The best player in Illinois is ...

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In my opinion, Joliet Catholic junior running back Ty Isaac is the best player in the state of Illinois.

If he can stay healthy, he will be the best running back to come out of the Chicago area - and we've had some really good ones. He kind of reminds me of an Eric Dickerson type of back. He's got great size (6-3, 215 pounds) and strength and vision.

The other top local players in the Class of 2013 are Lemont offensive tackle Ethan Pocic (6-7, 285), Maine South quarterback Matt Alviti (6-0, 176), St. Francis offensive tackle Kyle Bosch (6-5, 275) and Bolingbrook quarterback Aaron Bailey (6-2, 200).

Morrison a big catch for Young, Gators

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Bolingbrook linebacker Antonio Morrison's commitment to Florida has an interesting back story.

Morrison, who's the best linebacker in Illinois and probably the best linebacker in the Midwest, is the first major commitment secured by Florida assistant coach Bryant Young. Young starred in high school at Bloom and in college at Notre Dame before going on to the NFL.

Morrison can run with the backs and looks thin at 220 pounds, so expect him to get bigger and stronger. I think he can be a major star at Florida.

Eye on Buckeyes: What's next for OSU?

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Jim Tressel's resignation this week is a game-changer for recruiting.

With Tressel there, rarely did a top player in Ohio go anywhere but Ohio State. Tressel had cultivated friendships with every top high school coach in the state when he was at Youngstown State and then Ohio State.

Interim coach Luke Fickell is the program's top recruiter, but they're saying they're going to look for a permanent head coach at the end of the season. It could go either way; Alabama, it took almost a decade to rebound from NCAA sanctions. But USC was hit with major sanctions and still had a great recruiting year.

Ohio State does have a natural talent base. A lot of kids are just born to play there. I think what they should do is concentrate on Ohio and western Pennsylvania. Right now, there's blood in the water and the sharks are Michigan, Notre Dame, Penn State and Michigan State. Ballplayers will start having doubts about Ohio State. It could devastate recruiting for the next couple years.

Michigan has already offered most of the top kids in Ohio. Michigan State, maybe they can dip down into the neighboring state. Notre Dame and Penn State have not done much in Ohio the last couple years, but they could come back in,

Of the top 10 guys in Ohio in the Class of 2012, the Buckeyes would have got at least eight of them if Tressel had stayed. They had already got the No. 1 guy, Kyle Kalis, an offensive lineman from Lakewood St. Edward, who's been offered by everybody. Of my top 12 players in the state, they were leading on 11 of them.

Another program that could benefit is Nebraska. The Cornhuskers have no talent at home and since they're leaving the Big 12, they have to come into the Midwest, especially Chicago and Ohio.

Top 100 national prospects

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Here are Tom Lemming's top 100 national prospects:

Stars
1. ••••• WR Dorial Green-Beckham 6-6, 220, 4.4 Springfield-Hillcrest, MO
2. ••••• QB Gunner Kiel 6-4, 216, 4.7 Columbus East, IN
3. ••••• WR Cayleb Jones 6-2, 190, 4.5 Austin High, TX
4. ••••• DL Noah Spence 6-3, 230, 4.5 Harrisburg-Bishop McDevitt, PA
5. ••••• OL Mario Edwards 6-3, 270, 4.69 Denton-Ryan, TX
6. ••••• OL John Theus 6-6, 301, 5.1 Jacksonville-Bolles, FL
7. ••••• DL Ellis McCarthy 6-4, 300, 4.9 Monrovia, CA
8. ••••• RB Jonathan Gray 6-0, 195, 4.4 Aledo, TX
9. ••••• DB Landon Collins 6-1, 205, 4.4 Geismar-Dutchtown, LA
10. ••••• RB Barry Sanders 5-9, 185, 4.3 Oklahoma City-Heritage Hall, OK
11. ••••• RB Rushel Shell 6-0, 215, 4.45 Aliquippa-Hopewell, PA
12. ••••• OL Zach Banner 6-8, 320, 5.2 Lakewood Lakes, WA
13. ••••• OL Jarron Jones 6-6, 310, 5.2 Rochester Aquinas, NY
14. ••••• ATH Stefon Diggs 6-0, 175, 4.4 Olney-Good Counsel, MD
15. ••••• OL D.J. Humphries 6-6, 265, 4.86 Charlotte-Mallard Creek, NC
16. ••••• DB Travis Blanks 6-1, 195, 4.5 Tallahassee N.F.C., FL
17. ••••• OL Andrus Peat 6-7, 280, 4.9 Tempe-Corona Del Sol, AZ
18. ••••• DT Eddie Goldman 6-4, 295, 5.2 Washington D.C.-Friendship
19. ••••• CB Geno Smith 6-0, 165, 4.4 Atlanta-St. Pius X, GA
20. ••••• DB Shaq Roland 6-2, 180, 4.39 Lexington, SC
21. ••••• QB Jameis Winston 6-4, 196, 4.56 Hueytown, AL
22. ••••• ATH Nelson Agholor 6-2, 180, 4.5 Tampa-Berkeley Prep, FL
23. ••••• RB Matt Jones 6-3, 215, 4.47 Seffner Armwood, FL
24. ••••• RB Keith Marshall 5-11, 190, 4.3 Raleigh-Millbrook, NC
25. ••••• ATH Davonte Neal 5-10, 180, 4.4 Scottsdale-Chaparral, AZ
26. ••••• ATH Ron Darby 5-11, 175, 4.36 Oxen Hill-Potomac, MD
27. ••••• OL Jordan Simmons 6-5, 300, 5.2 Encino Crespi, CA
28. ••••• QB Connor Brewer 6-2, 195, 4.7 Scottsdale-Chaparral, AZ
29. ••••• DL Dante Fowler 6-3, 235, 4.65 St. Pete-Lakewood, FL
30. ••••• QB Zeke Pike 6-6, 230, 4.7 Edgewood Dixie Heights, KY
31. ••••• LB Kwon Alexander 6-3, 215, 4.5 Oxford, AL
32. ••••• DL Arik Armstead 6-7, 275, 5.0 Pleasant Grove, CA
33. ••••• DB Terry Richardson 5-9, 170, 4.4 Detroit Cass Tech, MI
34. ••••• TE Kent Taylor 6-5, 218, 4.7 Land O'Lakes, FL
35. ••••• CB Tee Shepard 6-1, 190, 4.5 Fresno-Central, CA
36. •••• OL J.J. Denman 6-6, 310, 5.1 Fairless Hills-Pennsbury, PA
37. •••• LB Derek David 6-4, 230, 4.5 Rockdale, TX
38. •••• ATH Brian Kimbrow 5-9, 165, 4.35 Memphis-East, TN
39. •••• DB Shaq Thompson 6-1, 185, 4.5 Sacramento Grant, CA
40. •••• ATH Joel Caleb 6-3, 205, 4.55 Midlothian Clover Hill, VA
41. •••• OL JORDAN DIAMOND 6-6, 310, 5.2 SIMEON
42. •••• DT Malcolm Brown 6-2, 280, 4.89 Brenham, TX
43. •••• OL Josh Garnett 6-4, 300, 5.1 Puyallup, WA
44. •••• DL Quay Evans 6-3, 318, 4.9 Morton, MS
45. •••• OL Evan Goodman 6-5, 280, 5.0 Lakeland, FL
46. •••• DL Tommy Schutt 6-3, 300, 5.0 Glen Ellyn-Glenbard West, IL
47. •••• WR Durron Neal 6-0, 190, 4.4 St. Louis-DeSmet, MO
48. •••• RB Byron Marshall 5-10, 191, 4.4 San Jose Valley Christian, CA
49. •••• LB Ifeadi Odenigbo 6-4, 210, 4.5 Centreville, OH
50. •••• DL Michael Moore 6-4, 260, 4.8 Hyattesville DeMatha, MD
51. •••• RB Trey Williams 5-9, 178, 4.4 Spring-Dekaney, TX
52. •••• LB Josh Clemons 6-5, 200, 4.5 Valdosta-Lowndes, GA
53. •••• DB Trae Elston 6-0, 180, 4.4 Oxford, AL
54. •••• OL Vadal Alexander 6-6, 310, 5.3 Buford, GA
55. •••• LM Jordan Watkins 6-5, 260, 5.1 College Park Woodward, GA
56. •••• DL Eli Harold 6-4, 220, 4.6 VA Beach-Ocean Lakes, VA
57. •••• DL Chris Wormley 6-5, 255, 4.8 Toledo Whitmer, OH
58. •••• WR Avery Johnson 6-2, 185, 4.5 Pompano Beach-Ely, FL
59. •••• OL Jessamen Dunker 6-5, 315, 5.0 Boynton Beach, FL
60. •••• DL Darius Hamilton 6-4, 255, 4.7 Ramsey Don Bosco, NJ
61. •••• OL Kyle Kalis 6-5, 300, 5.2 Lakewood St. Edwards, OH
62. •••• DB Chris Black 6-0, 175, 4.4 Jacksonville First Coast, FL
63. •••• DL Sevon Pittman 6-5, 240, 4.7 Canton McKinley, OH
64. •••• DL Jonathan Taylor 6-4, 295, 4.8 Millen-Jenkins Co., GA
65. •••• DB Deon Bush 6-1, 180, 4.4 Miami-Columbus, FL
66. •••• OL Pat Destefano 6-6, 280, 5.0 Roebuck-Dorman, SC
67. •••• OL DAN VOLTZ 6-4, 290, 5.3 BARRINGTON
68. •••• DB T.J. Davis 6-1, 173, 4.38 Tallahassee Godby, FL
69. •••• OL Freddie Tagaloa 6-8, 290, 5.3 Richmond-Salesian, CA
70. •••• QB Cyler Miles 6-4, 215, 4.4 Denver Mullen, CO
71. •••• WR Leonte Carroo 6-2, 200, 4.4 Ramsey Don Bosco, NJ
72. •••• QB Bennie Coney 6-3, 210, 4.7 Plant City, FL
73. •••• QB Matt Davis 6-2, 200, 4.4 Houston Klein Forest, TX
74. •••• LB James Ross 6-0, 220, 4.5 Orchard Lakes St. Mary's, MI
75. •••• OL Ty Darlington 6-3, 274, 5.1 Apopka, FL
76. •••• DL Troy Hinds 6-5, 230, 4.6 Kaysville Davis, UT
77. •••• DL Jelani Hamilton 6-5, 250, 4.8 Ft. Lauderdale Aquinas, FL
78. •••• OL Brock Stadnik 6-5, 285, 5.1 Greensboro-W. Guilford, NC
79. •••• OL Curtis Riser 6-4, 280, 5.0 Desoto, TX
80. •••• ATH Devin Fuller 6-0, 185, 4.5 Old Tappan, NJ
81. •••• WR Jordan Payton 6-2, 200, 4.4 Westlake Village Oaks Christian, CA
82. •••• RB Greg Garmon 6-1, 195, 4.5 Erie McDowell, PA
83. •••• LB Dillon Lee 6-4, 225, 4.5 Buford, GA
84. •••• QB Anthony Alford 6-1, 211, 4.5 Petal, MS
85. •••• QB Tyler Matthews 6-3, 210, 4.7 McPherson, KS
86. •••• ATH D.J. Foster 6-0, 185, 4.5 Scottsdale Saguaro, AZ
87. •••• DL Javonte Magee 6-6, 260, 4.7 San Antonio-Houston, TX
88. •••• ATH Cyrus Jones 5-11, 190, 4.47 Baltimore Gilman, MA
89. •••• ATH Ricky Parks 6-4, 225, 4.6 Hoganville-Callaway, GA
90. •••• DB Yuri Wright 6-2, 190, 4.4 Ramsey Don Bosco, NJ
91. •••• RB Jonathan Williams 6-0, 195, 4.45 Allen, TX
92. •••• ATH Justin Thomas 5-10, 175, 4.3 Prattville, AL
93. •••• LB Trey Granier 6-1, 225, 4.6 Thibodaux, LA
94. •••• DL Nick James 6-5, 330, 5.1 Long Beach Harrison Co., MS
95. •••• LB Vince Biegel 6-3, 215, 4.6 Wisconsin Rapids-Lincoln, WI
96. •••• LB Deaysean Rippy 6-2, 205, 4.6 McKees Rocks-Sto-Rox, PA
97. •••• DL Jordan Jenkins 6-3, 230, 4.6 Hamilton-Harris Co., GA
98. •••• DL Sheldon Day 6-2, 280, 4.9 Indianapolis Warren Central, IN
99. •••• RB MALIN JONES 6-2, 210, 4.4 JOLIET CATHOLIC
100. •••• RB Mario Pender 5-11, 188, 4.4 N. Ft. Myers-Island Coast, FL

Recruiting update: Quarterbacks

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It's going to be different recruiting quarterbacks in the coming years.

For the first time ever, there are more spread-type quarterbacks than pro-style quarterbacks. High schools are taking their cue from the colleges with the spread offense.

Nationally, it's an average year for quarterbacks. The top kid may be Gunner Kiel (6-foot-4, 220 pounds) from Columbus East (Ind.). His uncle, Blair Kiel, played for Notre Dame.

I interviewed him in November and I really liked him. He can play both pro and spread. He's got great arm strength, good overall athletic ability, great mechanics. I think he'll be the most sought-after quarterback in the country.

Here are some other QBs to watch:

* Zeke Pike of Edgewood Dixie Heights (Ky.), 6-5, 225. Plays in a spread offense and has a live arm, a quick release. Very good quickness for a big guy, can fit into any offense. The No. 1 player in Kentucky for sure; has close to 50 offers nationally.

* Connor Brewer of Scottsdale Chapparal (Ariz.), 6-2, 190. He's legit, more of a spread quarterback. Committed to Texas. Led his team to two straight state titles. Can run and throw.

* Bennie Coney of Plant City (Fla.), 6-2, 215. Spread offense QB; throws and runs very well. Built like a linebacker. Probably the most athletic quarterback in the state of Florida.

* Janeis Winston of Hueytown (Ala.), 6-4, 205. Passed for more than 2,000 yards, rushed for more than 1,000 last year. Also the best baseball player in the state of Alabama and may go for baseball over football. Leaning toward Alabama.

* Maty Mauk of Kenton (Ohio), 6-1, 190. Threw for 5,600 yards and 69 TDs last season. His brother Ben played for Brian Kelly at the University of Cincinnati. The most prolific junior QB in the country, he threw on every down.

* Cyler Miles of Denver Mullen (Colo.), 6-3, 210. A sleeper; top prospect in the state of Colorado. Completed 70 percent of his passes for around 2,000 yards and 20 TDs. Can run out of trouble.

* Zach Kline of Danville San Ramon Valley (Calif.), 6-2, 195. Committed to California. Not super big big, but he does everything well from the spread. Good live arm.

* Robert Gregory of Simeon, 6-4, 200. The best QB in Illinois. He's being underrated by a lot of people. I think he's the biggest sleeper in the country. Great skills and potential. Whoever gets him has got a dynamic future quarterback.

* Wes Lunt of Rochester (Ill.), 6-5, 190. Passed for 2,000 yards with just one interception last season. Slingshot passing motion, stands tall in the pocket.

New Year's Eve in Longview, Texas

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I spent New Year's Eve in a Holiday Inn Express in Longview, Texas, watching Saturday Night Live on television, eating turkey and salami sandwiches I have brought with me from home and washing them down with Mountain Dew. How's that for a celebration.

The best town to spend New Year's Eve in is San Antonio. The Riverwalk is especially festive.

There is nothing to do in Longview. But it is better than Crowley, La., in Cajun country. One year, I met with Cajun people for dinner on New Year's Eve. I had to leave the party at 9 because I had to get up at 3 to drive to Beaumont, Texas, to meet some players. I got woke up by some shotguns going off outside my room at the Quality Inn in Crowley. They were celebrating the New Year. I haven't been back since.

Bound for San Antonio

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Twenty-five Chicago area products, including quarterback Robert Gregory and offensive tackle Jordan Diamond of Simeon, wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp of Montini and offensive tackle Dan Voltz of Barrington, will be among 500 juniors on display at the U.S. Army's annual combine on Jan. 7 in the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.

It is the biggest and best combine in the nation. It is conducted early--on the Friday prior to the U.S. Army's annual All-American Bowl, which will be televised at noon on Jan. 8 on NBC--so players can get a lot of publicity and exposure.

College coaches aren't permitted to attend the event. But word gets out on the Internet. It is a good venue for juniors to make national reputations for themselves or prove they are as good as their hype.

Nation's top athletes

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In rounding out my list of the top 10 players at each position--my updated list of the top 100 players in the nation will be released after the U.S. Army All-American Game in January--I want to cite the leading athletes, players who are talented enough and skilled enough to play more than one position.

1. James Wilder of Tampa, Fla., is a 6-2, 220-pound running back/linebacker with 4.5 speed who is the son of a former NFL star. He is rated as the No. 1 player in the nation in my preseason list but will drop a bit in my final evaluations because he was injured during the season and wasn't able to play up to expectations. He is committed to Florida State, an All-American at both positions. In my view, he would be the best linebacker in the nation if he wanted to be. But he wants to be a running back in college. He is one of the 10 best running backs in the nation but not the best.

Nation's top cornerbacks

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This is an average year for cornerbacks, one of the most difficult positions for college recruiters and NFL scouts to fill. They have to be the most athletic of all players, able to run backward as fast as wide receivers run forward and defend against them. In the end, they usually are found playing other positions.

1. Jabriel Washington of Jackson, Tenn., is a 5-11, 165-pounder with 4.5 speed who is rated as the No. 57 player in the nation. He is committed to Alabama, which has recruited a stable of gifted defensive backs in recent years. He is an outstanding quarterback on offense but is even more valuable on defense. Alabama jumped on him early.

2. Josh Turner of Oklahoma City, Okla., is a 6-1, 175-pounder with 4.5 speed who is the No. 73 player in the nation. He is the top-rated player in Oklahoma. He is committed to Texas. An outstanding athlete, he was recruited as a wide receiver and cornerback.

Coe, McCall commit to Iowa

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Iowa scored a major recruiting coup on Sunday when running back/linebacker Rodney Coe of Edwardsville, the top-rated player in Illinois, and running back Mikail McCall of Thornridge committed to Hawkeye coach Kirk Ferentz.

Coe, a 6-3, 230-pounder, chose Iowa over Illinois. He could be an All-America at running back or linebacker but he prefers to play running back. He was slowed by injuries as a senior but, when healthy, he has 4.5 speed and is one of the best big backs in the country, a perfect fit for Iowa's offense. Coe and McCall could form a pony express backfield that could remind old-timers of SMU's Eric Dickerson and Craig James.

McCall, who originally had committed to Michigan State, had his scholarship offer pulled by Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio after McCall made his official visit to the East Lansing campus on Dec. 3 and voiced some concerns over the number of running backs in Michigan State's recruiting class.

McCall, who had chosen Michigan State over Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota, informed Dantonio that he wanted to take a recruiting trip to Iowa. Soon afterward, Dantonio pulled his scholarship offer, claiming McCall had broken their non-binding agreement.

Iowa had continued to recruit McCall, a 205-pounder, after he had committed to Michigan State. Thornridge coach Mike Morrissey has close ties to the Iowa program. McCall committed to Iowa on Sunday, during his official visit to the Iowa City campus.

I've never heard of this happening before in major college recruiting, not in all of my 30 years of evaluating high school talent, but Notre Dame has already lost three top 100 commitments from the class of 2011 and the Irish may be on the brink of losing a fourth, defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt of Monroe, Ga.

Tuitt, a 6-6, 255-pounder who is rated as the No. 77 player in the nation, is visiting Auburn. Originally, he chose Notre Dame over Auburn, Georgia, Georgia Tech, South Carolina, Florida and North Carolina. In the wake of Notre Dame's on-campus and on-the-field issues during the past season, and the losses of running back Justice Hayes of Grand Blanc, Mich., to Michigan and offensive lineman Jordan Prestwood of Plant City, Fla., and defensive end Aaron Lynch of Cape Coral, Fla., to Florida State, Tuitt apparently has been persuaded to look elsewhere. Notre Dame also lost defensive back Clay Burton of Venice, Fla., to Florida.

I must admit I really like Tuitt. I had arranged to interview him and several other top prospects in the Atlanta area. But he had a basketball game that day and was going to meet me the night before, despite a driving ice and snow storm that caused hundreds of automobile accidents in the metropolitan area. Even so, Tuitt, his mother and two siblings took four hours to drive the normally 30-minute trip to meet me in Marietta.

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