The letters are starting to pile up at the Peat home in suburban Phoenix. And that's a good thing.
The oldest of seven kids, Tempe Corona del Sol junior defensive tackle Todd Peat Jr. already has scholarship offers from Arizona State, Arizona, Nebraska, Wake Forest, Stanford and Northern Illinois. The 6-foot-3, 295-pounder is rated the nation's ninth-best 2011 tackle by Scout.com.
"It's a good process," Todd Jr. said. "We're just learning as we go."
Todd's younger brother, sophomore offensive lineman Andrus Peat, has offers from Arizona, Clemson, Nebraska, Stanford and Northern Illinois.
"It's really exciting, the whole process," said Andrus Peat, who is 6-6, 270. "I have a lot of favorite schools, all over."
Both will have more offers on the way. And neither is limiting what colleges he will consider.
"They both are doing extremely well," Todd Peat Sr. said. "Every parent thinks their kid is the greatest. But what I can tell you is that we work hard. We're preparing for the next football season. Football and their academics are the two most important things, and academics are first."
Todd Peat Sr. didn't have as many college options after his final year at Champaign Central. A standout offensive lineman, Peat also was used as a jumboback. He went to Northern Illinois, where he played well enough to get drafted by the Cardinals.
During his NFL career, Todd Peat Sr. was coached in Oakland by Mike White. That's the same White who didn't recruit him during his high school career with the Maroons.
"We used to get a big laugh out of it because he told me he fired the recruiting coordinator," Todd Peat Sr. said. "But we know he didn't fire Gary Horton.
"I was a ballboy for Illinois. I really wanted to go there. I used to sneak into the weight room and lift with the guys. I'd ride my bike to the University of Illinois."
Though they live 1,700 miles from Champaign-Urbana, Todd Jr. and Andrus are interested in Illinois. They have oodles of relatives in Illinois and the childhood memories they hear from their dad.
"I'd definitely consider Illinois," Todd Jr. said. "I like the school a lot.
"I really want to play in a BCS league. I like the competition that that brings."
"I really like that I have family there," Andrus Peat said.
Arizona State was the first school to offer Todd Jr., on May 20 of his sophomore year. The early sign of interest from the Sun Devils made an impression on the Peat family.
"I thought it was wonderful that they had noticed him right away," Todd Sr. said. "They were the first to say to me, 'He's special.' That meant a lot to us. I would say if there's a local kid, you want to keep that kid around. It helps with the fan base."
Dad isn't disappointed that his oldest has gone to the dark side: defensive tackle. Todd Sr. spent his career trying to keep those guys away from his quarterbacks and running backs. Now, he's got one in the family.
Todd Sr. showed his son tape of two former Raiders, Howie Long and Chester McGlockton.
"Howie Long is the best," Todd Sr. said.
Andrus plays Dad's old position.
"It brings me joy to see both of them working at it," Todd Sr. said.
The family plans to make trips to different colleges during the spring and summer, giving Todd Jr. and Andrus a chance to see the places at their own pace.
Todd Sr. doesn't rule out moving the family if his two oldest sons pick the same college.
"There are a lot of possibilities for us," Todd Sr. said.
As the coaches make their way to Todd and Jana Peat's home, they might want to get acquainted with the rest of the kids, too. The 13-year-old, Cassius, is a standout football and basketball player. Dad, a six-year NFL offensive lineman with the Cardinals and Raiders, thinks Cassius might be the best athlete of the bunch.
And, when the coaches get to meet Cassius, they'll also see the 10-year-old tennis player, Leilani. And the 7-year-old future black belt, Maya.
Peat's not sure if the two youngest boys in the family, 4-year-old Keona and 3-year-old Koa, will gravitate toward sports. But he notices them following their older siblings.
Ron Zook is hoping Illinois will have a third consecutive first-round pick in the NFL draft. The coach thinks Arrelious Benn deserves the honor.
Illinois never has had three consecutive drafts with first-round picks. But Rashard Mendenhall (2008, Steelers), Vontae Davis (2009, Dolphins) and Benn give the school a chance.
"I'm excited for him," Zook said. "I don't think there's any question he's going to be a first-round player. It will be how many receivers are taken in the first round? I don't know where they've got him ranked. The teams don't use Todd McShay or Mel Kiper. They do their own boards."
Benn, tight end Michael Hoomanawanui and offensive lineman Jon Asamoah were invited to this year's NFL combine, held in Indianapolis. Asamoah, who suffered a shoulder injury during preparations for the Senior Bowl, wasn't able to participate on the field at the combine.
Zook has participated in drafts at the NFL end. Each team has its own way of handling the draft. Most pick for need, but some take the best player available.
One thing is for certain: They aren't sharing their information.
Time and financial constraints played into Illinois' decision not to have a spring scrimmage at a Chicago-area high school, Zook said.
"Everybody's cutting back and trying to save money," Zook said.
Though they won't get to Chicago during spring practice, Zook and his staff are planning a trip in June. Illinois will hold a one-day clinic June 13 at Maine South. The school also will have a one-day clinic June 12 at Edwardsville.
Zook was on his way to Allentown, Pa., on Friday for a speaking engagement. He also was going to Charlotte, N.C., for another event before returning to C-U.
His team continued its winter workouts Friday afternoon.
"The attitude has been great," Zook said. "The enthusiasm has been great. The work ethic has been great."
Taking a look
Offensive lineman Andrew Carter, a redshirt freshman, will be tried at tight end during the spring.
"We want to get him on the field," Zook said. "It's a chance to have a guy who is a good blocker out there."
Linebacker Martez Wilson, who is returning from disk surgery, will be allowed to participate in spring practices without having contact. Cornerback Miami Thomas faces the same limitations.
Zook said defensive back Patrick Nixon-Youman is recovered from a leg injury that limited him in 2009.
"He's working fine, and I don't foresee any issues with him at all," Zook said.
Wisconsin will be the first Big Ten team to open spring practice, with Saturday's start one day ahead of Michigan.
The Badgers, coming off a Champs Sports Bowl win against Miami, will have eight sessions before the school's spring break. They will reconvene April 6 and hold their spring game at 2 p.m. April 17.
The Football Writers Association of America honored 11 schools for the work done by their sports information offices. The "Super 11" areBuffalo, Clemson, East Carolina, Georgia, Nebraska, Pitt, Rutgers, San Jose State, Southern Cal, Texas and Utah.
Criteria for the honor included how press boxes/operations were run, the accessibility of players and coaches and the distribution of media materials.
Each of the 11 conferences was represented by a media member from its region. Herb Gould of the Chicago Sun-Times represented the Big Ten.
Don't plan on many visits to Huskie Stadium in the first half of the 2010 season. Jerry Kill's team isn't likely to be there.
Northern Illinois will play four of its first five games away from home. Three of the trips are against BCS conference schools Iowa State (Sept. 2), Illinois (Sept. 18) and Minnesota (Sept. 25). The Huskies visit Akron on Oct. 2.
The lone home game for Northern Illinois the first month is Sept. 11 against North Dakota.
The Huskies will spend most of October at home, hosting Temple, Buffalo and Central Michigan in consecutive weeks.
Bob Asmussen covers college football for The News-Gazette. You can reach him at 217-351-5233 or at email@example.com.
Put it in neutral
Illinois and Northwestern are working toward a game at Wrigley Field in 2010. That will make it two neutral-site games for Illinois during the upcoming season. Here’s how the team has done in
neutral-site games the past two decades:
YEAR SITE OPPONENT OUTCOME
2009 St. Louis Missouri Tigers, 37-9
2008 St. Louis Missouri Tigers, 42-30
2008 Detroit Western Michigan Broncos, 23-17
2008* Pasadena Southern Cal Trojans, 49-17
2007 St. Louis Missouri Tigers, 40-34
2003 St. Louis Missouri Tigers, 22-15
2002 St. Louis Missouri Tigers, 33-20
2002* New Orleans LSU Tigers, 47-34
1999* Miami Virginia Illini, 63-21
1994 Chicago Washington State Cougars, 10-9
1994* Memphis East Carolina Illini, 30-0
1992* San Diego Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, 27-17
1991* El Paso UCLA Bruins, 6-3
1991* Tampa Clemson Tigers, 30-0
* — bowl game