Northern Illinois

Northern Illinois recruiting class breakdown

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USA TODAY

Northern Illinois recruiting class breakdown

Edgy's NIU Huskies overall grade: B

Northern Illinois and head coach Rod Carey signed 24 names to the Huskies Class of 2018 and included an impressive 14 in-state names. According to the Rivals.com Mid American Conference team recruiting rankings, the NIU Class of 2018 came in third behind Toledo and Western Michigan. NIU was able to ink six three-star ranked names, including in-state players such as Waubonsie Valley tight end Charles Robinson, Peoria offensive linemen Marques Cox and De La Salle LB Joe Bonds.

Headliner of the in-state class?

Robinson has the potential to become a major steal for the Huskies. Robinson, who played receiver and defensive line for the Warriors in 2017, has size (6-foot-4, 220 pounds) and a frame that will allow him to get even a bit more bigger/thicker at the college level. Robinson also has receiver-caliber speed and skills in the frame/body of a kid who could play tight end, defensive end or even at inside linebacker if needed. If Robinson can overcome some academic issues this semester (Robinson also signed a Juco letter of intent with Iowa Central Community College) NIU will add a potential impact player.

Also, Homewood-Flossmoor athlete recruit Justin Hall (5-foot-9, 181 pounds) is far more than your run of the mill recruit for NIU. Hall, who played defensive back, receiver and running back as a three-year varsity starter at H-F (a rarity in the Vikings program) can literally do it all on the field. NIU will no question look to get Hall involved in the special teams/return game right away along with working into the defensive secondary group starting this fall. 

The ones who got away?

NIU was able to secure it's first two early verbal commitments in the 2018 class from Plainfield East three star ranked DE Jack Sullivan (6-foot-5, 245 pounds) and Danville two star ranked offensive tackle Julian Pearl (6-foot-7, 245 pounds). Both Sullivan and Pearl are big, tall and lanky kids who are developmental kids with huge upsides. Unfortunately for NIU both Sullivan (Purdue) and Pearl (Illinois) became high in demand after adding their first offer from NIU and both wound up heading to the Big Ten.

Final thoughts on the NIU Huskies recruiting efforts:

It's pretty hard to argue with the overall approach and eventual results with its in-state Class of 2018. While a few early commitmentws wound up heading towards the Big Ten, credit the NIU staff for doing terrific early evaluations and losing a few kids to the Big Ten level will always be an issue for most Mid American Conference schools. 

I've covered NIU football closely for many years (think mid Joe Novak era) and I can say without question the Class of 2018 is the best overall in-state group I can ever remember heading to DeKalb. The Huskies incoming class features some higher level headliners (Robinson/Cox/Bonds) plus adds much needed depth at several positions while also raising the overall talent level.

NIU also has been abler to continue to draw, attract and build upon a strong connection with several top in-state high school coaches and programs. While several in-state schools always talk about the importance of having it's focus on in-state kids, the overall numbers, depth and quality of some of the recent NIU recruiting classes speaks volumes and backs up its talks of in-state focus.

CSN Preps Preseason Power Rankings: No. 9 Homewood-Flossmoor

CSN Preps Preseason Power Rankings: No. 9 Homewood-Flossmoor

CSNChicago.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 Jul. 31, we'll unveil the @CSNPreps Top 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 25.

School: Homewood-Flossmoor

Head coach: Craig Buzea

How they fared in 2016: 10-1 (7-0 Southwest Suburban Conference), made the Class 8A state playoff field, defeated Evanston then lost to Glenbard West in second-round action.

[MORE: CSN Preps Preseason Power Rankings - No. 10 Palatine]

2017 regular season schedule:

Aug. 25 vs. Michigan City, Indiana

Sept. 1 @ South Durham, North Carolina

Sept. 8 @ Stagg

Sept. 15 vs. Bolingbrook

Sept. 22 @ Lincoln-Way West

Sept. 28 vs. Lincoln-Way East

Oct. 6 vs. Bradley

Oct. 13 @ Andrew

Oct. 20 @ Sandburg

Biggest storyline: Can the Vikings get deep into the Class 8A state playoffs in 2017?

Names to watch this season: senior RB/DB Justin Hall (NIU), senior DL Jeff Griffin (NIU), senior LB Mario Wright II (Western Kentucky)

Biggest holes to fill: The Vikings will need to fill some important spots including the quarterback position this fall.

EDGY's early take: If any program can reload each year it's the Vikings under Buzea. The Vikings will look towards Hall, who can see action at any number of positions including returner. Griffin moved over from the offensive line, while Wright II is another name to watch along with junior defensive back Wynston Russell, a top Class of 2019 player who transferred in from De La Salle. Homewood-Flossmoor has the overall numbers, talent and depth to once again be a real threat in Class 8A this season.

Recruiting News and Notes: Justin Hall commits to NIU

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Recruiting News and Notes: Justin Hall commits to NIU

Justin Hall (ATH), Homewood-Flossmoor

Northern Illinois University landed its ninth in-state verbal commitment when Homewood-Flossmoor senior athlete Justin Hall (5-foot-10, 170 pounds) decided to stay closer to home and commit to the Huskies.

"I just really interacted well with the coaches as well as the players at NIU," Hall said. "It's really a family feeling in the football program at NIU and I just always have felt comfortable there. I was looking to also stay closer to home and it all just came together for me at NIU. I can stay closer to home and play for a team that has had a lot of success. NIU also offers a good education and it just feels like the best fit for me so I committed."

Hall, who was recruited by NIU head coach Rod Carey as a defensive back, can also return kicks and punts and plans to contribute to the Huskies return teams. Hall joins his Homewood-Flossmoor teammate in defensive linemen Jeff Griffin, Andrew defensive end Mike DeHaan, Decatur MacArthur wide receiver Amir Brummett, Phillips defensive tackle Queneil Morrison, Palatine outside linebacker Cortez Hogans, Simeon wide receiver Leon Payne, Rich Central athlete Jyran Mitchell and Maine South running back Fotis Kokosioulis in the NIU in-state Class of 2018. 

Brett Groves (OT), Cary-Grove

Cary-Grove senior offensive tackle Brett Groves (6-foot-5, 305 pounds) decided last week to end his recruiting process and give Southern Illinois head coach Nick Hill his verbal commitment.

"It was ready to make my decision so I called up coach Hill and gave SIU my verbal commitment," Groves aid. "I never had any set date to make my decision but with the start of practices I wanted to make my decision so I can focus on my team and my season."

Groves, who also was drawing recruiting looks from FBS schools such as Iowa State and NIU, decided he didn't want to pass up his opportunity at Southern Illinois.

"SIU just has a lot to offer. I really get a long great with the coach. Both coach Hill and coach (Trevor) Olson are good people and also very good coaches. I like the direction that the football program is headed. SIU also has a great looking campus and I just really like the surrounding area. SIU is a bit of a smaller school but still has that bigger school feel. I was also impressed with the facilities at SIU along with the academic support for athletes. I know that I'll get a good education at SIU. It's just the best for me."

Josh Shodipo (DB), Oswego

Oswego senior defensive back Josh Shodipo (5-foot-11, 165 pounds) also decided to make his college decision before the opening of team practice and give Western Illinois University his verbal commitment.

"My recent visit was a big reason why I decided to commit to WIU," Shodipo said. "WIU is a good school and I already know some people going to school there. I really like the coaches at WIU along with the players. I'm also a good fit into the WIU defense. They recruited me as a corner back but the coaches also feel I could also play some safety for them. The visit to WIU just made me feel really comfortable with the school along with the coaches and the team. WIU feels like home to me."

Jayleen Fitzpatrick (LB), Glenbard North

No one was as happy to see the official start of IHSA football practices last Monday than Glenbard North senior linebacker Jayleen Fitzpatrick (6-foot-0, 205 pounds). Fitzpatrick, who suffered an 2016 early season-ending injury, is back and 100 percent ready to go.

"I am so ready to go," Fitzpatrick said. "I'm like overly excited for the season. It's been a lot of work and rehab to get back but now I'm back."

Fitzpatrick, who will be one of the leaders for the Panthers defense this fall, will draw several college coaches attention and serious looks at his early senior year game video.

"This month I've been in touch with a lot of different schools and they all want to know when I was cleared and back with the team. I've been talking to some DII schools like Grand Valley State and the University of Indianapolis, plus some smaller schools like UW Whitewater. They all want to see some of my senior tape."