I interviewed 22 players in St. Louis recently and was surprised to learn that Illinois, Northwestern and Notre Dame aren't much of a presence in the area, not as they have been in previous years. Instead, Iowa and Missouri have the most presence in the St. Louis area.
I think a lot of schools, including Illinois, Northwestern, Notre Dame and other Big 10 schools, are missing the boat in St. Louis. There aren't any super stars in the area but there are a lot of good prospects who can compete in the Big 10. I can only surmise that Illinois, Northwestern and Notre Dame are focusing on other areas.
For example, 6-3, 230-pound defensive end DeRon Flood of O'Fallon, Ill., just across the river from St. Louis, likes Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota. But he has no offers. I think he is Big 10 material.
Chase Rome of Columbia, Mo., a 6-3, 280-pound defensive end, is one of the top three or four prospects in Missouri. He has 10 scholarship offers, including Florida, Iowa, Wisconsin and Missouri. He is relentless, hard-nosed and great in pursuit. He should be offered by every Big 10 school.
Nicholas Demien, a 6-6, 300-pound offensive lineman from Wentzville, Mo., has 10 offers, including Iowa, Wisconsin and Indiana.
Marquise Hill, a 6-1, 175-pound wide receiver from Trinity in St. Louis, has committed to Missouri. But since he made his oral commitment, six other schools have offered, including Oklahoma, UCLA and Minnesota.
Tom Kopp, a 6-5, 260-pounder from Cedar Hill Northwest, the best center in Missouri, has been offered by Missouri and Iowa.
Christian Kirksey, a 6-3, 190-pound linebacker/safety from Hazelwood East, a St. Louis suburb, is a big-time athlete. But he has no offers at this time.
Northwestern should be looking at 6-4, 260-pound offensive lineman Bryan Carroll of Fort Zumwalt in O'Fallon, Mo., who has a 25 ACT, and 6-1, 238-pound linebacker Lee Ward of Parkway in Chesterfield, Mo., who has a 30 ACT and has been offered by Harvard and Colorado State.
Carroll has no offers while Ward, who was credited with 137 tackles as a junior and was timed in 11.2 seconds for 100 meters and bench-presses 405 pounds, has big-time and Big 10 credentials. His father attended Notre Dame.
The best quarterback in Missouri is 6-1, 185-pound Tyler Gabbert of Parkway West in Ballwin. His brother Blaine committed to Nebraska, then went to Missouri. Tyler reminds me of Chandler Whitmer of Downers Grove South, perhaps the best quarterback in Illinois. He has several offers, including Missouri and Kansas.
Another Illinois product who should be attracting more attention from Big 10 schools is 6-1, 195-pound wide receiver Jimmy Hunt of Cahokia, Ill., who has been offered by Missouri. He can run, has good hands and has definite Division I skills.