Sherfield drawing a crowd
DANVILLE — Two Indiana football assistant coaches filed into the small two-room athletic director’s office at Danville High School.
One held a copy of Trent Sherfield’s academic transcript fresh from the printer.
The other dropped a brochure on Danville athletic director and head football coach B.J. Luke’s desk before leaving. The red second hand on the black-and-white wall clock, which showed 8:20 a.m., moved along at its monotonous pace.
The shadow of the morning sun still cast itself across the circle drive outside the main entrance of the school.
Students filtered into the brick building that is still located on the original site it opened on in 1924.
A security check-in awaits visitors.
Visitors that have included college football coaches like the ones from Indiana and could include more.
All there to take a glance at Sherfield.
Michigan stopped by last week. Illinois has on numerous times before. So has BCS-busting Northern Illinois. The Huskies have offered a scholarship to the junior quarterback/defensive back/athlete. So have the Hoosiers.
And Illinois extended an offer to the lifelong Danville resident on Saturday.
Cincinnati is among the schools interested in Sherfield.
The same goes for Nevada and Vanderbilt. Sherfield — who is listed at 6-feet-2 and 185 pounds — still remembers the first recruiting letter he received last September. It was a standard questionnaire from Iowa State, but when his mom, Tedrone, showed it to him, it opened a whole new world for her son.
“My whole face just lit up because I never expected all this coming to me,” he said. “It’s really just a blessing.”
The list of Danville players to play Division I football isn’t star-studded.
It isn’t a list of slouches either. But it is one that is in need of some updating.
Luke played linebacker at Georgia in the 1970s. Rick Christian, a quarterback, did likewise at Auburn and Wisconsin, that same decade, along with linebackers Henry Cunningham (Indiana) and Tim Streit (Northwestern). Prior to the success of the 1972 and 1973 football teams at Danville, Nate Cunningham played in the 1968 Rose Bowl with Indiana before he returned to coach the Vikings from 1985 to 1999.
Last fall, Justin March, a 2011 Danville graduate, made 62 tackles playing for Terry Bowden at Akron, good enough for third on a 1-11 team.
Other than that, though, the hallways of Danville High haven’t churned out Division I football prospects on a yearly basis.
“I’ve been here eight years, and we’ve had plenty of good football players,” Luke said. “You have different reasons for why kids don’t fit the profile (of a college coach), and a lot of times it’s where their eyes are set. They might be 5-9 or 5-10, so they don’t fit what the profile is, but they’re every bit as good a football player as a kid at that time who’s 6-2 or 6-3 who has that potential for growth that they don’t have. Now to have an athlete that is being recruited by some of the bigger schools in the Midwest, that’s a nice thing that hasn’t happened in quite a while here in Danville.”
So Sherfield is getting acclimated to the attention and questions Danville residents pose to him about what his college plans are.
“That always comes up in the conversation,” Sherfield said with a laugh.
Luke understands why.
“This is the biggest small town in America,” the 37-year coaching veteran said of the city with 33,000 residents, “so everybody knows him.”
While the last statement by Luke is backed up by Tedrone Sherfield when they go to a store or restaurant in Danville, she still makes sure her 17-year-old son is not getting an inflated ego.
“He’s very down to earth,” Tedrone said. “And I try to keep him grounded. He’s starting to get used to the attention more. I just tell him to take it in stride. It’s supposed to be an enjoyable time in his life.”
Sherfield might read in a letter or a Facebook message about how much a Division I college coach likes his talents. That’s all good, but it doesn’t mean he can slack off once he’s home.
“He still washes dishes and does his chores,” Tedrone said. “He has to wash his own clothes and cut the grass.”
Trent has made highlight-reel plays and hard-nosed tackles in front of many high school football fans. Including probably his biggest one, his 10-year-old brother Tomas.
“They argue and fight like they’re the exact same age,” Tedrone said. “Anything Trent does, Tomas wants to do. He wants to be just like Trent.”
Sherfield posted impressive numbers last fall playing quarterback for the Vikings.
He accumulated 2,627 yards of total offense in nine games. He completed 100 of 231 passes for 1,598 yards (43 percent completion rate) while throwing 13 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He added 1,029 rushing yards on 164 carries (6.3 average) and 19 touchdowns.
He recorded 55 tackles out of the defensive backfield for a 4-5 Vikings squad last fall before injuring his shoulder in Week 7. Luke kept him solely on the offensive side of the ball after the injury.
On Saturday, he received defensive back MVP honors at a prestigious Rivals.com camp at Maine South High School in suburban Chicago.
Former Viking and current Illinois defensive line coach Greg Colby is the lead recruiter on Sherfield. Colby assumed the responsibility once held by former Illinois cornerbacks coach Steve Clinkscale before Clinkscale left for Cincinnati.
“When Coach Clinkscale was recruiting me, it was at defensive back,” Sherfield said, “but I’m an athlete.”
With Illinois picking up a commitment last week from Newark (Ohio) Catholic High School quarterback Chayce Crouch, it’s unlikely Tim Beckman’s team would take another signal-caller in the Class of 2014.
Sherfield — who grew up playing running back before becoming the backup quarterback during his freshman season at Danville — has experience at wide receiver, too. He caught passes his sophomore year from former standout Vikings quarterback Dennis Hightower while they helped Danville advance to a Class 6A state quarterfinal game.
“I wanted him to get game experience before he took over, and it didn’t necessarily have to be at the quarterback spot,” Luke said. “I had a two-way starter starting for me at quarterback when Hightower graduated.”
He played briefly at quarterback his freshman season when Hightower sprained an ankle, helping the Vikings win an important Week 9 game against Normal Community that clinched an undefeated regular season.
Sherfield doesn’t seem to have a preference about which position he could wind up at in college.
“He’s a good athlete, and his ball skills are very good,” Luke said. “I’ve had a few good quarterbacks in 37 years (of coaching), and he throws the ball as well as anybody I’ve had. Personally, I see him as a quarterback. I get a little frustrated sometimes when people talk about him just being a DB or an athlete. If you’re a great quarterback, you’re an athlete. You can’t tell me that some of those guys playing in the league couldn’t play somewhere else if they needed to. The biggest thing is they know he’s an athlete that can play. He can make it as a quarterback, and he’s the kind of kid who can play somewhere else if you need him to. He’s a football player.”
No decision imminent
Football is a serious matter for Sherfield, who also contributes on the Vikings’ boys’ basketball team.
His spring consists of nearly constant travel up to the Chicago suburbs to work out and compete with Core 6, a group of highly-skilled high school football players who train in the state and compete at various camps, mainly 7-on-7 passing camps.
The program has helped produce notable Division I recruits recently, including ones in the Class of 2013 like Laquon Treadwell (Mississippi), Jalen Banks (Vanderbilt) and Ethan Pocic (LSU), among others. Future Illini running back Kendrick Foster of Peoria Richwoods and defensive back Dillan Cazley from Charleston are Core 6 alums.
Sherfield is hopeful he can add his name to the list of Division I players.
Even with the offers he has lined up so far, and the possibility of more coming in the subsequent months, Sherfield said he doesn’t plan on making a decision until after the Vikings’ 2013 season ends.
“There’s no favorite at this point,” he said. “I’m really just focusing on being with my team.”
He has attended several Illinois games and junior day visits at Illinois.
“I’ve had lunch with the coaches (before),” Sherfield said. “The coaching staff treats everybody like family.”
With Colby the main contact Sherfield has with Illinois, it would seem the Illini have an in other programs might not with Sherfield.
“He’s recruited my building at different times throughout his career when he was at Michigan State,” said Luke, who coached for 17 seasons at Waubonsie Valley before arriving at Danville in 2005. “He’s a guy I can trust because we played together when we were kids. He was a senior when I was a sophomore. It’s nice to have a familiar face.”
Luke said they would sit down and figure out before May ends what college camps Sherfield will spend his time at this summer.
Tedrone said it doesn’t matter to her where her oldest son plays college football.
“I want him to go somewhere where he’ll have a great college experience,” she said. “Recently we’ve been talking about it more with the visits we go on, but for me, academics is the biggest thing.”
The message is received by her son, who mentions the topic on numerous occasions during a 15-minute interview, with plans to major in either sports management or communications.
“I’m really just staying on my studies,” he said. “That’s my No. 1 thing. Coach Luke, my mom and my stepdad make that my No. 1 priority out of everything. I like the academics (at Illinois). I know it’s a really tough school to get in to.”
Stopping by for a reason
College coaches who arrive at Danville High will have a fairly lengthy walk to Luke’s office.
Go right and down a long hallway, easily two football fields. Make a left turn and pass by classrooms on your left and right. Make a right turn and another lengthy walk before an abrupt left turn signifies you’ve found the right place.
All along the route are framed copies of old newspaper articles highlighting some of Danville’s famous alumni and noteworthy events. It’s not hard to imagine Sherfield could find himself in those frames one day.
The stacks of mail from colleges inquiring about Trent’s football potential are a daily occurrence in the Sherfield mailbox, according to his mother.
“When he got his first letter he took off running down the street at full speed because he was so excited,” Tredone said. “He has a tote full of it now.”
The recruiting visits haven’t quite picked up with that frequency. Yet.
Danville, after all, isn’t situated on the map like the hundreds of schools in the Chicago suburbs.
Having a cluster of schools in a small area is conducive to recruiting efforts. Danville doesn’t fit that description.
“You’re going to have to want to come here,” Luke said. “It’s not like when you’re up at Waubonsie and people come there before they move on to Naperville North or any other school. You’ve got to want to come to Danville because we’re not next to a bunch of folks, so they have to have a real interest in him. If someone’s driving this far to come see him, then we know there’s a good interest.”
Their picks are in
If Trent Sherfield decides on Illinois, the Danville product would join four others already in the fold for Tim Beckman’s Class of 2014.
QB Chayce Crouch
Newark (Ohio) Catholic
Committed May 1
Ohioan makes it two straight years Tim Beckman has landed a quarterback
WR Mike Dudek
Committed April 3
Speedster could make early contributions in a punt return role.
C Nick Allegretti
Committed March 11
Started on Class 7A runner-up last year and blocked for a dual-threat QB last year (Northwestern signee Tom Fuessel)
DL Tito Odenigbo
Committed March 11
Lifelong Illinois fan grew up in Decatur before family moved to Ohio and projects as defensive tackle at Illinois.