The 2009 high school football season is over. Or is it? Recruiting never ends. While most of the top seniors in the Chicago area have made commitments, the cream of the crop on the national level will wait until January or February to make up their minds.
In the meantime, college coaches are evaluating and offering the best players in the class of 2011.
The leading prospects in the Chicago area are linebacker Nick Lifka of Naperville North, wide receiver DaVaris Daniels of Vernon Hills, offensive tackles Jordan Walsh of Glenbard West, Victor Nelson of Maine South, Ben Carberry of Oak Park and Dan Lembke of Providence, quarterback Reilly O'Toole of Wheaton Warrenville South, running backs Jahwon Akui of St. Rita, Josh Ferguson of Joliet Catholic, Peter Bonahoom of Prospect, Jacob Brinlee of Lake Zurich and Calvin Phillips of Kankakee and defensive back Jarrell Williams of Richards.
The best players in this year's junior class have been invited to participate in the annual invitation-only U.S. Army Combine in San Antonio during the weekend of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in January. Only 500 from across the nation are invited. About 250 already have signed up. Many can't afford to make the trip.
It is the best combine in the country. Jimmy Clausen, Tim Tebow, Mark Sanchez, Matt Stafford and Tom Zbikowski have performed at the combine. It allows players to go up against the other top players nationally. Last year, Proviso West wide receiver Kyle Prater and Fremd offensive lineman Christian Lombard made names for themselves.
If a player is invited but can't afford to make the trip to San Antonio, it is important that he makes every attempt to participate in a one-day college combine in June. It will give the player an opportunity to show college coaches how good he is and perhaps receive a scholarship offer. The exposure is critical to his future.
Among the Chicago area players who have been invited to San Antonio are Lifka, Nelson, center Brian Bobek, tight end Jack Konopka and linebacker Justin Wallace of Fremd, offensive tackle Matt Frazier of Bishop McNamara and Joe Damisch, Mike Garrity and Tyler Juckett of Buffalo Grove.