Many of the top players in the classes of 2009 and 2010 gathered at Proviso West in Hillside on Sunday. The seniors are slightly better than I originally thought but still average at best. But the juniors are shaping up as a special class, maybe the best since 1986 which produced 141 full-ride scholarships and sent 17 to the NFL.
The bigget news of all, however, was that Morgan Park defensive end Craig Drummond, the No. 1 player in the class of 2009, reported that he had passed his ACT exam with a score of 22. If he achieves a 2.0 grade-point average (on a 4.0 scale), the 6-5, 265-pounder will qualify for any of the leading Division I programs in the country.
Many schools had cooled toward Drummond, fearing he might not qualify, and some recruiting analysts had lowered his rating. Now all that has changed. In my view, he always has been the state's premier prospect. He looks like a young Richard Dent. Last year, he had 18 sacks.
Meanwhile, Johnsburg's C.J. Fiedorowicz has emerged as the No. 1 junior in the state. In fact, the 6-7, 235-pound receiver with 4.54 speed could be the top-rated tight end in the country, one of the top 10 juniors. He has moved ahead of Fremd lineman Christian Lombard and Loyola defensive end Chance Carter, who also could rank among the top 25 in the nation.
How good is the class of 2010? Fiedorowicz, Lombard and Carter are the headliners. But defensive back Corey Cooper of Proviso East, who has committed to Illinois, McHenry quarterback Tom Rose, Fenwick defensive end Jack Ditmar, Wheaton North quarterback Taylor Graham, Hinsdale Central quarterback John Whitelaw and Lemont linebackers Zach Burns and Connor Nagel also are potential standouts.
Rose is Fiedorowicz' cousin. Ditmar, a 6-4, 240-pounder, is described by Fenwick coach Joe DiCanio as "our best player in years." Lombard, a 6-6, 280-pounder at age 15, projects to be a dominating offensive lineman. Cooper, a 6-2, 200-pounder, is beginning to attract a lot of attention from other schools.
The class of 1986 is the highwater mark in Illinois, the best group of recruits ever produced in this season. It was headed by St. Rita linebacker John Foley, the Player of the Year, who was injured at Notre Dame. But St. Laurence's Tim Grunhard and Stan Smagala, Young's Russell Maryland, Homewood-Flossmoor's Nolan Harrison, Schaumburg's Paul Justin and Sandburg's Jeff Alm reached the NFL.
Among the seniors, Providence's Pat Ward and Sandburg's Mike Schofield are the fastest rising players in the state. They will have over 20 offers in the next few weeks. Ward, a 6-7, 300-pound, dwarfs other offensive linemen. He has redefined his body, put on good weight and looks like an All-American.
Glenbard West offensive lineman Chris Watt, who is smaller than Ward and Schofield but more dominating on film, said he has narrowed his list of schools to Illinois, Northwestern, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Iowa, Boston College, Penn State and Stanford.
Other seniors who surely will enhance their reputations with productive senior years are Richards tight end Sean Pratl, Lemont linebacker Luke Anderson, Hubbard linebacker Darius Moffett, Lemont fullback Tyler Burns, Glenbard North defensive end Kyle Schwetz and Lake Forest defensive lineman Scott Covert.
Covert, son of former Bears offensive lineman Jimbo Covert, is a 6-2, 240-pounder who needs to bulk up to play defensive tackle in college. But he is relentless and demonstrates the same aggressive nature as his father.