Treadwell likely to pick Ole Miss


Treadwell likely to pick Ole Miss

After sorting through more than 25 scholarship offers from the elite college football programs in the nation, after visiting several campuses, after hearing one sales pitch after another and experiencing the good, the bad and the ugly of the recruiting process, Crete-Monee's Laquon Treadwell has finally reached a decision.

On Thursday, at a press conference at his school, before family and teammates and friends, with at least four college coaches biting their lips and crossing their fingers in anticipation, the 6-foot-3, 195-pound wide receiver will choose Ole Miss, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State or Michigan.

Bet on Ole Miss.

Treadwell, who is ranked as the No. 6 player in the nation by recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS Sports Network, is one of the last members of the top 100 in the class of 2013 to make a commitment. He has been careful to evaluate each school, to weigh all of his options, make the right decision, to have no regrets.

It hasn't been easy. Last August, he said he was leaning to Michigan. He has visited the Ann Arbor campus six times in the last two years and attended three games at Michigan Stadium. He said he liked coach Brady Hoke, was comfortable with the players and had a good relationship with a Michigan recruit, highly rated quarterback Shane Morris.

But Treadwell, unlike many 18-year-old recruits who are overwhelmed by the first school that shows them a lot of love, wasn't ready to commit. He said he "most likely won't make a decision until February," that he wanted to make visits "to farther places like Oklahoma and Oklahoma State."

Also a standout on Crete-Monee's basketball team, he passed up a game last weekend to visit Oklahoma State. Like Ole Miss, the Cowboys played up the family angle. Treadwell's uncle, Ricky Young, a former All-America linebacker at Oklahoma State, lives in Norman.

However, like Michigan, sources at Oklahoma State and Oklahoma admitted that Ole Miss was the leader. They concede it was significant that Treadwell stopped in Birmingham, Alabama, on his way home from the Under Armour All-American Game to watch Ole Miss' bowl game.

"I have no dream school," Treadwell insisted in August. "What is important to me? Style of offense, head coach, position coach, how comfortable I feel with the other players. It doesn't 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."

Ole Miss wasn't among the schools that Treadwell was considering at that time. But it leaped into the picture when close friend and former teammate Anthony Sandifer, a standout cornerback on Crete-Monee's 2011 team who had originally committed to Michigan, changed his mind and opted for Ole Miss.

Treadwell made three visits to the Oxford campus. At a basketball game, the student section began chanting: "We want Treadwell." A report that Ole Miss legend Archie Manning, father of Peyton and Eli, had talked to Treadwell was unconfirmed. But the story gets better.

After visiting Ole Miss in early December, Treadwell told Neal McCready of "I would say Ole Miss and Oklahoma are the favorites. My visit went very, very good. My mom loved it the most, so that's the best thing," he said.

"I feel like it's home when I'm around the coaches and players and that's the most important thing. I feel like I fit right in with everything Ole Miss is trying to do with the program and I love the offense they're running."

But last week, Treadwell told the Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger that Ole Miss was his favorite school.

What did he like about Ole Miss? "Basically everything...coaches, recruits, players that are there. I've got a teammate (Sandifer) there," he said.

That's not all. Treadwell has developed a very strong bond with Robert Nkemdiche, a 6-foot-4, 270-pound defensive end from Loganville, Georgia, who is the consensus choice as the No. 1 player in the nation. Nkemdiche, who de-committed from Clemson, has stated that Ole Miss is his favorite. He also has ties to Ole Miss. His brother Denzel is a standout linebacker on the football team. And his mother has stated that she wants her two sons to play together. Robert also is considering LSU.

Treadwell and Nkemdiche had an opportunity to hang out for a week while participating in last week's Under Armour All-American Game in Orlando. Treadwell's mother favors the two playing together. Treadwell also has another friend at Ole Miss, tackle Jordan Diamond of Simeon.

"We talked the whole week," Treadwell said about his relationship with Nkemdiche. "We've been talking before we even got here. We've been big on that."

Lemming predicts Treadwell will choose Ole Miss. "They have worked him hard. They came to my banquet in Chicago in December. They have done a great job on him, selling him on their future, him and Nkemdiche," he said.

Michigan apparently has faded out of the picture. "Michigan was the favorite a while ago but it's been trending in the wrong direction for quite some time. I would bet he (Treadwell) does not end up at Michigan," said recruiting analyst Tim Sullivan of Rivals.

Michigan, however, remains very much in the mix for junior cornerback Parrker Westphal of Bolingbrook, one of the top prospects in the class of 2014 in Illinois. Westphal recently said Michigan was the leader in his recruiting process and is "the school against which all others will be compared."

Treadwell, acclaimed the nation's top-rated wide receiver by Lemming and the Player of the Year in the Chicago area by the Sun-Times and Tribune, led Crete-Monee to a 14-0 record and the Class 6A championship by catching 81 passes for 1,424 yards and 16 touchdowns. As a junior, he caught 75 passes for 1,391 yards and 18 touchdowns. He also stood out as a free safety.

Ironically, when he was growing up and playing for the University Park Lions, he played quarterback and dreamed of being another Michael Vick. But after being switched to wide receiver as a sophomore, he realized where his future was.

"Now I'm going to be another Justin Blackmon," he said, referring to the former Oklahoma State All-America wide receiver who had a standout rookie season with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Somewhere, Archie Manning is smiling.

Prairie Ridge Goes For A Drive This Season

Prairie Ridge Goes For A Drive This Season

You might be wondering why Prairie Ridge was selected as CSN Chicago's 2017 "Drive" team. A better question: "Why wouldn't they be selected?"

Let's start with their defending state champion status. This is a Wolves team that ran roughshod over the Fox Valley Conference last season en route to a perfect 14-0 record and a Class 6A state title.  In that time, they averaged just over 50 points per game. Their defense held eight of their opponents to a touchdown or less--including three consecutive shutouts.

This much is certain: the entire Fox Valley Conference will be bringing its A-plus game against Prairie Ridge week in and week out this fall.

Can the Wolves get back to the state title game and repeat as 6A champs? Better yet, before anyone can even think of a repeat, can Prairie Ridge escape the first two weeks of the regular season? Cary-Grove and Huntley are solid programs. And they're revenge-minded.

This Prairie Ridge program, featuring head coach Chris Schremp, still believes in running the football early and often. They play a fast and very physical defense. Does any team in Illinois feature an explosive, double-wing option attack offense that also happens to be one of the highest scoring units in the state? You generally don't place double-wing option and high scoring, explosive offense in the same sentence. Then again, most teams aren't Prairie Ridge.

And then there are the personalities. 

At what point of his pregame ritual does mild-mannered, All-State QB Samson Evans change into his Superman costume? If any one player personifies the 2017 version of Superman, it would be Samson Evans. 

Evans, who is already verbally committed to Iowa, seems to be about as level-headed and low-key as any kid you'll meet. But once the game starts, Evans becomes a very dangerous young man when the football is in his hands. 

How unassuming does Evans come off to the analysts? One national recruiting expert told me this after seeing Evans in person for the first time this winter: "He (Evans) looks more like the kid at Jewel who bagged my groceries," right before seeing Evans fire off yet another impressive 40 yard dash.

Does senior offensive tackle Jeff Jenkins (Iowa) wear anything else these days besides Iowa gear? These are the pressing questions we need to have answered this fall on "Drive."

Also, are we finally seeing the Fox Valley Conference get its due via Drive? 

Long gone are the olden days of the Fox Valley Conference when McHenry of the 1990s and early 2000s would post weekly 40-point running clock blowout wins week in and week out. Cary-Grove is still Cary-Grove. The Trojans want to just pound the football and all opposing teams. Huntley, who continues to inch closer and closer to becoming an 8A power, would like nothing better than to beat the Wolves.

The new Fox Valley continues to be one of the most competitive conferences-- and it also feeds three separate classes come state playoff time (8A thru 6A). 

But the best part about Prairie Ridge football and the FVC is still about the traditions, namely Friday night football. It's part of the area's fabric. The schools are big enough to compete with any conference regardless of size. And yet, they're still small enough to not lose that all-important local community connection that only high school football provides. 

59 Days to Kickoff: McHenry


59 Days to Kickoff: McHenry 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 @CSNPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 25.

School: McHenry

Head coach: Nat Zunkle

Assistant coaches: Jon Niemic, Rob Niemic, Chris Madson, Kyle Owens, Jim Little, Dennis Hutchinson, Kyle Just, Brian Wilbois, Tony Swanson

How they fared in 2016: 6-4 (5-3 Fox Valley Conference), made the Class 7A playoffs and lost to Batavia in opening-round action.

[MORE: 60 Days to Kickoff - St. Patrick]

2017 regular season schedule:

Aug. 25 – vs Crystal Lake South

Sept. 1 – @ Cary-Grove

Sept. 8 – vs Elgin

Sept. 15 - @ Crystal Lake Central

Sept. 22 - @ Jacobs

Sept. 29 – vs Prairie Ridge

Oct. 6 - @ Dundee-Crown

Oct. 13 - vs Hampshire

Oct. 20- vs Huntley

Biggest storyline: Can the Warriors make it back-to-back playoff appearances?

Names to watch this season: senior LB Luke Begrowicz, senior QB Pat Breisch

Biggest holes to fill: The Warriors will bring back a ton of experience this fall (15 returning starters), but will need to reload on the defensive line.

EDGY's early take: Zunkle was able to lead the Warriors back to the postseason for the first time since 2007. While the Fox Valley Conference will be as stacked as ever at the top, look for the Warriors to again challenge all comers in 2017.