Juniors better than Seniors?

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From early indications, it appears as though the class of 2012 in Illinois, this year's juniors, is better than the class of 2011, this year's seniors. It shouldn't come as a big surprise because the level of talent in the senior class throughout the Midwest is lower than anyone can recall in recent memory. But the future looks encouraging.

Some seniors who have made instant impacts include Schaumburg running back Shepard Little, who rushed for 248 yards in the Saxons' upset of Maine South; Stevenson quarterback Kevin Earl; St. Rita tight end Tim Gorski; Conant offensive lineman Ken Kalish; Elk Grove quarterback Nick Meyer; Joliet Catholic running back Josh Ferguson; Simeon running back Horatio Banks, wide receiver/defensive back Darius Scott and tackle Chris Bryant; Wheaton Warrenville South quarterback Reilly O'Toole; quarterback Mike LaCosse of Naperville North; quarterback/running back Juwan Martin of De La Salle; and Thornridge running back Mika'il McCall.

As I've written earlier, there are only two Illinois products who have attracted national recognition in the preseason--Edwardsville running back/linebacker Rodney Coe and Vernon Hills wide receiver DaVaris Daniels.

There are others who have the skills and potential to earn top 100 ranking but they must have breakout senior years. Little, for example, sat out his junior year for disciplinary reasons after rushing for 1,600 yards as a sophomore. O'Toole, who is committed to Illinois, and LaCosse, who is pledged to Minnesota, rank 1-2 among the quarterbacks in the state at the moment. But LaCosse, a 6-6, 220-pounder, one of the best athletes in the Chicago area, could be groomed to play tight end in college.

The junior class is headed by 6-3, 305-pound defensive end Tommy Schutt of Glenbard West and quarterbacks Robert Gregory of Simeon and B.J. Bilyeu of Bartlett. Gregory's eye-popping performance against Mount Carmel at Soldier Field last Sunday--he amassed more than 500 yards in total offense, running and passing--moved him to the top of the list.

Other juniors to watch are running backs Lance Murdock of Barrington, Jordan Kos and Michael Panico of Carmel, 6-6, 300-pound offensive lineman Paul Perschon of Conant, 6-3, 255-pound defensive lineman Robert Bain of Bolingbrook, running back Peter Bonahoom of Prospect, wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp of Montini and 290-pound offensive lineman Dan Voltz of Barrington.

Kos and Panico combined for more than 450 yards rushing as Carmel emerged as one of the surprise teams in the state. Panico, a 5-8, 175-pounder whose brother was an All-Stater at Libertyville and a freshman starter at Nebraska, was timed in 4.48 at the Akron and Notre Dame camps. More athletic, faster and better than his brother at this stage, he needs to gain 20 pounds. He is the most elusive running back I have seen, a game-breaker at the tailback position.

Schutt is the No. 1 player in the junior class but he must watch his weight. He would be better off playing at 285 pounds than 305. A defensive lineman should weigh 250 to 260 while maintaining his quickness.

Gorski, a 6-7 and 245 pounds, while grow into an offensive tackle in college. Meyer and Earl should have more scholarship offers. Bonahoom has Division I talent but likely will be a wide receiver or defensive back in college. He has 4.45 speed and has a 4.6 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale. Murdock, a 6-1, 205-pounder with 4.5 speed, also should be playing defensive back or linebacker.

Everything and everyone considered, it appears the juniors are better than the seniors. I've never seen that before, not in the last 31 years. It usually takes longer for football players to develop in high school.

The sophomore class looks good, too. Running back Ty Isaac of Joliet Catholic is emerging as the headliner ahead of offensive linemen Ethan Pocic of Lemont and Kyle Bosch of Wheaton St. Francis. Pocic, a 6-5, 280-pounder, could be better than his brother Graham, a starter at Illinois.

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14 Comments

dont forget about aaron bailey and matt alviti class of 2013 the best qbs in illinois right now.

Wat about Martez Walker

After leading his soph team in tackles (84 in 7.5 games) at middle linebacker as a freshman, now soph Nick Dangles #25, finds himself starting at RB for the Varsity Lincoln Way Warriors. In a backup roll last week vs Joliet Steelmen he rushed for 62 yds in 15 carriers for a 4.1 average. This week he starts vs Crete-Monee. A pure athelete whose true position is on the defensive side of the ball he has shown signs of being a player to watch in the immediate future with his versitility to play both ways.

Martez Walker from Brother Rice is one of the best running backs in Illinois he already has stacks of invites to Division 1 colleges.

How about a story on three seniors starters at St Ignatius College Prep - all three from evanston and classmates and graduates of St Athanasius in Evanston. It's their 12th year in school together and started on the field together in 4th grade flag football at robert crown.

You can't forget about Stevenson juniors. I watched a sophomore game last year and saw standout perfomances from Mark Micucci a quarterback, he has good instincts in the pocket, can find the open receiver, and sometimes run, Troy Radke, a wide-receiver/defensive back, who can go up and get the ball, run great routes, and can rack up the YAC. Jon Way was also a receiver/linebacker who was more of a standout on the defensive side including Wetsel, Bickus, and Lorenzo. Lorenzo is a flat out animal. Bickus is a great linebacker and will excel at the next level with ease.
Micucci is also an excellent kicker who made 2 field goals and hit all his extra points.
This year on varsity, Micucci is back-up to Division 1 bound Kevin Earl, Radke number 2 receiver behind WR/P Steven Salata, Way starting safety and Bickus starting linebacker. Look for Radke, Way, and Bickus to make a big impact on the underdog Stevenson Patriots.

what about vernell pondexter jr. runningback for julian. and don't forget his brother robyn who lit it up against roberson he is in the 10th grade

No mention of 2011's Jordan Walsh of Glenbard West? Is there a better O-lineman in the state? Also, junior Johnny Caspers deserves a hard look for that best of 2012 class imo.

I really think it is a HUGE omission to not include BOTH Jordan Walsh of Glenbard West as a OUTSTANDING senior and Johnny Caspars as one of the TOP prospects among juniors. GBW should be getting a great reputation for developing outstanding linemen. Starting with Chris Watt now at Notre Dame and Jordon Walsh going to the NFL's premier source of offensive linemen, U of Iowa. Shutt and Caspars are already being swarmed by division I schools looking to sign then to LOI's. I don't see anyone at their caliber in the state.

Keep an eye on a Junior QB from Oswego. He might be the best QB in the state right now. He is Ryan West and he put on an offensive display friday night against Romeoville that I haven't seen in 30 years of watching high school football. I am a Joliet Catholic Alumn and I have seen my share.

Trevor Matczak is a 6'5" Freshman at Oswego with speed, good hands and a good arm. Put him on your list of players to get a look at.

Dont forget 6'1" 170lbs. senior DB/WR Eujean Johnson from Chicago's Perspective Calumet H.S. He lead his team with 6 int's as a junior.

I have been committing for a year. I believe you people will just have to see it when another state scoops them up. And we wonder why the majority of our athletes give our local talent to other states. Cover the entire metro Chicago and come out south to the Rich Township schools just check max prep or rival and see how many top twenty's are at one Rich school.
game time this week is 6:00pm Olympia Fields IL. Rich East vs. Rich Central

There isn't one top twenty at any Rich school lol....

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This page contains a single entry by Second Season published on September 1, 2010 10:52 AM.

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