Recruiting analyst Tom Lemming's annual Prep Football Report, 286 pages of evaluations and pictures of the top-rated senior prospects in the United States, is hot off the press. To order a copy, call (630) 907-1000.
It's a labor of love. Lemming annually travels from coast to coast to personally evaluate film and interview the best players in each state. Last year, he logged more miles that ever before, close to 60,000 miles while driving through 47 states. He missed only North Dakota, Alaska and Hawaii. This year, he missed only Alaska. From November to June, he interviewed over 2,000 players.
One of the most interesting features in Lemming's book is his personal diary, a recap of all of his travels, from start to finish, the college coaches he met, the historical sites he visited, his sight-seeing adventures, his favorite dining experiences. Nothing compares to his near-death experience a few years ago in a blizzard near Buffalo, N.Y. It isn't Hemingway but any reader has to marvel at how dedicated someone can be to his profession.
Lemming loves U.S. history so side trips to Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, Tenn., or the site of Knute Rockne's plane crash in Kansas or Nathan's Hot Dog on New York's Coney Island or Gettysburg usually pop up on his travel guide. He also is an unabashed Chicago Cubs fan. This year, a visit with former Cubs shortstop Don Kessinger was in order.
Annually, he is welcomed by the leading coaches in the country...from Mack Brown at Texas to Nick Saban at Alabama to Pete Carroll at USC to Jim Tressel at Ohio State to Phil Fulmer at Tennessee.
It is amazing, when you come to think of it, how well his trips are organized, right down to the last detail, arranging to meet a group of players at a particular time on a particular day in towns like Valdosta, Jenks, Tifton, West Scranton, Naples, Tallahassee, Memphis, Tuscaloosa. Waterbury, Gulfport and more than a hundred other places.
Over a year ago, Lemming was the first to rate quarterback Matt Barkley of Santa Ana, Calif., as the No. 1 player in the class of 2009. And the 6-3, 225-pound youngster who has since committed to USC, has done nothing to change his mind. Now, of course, everyone else agrees with his evaluation.
According to Lemming, there are only two five-star prospects in Illinois--defensive end Craig Drummond of Morgan Park, who is uncommitted, and Notre Dame-bound offensive guard Chris Watt of Glenbard West.
But there are several four-star players--Illinois-bound wide receivers Kraig Appleton and Terry Hawthorne of East St. Louis, offensive tackles Pat Ward of Providence, Michigan-bound Mike Scofield of Sandburg, Illinois-bound Leon Hill of Leo and Virginia-bound Sean Cascarano of Glenbrook South, Wisconsin-bound quarterback Jon Budmayr of Marian Central, Northwestern-bound quarterback Evan Watkins of Glenbard North, Vanderbilt-bound quarterback Charlie Goro of Maine South, quarterback Darren Jones of Thornton, Northwestern-bound running back Mike Trumpy of Wheaton North, wide receiver Jamal Gray of Thornton, tight end Shaun Pratl of Richards, Illinois-bound defensive lineman Lendell Buckner of Leo, defensive end Michael Buchanan of Homewood-Flossmoor and linebacker Darius Moffett of Hubbard.
Also, quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase of Kansas City, Mo., who is committed to Illinois, is rated as a four-star prospect.