It's time for spring break at Crete-Monee and a young man's fancy turns to...well, if your name is LaQuon Treadwell and you are one of the most highly sought wide receivers in the country, you are making recruiting trips to Michigan, Oklahoma and Ohio State.
But this is only the beginning for Treadwell, who also has received scholarship offers from the likes of Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Nebraska, Illinois, Oklahoma State and USC. He also has heard from Florida and hopes to hear from Texas.
"When I was growing up, I liked Texas and USC. They were my dream schools," he said. "All of their players were usually in the Heisman Trophy race and playing in the Rose Bowl, guys like Vince Young and Reggie Bush. I hope to visit USC. I hope Texas will call."
Treadwell admits the recruiting process "blew my mind" after he received scholarship offers from Michigan, then Notre Dame, then 16 other major Division I schools. "I didn't think I'd get an offer from Oklahoma or Alabama or Oklahoma State or USC," he said.
"It said to me: 'I must have something they want.' I know I can get better. My speed can increase. I can be more aggressive going for the ball. I don't want to be an average player. They are saying I must be one of the best players in the country. This is motivation to work harder."
In recent weeks, with the help of Crete-Monee coach Jerry Verde and offensive coordinator John Konecki, Treadwell and his mother have put together a game plan designed to be sure that he explores all of his options, asks the right questions, doesn't make any mistakes and doesn't have any regrets when he makes his final decision.
"My mom is the boss. Whatever she says goes," Treadwell said. "She wants to know about academics the most. That's the first thing she asks on our campus visits. She wants to see the academic center."
Grades have always been important to Treadwell. He is an academic qualifier. Since he was a freshman, his mother and coaches emphasized the importance of good grades.
"They told me that I had to get serious about my grades," he said. "My coaches told me to keep my grades up, that I would see why it was important when I was older. As a freshman, I didn't know what to think. But now I know why it was important to take my academics seriously."
Being an academic qualifier means he has lots of options. He can choose any school he wishes, any school that offers a scholarship, from Alabama to USC, from Michigan to Oklahoma. He isn't in a hurry to make a decision. After the 2012 season is over, he said he will choose the allotted five schools to make fully paid, official visits.
"What I have learned is recruiting is a business. You have to do what is best for yourself. You don't want to go to a school where the coach is leaving," Treadwell said.
"I ask a lot of questions that can help me (make an intelligent decision). A lot of coaches say the same things. I ask what I want to know. Where will I play? How many other receivers are on your depth chart? Who is leaving? What kind of offense are you running? What kind of quarterback will be there when I'm there?"
LaQuon and his mother want to know.
What do the college coaches see in Treadwell? The 6-foot-3, 195-pounder is a game-breaker, a difference-maker. Last season, he caught 75 passes for 1,391 yards and 18 touchdowns. This season, with quarterback Marcus Terrell, linebacker Nyles Morgan and several other Division I recruits returning, Crete-Monee could be one of the best teams in the state.
Treadwell said he has 4.5 speed for 40 yards but coach Jerry Verde isn't so sure. "I don't know. Coaches don't seem to care. He has good speed. He doesn't look that fast when he is running but once he turns it on he has long strides and pulls away," Verde said.
"What separates him from others is his toughness. He does all the things that you hope a No. 1 outside receiver can do. What separates him is what happens after he catches the ball. It isn't just one move or one duke and he takes off. He runs through people.
"He also takes pride in his blocking. He picked up cornerbacks and threw them last season. He also played defensive end for us. He can run stop and pass rush. He made an impact for us on defense. He could be recruited for his defense. He reminds me of Supo Sanni (former Homewood-Flossmoor star now at Illinois). There is a toughness and meanness about him that I haven't seen with a kid with that kind of athletic ability."
Verde, who was rated among the top 100 prospects in Illinois when he came out of Marian Catholic in Chicago Heights in 1995, marvels at how well Treadwell has handled the hoopla and pressure of the recruiting process.
"Today, with the Internet and blogs and twitter and texting, kid are really caught up in what they think is being famous. They are treated like rock stars on the Internet. Some kids lose their self-esteem if they don't get a lot of recognition," Verde said.
But Treadwell's mother keeps her son grounded. He listens to her. When he chooses a school, it will be his decision and his mother's, no one else. Verde, Konecki and the coaching staff provide input based on their experience with the recruiting process. But, in the end, they understand that the final decision will be made in the home.
"We are making sure that he makes the final decision the first time. That's what we have preached to him," Verde said. "We had a poor experience with another kid. We don't want LaQuon to to make a decision that he isn't 100 percent prepared to make.
"To his credit, he isn't being pressured to commit early. His mind is open now. Every time he makes a visit, he likes something about the school. He is in a unique situation. Wherever he wants to go, he can go. He doesn't have to have any regrets."
To improve his skills, his speed and his lateral movement, Treadwell works out with former Bears cornerback Mike Richardson. He also works out regularly with some of the leading prospects in the Chicago area, including running back Ty Isaac of Joliet Catholic, offensive linemen Ethan Pocic of Lemont and Kyle Bosch of Wheaton St. Francis and Oklahoma-bound running back David Smith of Bremen, at the Core 6 training facility in Westmont.
Treadwell has come a long way since he played running back and quarterback as an eighth grader, then quarterback as a freshman. At one point, he thought he would play quarterback or cornerback on the varsity. But he always wanted to be a wide receiver and was pleased when coaches determined he wasn't cut out for cornerback and moved him to his favorite position.
"I like wide receiver because I'm able to run free and be in the open and make moves," he said. "I like to make someone miss, to embarrass someone out in the open."
But he thinks he must get a step closer to 4.4 to play as a freshman in college. So he has more work to do. This is no time to look at his press clippings and scholarship offers. So what if he has talked personally with coaches Brian Kelly of Notre Dame and Bob Stoops of Oklahoma? So what if he just missed a call from Alabama coach Nick Saban?
"I've got to get stronger and faster," he said. "People in college are as big as me so I have to get bigger and stronger and faster.
"I have to do what is best for me. I'm looking for a college that plays a pro-style or spread offense, a school that has a passing offense. And I'm looking for coaches who put players in the NFL, coaches who prepare their kids for the pros."
Because LaQuon and his mother want to know.