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)."

Bears training camp preview: 3 burning questions for the wide receivers

Bears training camp preview: 3 burning questions for the wide receivers

With training camp starting next week, CSN Chicago’s Chris Boden and JJ Stankevitz are looking at three burning questions for each of the Bears’ position groups heading into Bourbonnais. Wednesday's unit: the wide receivers.

1. Kevin White

Need we say more? Okay, we will. Or ... maybe not. You guys are already familiar with the career numbers for the 2015 seventh overall draft pick: Four games played. 28 games missed. 19 catches. 187 yards. Zero touchdowns. Two serious injuries and surgeries on his left fibula. Oh, and he’ll be working with three new quarterbacks and a third wide receivers coach in as many years. That. Is. A. Lot.

“It’s got to happen now,”  White said in June of a potential Bears career crossroads season. “I’ve got to turn it up. So to me, year three, it’s time.”

2. Who gets hot in the slot?

If Cam Meredith and White get through the preseason healthy (and with the Bears the past two seasons, a big “if”), the position battle turns to playing time in the slot, where Eddie Royal was supposed to be the answer in the Ryan Pace/John Fox regime. Ex-Pittsburgh Steeler Markus Wheaton was given the sweetest contract of a free agent trip (two years, $11 million, six million guaranteed) and has the most speed. Kendall Wright excelled with a 94-catch season with the Tennessee Titans under Dowell Loggains in 2013, until gradually sinking further into the doghouse. And Victor Cruz has the tape — two great seasons with the New York Giants. But the second of those was five years ago for the now-30-year-old, and he played a total of six games in injury-plagued 2014 and 2015 seasons. If this trio all proves something, and deserving of roster spots, that may only leave Josh Bellamy (who’s proven value on special teams) as the sixth receiver, along with White and Meredith.

"The more routes I run, the more I build a rapport with Mike [Glennon] and get myself out there learning the plays," Cruz said after his signing, "I think I have that potential to be the guy you saw a few years ago.

"We’ve got a lot of guys who are looking for opportunity," said Wheaton. "A lot of guys that are hungry and have something to prove."

3. An unexpected, immediate-impact surprise?

Deonte Thompson had 22 catches when pressed into action last season, and has a history with new wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni at Florida (2010), but now has competition after a year and a half as the primary kickoff returner. Rueben Randle had a 71-catch season three years ago with the Giants, helping them offset the loss of Cruz, but must overcome a “lazy” reputation after not hooking on with a team at all last season. Daniel Braverman was All-Bourbonnais a year ago, but the seventh-round rookie (and "future Wes Welker") got into only three December games, with zero catches. Wheaton-Warrenville South product Titus Davis (older brother of Titans' 2017 first-round pick Corey Davis) is only 24 and "retired" from New York Jets camp a year ago. A darkhorse (perhaps only for the practice squad) could be undrafted rookie Tanner Gentry, who has size (6-foot-2) and a catch radius after leading the NCAA with 49 deep target throws (22 receptions) from potential top 2018 draft pick Josh Allen at Wyoming last season.