Class of 2013 could be best since 1985

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Class of 2013 could be best since 1985

Recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS Sports Network and other football analysts and historians claim that the class of 1985 was the most talented group ever produced in the Chicago area. And it's hard to argue against the evidence.

According to Lemming, 141 graduates earned Division I scholarships. The elite list included St. Rita linebacker and Player of the Year John Foley (Notre Dame), Whitney Young lineman and No. 1 NFL draft choice Russell Maryland (Miami), Simeon lineman Bobby Wilson (Michigan State), St. Laurence linemen Tim Grunhard (Notre Dame), Paul Glonek (Iowa) and Jeff Pearson (Michigan State) and Forest View linebacker Brad Quast (Iowa).

Also Sandburg linemen Jeff Alm (Notre Dame) and Dave Postmus (Illinois), Bogan end Frank Hartley (Illinois), Libertyville lineman Brian Wilcox (UCLA), Lockport lineman Brad James (Illinois), Mount Carmel receiver Chris Calloway (Michigan), St. Laurence defensive back Stan Smagala (Notre Dame), Schaumburg quarterback Paul Justin (Arizona State) and New Trier halfback Charlie Young (Stanford).

The class of 2013 won't approach that number but Lemming argues that this year's crop of juniors, led by running back Ty Isaac of Joliet Catholic, offensive lineman Ethan Pocic of Lemont and quarterbacks Aaron Bailey of Bolingbrook and Matt Alviti of Maine South, could be the most talented group since 1985.

"Isaac and Pocic are the two best players in the Midwest," Lemming said. "There are six or seven players in the class of 2013 who could rank among the top 100 in the nation."

Lemming said offensive lineman Kyle Bosch of Wheaton St. Francis isn't far behind Isaac and Pocic. He rates Crete-Monee's LaQuon Treadwell as the best receiving prospect in the Midwest and Bolingbrook's Bailey as one of the best athletes. He also is high on Maine South quarterback Matt Alviti and Glenbard West running backreceiver Kendall Johnson.

Other highly regarded prospects in the class of 2013 are safety Jesse Bobbit of Palatine, tight end Nathan Marcus and defensive end Ruben Dunbar of Glenbard West, defensive lineman Colin Goebel of Naperville Central, tight end Danny Friend of Morris, running back Matthew Harris of Lyons, tackles Brandon Stanfel of Libertyville and Blake King of Minooka and linebacker Caleb Bailey of Romeoville.

But the headliners are Isaac, Pocic and Bailey.

Isaac, a 6-3, 215-pound running back with 4.5 speed, set a state record by rushing 26 times for 515 yards and six touchdowns in a 70-45 loss to Montini in the Class 5A final. He also set a school single-season record by rushing for 2,629 yards, surpassing the mark of 2,624 set by James Randle in 1996.

He has 13 scholarship offers -- Illinois, Notre Dame, Northwestern, Ohio State, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, Purdue, Indiana, Arizona, Vanderbilt, Mississippi and Toledo -- with more to come.

"He is the best player I have coached," said Joliet Catholic coach Dan Sharp. "He is one of the greatest ever to play in Illinois."

Lemming said Isaac is the best running back to come out of the Chicago area since Niles West's Rashard Mendenhall. "He is the best I've seen this year. He looks like (NFL Hall of Famer) Eric Dickerson," Lemming said.

Pocic, a 6-7, 285-pound offensive tackle, is being touted in some circles as the next Jake Long or Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz, comparing him to two of the best left tackles in history.

He has offers from Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Iowa, Purdue, West Virginia and Arizona and can be expected to attract more during his senior season. His older brother Graham was a standout center at Illinois.

Lemont coach Eric Michaelsen said Pocic is "the best offensive lineman I've seen this year." He ranks Pocic in a class with former Lemont star David Molk, who earned All-America recognition as the best center in college football at Michigan in 2011.

Bailey, a 6-2, 215-pound quarterback with 4.5 speed, led Bolingbrook to the Class 8A championship last season. He rushed for 1,986 yards, passed for 1,000 and accounted for 40 touchdowns. Very athletic, he could be a quarterback, running back or wide receiver in college.

He has offers from Illinois, Notre Dame, Northwestern, Indiana, Iowa, Purdue, Minnesota, Northern Illinois, Boston College and Colorado State. Look for the list to grow as college coaches continue to evaluate his all-around skills.

Alviti, a 6-foot, 195-pound quarterback, led Maine South to the Class 8A championship while passing for 3,150 yards as a sophomore. As a junior, he led the Hawks to a 10-1 record and passed for 2,220 yards. He has passed for 54 touchdowns in two years. He has indicated that he will attend either Northwestern or Notre Dame.

Treadwell, a 6-3, 183-pound wide receiver, caught 75 passes for 1,391 yards and 18 touchdowns last season. He has offers from Notre Dame, Nebraska, Michigan and Indiana.

Bosch, a 6-5, 290-pound tackle, is described by Wheaton St. Francis coach Greg Purnell as "the best young offensive lineman I've coached in 30 years. He has the most big-time potential of anyone I've seen. He can play on Sunday."

He has more offers (14) than any Illinois product in the class of 2013 -- Alabama, Arizona, Boston College, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Mississippi, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue, Stanford and West Virginia.

Bosch has been on the radar of Lemming and other recruiting analysts and college coaches since he was an eighth grader. As a sophomore, many longtime observers of high school football in the Chicago area said that Bosch was the best young prospect since running back Howard Jones of Evanston in 1970.

Jones was a two-time All-Stater and three-time state champion in the 100 and 220-yard dash events. Evanston coach Murney Lazier, who lost only 17 games in 18 years, said Jones was the best player he ever produced.

Palatine coach Tyler Donnelly, a nephew of former Illinois and NFL star George Donnelly, said Bobbit is the best player he has produced in 18 years. A punishing tackler, he could be a linebacker or strong safety in college. He has attracted interest from Northwestern, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Iowa, Penn State and Northern Illinois.

Proviso East has a pair of promising juniors who have been flying under the radar because the Maywood school's football program isn't as celebrated as its basketball program. But defensive end Anthony Greenhow and offensive tackle Rashad Williams are academic qualifiers who should receive plenty of attention from college recruiters this fall.

Marian Central coach Ed Brucker has produced several big-time Division I players in recent years and quarterback Chris Streveler is his latest. He passed for over 2,000 yards and rushed for 900 while leading his 11-1 team to the state quarterfinals last fall. "He is potentially the best all-around quarterback I've coached in 40 years," Brucker said.

The DuPage Valley is one of the most competitive conferences in Illinois and offensive lineman Colin Goebel of Naperville North figures to be one of the leading prospects in the Midwest in 2012. He was the conference's offensive lineman of the year as a junior, a rare distinction. His cousin, former Montini star Garrett Goebel, is a stater at Ohio State.

Chad Hetlet has restored the glory at Glenbard West that Bill Duchon built in the 1960s and 1970s and Jim Covert sustained in the 1980s. Hetlet's 2011 squad was led by Ohio State-bound defensive tackle Tommy Schutt, who was rated as the state's No. 1 player in some circles.

The 2012 Hilltoppers will feature at least three Division I prospects -- running backreceiver Kendall Johnson, defensive end Ruben Dunbar and tight end Nathan Marcus.

Interestingly, Schutt wasn't selected as the defensive player of the year in the West Suburban Silver. That distinction went to Proviso West junior linebacker Jamaal Payton. He had 100 tackles in 10 games and had a 103-yard interception return for a touchdown against Hubbard.

Top 30 (Class of 2013)

1. Ty Isaac, Joliet Catholic, RB
2. Ethan Pocic, Lemont, OT
3. Aaron Bailey, Bolingbrook, QB
4. Matt Alviti, Maine South, QB
5. LaQuon Treadwell, Crete-Monee, WR
6. Kyle Bosch, Wheaton St. Francis, OT 7. Colin Goebel, Naperville Central, DL 8. Jesse Bobbit, Palatine, DB 9. Kendall Johnson, Glenbard West, RB 10. Brandon Stanfel, Libertyville, OT 11. Blake King, Minooka, OT 12. Danny Friend, Morris, TE 13. Matthew Harris, Lyons, RB 14. Ruben Dunbar, Glenbard West, DE 15. Chris Streveler, Marian Central, QB 16. Jamaal Payton, Proviso West, DB 17. Anthony Greenhow, Proviso East, DE 18. Rashad Williams, Proviso East, OT 19. Devon Sanders, Robeson, RB 20. Tate Briggs, Montini, OT 21. Nathan Marcus, Glenbard West, TE 22. Jabari Winston, Simeon, DB 23. Kendall Moore, Simeon, OT 24. Bruce Holder, Streamwood, WR 25. Adam Kulon, Jacobs, LB 26. John Peltz, Wheaton North, QB 27. Caleb Bailey, Romeoville, LB 28. Jalen Banks, Thornton, DB 29. A.J. Fish, Grayslake North, QB 30. Jake Lemming, Lemont, DB

The ‘friendly rivalry’ between Theo Epstein and Andrew Friedman with Cubs, Dodgers becoming NL superpowers

The ‘friendly rivalry’ between Theo Epstein and Andrew Friedman with Cubs, Dodgers becoming NL superpowers

LOS ANGELES – A man stepped to the microphone during a Q&A session at Cubs Convention and called Theo Epstein and Andrew Friedman “the two boy geniuses.” The fan told Epstein how his friends used to call the Dodgers baseball boss “your Mini-Me,” asking about their personal rivalry and if beating L.A. in the playoffs had any extra meaning.

“We have a friendly rivalry,” Epstein told a packed hotel ballroom in downtown Chicago in January. “First off, didn’t he interview for an internship with us and we turned him down way back in the day?

“And then like nine months later, he was GM of the Rays. When he was with Tampa and I was with Boston, we never spoke, because we were in the same division. It was kind of a heated rivalry. We literally never called each other on trades or anything like that.”

But where it’s so difficult for the small-market Rays to keep up with the ultra-rich Red Sox – and replace Friedman’s vision and Joe Maddon’s star power and survive a string of wasted first-round draft picks and find a long-term stadium solution – the Cubs and Dodgers are positioned to be superpowers for years to come.

That’s what makes this Memorial Day weekend showdown at Dodger Stadium so compelling beyond the National League Championship Series rematch. It’s not just upcoming free agent Jake Arrieta returning to the site of his onesie no-hitter on Friday night, a reigning MVP (Kris Bryant) and Rookie of the Year (Corey Seager), two of the best closers on the planet (Wade Davis and Kenley Jansen) and a classic Jon Lester vs. Clayton Kershaw matchup on Sunday afternoon.

The Cubs eliminated the Dodgers less than a month after Epstein finalized a five-year contract worth in the neighborhood of $50 million, likely surpassing Friedman as the game’s highest-paid personnel executive.

“Jed developed a pretty good relationship with him, because I didn’t like talking to him,” Epstein said, referencing GM Jed Hoyer, another Boston transplant on the Cubs Convention panel that day. “But then when I came out here with the Cubs, a different league and everything, I developed a much better relationship with Andrew and we became friends, so now it’s much more of a friendly rivalry.

“I will say that losing to the Dodgers would have been a bitter pill to swallow on a number of fronts, including that one. But they’re developing a powerhouse out there.

“We see them as a team we have to go through each year to get where we want to be.”

[MORE CUBS: Summing up the Cubs' impressive, potentially season-altering homestand]

Backed by Guggenheim Partners’ financial muscle and flush with new TV money, the Dodgers have won four straight division titles and 90-plus games each season while ramping up a farm system that’s now ranked fourth, fifth or sixth by Baseball America, ESPN and MLB.com.

“Everyone’s got their own style and their own approach,” Epstein said. “Ours was more kind of bottom-up (where) they needed to keep it rolling at a high level in the big leagues while retooling their system and nurturing the talent that was already there.

“We had to go out and transact and bring some stuff in. We were at different points of the success cycle. They’ve done a really nice job of winning while kind of establishing something new at the same time.”

The blue-blooded franchise that produced 17 Rookie of the Year winners last month rolled out Cody Bellinger, a 21-year-old, left-handed first baseman with nine homers in his first 28 games in The Show. Julio Urias – who might be the next Fernando Valenzuela – is supposed to be conserving some innings at Triple-A Oklahoma City for another October where the Cubs could be standing in the way of the Dodgers’ first World Series title since 1988.

“They’ve been producing great young talent for a long period of time,” Epstein said. “If you go back and look at some of the young studs they have in the big leagues that (former scouting director) Logan White and (the previous regime) brought in, some of the guys are still coming.

“They’re stocked and the Dodger tradition runs really deep. With Andrew and his front office, we know they’re going to be dynamic. They’re going to have more resources than anyone. And they’re a big threat to the whole league for a long period of time.”

Could Derrick Rose reunite with Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota?

Could Derrick Rose reunite with Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota?

Tom Thibodeau was without Derrick Rose for the first time in his head-coaching career last season, coaching the Timberwolves while Rose suited up for the New York Knicks.

But a reunion may be on the horizon. Rose is an unrestricted free agent and the Timberwolves, though they don't have a real need at point guard, are showing interest in the Chicago native. We'll have to wait until July 1, when free agency begins, to see what happens.

See what special guest Nick Friedell, Bulls beat reporter for ESPN, had to say about the topic on SportsTalk Live in the video above.