Twenty-five Chicago area products, including quarterback Robert Gregory and offensive tackle Jordan Diamond of Simeon, wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp of Montini and offensive tackle Dan Voltz of Barrington, will be among 500 juniors on display at the U.S. Army's annual combine on Jan. 7 in the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
It is the biggest and best combine in the nation. It is conducted early--on the Friday prior to the U.S. Army's annual All-American Bowl, which will be televised at noon on Jan. 8 on NBC--so players can get a lot of publicity and exposure.
College coaches aren't permitted to attend the event. But word gets out on the Internet. It is a good venue for juniors to make national reputations for themselves or prove they are as good as their hype.
Some kids can't afford to make the trip. The fact that Glenbard West defensive lineman Tommy Schutt won't be there certainly won't detract from his recruitability. He already has established himself as one of the top five prospects in Illinois' class for 2012.
Among the other players who will be in San Antonio are Brother Rice running back Martez Walker, Bartlett quarterback A.J. Bilyeu, Glenbrook North offensive lineman Mike Ermel, Joliet Catholic running back Malin Jones, Lemont linebacker Brad Uher, Curie quarterback Maurice Fleming, Oswego quarterback Ryan West, Wheaton Warrenville South running back Dan Vitale and lineman Jeremy Brazil of Vernon Hills.
Also Barrington wide receiver Sam Handler, Hubbard linebacker Mikail Dubose and defensive lineman Mario Jones, Conant lineman Paul Perschonn, St. Joseph defensive lineman Jaleel Johnson, Crystal Lake Central running back Gage Harrah, Wauconda wide receiver Jake Ziolkowski, Lockport quarterback Billy Reed and Lake Forest wide receiver Bo Dever.
Two Chicago area products will be listed in my final postseason top 100--wide receiver/defensive back DaVaris Daniels of Vernon Hills and quarterback Reilly O'Toole of Wheaton Warrenville South.
Center Brian Bobek of Fremd, offensive tackle Jordan Walsh of Glenbard West and defensive lineman James Adeyanju of Curie will be among the top 150.
Let's set the record straight: Despite what you may have read elsewhere, running back Mikail McCall of Thornridge, who originally had committed to Michigan State but was dropped by coach Mike Dantonio because he expressed an interest in visiting Iowa, did make an oral commitment to Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz during a recent visit to the Iowa City campus. The committed was confirmed by other recruits. After we printed that McCall had committed to Iowa, he denied it on a recruiting web site, the same web site that had made an agreement with McCall to make an exclusive announcement. In this case, McCall is being manipulated. Look for him to make an "official" declaration for Iowa in the near future, when the web site says he can.
Illinois landed two good recruits in offensive lineman Pat Flavin of Benet, who waited and waited for Notre Dame to offer but grew wearisome when the Irish didn't show him some live, and quarterback/tight end Matt Lacosse of Naperville North, who had committed to Minnesota but changed his mind when coach Tim Brewster was fired. Lacosse would develop into the kind of player that former Naperville Central star Owen Daniels was at Wisconsin and now in the NFL. He has similar athletic ability.
December is a dead period for recruiting. Uncommitted players will begin to make pledges in January when recruiting heats up, beginning after Jan. 10 when college coaches can hit the road again. They are allowed to attend the U.S. Army All-American Game in San Antonio and talk to the seniors after they are released and also watch the junior combine.
What's going on at Michigan? Michigan recruiting is in limbo. Coach Rich Rodriguez hasn't been given a vote of confidence. Officials say he will be evaluated after the bowl game. Consequently, Michigan recruiting has been on hold and the Wolverines haven't been able to land any major commitments in December.
One of Michigan's top recruits, running back Demetrius Hart of Orlando, Fla., still is committed but he is getting interest from Alabama. Another top recruit, running back/defensive back Avery Walls from Georgia, is considering Michigan, Oregon and California.
If Michigan waits until after the bowl game, it will destroy the Wolverines' recruiting for the year. Rodriguez came in with a new staff and a new offense and has been trying to find the right players to fill in the right slots. But Michigan officials aren't sure if they want to give him more to time to improve the program.
Top names to replace Rodriguez are Jim Harbaugh of Stanford and Brady Hoke of San Diego State, both of whom have Michigan connections. Harbaugh is the hottest property and the hottest young coach in college football. But does he want to move? Hoke served on the staff of former Michigan coach Lloyd Carr.
It is a weak year for recruiting in the Big 10, a lean year for talent in the Midwest. Ohio State is the leader and Nebraska, the conference's newest member, is No. 2.