Checking out Illini commits, targets this fall
The high school football season will start in full swing before September hits the calendar.
With it comes the droves of college coaches who will want to check in on committed players for the Class of 2014, players in the Class of 2014 who haven’t picked a school yet and possible prospects in the Class of 2015 and 2016.
Here’s a look at 10 Class of 2014 players (six who have committed to Illinois and four who Illinois is pursuing) and what their Friday nights will consist of this fall.
Tito Odenigbo, defensive lineman, Centerville (Ohio)
Quick hit: The brother of Northwestern defensive lineman Ifeadi Odenigbo will most likely line up at defensive end this fall but could project to play defensive tackle at Illinois.
Odenigbo’s 2013 season: Aug. 30 vs. Pickerington (Ohio); Sept. 6 at Springboro (Ohio); Sept. 13 at Withrow (Ohio); Sept. 20 vs. Lebanon (Ohio); Sept. 28 at Naples (Fla.); Oct. 4 vs. Fairmont (Ohio); Oct. 11 at Northmont (Ohio); Oct. 18 at Wayne (Ohio); Oct. 25 vs. Beavercreek (Ohio); Nov. 1 vs. Springfield (Ohio)
Game to watch: at Naples. Odenigbo and his teammates will all get on a plane, head to Florida for a mid-season game against a two-time state champion and a possible national TV audience on one of ESPN’s networks.
Nick Allegretti, center, Lincoln-Way East (Ill.)
Quick hit: Allegretti is the leader of the offensive line for a Griffins team that came within one win of securing a Class 7A state title last November at Memorial Stadium.
Allegretti’s 2013 season: Aug. 30 at Mundelein (Ill.) Carmel; Sept. 6 vs. Lincoln-Way Central (Ill.); Sept. 13 vs. Palos Hills (Ill.) Stagg; Sept. 20 vs. Lockport (Ill.); Sept. 27 at Homewood-Flossmoor (Ill.); Oct. 5 at Joliet (Ill.) West; Oct. 11 vs. Orland Park (Ill.) Sandburg; Oct. 18 at Bolingbrook (Ill.); Oct. 26 at Joliet (Ill.) Central
Game to watch: at Bolingbrook. The Griffins handed it to the Raiders last season, albeit without incoming Illinois quarterback Aaron Bailey, who suffered a knee injury early in the game. This game could affect whether each team gets a first-round playoff game at home or not.
Mike Dudek, wide receiver, Neuqua Valley (Ill.)
Quick hit: Dudek has impressed all spring and parts of the summer on the camp circuit, not only with his speed, but his route-running and hands.
Dudek’s 2013 season: Aug. 30 vs. Naperville (Ill.) North; Sept. 6 at Naperville (Ill.) Central; Sept. 13 vs. South Elgin (Ill.); Sept. 20 vs. St. Charles (Ill.) East; Sept. 27 at East Aurora (Ill.); Oct. 4 vs. Metea Valley (Ill.); Oct. 11 vs. Waubonsie Valley (Ill.); Oct. 18 vs. West Chicago (Ill.); Oct. 25 at Bartlett (Ill.)
Game to watch: The Wildcats will play rival Waubonsie Valley at a neutral site, Naperville’s North Central College, for good reason since the two teams always seem to stage epic games. But Neuqua Valley’s Sept. 6 game at Naperville Central looms bigger. The football program started in 1998 and up until this decade, the Wildcats were 1-6 against the two other public high schools in Naperville. Since 2010? Neuqua Valley is 4-2, including a sweep of the two powerhouses last year for the first time ever.
Chayce Crouch, quarterback, Newark (Ohio) Catholic
Quick hit: Crouch had a busy spring. Not only did he commit to Illinois, but he also started at first base and played a critcal hitting role on the Green Wave baseball team that won a state title.
Crouch’s 2013 season: Aug. 30 vs. Bishop Ready (Ohio); Sept. 7 vs. Nelsonville-York (Ohio); Sept. 13 vs. Fisher Catholic (Ohio); Sept. 20 at Lakewood (Ohio); Sept. 27 vs. Watkins Memorial (Ohio); Oct. 5 vs. Heath (Ohio); Oct. 11 at Johnstown-Monroe (Ohio); Oct. 18 vs. Northridge (Ohio); Oct. 24 at Granville; Nov. 1 at Utica
Game to watch: at Johnstown-Monroe. The Johnnies advanced to the Division IV state quarterfinals last fall, which is two divisions higher than what Crouch and Newark Catholic, last year’s Division VI state runner-up, play at.
Austin Roberts, linebacker, Rice Lake (Wis.)
Quick hit: Roberts is skilled on the wrestling mat, too. He is a two-time state qualifier at 220 pounds and placed third last year during the Division 2 state meet.
Roberts’ 2013 season: Aug. 23 at Medford (Wis.) Area; Aug. 30 vs. New Richmond (Wis.); Sept. 6 at Hudson (Wis.); Sept. 13 vs. Eau Claire (Wis.) North; Sept. 20 at Superior (Wis.); Sept. 27 vs. Menomonie (Wis.); Oct. 4 at Chippewa Falls (Wis.); Oct. 11 vs. Eau Claire (Wis.) Memorial; Oct. 18 at River Falls (Wis.)
Game to watch: at Hudson. Roberts and his Warriors, who advanced to the second round of the Division III state playoffs last fall, will have a stern test against the Explorers in Week 3. Hudson made it to the Division I state semifinals last fall.
Malik Turner, wide receiver, Springfield (Ill.) Sacred Heart-Griffin
Quick hit: If the newest Illini commit sticks to his initial choice, he’ll become the first Cyclone on scholarship at Illinois since Josh Norris in 2006.
Turner’s 2013 season: Aug. 30 vs. Springfield (Ill.) Southeast; Sept. 6 at Rochester (Ill.); Sept. 13 vs. Springfield (Ill.); Sept. 20 vs. Taylorville (Ill.); Sept. 27 at Jacksonville (Ill.); Oct. 5 vs. Whitehaven (Tenn.); Oct. 11 vs. Lincoln (Ill.): Oct. 18 at Chatham-Glenwood (Ill.); Oct. 25 at Springfield (Ill.) Lanphier
Game to watch: at Rochester. Hard to pick just one, but if we had to, we’ll go with the annual meeting between father Ken Leonard, Springfield SH-G’s head coach, and son Derek Leonard, Rochester’s head coach. All Rochester has done is win three straight Class 4A titles. Too bad Wes Lunt is out of high school eligibility for this one.
Gelen Robinson, defensive end, Lake Central (Ind.)
Quick hit: Four-star talent has most of the Big Ten interested in him. If he winds up at Illinois, means family will have played sports at three of the league’s schools after father Glenn Robinson (Purdue) and brother Glenn Robinson III (Michigan) shined on the hardwood.
Robinson’s 2013 season: Aug. 23 at Munster (Ind.); Aug. 30 vs. East Chicago (Ind.) Central; Sept. 6 vs. Portage (Ind.); Sept. 13 vs. Crown Point (Ind.); Sept. 20 at LaPorte (Ind.); Sept. 27 vs. Michigan City (Ind.); Oct. 4 at Chesterton (Ind.); Oct. 11 vs. Merrillville (Ind.); Oct. 18 at Valparaiso (Ind.)
Game to watch: vs. Merrillville. The Pirates can play some football. Robinson and his mates will end their prep career at home against a squad that was within three points of playing for the Class 5A state title last season at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Ashton Jackson, running back, Trotwood-Madison (Ohio)
Quick hit: If Jackson decides on Illinois, it will mark the second straight year a player from Maurice Douglass’ program winds up an Illini. Defensive lineman Jarrod Clements signed with the Class of 2013.
Jackson’s 2013 season: Aug. 30 vs. Springfield (Ohio); Sept. 6 vs. Wayne (Ohio); Sept. 20 at Kettering (Ohio) Fairmont; Sept. 27 vs. West Carrollton (Ohio); Oct 4. vs. Piqua (Ohio); Oct. 11 at Greenville (Ohio); Oct. 18 vs. Troy (Ohio); Oct. 25 at Sidney (Ohio); Nov. 1 at Butler (Ohio)
Game to watch: vs. Wayne. The Rams will most likely be favored to make another deep postseason run after placing second last year in Division II. Wayne qualified for the Division I playoffs last year, but that’s the only team on Trotwood-Madison’s schedule that did so last year.
Matt Domer, running back, Chicago Mt. Carmel
Quick hit: Domer is down to four schools — Illinois, Indiana, Kansas and Syracuse — and plans to visit Illinois July 1-2.
Domer’s 2013 season: Aug. 31 vs. Chicago St. Patrick at Soldier Field; Sept. 6 vs. Chicago Morgan Park; Sept. 13 vs. Kankakee (Ill.) McNamara; Sept. 20 vs. Chicago Brother Rice; Sept. 27 at Chicago St. Rita; Oct. 5 at Loyola Academy (Ill.); Oct. 11 at St. Laurence (Ill.); Oct. 18 vs. New Lenox (Ill.) Providence Catholic; Oct. 25 vs. Chicago Leo
Game to watch: at Loyola Academy. The two Chicago Catholic Blue foes are always a safe bet to make deep runs in the postseason. Whoever emerges with a win in this one could find themselves the favorites the rest of the way in Class 8A.
Trent Sherfield, defensive back/quarterback, Danville (Ill.)
Quick hit: Sherfield has three years worth of varsity experience and enters his second season as the Vikings starting quarterback after starting at wide receiver his sophomore year.
Sherfield’s 2013 season: Aug. 30 at Bloomington (Ill.); Sept. 6 at Chicago St. Rita; Sept. 13 vs. Champaign (Ill.) Centennial; Sept. 20 vs. Normal (Ill.) West; Sept. 27 at Decatur (Ill.) Eisenhower; Oct. 4 at Decatur (Ill.) MacArthur; Oct. 11 vs. Champaign (Ill.) Central; Oct. 18 at Normal (Ill.) Community; Oct. 25 vs. Urbana (Ill.)
Game to watch: at Chicago St. Rita. If Sherfield — who has said he doesn’t plan on making a decision until after his senior season with Illinois, Indiana, Northern Illinois, Purdue and Vanderbilt extending offers so far — has a big game against the Mustangs up in Chicago, it could help expand his recruitment even more.