I was looking for in a school and having a chance to go to Miami on a full scholarship is a huge opportunity I couldn't pass by at all."

Lake Forest sophomore linebacker Cal Uihlein (6-foot-1, 205 pounds) was able to add his first offer recently from the Wisconsin Badgers, and Uihlein also made a visit to the University of Wisconsin this past Saturday. 

"I had a great visit to Wisconsin on Saturday," Uihlein said. "It wasn't a usual recruiting type of visit, it was much more low key and I was able to just see everything behind the scenes including seeing the team scrimmage. I was able to get a good feel for the team and the coaches after the scrimmage. I was also able to talk with some of the coaches at Wisconsin including head coach Paul Chryst and linebacker coaches. Everyone at Wisconsin seems very excited about me and it was just good to get to know them a bit better. I was able to just basically see the stadium and I didn't get to see too much of the facilities or the campus. I'll definitely head back again to Wisconsin soon and see more of the school and the facilities and overall it was a great visit."

Warren Township junior three star ranked defensive tackle Willis Singleton Jr. (6-foot-2, 285 pounds) was able to add an offer from the University of Illinois last Saturday while on a visit to watch the Fighting Illini's spring game. 

"I was hoping that an offer (from Illinois) was coming but I still had no idea," Singleton Jr. said. "I know that Illinois is on the rise and have added some really strong players from my recruiting class. My Dad also went to Illinois and just telling him over the phone that Illinois had offered me was an amazing felling and experience."

Singleton Jr. also said that "Illinois is definitely on the top of the spectrum. My recruitment is open, but there are definitely one of the top schools because of how they went about things with me on the visit."

Bolingbrook sophomore safety Justin Walters (6-foot-1, 170 pounds) has also seen more and more schools take notice of him this spring. Walters is currently holding six FBS level offers and growing by the day. 

"I have six scholarship offers now," Walters said. "I have offers from Bowling Green, Western Michigan, Army, Iowa, Iowa State and now Minnesota. Minnesota is my latest offer and they offered me a few weeks ago."

Walters has also been hitting the road and visiting a few schools this spring and plans to see even more soon.

"I've made visits already to Iowa and Iowa St and Wisconsin. I also visited Northwestern awhile ago. I'm also planning to visit Michigan State sometime this spring."

Breaking: Northwestern adds another in-state pledge


Breaking: Northwestern adds another in-state pledge

It didn't take Wheaton North junior outside linebacker Xander Mueller (6-foot-3, 205 pounds) long to give the Northwestern coaching staff his verbal commitment today. Mueller — whose older brother (junior linebacker Erik Mueller) is already on the Wildcats roster — attended the Wildcats final spring practice today. He picked up a scholarship offer and then gave head coach Pat Fitzgerald his verbal commitment on the spot. 

"I didn't expect it (adding a Northwestern offer) and I was very surprised," Mueller said. "Northwestern is the place for me because of the incredible academics, the location, having my brother already on the team and the amazing coaching staff and football program. I'm super happy."

Mueller is the second in-state name for the Wildcats and the seventh known verbal commitment for the Northwestern Class of 2020. Mueller joins Lake Zurich tight end Hunter Welcing (6-foot-4, 225 pounds) as the Wildcats in state commitments so far in the 2020 class. 

Mueller was also the Wildcats second overall verbal commitment today as Groveport (Ohio) Madison three star ranked offensive guard TeRah Edwards (6-foot-3, 295 pounds) also committed to the Wildcats after today's final spring practice.