My right-hand man in the Chicago area, Greg Georgeles, and I observed a couple of high school games last Friday and we came away impressed with several players who could be Division I prospects, especially offensive lineman Mark Zielinski of New Trier.
Zielinski, a 6-5, 300-pound junior, plays offensive right tackle for the Trevians but he likely will be an offensive guard in college. He could be the best junior lineman in the Chicago area. And he could be New Trier's best recruit since Clay Matthews, who was an all-stater in 1973 and went on to play at USC and in the NFL.
He has a wide base, good foot movement, pushes defenders to the outside, has a quick first step and maintains blocks, then slides upfield looking for more. He is a typical Michigan and Iowa offensive lineman, big and thick.
Zielinski favors Michigan at the moment. But he also is considering Notre Dame, Northwestern and Wisconsin and would like to attract more interest from Illinois.
Maine South senior wide receiver/kick returner Danny Benson is only 5-8 and weighs 175 pounds. But he is the most prolific pass receiver in the Chicago area with nearly 1,000 yards in receptions. He reminds of former Northern Illinois star Garrett Wolfe in the open field.
Benson has great moves, good hands, open field quickness, good hips and good vision. He is a deep threat and also is a difference-maker as a punt and kickoff returner. It might sound crazy but Benson reminds of Bears star Devin Hester in his ability to let plays develop in front of him, then find a route through the tacklers.
Maine South junior Charlie Goro, who has passed for more than 2,000 yards in eight games, has emerged as the No. 1 quarterback in the Chicago area. He is well-trained and well-developed by Maine South offensive coordinator Charlie Bliss, who has produced several outstanding quarterbacks (John Schacke, Sean Price, Tyler Knight) at the Park Ridge school. But Bliss admits that Goro is his prize product.
Goro has dispelled reports by some critics that he can't throw a deep ball in Maine South's spread offense. He has quick feet, great poise, stays in the pocket, reads defenses well, picks out his receivers and can throw any type of pass that is required. And he has another year to get even better.
Carmel's best player is Ryan Williams, a free safety who is a good athlete, has good range and is a hitter. He has Division I potential if someone will give him a chance.
Boston College coaches attended the Carmel/St. Viator game to see St. Viator senior offensive tackle Emmett Cleary, one of their early commitments. Cleary has good feet but he doesn't overpower anyone. BC coaches like his potential, however. He isn't a great player yet. He needs to redshirt as a freshman, get stronger and add 30-40 pounds.
Another St. Viator player who attracted BC's attention during the game was wide receiver Eric Huber, a 6-2, 200-pound senior who will play either wide receiver or safety in college. He is very athletic and demonstrated Division I potential as a sure-handed possession receiver and hitting ability on defense.