Tyler Macon

Edgy Tim: Illinois Player of the Year candidates (so far)

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NBC Sports Chicago

Edgy Tim: Illinois Player of the Year candidates (so far)

We have played six weeks on the high school football schedule. It's still a bit early, but who are the early candidates for IHSA Football Player of the Year? With a month-plus of football under our belts, it's time to start identifying which names are deserving of a mention heading into Week 7 games. 

(I also discussed this on camera at NBC Sports Chicago's studios Wednesday afternoon)

So where to begin? Let's start outside of Chicagoland. 

East St Louis (6-0) and head coach Darren Sunkett has a roster loaded with talent. It includes over a dozen names drawing serious recruiting attention and scholarship offers this fall. But in my mind, junior QB Tyler Macon (1,856 yards passing) is the leading candidate for the Flyers so far in 2019. Macon, who a season ago was more of a game manager with potential and physical tools, has transformed into a more of a mature, patient quarterback with a tremendous arm and touch. 

The Springfield area always has talent. Start with Class 6A's top-ranked Glenwood Titans (6-0) and its multi-sport, multi-year starting QB Luke Lehnen. This senior has led the Titans to a perfect record so far this season; he has the Chatham community feeling like it's 1998 all over again (Glenwood won its only IHSA state football title that season). Not to be outdone, nearby Rochester (6-0) knows all about winning. Senior QB Clay Bruno (1,688 yards passing 21 TDs) has been on fire so far in 2019. Glenwood hosts Rochester on Oct. 25. Springfield sophomore QB Rashad Rochelle has been a huge presence in big games. This includes last week's 54-42 win over Sacred Heart-Griffin. 

Also don't overlook a handful of other standout performers in Central Illinois including Peoria (5-1) senior QB Gabe Hernandez and Normal West (5-1) senior QB Carson Camp, who is commited to South Dakota.

Getting closer to the Windy City, the Chicagoland area has several worthy names to watch. 

Lincoln-Way East (6-0) is the state's top ranked 8A team. The Griffins have received a huge season from senior A.J. Henning (Michigan). Henning has played wide receiver, running back and also has played at quarterback. He has been an big impact, big play performer for coach Rob Zvonar and company. 

Several quarterbacks are also in the discussion. Nazareth Academy (6-0) junior QB JJ McCarthy (Michigan) is the state's top quarterback prospect and one of a handful of Roadrunners worthy of consideration. Neuqua Valley (5-1) has also relied on senior QB Mark Gronowski (South Dakota State). His overall game has reached new heights; his overall recruiting profile continues to grow as well. Hersey's (6-0) offense is averaging almost 50 points per game. Senior QB Jordan Hansen will remind you a bit of another Jordan --as in former Mount Carmel/NIU star and current Mount Carmel head coach QB Jordan Lynch-- with Hansen's identical ability to be a punishing runner and very impressive passer, much like Lynch in his playing days. 

Has anyone meant as much to his team and his school community as Willowbrook (5-1) senior QB/S Sam Tumilty? Tumilty continues to post big numbers week in and week out. He never leaves the field and keeps leading the Warriors football program to a new level of respect. 

How about some smaller enrollment names to consider? Take Coal City senior RB Dan Jezik. He's been a huge factor in getting the Coalers to new heights in Class 4A. How about IC Catholic Prep's senior QB/S Danny Cronin? St. Francis (5-1) and head coach Bob McMillen has the Spartans on a roll. No one has been as valuable as junior QB Tommy Rittenhouse. He's paid dividends --with his arms and feet-- for the Spartans so far this fall. 

However, the Player of the Year honor is always much more than just a quarterback-only award. 

Mount Carmel junior RB/LB Kenenna Odeluga is a quiet, low-key type of kid off the field. He is the Caravan's main threat in the run game on offense while also being an impact player on defense-- a unit that's allowed just 55 points in 2019. Chicago's southern suburbs has one of the Midwest's most sought-after running backs in Hillcrest (6-0) junior Mar'Kiese Irving. Irving keeps impressing everyone who has seen him in person this season. He already has several Power Five scholarship offers under his belt. In the western suburbs, Glenbard West (6-0) is always about the defense. Senior LB Greyson Metz has played as well as any non-offensive players in Chicagoland so far this season. 

Yet what separates some names over others? 

One of my favorite memories so far from this season features Batavia senior RB/LB Quinn Urwiler. After the Bulldogs' opening week loss to East St. Louis, I noticed several Flyer coaches and players seeking out Urwiler after the handshake line. So I asked Flyers' four star-ranked senior S Antonio Johnson why he walked over out of his way to talk to Urwiler. 

"That kid can ball," Johnson said. "We went at him hard and he never backed down. He gave us everything he had and I respect his game for sure."

Edgy Tim: Recruiting news and notes

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NBC Sports Chicago

Edgy Tim: Recruiting news and notes

One of the top Illinois high school quarterbacks in the Class of 2020 has responded to the coyote call.

Normal West junior Carson Camp (6-foot-3, 205 pounds) gave his verbal commitment to the University of South Dakota. Camp had early scholarship offers from both in-town Illinois State and Indiana State. He also boasted strong recruiting attention from several Mid-American Conference schools. Camp felt that the timing was right to give the Coyotes his commitment. So why commit this early? 

"That's a hard question to answer quickly because it involves a lot of different issues," Camp said. "I originally planned to wait until the end of the spring evaluation period (which begins Monday). I was waiting on one specific FBS school in particular but I already had three strong FCS offers and everything to me just felt right with South Dakota. I also didn't want to miss out on an opportunity by waiting. The timing was just right for me now to commit and in all honesty I was ready to make my decision."

The Class of 2021 is already shaping up to become one of this state's better recruiting classes in years, and the overall depth at the quarterback position leads the charge. Both Antioch QB Athan Kaliakmanis along with Naperville Central QB/ATH Sam Jackson (who can also play wide receiver). are already committed to Minnesota. Nazareth Academy QB J.J. McCarthy (6-foot-2, 180 pounds) has 27 scholarship offers-- a list that includes several from Power Five schools across the country. East St. Louis' Tyler Macon (6-foot-0, 180 pounds) also has a handful of early FBS offers. Another half dozen or so names have emerged also have FBS/FCS potential. 

If you needed any further proof that the recruiting process is starting earlier and earlier for elite-level names, just take a look at Tyler Morris.  The 5-foot-10, 160 pound Morris, a Class of 2022 athlete recruit who was a starter on the 2018 Roadrunners 7A state title team, has added offers this spring from Northwestern, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota. His latest offer came earlier this week came from Michigan. Morris is also expected to draw several high Power Five visitors starting Monday with the beginning of the spring evaluation period-- when colleges are allowed to make in-person visits to a recruit's high school. 

Keep an eye on Maine South junior safety Ryan Kilburg (6-foot-1, 181 pounds). He has emerged as a top name in the Class of 2020.

"I have scholarship offers from Western Michigan, Bowling Green, Ohio, South Dakota and Navy," according to Kilburg. "I've also been in contact with the coaches from Kansas State, Michigan State, Minnesota, Harvard, Brown and Holy Cross. I've been able to get out and visit Holy Cross, Harvard, Miami of Ohio and Western Michigan. All of the schools that I've been in contact with all have invited me out to visit them this spring. Those same coaches also are telling me that they will be back in school to see me in a few weeks."

Edgy Tim goes 1-on-1 with East St. Louis QB Tyler Macon

Edgy Tim goes 1-on-1 with East St. Louis QB Tyler Macon

Anyone who has followed East St. Louis High School football program over the years knows that the Flyers under head coach Darren Sunkett will travel anywhere to take on the best possible competition. 

 

That same "take on all comers" mentality doesn't stop in the winter. Several Flyers including standout 2021 QB Tyler Macon (6-foot-0, 180 pounds) packed up cars and headed nearly 300 miles north to take part in the fourth annual EDGYTIM Underclassmen Showcase, powered by EFT Sports Performance at The Max Center in McCook. 

 

Macon, whose latest scholarship offer comes from the Iowa Hawkeyes, checks in and recaps his winter, recruiting news and much more in this latest interview {above}.