The class of 2010 in the Chicago area is being touted as one of the most talented groups of football players in years, maybe the best since 1986, which was to football what the class of 1979 was to basketball.
But according to Scout.com, which recently released its list of the top 100 juniors in the nation almost before the 2008 season had ended, only two local products rank among the best--Fremd offensive lineman Christian Lombard and Johnsburg tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz.
Chicago-based recruiting analyst Tom Lemming disagrees. He insists wide receiver Kyle Prater of Proviso West is a top 100 player. And he believes at least six other Chicago area juniors could make the elite list by the end of the 2009 season.
They are Loyola defensive end Chance Carter, quarterbacks John Whitelaw of Hinsdale Central and Chandler Whitmer of Downers Grove South, running back LaSteven McKinney of Nazareth and linemen Zach Fulton and Jon Thibideau of Homewood-Flossmoor.
"They (Scout.com) don't have anyone who scouts Chicago. Edgytim does it for Rivals. But Scout has no idea who is who in Chicago," Lemming said.
"I haven't seen all of them yet. But some people have to put out lists early to get subscribers. Scout's list will be completely different in six months, once they have a chance to see the players. Now their list is based on word-of-mouth and last season's all-state teams."
Lemming and others will get a chance to evaluate most of the top-rated juniors in the nation at the U.S. Army Combine in San Antonio next month.
But Lemming was way ahead of Scout, Rivals, ESPN and other recruiting services. Last March, after viewing nearly all of the nation's top seniors and many highly regarded underclassmen during his annual coast-to-coast travels, he submitted a list of the top juniors to Sports Illustrated and USA Today.
His top five were 6-7, 300-pound offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson of St. Paul, Minn., quarterback Jake Heaps of Issaquah, Wash., running backs Marcus Lattimore of Duncan, S.C., and Anthony Barr of Los Angeles, Calif., and 6-4, 233-pound defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat of Plano, Texas.
Curiously, Scout just published list rates Heaps, Henderson, Jeffcoat and Lattimore at the top.
"I did it nine months ago and they are copying me now," Lemming said. "Now they come out with their list. But I'm the only one on the road who has seen these kids."
Lemming said Heaps, a 6-2, 195-pounder who is considering BYU, LSU, Notre Dame, California, Tennessee, North Carolina and Washington, isn't in a class with this year's No. 1 player, USC-bound quarterback Matt Barkley of Santa Ana, Calif., but he is an accomplished passer.
Henderson, who is considering Florida, Notre Dame, Ohio State, UCLA, Iowa, Minnesota and Boston College, "could be as good as any offensive lineman in the last five years," Lemming said. "But he must have a good work ethic. Does he have it? That is the question."