EDGY: Start the NCAA football recruiting clock

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USA TODAY

EDGY: Start the NCAA football recruiting clock

Moving the clock an hour ahead is an annual right of passage in the Central time zone every spring. Similarly, moving the clock ahead seems to also include the NCAA football recruiting clock.
 
Need proof?
 
Northwestern already has six Class of 2018 verbal commitments, launching the Wildcats to one of their best early in-state recruiting efforts in recent memory. Head coach Pat Fitzgerald has locked in a verbal from one of the top defensive ends in the Midwest: Rivals.com's four star-ranked Devin O'Rourke (6-foot-6, 240 pounds) from Lincoln-Way East. He also has commitments from three in-state names in Libertyville offensive linemen Charlie Schmidt, New Trier's three star-ranked tight end Brian Kaiser (6-foot-7, 220 pounds) and Dunlap's three star-ranked tight end Charlie Mangieri (6-foot-4, 230 pounds). 

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The Wildcats are not the only in-state school making early progress on the recruiting front. Northern Illinois and head coach Rod Carey's staff has made a major philosophy change in recruiting approach. No longer are the Huskies playing the wait-and-see game when it comes to extending early scholarship offers. Northern Illinois already has three in-state verbal commitments so far: Danville offensive linemen Julian Pearl (6-foot-7, 245 pounds), Andrew defensive end Mike DeHaan (6-foot-6, 230 pounds) and Plainfield East defensive tackle Jack Sullivan (6-foot-5, 245 pounds). The Huskies have also have extended more in-state scholarship offers for 2018 than any others in recent memory.
 
While several of the in-state FCS schools have yet to lock up any known verbal commitments, the recruiting calendar has indeed moved up for the likes of Illinois State, Southern Illinois and Western Illinois. Both Illinois State and Southern Illinois have already hosted several in-state recruits this winter for various Junior Day events and have extended early offers to a few athletes. And on Monday, Western Illinois extended several early in-state offers as well.
 
So why offer a scholarship this early in the process? The reasons vary. Colleges want to be the first school to offer prospects after making earlier college visits and camps. Also, with the NCAA expected to add at least one additional early football signing period starting with the Class of 2019, I fully expect more and more early offers and verbal commitments to follow from here on out.

36 Days to Kickoff: Elmwood Park

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36 Days to Kickoff: Elmwood Park

CSNChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Jul. 31, we’ll unveil the @CSNPreps Top 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 25.

School: Elmwood Park

Head coach: Dylan Mack

How they fared in 2016: 3-6 (3-2 Metro Suburban Red Conference), failed to qualify for the 2016 IHSA state playoff field.

[MORE: 37 Days to Kickoff - Hope Academy]

2017 regular season schedule:

Aug. 25 vs. St. Joseph

Sept. 1 vs. Marengo

Sept. 8 @ Immaculate Conception

Sept. 15 vs. Wheaton Academy

Sept. 22 vs. Ridgewood

Sept. 29 @ Guerin Prep

Oct. 6 vs. Chicago Christian

Oct. 13 @ Walther Christian

Oct. 20 vs. Aurora Central Catholic

Biggest storyline: Can the Tigers challenge for a state playoff bid in 2017?

Names to watch this season: senior WR/OLB Matt Bittner, senior RB/DL Olsi Rama

Biggest holes to fill: The Tigers will need to replace its entire starting offensive line from a season ago.

EDGY's early take: While Elmwood Park will need to fill some holes this summer, they return nearly their entire starting offensive skills group from a season ago, plus six starters back on defense. The early schedule will be a big test for Elmwood Park this season, and if the Tigers can get off to a good early start they can challenge for the conference and a state playoff bid.

Recruiting News and Notes: Tremayne Lee commits to SIU

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RIVALS

Recruiting News and Notes: Tremayne Lee commits to SIU

DeShon Gavin (DB), Providence Catholic

Providence Catholic senior defensive back DeShon Gavin (5-foot-11, 185 pounds) made an unofficial visit to Western Illinois University on Sunday and gave the Leathernecks his verbal commitment.

"WIU had a recruit visit day on Sunday," Gavin said. "I had a great visit and I just felt very comfortable and at home at WIU so I committed to them on Sunday. I was able to take a tour of the campus and also see the facilities at WIU and the visit on Sunday was just a very fun experience. I liked WIU before the visit and after the visit it really did feel like home. I just felt really comfortable with the coaches and the other recruits."

Tremayne Lee (RB), Sacred Heart-Griffin

Sacred Heart-Griffin senior All-State running back Tremayne Lee (5-foot-9, 160 pounds) made an unofficial visit to Southern Illinois University on Sunday and gave Salukis head coach Nick Hill his verbal commitment.

"It just feels great to be committed to SIU," Lee said. "I went down to SIU on Sunday for a visit with my family and I just fell in love with the school and so did my parents."

Lee, who ran for 2,168 yards and 33 touchdowns in 2016, discussed why he decided to pledge to SIU.

"It was really everything about SIU," Lee said. "They have a great looking campus and I was able to see a lot and learn a lot more about SIU on my visit today. SIU has a great coaching staff and I was able to talk to all of the coaches including head coach Nick Hill.

"SIU also offers a great education and they also offer a lot of academic support for the players and all the athletes at SIU. SIU also has amazing facilities. I was also able to sit and talk to some of the players at SIU and they filled me in on the school and the team."

[MORE: Recruiting News and Notes - Christian Perez commits to Navy]

Mario Wright II (LB), Homewood-Flossmoor

Homewood-Flossmoor senior linebacker Mario Wright II (6-foot-2, 215 pounds) made an unofficial visit to Northern Illinois University on Saturday. Wright II, who holds multiple FBS scholarship offers, made the NIU visit with a few Vikings teammates including senior defensive tackle and NIU pledge Jeff Griffin and senior athlete Justin Hall (5-foot-10, 180 pounds), who holds an offer from the Huskies.

"I went out to NIU on Saturday along with a few guys on the team," Wright II said. "I was at NIU for the one day camp earlier but I wanted to get a chance to see more of the campus and just learn more about NIU."

Wright II, who is planning to make one more unofficial visit this weekend to Western Kentucky, will make his college choice after his upcoming trip.

Could NIU potentially add both Wright II and Hall to its already impressive Class of 2018? 

"It's something that we've talked a lot about," Wright II said. "I just want to look at Western Kentucky then sit back and look at all of my options. We'd love to play on the same team in college but each of us also have to make the best decision each and decide what's best for us individually."

Verdis Brown (OG), IMG Academy

Former Mount Carmel and current IMG Academy four-star ranked offensive guard Verdis Brown (6-foot-4, 290 pounds) decided to end his recruiting process and gave Florida State his verbal commitment. 

"It's a family there and I have a great relationship with the entire staff," Brown recently told Warchant.com's Michael Langston. "So my interest was pretty high (in Florida State)."