Richards' Tommie Thomas is the best athlete I've seen in Chicago this year. After watching him pass for 134 yards and rush for 114 yards and score the winning touchdown in the last three seconds to beat Lemont 23-22 on Friday in Oak Lawn, there is no doubt in my mind that he ranks among the top 200 players in the nation. If only he can make the grade.
Thomas reminds me of Vince Young with his great ability to run as a quarterback. He is an average passer with a good arm and he is capable of keeping Richards in every game with his ability to scramble. But he will be a defensive back in college. Everybody is recruiting him as a defensive back. It would take too long to develop him as a passer because he rarely stays in the pocket.
He is better than I thought he was. I saw him last year and thought he was pretty good but he is better than last year. The problem is he isn't a good student. He has grade problems and every college--Illinois is his favorite--is concerned about his ability to qualify. If he had good grades, he would be a nationally recruited player.
Speaking of Illinois, I'm really impressed with Lemont's Graham Pocic. Against Richards, he impressed me on defense. But he will be an offensive tackle in college. He is under control and has very quick feet, very impressive for a 310-pounder. He isn't yet a great offensive lineman but he has potential to become one. I didn't like him last year but he is much better this season. He really improved his quickness and body control. Now I rank him as the No. 4 player in the state behind St. Rita's Darius Fleming, Mount Carmel's Steve Filer and Marian Central's Sean Cwynar and ahead of Montini's Garrett Goebel.
I like quarterback Ryan McGrath of Glenbrook South. He is too short to be recruited by big-time programs but he is a leader, can run, has a good arm and good running skills and will find a spot in the Ivy League. If he was three inches taller, he would be nationally recruited. But he is one of the best quarterbacks in the Chicago area.
Aurora Christian quarterback Jordan Roberts, my choice as the No. 1 sophomore in the Chicago area last season, has developed into a Division I prospect under the guidance of coach and former NFL player Don Beebe. He is mature, has leadership qualities and has a good arm and a quick release. Yes, he doesn't play against top-notch competition. But scholarship offers will come based on his athletic ability more than the competition he faces. His only question mark is lack of great size. Colleges will have a good opportunity to evaluate him at quarterback camps next summer.
Of course, it is difficult to understand what college coaches are thinking and how they evaluate quarterbacks. I'm at a loss to explain why Loyola's Peter Badovinac, who is 6-3 and has a strong arm, hasn't received any big-time offers. After nearly 30 years in this business, I still don't know what makes schools pull the trigger on certain prospects while rejecting others.