Why seniors are overlooked

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Thirty-five seniors have made oral commitments, including most of the top-rated players in the Chicago area. That tells you all you need to know about why uncommitted seniors such as quarterbacks Mark Tolzien of Fremd and Peter Badovinac of Loyola haven't received a single scholarship offer from a major college program.

The problem is because so many city and suburban prospects commit early, most Division I coaches go elsewhere to recruit players. Fewer than half of the Division I schools in the country come to the Chicago area because of early commitments. They have so little time to cover regions, they go where the blue chippers are. Who's left in the Chicago area? Very few. But in the South, most of the top-rated players are uncommitted. They wait until December and January to make decisions.

So the two best senior quarterbacks in the Chicago area, Tolzien and Badovinac, have no offers. I saw them compete against each other on Saturday. This could be the first year in the 30 years I have been evaluating talent that the top true quarterbacks in the Chicago area won't get offers.

But both are Division I players, in my opinion. They are leaders. They just need a college that believes in them.

Tolzien, at 6-1, is not tall, which scares off some colleges. But he has a strong arm, good feet and has good football instincts.

Badovinac is 6-3, has great size and a great arm. It makes no sense to me why he doesn't have a big-time offer. He reminds me of Kurt Warner or Tony Romo, who had to attend small schools to prove how good they are.

Perhaps Tolzien and Badovinac will have to go to a small school or an Ivy League school or walk on to a major program in order to make an impact. They have the tools to do it.

Other seniors who deserve a look from Division I coaches are 6-3, 240-pound defensive lineman Addison Sadewater and 6-6 wide receiver Kevin Finney of Lake Forest, tailback Robert Earnest of Lemont, quarterback Jason Kafka of St. Rita and linebacker Gordon Kickels of Lemont.

One uncommitted senior who doesn't have to worry is 6-4, 225-pound Brett Nagel of Lemont, who is one of the top 10 players in the state. He has 30 offers and rates Stanford, Iowa, Boston College and Northwestern as his favorites. Although he plays quarterback, he is being recruited as a tight end and linebacker. He is a straight-A student.

Robeson's Brandon Green will be to Minnesota what Regus Benn is to Illinois. Minnesota has no speed on its team and Green will be the go-to receiver that Minnesota coach Tim Brewster has been looking for on offense, someone who can spread the defense.

Next year will be a great year for quarterbacks in the Chicago area. The list of prospects includes Maine South's Charlie Goro, Marian Central's Jon Budmayr, Glenbard North's Evan Watkins, Aurora Central Catholic's Mike Adams and Aurora Christian's Jordan Roberts.

Speaking of juniors, Morgan Park's Dominique Bell will be one of the most recruited running backs in the Midwest next year. The 6-1, 200-pounder has speed, power, vision, balance and burst. In fact, I was surprised how fast he is. He is very good in the open field.

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You are wrong that most of the players in the south wait. Most committ early under all states except for Louisiana. Looking at the Rivals top lists by state. the ratio of early committments are generally the same across the country. In Illinois, 24 of top 30 committed. In Florida: 20 of top 30. In Georgia: 23 of 30. In California: 24 of 30. In Texas: 27 of 30. In Ohio: 23 of 30. The exceptions are Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and Alabama where the commitment percentages are between 45 and 60% for the top ranked players. The real problem with early committments is that it is freezing out the opportunities for kids who can't afford to make unofficial visits and have to wait to make official visits after their football seasons are over. Too many times, schools are already filled at certain positions by the time official visits start happening. The NCAA should change the rule to let kids make official visits during their Junior year. This would allow those kids to get a shot at more scholarships.

Tom, You have over looked Waubonsie Valley's All Senior O line! The Offense has scored an average of 28 points per game. When a team shuts down our target we use another. Running, passing they are complete! Last week they came back after 2 int and down 13 in the first to rally back to win 55 to 13! 425 yards rushing.Week nine we rushed for 315yard! A big part of that is senior OT AJ lindeman 6ft6 315lbs with 5.4 speed. Who has been over looked as a division 1 prospect. No one has shut him down this year no sacks given up on his side of the line. His run blocking is the best in the state. Take a look at the best look at Waubonsie Valley OT AJ Lindeman. Look at WV against NV And their D 1 OT we shut him down WV won 10 to 6.I believe it's the coaches fault players are over looked! Lack of knowledge on how this recruiting works it's a shame! This scout.com and rivals.com are the recruiters bible and it misses some of the best players if coaches donot know about how important these two camps are to the recruiting process!!Players like Lindeman should be commited to a school already but he is waiting for his first offer!! Who ever lands Lindeman will have the best player, most dedicated player with the biggest heart. Watch some game film. He ran down a DB after an interception and got the tackle in the Hinsdale Central game!

dear tom you seem to over look morgan parks two linebackers,who have the numbers to match with anyone in the state ,between them they have well over 120 tackles ,at least 15 sacks on one of the best defensive teams in 7a you have over looked the fact that both have 4.5 speed and are being courted by top div. 1 schools both finish first and second in tackles each week i don,t what games you,ve been watching.talk about over looked seniors.

I am writing this in protest to the politics involved in the selection of the recent All Area Team. It is obvious that the best players are not recognized for their hard work and statistics. Jonathan Ridgner of Morgan Park High in my opinion should have been on this prestigious list of players. You can not let students down, you know how important it is for students to be recognized for their hard work. The numbers speak for themselves: 62 Tackles-18 Assists- 6 Sacks! Please don't discourage this young student. He must be recognized!


Singleton Green
Chicago Police Department

I've been an IHSA ref for 15 years and have seen some good linebackers in the Chicago area. One that has stood out the past 2 years comes from a 4-A school, Manteno. I found more info from edgytim.com on Jim Sandling. I did 2 Manteno games this season and this kid's the real deal! Great size and speed.
Just wondering if this player might get overlooked coming from a small program such as Manteno. Edgytim say's good things about him. Sandling's physical play, along with his speed and strength should at least make him a mid major recruit although d-1 schools should take notice of him.

Tom, I remember a kid who broke all the Illinois state records as a senior tailback at Naperville Central , Ryan Clifford. He was overlooked by everybody and ended up at Eastern Michigan a terrible program. He was not even mentioned as a player to watch before his senior year although he had 16 t.d.s and 1000 yards rushing as a junior. Even after his great year as a senior,51 t.d.s and 2800 yds. rushing and a state title, You,Tom Lemming rated him with only one star out of 4. Unfortunatlely this low ranking from you sealed his fate as no major schools looked at him.He was on the small side but had 4.5 speed and was a super tough athlete. Univ. of Ill. was interested but after your rankings came out they pulled their offer and went after Kenny Rogers, a track star that lasted one week at U. of I. I always thought that he got a raw deal. At Eastern he tore his ACL on the first day of practice.

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This page contains a single entry by Second Season published on November 4, 2007 11:20 AM.

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