We're back after a month on a Florida beach and it's time to respond to mail, e-mails and telephone messages and note some other reflections before I sort out more than 350 interviews and begin writing my fourth book--on high school football in Illinois.
* Chris Watt's commitment to Notre Dame came only a few days after the Glenbard West offensive lineman reportedly was given a 24-hour ultimatum by Ohio State. Watt, Morgan Park defensive end Craig Drummond and East St. Louis wide receiver Kraig Appleton have been nominated to play in the U.S. Army All-America Bowl next January in San Antonio.
* Drummond has become a hot property among college recruiters since it was revealed that he scored 22 on his last ACT exam. Until then, he was being downgraded by some coaches and recruiting analysts.
Although most college coaches continue to rank Drummond as the No. 1 prospect in the state, many backed off on his recruiting amid rumors that he wasn't going to qualify academically. Now Illinois, Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Minnesota are leading the chase.
* Homewood-Flossmoor's Mike Buchanan, rated by recruiting analyst Tom Lemming as the No. 3 prospect in Illinois behind Drummond and Watt, also has emerged as a hot property. The 6-6, 225-pound defensive end is being pursued by Illinois, Purdue, Indiana, Minnesota Michigan, Arizona, Colorado, Virginia, Boston College and California.
* Sean Cascarano, Glenbrook South's 6-6, 260-pound offensive lineman, committed to Virginia. He has emerged as one of the top 10 seniors in the Chicago area.
* Dan Oreseke, Brother Rice's 6-3, 195-pound punter, committed to Minnesota. He is the top-rated punter in the Midwest.
* Pittsburgh has offered Lake Forest defensive lineman Scott Covert, son of former Chicago Bears star Jimbo Covert, who is a Pittsburgh alum.
* Patrick Ward, Providence's king-sized offensive lineman, has been offered by Notre Dame. His 35 ACT score is attracting many suitors, including Northwestern, Stanford and Boston College. Although his father played at Illinois, it doesn't appear likely that Patrick will follow.
* UCLA has lost its top two recruits--defensive back Byron Moore of Los Angeles to USC and cornerback Marlon Pollard of Los Angeles to Notre Dame. Both rank among the top 100 seniors in the nation.