Most college football coaches haven't completed their task of offering scholarships to the top-rated players in the class of 2009, next fall's seniors. But recruiters already are scouring the country, evaluating the leading prospects in the class of 2010, next fall's juniors.
It is a process that is never-ending. Coaches realize a fundamental rule in recruiting, something that Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest understood during the Civil War almost 150 years ago. "Get thar the firstest with the mostest," he said. Forrest might not have been eloguent but he was very effective. He didn't lose any battles.
Translated in modern terminology, coaches are aware that it is important to contact young prospects as quickly as possible because they always keep tabs on schools that show them a lot of love early. In many cases, the first school they hear from is the one they choose.
At the moment, two players stand out above the rest--6-6, 275-pound offensive tackle Chris Lombard of Fremd and 6-4, 230-pound defensive end Chance Carter of Loyola.
Veteran Fremd coach Mike Donatucci said Lombard is "as good a lineman as anyone I've seen" and recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CSTV rates him as the No. 1 player in his class in the Chicago area.
Carter could be the best athlete in the class.
Another outstanding athlete is 6-7, 228-pound wide receiver C.J. Fedorowicz of Johnsburg, who caught 76 passes for 1,046 yards and 22 touchdowns last year.
Quarterbacks to watch are Chandler Whitmer of Downers Grove South, who passed for 1,271 yards and 18 touchdowns last season, John Whitelaw of Hinsdale Central, Miles Osei of Prospect and Billy VandeMerkt of Riverside-Brookfield.
Best linemen are John Thibideau (6-5, 265) and Zach Fulton (6-5, 275) of Homewood-Flossmoor, Frank Boenzi (6-3, 285) of Geneva, Shawn Afryl (6-4, 295) of Niles West, Kevin Schlitter (6-5, 245) of Maine South, Matt Mautone (6-3, 285) of St. Charles North, Laken Tomlinson (6-6, 280) of Lane Tech, Bergeau Saintil (6-2, 265) of Niles North, Austin Teitsma (6-2, 210) of Glenbard South, Danny Kiebler (6-3, 225) of Leyden and Joey Riddle (6-4, 220) of Joliet.
The list of running backs includes Cameron Gillespie of Round Lake, Julian Banuelos of Wheaton Warrenville South, Greg Kennedy of Warren, Darnell Swanigan of Proviso East and LaSteven McKinney of Nazareth.
Receivers? Dan Hohenstein of Wheaton Warrenville South, Corey Cooper of Proviso East, Daron Brown of Morgan Park, Rodney Lloyd of Fenger and Peter Houlihan of Providence.
And what about the class of 2011? Next fall's sophomores?
Victor Nelson, a 6-7, 282-pound offensive tackle at Maine South, could emerge as the best prospect the Park Ridge school has produced since All-Pro lineman Dave Butz in 1968.