Cubs

Treadwell is in no rush to commit

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Treadwell is in no rush to commit

College footballs recruiting game has gotten downright vicious in recent years. Down and dirty. More pressure than trying to catch a pass amid three defenders. Want a scholarship? Commit now or someone else will get it. If you wait until signing day in February, youll probably end up somewhere you dont want to be.

Laquon Treadwell has heard it all, the good, the bad and the ugly. Crete-Monees 6-foot-3, 197-pound wide receiver is one of the last of the top-ranked prospects in the class of 2013 who hasnt made an oral commitment. But he isnt in a hurry to make a decision. Let em wait. If they really want him, they wont give his scholarship to someone else, right?

Treadwell is sorting through 23 offers from the elite programs in the nation, including Alabama, LSU, Michigan, USC, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Auburn, Ohio State, Oklahoma State and Michigan State. He hopes to add Oregon and Florida to his list before he gets around to thinking seriously about committing.

His stock rose over the summer after he displayed his skills at national invitation-only camps in Florida, Oregon, California and Georgia. He competed against the best players in the country in 7-on-7 and 1-on-1 drills and more than held his own. According to recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS Sports Network, Treadwell is the No. 30 player in his class and one of the top five wide receivers.

I wanted to measure myself against the best, Treadwell said. When it was over, I think I played well against the top players and got my name out there. I made a lot of good plays. I didnt feel anyone was better than me. I feel I am so much better than last year. I learned so much over the summer. Its kind of ridiculous that I know this much in high school. This season, people will see me break big runs on every catch.

He admits he is leaning to Michigan. He has visited the Ann Arbor campus six times in the last two years. He has attended three games in 110,000-seat Michigan Stadium. He likes coach Brady Hoke and the coaching staff. He is comfortable with the players. He has a good relationship with Shane Morris, the third-ranked quarterback in the nation who recently committed to Michigan. He likes the fans, too.

Im comfortable with being there, he said. But I still want to make some visits. After the season, I want to take official (and fully paid) visits to farther places (like Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, USC and Oregon). I want to do that. Most likely I wont make a decision until February. I want to weigh all of my options.

I havent narrowed it down yet. I have no dream school. What is important to me? Style of offense, head coach, position coach, how comfortable I feel with the other players. It doesnt matter which conference I am in. I just want to compete against some of the best players in the country, in practice and in games.

Crete-Monee coach Jerry Verde is pleased that Treadwell is so level-headed and comfortable in his own skin, that he isnt intimidated by college recruiters, that he is aware if he chooses to wait and wants to visit faraway schools they will have to pay his transportation to their campus in December or January. So why should he hurry to make up his mind?

What makes him so marketable and so highly ranked among wide receivers in the nation is his competitiveness and his toughness, Verde said. He enjoys hitting. We started him at defensive end as a sophomore because he was so tough. He will play some defense this year, too. Some colleges said they would consider him as a defensive end because of his speed and strength.

To his credit and maturity, Treadwell has bought into Verdes recruiting philosophy. Make sure you are certain. Dont take visits after you make a commitment, the coach told his star player.

Thats why he hasnt committed yet, Verde said. It is hard for him to commit to a Big 10 school when he hasnt visited other schools out West. He is more level-headed than a lot of kids. Sure, he is under unbelievable pressure. What happens to a kid who cant afford to make a trip to a college campus? Laquon wants to be sure he doesnt have any regrets.

Treadwell wants to go to a school that throws the ball, a program that will prepare him for the NFL, his goal since he began playing football for the University Park Lions when he was 10 years old.

He started as a fullback, then was moved to running back, then quarterback as a freshman at Crete-Monee. As a sophomore, he was moved up to the varsity to play cornerback, then was shifted to wide receiver in the first week of practice. He wasnt a very happy camper at the time.

I didnt want to play wide receiver, he said. I had a great year at quarterback. I thought Id move up to quarterback on the varsity. I had a dream of being another Michael Vick. But once I got my rhythm down, I started to like it. There was so much space. After leading the team in receiving as a sophomore, I knew I could be very good. Even though I didnt have the ball in my hands on every play like at quarterback, I enjoyed the position. Now Im going to be another Justin Blackmon.

In the meantime, Treadwell hopes to do everything he can to lead Crete-Monee deep into the state playoff. Last years team finished 10-1, losing to Peoria Richwoods in the second round of the Class 6A playoff. Verde believes this years squad has the potential to be even better. So does Treadwell.

The passing game is intact. Quarterback Marcus Terrell, a 6-foot-1, 180-pound senior, completed 199 of 301 attempts for 2,822 yards and 29 touchdowns last season. And he threw only four interceptions. Treadwell caught 75 for 1,391 yards and 18 touchdowns.

We expect another great year from Terrell, Verde said. He has a great understanding of the spread offense. Everyone thought I was full of baloney last year when I said he would be our quarterback and manage the team. With his intelligence (30 ACT) and arm strength, everything is open for us. Our skilled players are very talented. We have fewer holes than ever before.

Other standouts are 6-foot-1, 180-pound wide receiver Lance Lenoir, who caught 48 passes for 625 yards last year; 6-foot-3, 215-pound junior linebacker Nyles Morgan, who already has offers from Illinois, Notre Dame and Purdue; 6-foot-3, 285-pound center Austin Rosenfeldt; 6-foot-3, 220-pound defensive end Trevelle Smith; 5-foot-11, 190-pound running back Kyle Tilley; 6-foot-2, 280-pound defensive tackle Jonathan Schultz; and 5-foot-11, 180-pound junior cornerback and kick returner Deon Benton, who was one of the more dominating players on freshman and sophomore squads that went 18-0.

There are high expectations. We were 10-0 at one point last year and most of our corps is coming back, said Verde, who was a star linebacker on Marian Catholics 1993 state championship team. Potential means nothing. Follow-through means everything. We want to go a step or two farther this year. We feel we have more than in the past to do that.

Glanville: Fall to Spring - A player’s offseason changes meaning with each changing season

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USA TODAY

Glanville: Fall to Spring - A player’s offseason changes meaning with each changing season

A few weeks after the we (the Cubs) were eliminated from the 2003 playoffs, I got a phone call from my college professor. Since it was officially the off-season, I was in the early stages of a break from following a pocket schedule to tell me where to be every day for nearly eight months.

But this was a man I could not refuse. I chose my college major to go into his field of transportation engineering and he was calling because he needed a teaching assistant to accompany him on his trip to South Africa.

One minute I could barely move off of my couch in my Chicago apartment after losing Game 7 against the Marlins. The next minute, I would be standing within miles of the Southern most point in Africa at the Cape of Good Hope. Why not? I needed the distraction so I agreed to go.

The offseason is its own transition. Leaving the regimen of routine, of batting practice and bus times, to an open ended world that you have to re-learn again. When I finished my first full major league season in 1997, I lived in Streeterville at the Navy Pier Apartments.

That offseason, I decided to stay an extra month in Chicago only to wake up panicked for the first two weeks because I thought I was missing stretch time for a home day game. A major league schedule becomes etched in your DNA after a while.

It is also a time that you get to reflect. The regular season does not give you a moment to really get perspective on what was just accomplished, what it all means, what you would change. I always joked about the T-shirt I wanted to a sell that listed all of the things a major league player figures out during the off-season. From the perfect swing to the ex-girlfriend you need to un-break-up with next week.

It all becomes so clear when a 96 MPH fastball isn’t coming at you.

For years, I would arrange a training program to follow, but I quickly learned that I had to mix it up. There was only so much repetition I could stand in the off-season. So some years, I moved to the site of spring training and worked out early with the staff, other years I found a spot at home where I grew up or wherever I played during the season, to train.

I was single when I played, but now with a family, I have a better understanding of the challenges my teammates would express as they were re-engaging as a daily father again after this long absentee existence.

To keep it fresh and spicy, when I got older in the game, I enrolled in a dance studio and took a winter of dance lessons. Salsa, Foxtrot, Rumba, you name it. On Thursdays we had to dance for an hour straight, changing partners in the room every song change. Dancing with the Stars had nothing on me.

Of course, not every offseason is fun and games. There were years when I wasn’t sure I would have a job the next year, or I was in the throes of a trade rumor. In 1997, I was traded from the Cubs to the Phillies two days before Christmas. In 2002, my father passed away on the last game of the season, leading the offseason to be a time of mourning.

By my final season in 2005, I thought I was officially on my couch forever. I was going to fade away into oblivion like many players do. No fanfare, the phone just would stop ringing and I would just let the silence wash over me. The Yankees had called earlier in that off-season, acting like they were doing me a favor which I turned down, then they called back later with a more open tone, seeing me as a potential key piece in their outfield with Bernie Williams slowing down quite a bit at that point.

I did get off that couch for that call, only to get released the last week of camp, so I was back on the couch, with a fiancé and some extra salt in the wounds after that final meeting with Brian Cashman and Joe Torre, who boxed me into the coaches office to tell me I was released. Released? Come on. Never had that happen before.

The Cubs players will go through all of this if they have the good fortune of playing a long time. The wave of uncertainty, the meaning of age in this game spares no one. Each offseason is a time to reset, a period where you get away, seemingly adrift from the game, then as spring gets closer, the shoreline comes up in the horizon once again, magnetically drawing you to its shores for another season.

Amazingly, you don’t always know your age and what it has done to your body. 34 can’t be that old, right? I can still run, or throw 95. Then those 23-year-olds in camp are the wake up call, or maybe you are that 23-year-old and can’t believe your locker is next to Ryne Sandberg’s.

Then you blink, and you are advising Jimmy Rollins about etiquette and realize you have become that guy, the seasoned vet, preaching about locker room respect.

For the 2018 Cubs, they fell short of their goal to repeat their 2016 magic. Failed to meet their singular destination that meant success over all else. Yet, those who come back for 2019, will not be the same player, the same person, that left the locker room at the close this season. They will have grown, changed, aged, wizened up, rehabbed, hardened. All of which means that new perspective is the inevitable part of this time off, whether you like it or not.

Baseball is a game that has this unique dynamic. The highest intensity rhythm of any sport. Every day you are tested. You are pushed to the brink by sheer attrition. According to my teammate Ed Smith, who was playing third base at the time when Michael Jordan reached third, Jordan, after playing well over 100 games in a row, said to him “Man, I have never been this tired in my entire life.”

The grind.

Then it stops on a dime. Season over. Only on baseball’s terms.

But you may be granted another spring. Another crack at it. Until one day, the baseball winter never ends and its time for you to plant your own spring.

Four takeaways: Blackhawks on wrong side of history in loss to Lightning

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AP

Four takeaways: Blackhawks on wrong side of history in loss to Lightning

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning at the United Center on Sunday:

1. Blackhawks on wrong side of history 

Earlier this year the Blackhawks made history by appearing in five straight overtime games to start the season, something no team in NBA, NFL, NHL or MLB history has ever done.

But Sunday they found themselves on the wrong side of it after allowing 33 shots on goal in the second period alone. It tied a franchise high for most given up in a single period — March 4, 1941 vs. Boston — and is the most an NHL team has allowed since 1997-98 when shots by period became an official stat.

"It's pretty rare to be seeing that much work in a period," said Cam Ward, who had a season-high 49 saves. "But oh man, I don't even know what to say to be honest. It's tough. We know that we need to be better especially in our home building, too. And play with some pride and passion. Unfortunately, it seemed like it was lacking at times tonight. The old cliche you lose as a team and overall as a team we weren't good enough tonight."

Said coach Joel Quenneville: "That was a tough, tough period in all aspects. I don’t think we touched the puck at all and that was the part that was disturbing, against a good hockey team."

2. Alexandre Fortin is on the board

After thinking he scored his first career NHL goal in Columbus only to realize his shot went off Marcus Kruger's shin-pad, Fortin made up for it one night later and knows there wasn't any question about this one.

The 21-year-old undrafted forward, playing in his his fifth career game, sprung loose for a breakaway early in the first period and received a terrific stretch pass by Jan Rutta from his own goal line to Fortin, who slid it underneath Louis Domingue for his first in the big leagues. It's his second straight game appearing on the scoresheet after recording an assist against the Blue Jackets on Saturday.

"It's fun," Fortin said. "I think it would be a little bit more fun to get your first goal [while getting] two points for your team, but I think we ... just have to [turn the page to the] next chapter and just play and be ready for next game."

3. Brandon Saad's most noticeable game?

There weren't many positives to take away from this game, but Saad was certainly one of them. He had arguably his best game of the season, recording seven shot attempts (three on goal) with two of them hitting the post (one while the Blackhawks were shorthanded).

He was on the ice for 11 shot attempts for and five against at 5-on-5, which was by far the best on his team.

"He started OK and got way better," Quenneville said of Saad. "Had the puck way more, took it to the net a couple of times, shorthanded."

4. Special teams still a work in progress

The Blackhawks entered Sunday with the 29th-ranked power play and 25th-ranked penalty kill, and are still working to get out from the bottom of the league in both departments. In an effort to change up their fortunes with the man advantage, the Blackhawks split up their two units for more balance.

They had four power-play opportunities against Tampa Bay and cashed in on one of them, but it didn't matter as it was too little, too late in the third period — although they did become the first team to score a power-play goal against the Lightning this season (29 chances).

"Whether we're looking for balance or we're just looking for one to get hot, I think our power play has been ordinary so far," Quenneville said before the game. "We need it to be more of a threat."

Four more minor penalties were committed by the Blackhawks, giving them eight in the past two games. That's one way they can shore up the penalty kill, by cutting back on taking them.