College footballs recruiting game has gotten downright vicious in recent years. Down and dirty. More pressure than trying to catch a pass amid three defenders. Want a scholarship? Commit now or someone else will get it. If you wait until signing day in February, youll probably end up somewhere you dont want to be.
Laquon Treadwell has heard it all, the good, the bad and the ugly. Crete-Monees 6-foot-3, 197-pound wide receiver is one of the last of the top-ranked prospects in the class of 2013 who hasnt made an oral commitment. But he isnt in a hurry to make a decision. Let em wait. If they really want him, they wont give his scholarship to someone else, right?
Treadwell is sorting through 23 offers from the elite programs in the nation, including Alabama, LSU, Michigan, USC, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Auburn, Ohio State, Oklahoma State and Michigan State. He hopes to add Oregon and Florida to his list before he gets around to thinking seriously about committing.
His stock rose over the summer after he displayed his skills at national invitation-only camps in Florida, Oregon, California and Georgia. He competed against the best players in the country in 7-on-7 and 1-on-1 drills and more than held his own. According to recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS Sports Network, Treadwell is the No. 30 player in his class and one of the top five wide receivers.
I wanted to measure myself against the best, Treadwell said. When it was over, I think I played well against the top players and got my name out there. I made a lot of good plays. I didnt feel anyone was better than me. I feel I am so much better than last year. I learned so much over the summer. Its kind of ridiculous that I know this much in high school. This season, people will see me break big runs on every catch.
He admits he is leaning to Michigan. He has visited the Ann Arbor campus six times in the last two years. He has attended three games in 110,000-seat Michigan Stadium. He likes coach Brady Hoke and the coaching staff. He is comfortable with the players. He has a good relationship with Shane Morris, the third-ranked quarterback in the nation who recently committed to Michigan. He likes the fans, too.
Im comfortable with being there, he said. But I still want to make some visits. After the season, I want to take official (and fully paid) visits to farther places (like Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, USC and Oregon). I want to do that. Most likely I wont make a decision until February. I want to weigh all of my options.
I havent narrowed it down yet. I have no dream school. What is important to me? Style of offense, head coach, position coach, how comfortable I feel with the other players. It doesnt matter which conference I am in. I just want to compete against some of the best players in the country, in practice and in games.
Crete-Monee coach Jerry Verde is pleased that Treadwell is so level-headed and comfortable in his own skin, that he isnt intimidated by college recruiters, that he is aware if he chooses to wait and wants to visit faraway schools they will have to pay his transportation to their campus in December or January. So why should he hurry to make up his mind?
What makes him so marketable and so highly ranked among wide receivers in the nation is his competitiveness and his toughness, Verde said. He enjoys hitting. We started him at defensive end as a sophomore because he was so tough. He will play some defense this year, too. Some colleges said they would consider him as a defensive end because of his speed and strength.
To his credit and maturity, Treadwell has bought into Verdes recruiting philosophy. Make sure you are certain. Dont take visits after you make a commitment, the coach told his star player.
Thats why he hasnt committed yet, Verde said. It is hard for him to commit to a Big 10 school when he hasnt visited other schools out West. He is more level-headed than a lot of kids. Sure, he is under unbelievable pressure. What happens to a kid who cant afford to make a trip to a college campus? Laquon wants to be sure he doesnt have any regrets.
Treadwell wants to go to a school that throws the ball, a program that will prepare him for the NFL, his goal since he began playing football for the University Park Lions when he was 10 years old.
He started as a fullback, then was moved to running back, then quarterback as a freshman at Crete-Monee. As a sophomore, he was moved up to the varsity to play cornerback, then was shifted to wide receiver in the first week of practice. He wasnt a very happy camper at the time.
I didnt want to play wide receiver, he said. I had a great year at quarterback. I thought Id move up to quarterback on the varsity. I had a dream of being another Michael Vick. But once I got my rhythm down, I started to like it. There was so much space. After leading the team in receiving as a sophomore, I knew I could be very good. Even though I didnt have the ball in my hands on every play like at quarterback, I enjoyed the position. Now Im going to be another Justin Blackmon.
In the meantime, Treadwell hopes to do everything he can to lead Crete-Monee deep into the state playoff. Last years team finished 10-1, losing to Peoria Richwoods in the second round of the Class 6A playoff. Verde believes this years squad has the potential to be even better. So does Treadwell.
The passing game is intact. Quarterback Marcus Terrell, a 6-foot-1, 180-pound senior, completed 199 of 301 attempts for 2,822 yards and 29 touchdowns last season. And he threw only four interceptions. Treadwell caught 75 for 1,391 yards and 18 touchdowns.
We expect another great year from Terrell, Verde said. He has a great understanding of the spread offense. Everyone thought I was full of baloney last year when I said he would be our quarterback and manage the team. With his intelligence (30 ACT) and arm strength, everything is open for us. Our skilled players are very talented. We have fewer holes than ever before.
Other standouts are 6-foot-1, 180-pound wide receiver Lance Lenoir, who caught 48 passes for 625 yards last year; 6-foot-3, 215-pound junior linebacker Nyles Morgan, who already has offers from Illinois, Notre Dame and Purdue; 6-foot-3, 285-pound center Austin Rosenfeldt; 6-foot-3, 220-pound defensive end Trevelle Smith; 5-foot-11, 190-pound running back Kyle Tilley; 6-foot-2, 280-pound defensive tackle Jonathan Schultz; and 5-foot-11, 180-pound junior cornerback and kick returner Deon Benton, who was one of the more dominating players on freshman and sophomore squads that went 18-0.
There are high expectations. We were 10-0 at one point last year and most of our corps is coming back, said Verde, who was a star linebacker on Marian Catholics 1993 state championship team. Potential means nothing. Follow-through means everything. We want to go a step or two farther this year. We feel we have more than in the past to do that.