Who's next: All-State football candidates
We know who's good in the C-U area. Here are some early-season candidates for our 77th News-Gazette All-State football team, courtesy media members who vote on the weekly state rankings:
n The 6-foot-5, 275-pounder will pick between Illinois, Michigan State and Missouri after declining scholarship offers from Iowa, nebraska, Notre Dame and Oklahoma.
n Led the Comets in tackling last year, rushed for 1,131 yards and spent his winter capturing the Class 1A 152-pound wrestling state title.
n The Illinois recruit and News-Gazette All-Stater is arguably is the most exciting player in the state. He led Bolingbrook to the Class 8A state championship last season. He is 6-2, 220 pounds and as strong and fast as anyone on the field. Any doubts about his passing ability were erased in last year's title game, when he passed very well in the rain against a good Loyola defense.
n The Illinois recruit, who is also a running back, missed the opener against Rantoul with a foot injury.
n He is the top returning player from one of the best defense's in the Kankakee area last year.
n Junior is a 6-4, 255-pounder and has been on college coaches' radar since starting as a freshman. One of the key linemen on the 6A state title team last season.
n The 6-2, 205-pounder committed to Northern Illinois, where he will move to linebacker. Key player on the defense of Class 6A's state championship team last season.
n The 5-8 News-Gazette All-Stater — and Illini recruit —enters senior season with more than 4,000 yards rushing and could end up top five in state history.
n Junior will get a slow start after having his appendix removed, but will be tough once he reaches full speed.
n The USC recruit and News-Gazette All-Stater hurt his shoulder early in Friday's loss. So it will be hard to match last season (2,629 rushing yards and 51 touchdowns).
n The 6-2, 320-pounder has given a verbal commitment to Illinois.
n Was named The Bloomington Pantagraph Player of the Year as a junior. He threw for 2,686 yards and 37 touchdowns last year and ran for 790 yards and eight TDs. Also an outstanding baseball player, which he'll play in college.
n He rushed for 1,023 yards and nine TDs while playing most of last season with a sore ankle. Now healthy, he's expected to be a dominant force in the Big 12, getting looks from several Division I schools.
Crystal Lake South
n The 6-3, 260-pounder committed to Toledo. Put on a bunch of weight from junior year and blew college coaches away with a workout video on YouTube.
n Senior standout has given a verbal commitment to Notre Dame.
n The 6-0, 180-pounder has given a verbal commitment to Illinois. He is also a good receiver.
n Might be an even better baseball player than football player.
n News-Gazette All-Stater is brother of UI lineman Graham Pocic and has committed to LSU. He is considered one of the country's best at his position.
n The 6-3, 185-pounder will pick between Wisconsin, Ball State, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan and Wyoming.
n The junior already is on D-I recruiting radars. He rushed for 1,780 yards and 21 TDs last season, including 330 in one game to break the school record set by All-Stater Alonzo Wise.
n Totaled 2,000-plus passing yards a year ago and is drawing some low Division I interest.
n Gained 40 pounds of muscle in the offseason and is up to 180. Schmidt said the weight change hasn't affected his quickness.
n The 6-1, 195-pounder will pick between Illinois, Iowa, Michigan State, Missouri and Western Kentucky.
n The 6-3, 200-pound receiver also had 686 yards and nine touchdowns receiving as a junior at a Class 5A school.
n The 6-2, 195-pounder has committed to Minnesota. Northwest Herald Player of the Year as a junior is adept at running or passing out of the spread offense.
n The 6-7, 310-pounder committed to Michigan after visiting Alabama and Ohio State.
n He is the first four-year starting quarterback in NIC-10 history (counting the final four games of his freshman season). He has accepted a baseball scholarship with Eastern Illinois.
Quincy Notre Dame
n The 6-2, 210-pounder is receiving interest from MAC, Big Ten and Missouri Valley schools.
East St. Louis
n The 6-3, 210-pounder has given a verbal commitment to Ball State.
n State's 110-meter high hurdles champion has committed to Iowa for football.
Machesney Park Harlem
n The Class 7A standout has 1,353 career rushing yards and averaged 11.4 yards per carry as a junior. He is 6-1, 195 pounds and was the sectional champion in the 100 meters in his first year out for track last spring.
n Had 2,515 yards and 39 TDs as a junior.