Laquon Treadwell

Edgy Tim: top five wide receivers of the decade

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Edgy Tim: top five wide receivers of the decade

Narrowing down the list for the top five IHSA wide receivers of the decade has been brutally tough. One thing is for certain: Illinois had no shortage of high school talent at the wideout position this past decade (2010-2019). 
The same debate question applies here: Do you factor in just strictly high school production and program winning/success, or does a particular player's post high school success also become a factor? Let’s give this a shot: 

Flynn Nagel, Marist/Lemont’s Class of 2015 (Northwestern): Nagel started his high school career at Marist then transferred to Lemont during his junior year. He is listed all over the IHSA record books. To name a few accolades, Nagel holds IHSA receiving records for most career receptions (255), touchdown receptions (57), single-season touchdown receptions (289) and most career receiving yards (3,613). Nagel was a speedy and consistent receiver with the ability to break big plays with every touch.

Jordan Westerkamp, Montini Catholic’s Class of 2012 (Nebraska): Westerkamp is another name you'll see listed all over the IHSA record books. He was a three-year starter and a major impact performer for the Broncos’ three straight Class 5A state title teams (2009-2011). Westerkamp is the state's all-time leader in career receiving yards (4,548), career touchdown catches (68) and holds the record for the most touchdown catches in a season (29) in 2011. He went on to have an impressive college career at Nebraska.

Laquon Treadwell, Crete-Monee’s Class of 2013 (Ole Miss): His impact at Crete-Monee was off the charts. A three-year varsity starter on both sides of the football, Treadwell was a two-time All-State player who led the Warriors to the Class 6A state title in 2012. In his senior season, he caught 81 passes for 1,424 yards and 16 touchdowns while also making 56 solo tackles and 6 interceptions. Treadwell was also a dangerous kick and punt returner. After a stellar college stay at Ole Miss, he is now playing wide receiver for the Minnesota Vikings. 

Jeff Thomas, East St. Louis’ Class of 2017 (Miami FL): Thomas was a three-year varsity starter for the Flyers. He posted 177 receptions for 3,532 yards and 41 touchdowns over his high school career and led his team to a perfect 14-0 record and the 2016 Class 7A state title. He possessed flat-out sprinters speed along with terrific ball skills. He is another player who was a threat to score every time he touched the football. In December, he announced that he will skip his senior year and enter the 2020 NFL Draft.

Mike Dudek, Neuqua Valley’s Class of 2014 (Illinois): Dudek was an impact player for the Wildcats in his junior and senior seasons. As a senior, Dudek caught 69 passes for 1,384 yards and 19 TDs; he also rushed 30 times for 260 yards and three scored. He was a threat on special teams as well, returning 21 kickoffs for 692 yards (33.0 ypr) and two TDs in 2013. This blue collar player simply made big plays for the Wildcats. Dudek committed to Illinois and had a breakout freshman season for the Fighting Illini before various injuries cut short Dudek's college career. 

Next in? 

Malik Turner, Sacred Heart-Griffin’s Class of 2014 (Illinois)

Davaris Daniels, Vernon Hills’ Class of 2011 (Notre Dame)

Ricky Smalling, Brother Rice’s Class of 2017 (Illinois)

A.J. Henning, Lincoln-Way East’s Class of 2020 (Michigan)

Zach Grant, Rochester’s Class of 2012 (Illinois)

Miles Boykin, Providence's Class of 2015 (Notre Dame)

Bears sign standout WR Tanner Gentry, 13 undrafted free agents

Bears sign standout WR Tanner Gentry, 13 undrafted free agents

The Bears have found success in the undrafted free agent market with the likes of wide receiver Cameron Meredith, linebacker Christian Jones and safety Harold Jones-Quartey among others during GM Ryan Pace's tenure with the club. 

Pace and the Bears hope to continue that trend and uncover some hidden gems in this year's crop of undrafted free agents.

Ahead of rookie minicamp this weekend, the Bears announced on Thursday they have signed 13 undrafted free agents.

Here's a look at some of the notable UDFA's the Bears signed:

Tanner Gentry (WR), Wyoming: The 6-foot-2 wideout ran a 4.40-yard dash at his Pro Day and had 72 catches for 1,326 yards with 14 touchdowns for the Cowboys last season. Gentry also led the country in deep targets (49) last season.

Dieugot Joseph (OT), Florida International: After a switch from defensive end to the offensive line, Joseph became a stalwart at left tackle for the Panthers. Joseph was named honorable mention All-Conference USA in 2016.

Andy Phillips (K), Utah: A former member of the United States National Ski Team, Phillips walked on to the Utah football team in 2012. As the Utes starting kicker from 2013-16, Phillips converted 84 percent of field goals and missed just one extra point.

Freddie Stevenson (FB), Florida State: For three seasons Stevenson served as the lead blocker for All-American running back Dalvin Cook. A former four-star recruit as a linebacker, Stevenson had 292 total yards and seven touchdowns with the Seminoles.

Kermit Whitfield (WR), Florida State: One of the most explosive athletes in the country, Whitfield accumulated 2,386 yards as a kick returner at Florida State. Whitfield broke the ACC record for yards per return (36.4) during his freshman season.

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Jhajuan Seales (WR), Oklahoma State: Seales has the ability to climb the ladder and make the contested catches with a 41.5-inch vertical leap. After subpar sophomore and junior seasons, Seales rebounded as a senior with 37 receptions for 615 yards and four touchdowns.

Franko House (TE), Ball State: House was a standout basketball player for the Cardinals. House will use his 6-foot-6, 247-pound frame to make the transition to the gridiron after not playing the sport since his senior year of high school.

Joel Bouagnon (RB), Northern Illinois: The ex-Huskies running back couldn't quite replicate his junior year numbers, but still posted a respectable 4.9 yards per carry with nine total touchdowns in 2016.

Rashaad Coward (DL), Old Dominion: Coward was a second-team All Conference USA selection last season, finishing with 50 tackles, 7.5 tackles for a loss and 1.5 sacks. Coward fits the Bears 3-4 base defense as somebody who could rotate either inside or outside on the defensive line.

Mitchell Kirsch (OL), James Madison: Kirsch was the starter at right tackle for the Dukes since 2014, and was named an FCS All-American last year.

Hendrick Ekpe (LB), Minnesota: Ekpe started 11 games for the Gophers and notched 28 tackles, 7.5 tackles for a loss and 3.5 sacks. Ekpe played defensive end at Minnesota, but with his size (6-foot3, 245 pounds) he'll play outside linebacker for the Bears.

Isaiah Irving (LB), San Jose State: The 6-foot-3, 255 pound Irving led San Jose State with seven sacks as a senior.

Alex Searce (LB), Coastal Carolina: Searce was a finalist for the Buck Buchanan National Defensive Player of the Year Award. He had eight sacks for the Chanticleers in 2016.

Below are some standout players who have been invited to rookie minicamp:

Denard Robinson (RB): The artist formerly known as "Shoelace" from his days as a quarterback at Michigan is one several veterans that will try to impress the Bears' brass at rookie minicamp this weekend. Robinson was used as an "offensive weapon" during his four years with the Jacksonville Jaguars (2013-2016) and accumulated 1,058 rushing yards, 310 receiving yards and five total touchdowns.

Tyler Gaffney (RB): The former Stanford star will be at rookie minicamp for the Bears after he was released by the New England Patriots in March. Gaffney, originally a sixth-round selection by the Patriots in 2014, spent the majority of the last three seasons on injured reserve. During his season year at Stanford, Gaffney started 14 games and had 1,709 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns.

Titus Davis (WR): Davis, a standout wide receiver at Wheaton South High School, is the older brother of Tennessee Titans' 2017 first-round selection Corey Davis. Titus Davis played at Central Michigan from 2011-2014 and registered 204 receptions for 3,700 yards and 37 touchdowns. 

D.J. Johnson (TE), Kansas State: Johnson joins House as one of two college basketball players the Bears will have in rookie minicamp. Johnson averaged 11.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per game with the Wildcats in 2016-17 and helped the team to an appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Johnson was an All-Conference defensive end and tight end at Parkway North High School in St. Louis.

Mark Spelman (OL), Illinois State: Spelman was one of the key members of the Redbirds offensive line last season and garnered third-team All-American honors.

D'Nerius Antoine (S), Southern Mississippi: A two-year starter for the Golden Eagles, Antoine had 189 tackles, 10.5 tackles for a loss, 2 interceptions and 10 passes defended. Antoine also has experience as a returner.

DeSean Smith (TE), LSU: Smith wasn't often utlized in the Tigers passing game, ending his collegiate career with 19 receptions for 346 yards and one touchdown.

Lance Lenoir (WR), Western Illinois: Lenoir, a high school teammate of 2016 Minnesota Vikings first-round pick Laquon Treadwell at Crete Monee, finished his Leathernecks career as the school's all-time leader in receptions (273), yards (3,796) and touchdowns (28).