The top five junior prospects in Illinois are tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz of Johnsburg, Notre Dame-bound offensive lineman Christian Lombard of Fremd, wide receiver Kyle Prater of Proviso West, defensive end Chance Carter of Loyola and...wide receiver Matt Milton of Mascoutah.
Matt Milton? Until now, his name hasn't been mentioned by any other recruiting service. He is the best player in Downstate Illinois, near Belleville. I saw him at the recent Iowa camp and have been evaluating his film. He is 6-6, weighs 205 pounds and has 4.6 speed. He is a great red zone receiver. He has great body control and, like Prater, has great hands.
Milton was offered by Iowa on the spot. Illinois and Notre Dame figure to offer him, too. Illinois and Notre Dame also have offered Fiedorowicz and Prater. Notre Dame also has offered Carter.
Fiedorowicz' stock has gone up since he scored a 25 on his ACT. The list already includes Illinois, Notre Dame, Michigan, LSU, Miami and Iowa. In fact, everyone who has seen him has offered. That's why I tell kids not to commit until everyone has had an opportunity to evalute you or you are shortchanging yourself.
It is a subpar year for seniors in Illinois but a very promising year for juniors--and they are only the five best. Another standout, defensive back Corey Cooper of Proviso East, has committed to Illinois but is visiting other schools.
Nazareth Academy in La Grange Park has two players who are good enough to play in the Big 10--running back LaSteven McKinney and linebacker Mike Williams. Both have been overlooked by Big 10 schools because of their size and neither has been offered. But I think once big-time schools take a closer look at them, they will receive the recognition--and offers--that they deserve.
McKinney has strong legs and reminds me of Garrett Wolfe and Mike Turner, two other Chicago area products who ended up at Northern Illinois after being overlooked by bigger programs. I'm surprised that McKinney and Williams, whom I describe as a thumper, haven't been offered yet.
It will be a good year for quarterbacks and the Chicago area has at least three--Hinsdale Central's John Whitelaw, Downers Grove South's Chandler Whitmer and Prospect's Miles Osei--who can run and throw and could fit into spread offenses in college.
Whitmer has been offered by Illinois but his family has Georgia ties and I think he would love to be offered by Georgia.
Wheaton North's Taylor Graham, son of former Notre Dame, Ohio State and NFL quarterback Kent Graham, is bigger than the other three and could surpass all of them if he recovers from an injury that shortened his junior season. He'll get offers from colleges after attending one-day camps this summer.
Four other juniors who haven't received much attention but will before the 2009 season is over are 6-4, 330-pound offensive lineman Jazzario Barrios of Morgan Park, 6-3, 235-pound linebacker Louis Trinca-Pasat of Lane Tech, 6-4, 270-pound defensive tackle Pat Driscoll of Lemont and 6-4, 240-pound linebacker Jack Dittmer of Fenwick.
Barrios' only drawback is his eating habits. He must watch his weight. He could eat himself out of a scholarship. Otherwise, he could be one of the most recruited offensive linemen in the Midwest.
Trinca-Pasat is a straight A student who can run. He could grow into a defensive lineman. He is one of the top 20 prospects in the Chicago area.
Driscoll is very athletic, another standout in the wealth of talent being developed by Lemont coach Eric Michaelsen, while Dittmer probably is too big and not quick enough to be a linebacker in college and likely will be moved to the defensive line.