I've observed Maine South quarterback Charlie Goro enough times over the past two years to come to the belief that he is one of the best high school football players I have seen in 50 years. And that isn't an exaggeration.
If you saw Goro pass for a school-record 479 yards against New Trier or saw him run and pass in the cold and wind against Loyola on Saturday, then saw Graham Harrell lead Texas Tech past Texas and Oklahoma State on television in the last two weeks, you had to think Goro and Harrell are related.
In a sense, they are. Maine South offensive coordinator Charlie Bliss is the Mike Leach of high school football, a genius who has developed one outstanding quarterback after another in his spread offense, as Leach has done with Harrell and others before him.
"Goro is the product of a great system and he has the ability to play in that system," recruiting analyst Tom Lemming said. "He is perfect for the Vanderbilt offense, which combines the spread and pro-style."
Lemming was the only national recruiting analyst who rated Goro among the best quarterback prospects in the nation before Vanderbilt jumped on his bandwagon. Now Lemming believes a lot of big-time programs are regretting that they didn't take notice of the 6-2, 192-pounder much sooner.
"I liked him from the first time I saw him last year," Lemming said. "He has great feet, he is a great runner (with 4.5 speed) and he puts the ball on the money all the time. How many quarterbacks complete over 70 percent of their passes in any system?"
What I like about Goro, besides his athleticism and smarts, is his poise under fire. He is unflappable. He rarely gets flustered. He likes to run. He isn't afraid to take a hit. He also has an uncanny ability, when flushed out of the pocket, to roll out to one side or the other and deliver a pass to a third or fourth receiver.
How good is he?
I'm looking at a list of the Chicago Sun-Times Players of the Year, which dates to Evanston's Bob McKeiver in 1951, and it's hard to find many players who impressed me more.
For example, Goro is more of an offensive threat, running and passing, that Dan Dierking of Wheaton Warrenville South or John Dergo of Morris. Quarterback Sean Price of Maine South had better passing statistics than Goro but he was one-dimensional. He couldn't run like Goro.
You'd have to go all the way back to Joliet Catholic's Mike Alstott (1991) or St. Rita's John Foley (1985) or Oak Park's Eric Kumerow (1982) or Weber's Tim Marshall (1979) or St. Francis de Sales' Chris Boskey (1977) to find a better college prospect.
Lemming is convinced that Goro will make a name for himself at Vanderbilt and in the SEC. It will be interesting to see if he is a able to compete at that level, in places like Baton Rouge and Tuscaloosa and Knoxville and Gainesville.