Western Illinois

Edgy Tim talks recruits' latest decisions


Edgy Tim talks recruits' latest decisions

Western Illinois, under new head coach Jared Elliott, was able to add a handful of strong in-state names to the Leathernecks’ Class of 2018.

Glenbard South senior outside linebacker recruit Nick D'Ambra (6-foot-0, 206 pounds) decided to end his recruiting process earlier this week. He pointed to a good general vibe at WIU that made him pledge to the Leathernecks after his official visit last weekend.

"It was just the overall fit for me at WIU that sold me," according to D'Ambra. "The players and coaches at WIU all seem to be on the same page and have a lot of the same goals. WIU just felt like home for me and I feel really comfortable whenever I visited them. I was able to see a lot more of the school and get to know everyone much better after my official visit."

Oswego senior defensive back Josh Shodipo (6-foot-0, 185-pounds) is, once again, headed to Macomb. At one point, Shodipo was committed to Western and then decommitted. But in the end, he rediscovered his passion for the Leathernecks and recommitted to WIU. He will sign his Letter of Intent on Feb. 7.

"I never closed the door with WIU," Shodipo said. "I kept an open mind and once I made my official visit, I knew that I wanted to go to school and play at WIU. I had other options, but I feel great about my decision and excited to sign with WIU."

Lake Forest sophomore defensive lineman recruit Rylie Mills (6-foot-5, 250 pounds) made a recent visit to the University of Minnesota for a junior day event. It resulted in his first scholarship offer, courtesy of the Gophers’ head coach PJ Fleck.

"It's a weird feeling and also a great feeling," Mills said after adding his Minnesota offer. "I was just so surprised to go to Minnesota and come away with a scholarship offer. It's amazing. I always thought I would end up getting my first offer maybe after a summer camp. I was in a bit of shock at first and so was my dad."

Mills is also planning to visit more schools in person this winter and early spring.

"I'm planning to get out to visit Iowa sometime soon. Iowa made an in-school visit last week, and they seem very interested. I'm also looking to get out to visit Northwestern and also Tennessee."

Algonquin (IL) Jacobs junior offensive tackle recruit Joacheim Price (6-foot-8, 315 pounds) is already holding four early verbal scholarship offers. He’s also getting recruiting attention from several Power Five programs. Not bad for a kid who just started playing football recently. 

"Last season was my first year ever playing football," according to Price. "I just was always a basketball player and never really considered football until some of the coaches at school convinced me to go out for the team. Now I have football scholarship offers from Illinois, Iowa State, Northern Illinois and Ball State. It's a real blessing."

Price, who is in the middle of his basketball season for the Corsairs, has also continued to draw increased football recruiting attention.

"I've also been in contact with Minnesota, Toledo, Purdue and Michigan State. The college coaches want me to stay in touch with them so that they can get to know me better."

Chicago (IL) Solorio junior athlete recruit Messiah Travis (5-foot-11, 175 pounds) has remained on several college recruiting radar screens this winter.  Travis added his third offer this winter on Tuesday from Toledo.

"I have offers now from Toledo, NIU and Western Michigan," Travis said. "We are also seeing a lot more college coaches in school, and it's been fun so far."

Travis, who played receiver and defensive back for the Sun Warriors in 2017, is also drawing recruiting looks at a few different positions this winter.

"It seems like every coach I meet wants to know what side of the football I see myself playing in college. I really like playing wide receiver but I'm pretty open to anything. It's not really that big of a deal to me."

Recruiting News and Notes: Justin Hall commits to NIU


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."

Recruiting News and Notes: Tremayne Lee commits to SIU


Recruiting News and Notes: Tremayne Lee commits to SIU

DeShon Gavin (DB), Providence Catholic

Providence Catholic senior defensive back DeShon Gavin (5-foot-11, 185 pounds) made an unofficial visit to Western Illinois University on Sunday and gave the Leathernecks his verbal commitment.

"WIU had a recruit visit day on Sunday," Gavin said. "I had a great visit and I just felt very comfortable and at home at WIU so I committed to them on Sunday. I was able to take a tour of the campus and also see the facilities at WIU and the visit on Sunday was just a very fun experience. I liked WIU before the visit and after the visit it really did feel like home. I just felt really comfortable with the coaches and the other recruits."

Tremayne Lee (RB), Sacred Heart-Griffin

Sacred Heart-Griffin senior All-State running back Tremayne Lee (5-foot-9, 160 pounds) made an unofficial visit to Southern Illinois University on Sunday and gave Salukis head coach Nick Hill his verbal commitment.

"It just feels great to be committed to SIU," Lee said. "I went down to SIU on Sunday for a visit with my family and I just fell in love with the school and so did my parents."

Lee, who ran for 2,168 yards and 33 touchdowns in 2016, discussed why he decided to pledge to SIU.

"It was really everything about SIU," Lee said. "They have a great looking campus and I was able to see a lot and learn a lot more about SIU on my visit today. SIU has a great coaching staff and I was able to talk to all of the coaches including head coach Nick Hill.

"SIU also offers a great education and they also offer a lot of academic support for the players and all the athletes at SIU. SIU also has amazing facilities. I was also able to sit and talk to some of the players at SIU and they filled me in on the school and the team."

[MORE: Recruiting News and Notes - Christian Perez commits to Navy]

Mario Wright II (LB), Homewood-Flossmoor

Homewood-Flossmoor senior linebacker Mario Wright II (6-foot-2, 215 pounds) made an unofficial visit to Northern Illinois University on Saturday. Wright II, who holds multiple FBS scholarship offers, made the NIU visit with a few Vikings teammates including senior defensive tackle and NIU pledge Jeff Griffin and senior athlete Justin Hall (5-foot-10, 180 pounds), who holds an offer from the Huskies.

"I went out to NIU on Saturday along with a few guys on the team," Wright II said. "I was at NIU for the one day camp earlier but I wanted to get a chance to see more of the campus and just learn more about NIU."

Wright II, who is planning to make one more unofficial visit this weekend to Western Kentucky, will make his college choice after his upcoming trip.

Could NIU potentially add both Wright II and Hall to its already impressive Class of 2018? 

"It's something that we've talked a lot about," Wright II said. "I just want to look at Western Kentucky then sit back and look at all of my options. We'd love to play on the same team in college but each of us also have to make the best decision each and decide what's best for us individually."

Verdis Brown (OG), IMG Academy

Former Mount Carmel and current IMG Academy four-star ranked offensive guard Verdis Brown (6-foot-4, 290 pounds) decided to end his recruiting process and gave Florida State his verbal commitment. 

"It's a family there and I have a great relationship with the entire staff," Brown recently told Warchant.com's Michael Langston. "So my interest was pretty high (in Florida State)."