The place to be on Wednesday night was the Core 6 Athletes banquet, held at Carlisle Banquet in Lombard, as several Chicagoland college recruiters attended the event. Core 6 Athletes and CEO Paul Szczesny hosted college coaches from over 16 different major college programs and the headline speakers included Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin, Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson and Western Michigan head coach P.J. Fleck.
Core 6 Athletes named Plainfield South LB Clifton Garrett it's 2013 Player of the Year. Montini Catholic senior LB Nile Sykes was named Defensive Player of the year, while Marist junior WR Flynn Nagel and Wisconsin QB Sean McGuire (Western Illinois) received co-Offensive Player of the Year honors. The Core 6 Athletes Linemen of the Year award was shared by Hinsdale Central OC Brian Allen (Michigan State) along with De La Salle's OL Jamarco Jones (Ohio State). The Newcomer of the Year award went to Providence Catholic 2015 WR Miles Boykin, while Most Improved went to OPRF senior WR/S Simmie Cobbs (Purdue).
Speaking of Plainfield South senior LB Clifton Garrett (6-foot-2, 222 pounds), the state's top ranked recruit according to Rivals.com, will make his college choice on Tuesday, Dec. 17th at a press conference from his school. Garrett had narrowed his list of favorites to LSU, Florida, Ole Miss and Tennessee. The consensus early favorite for Garrett seems to be LSU.
Expect Bolingbrook senior DB Parrker Westphal to give his verbal commitment any time now. Westphal made an official visit to Northwestern last weekend.
"My visit was good. I spent time with the players and commits," Westphal said. "I had dinner at Coach Fitzgerald's house and went over film and coverages with Coach Jerry Brown. My host was CB Nick Vanhoose. My overall thought was that they are down to Earth."
So when can we expect Westphal's college choice?
"Coach (James) Franklin from Vanderbilt is visiting December 12th. I'll make a decision sometime soon after that."
Crete-Monee senior defensive end Chris Slayton (6-foot-4, 251 pounds) made his first official visit last weekend to Syracuse.
"The visit just went real well. I just enjoyed the chance to hang out with the players as well as getting to know the coaches better," Slayton said. "Syracuse just has a ton of tradition. They really offer a lot from both the football side as well as the academic side. It was my first ever visit and it was a lot to take in. The campus and the town is just really impressive. You have a lot to do and they also have just great facilities. I really like the coaches at Syracuse."
Slayton will also visit Kansas this weekend and Illinois in January.
Montini Catholic senior linebacker Nile Sykes also visited Syracuse along with Slayton this past weekend.
"It (Syracuse) was a real family environment and I felt they were very genuine in the things they were telling me," Sykes said. "I definitely came back with a good perspective on things."
Sykes is also still planning an official visit this weekend to Notre Dame despite the Fighting Irish losing defensive coordinator Bob Diaco, who reportedly took the UConn head coaching position Wednesday night.
Break out the Illinois State Redbirds. Head coach Brock Spack is having a terrific recruiting year as the Redbirds added recent verbal commitment from Thornton Township WR/KR/PR Tifonte Hunt, Richards OLB Romel Hill and Rochester defensive end Matt Swaine. The Redbirds are up to 12 known commitments and the in-state recruiting haul included Naperville Central QB Jake Kolbe, Oswego FB/LB Bryce Holm, Waubonsie Valley WR Christian Gibbs, St. Charles East WR Brannon Barry and Wheaton North WR Matt Biegalski.
So how have the Redbirds been able to do it? The Redbirds staff have worked the Chicagoland area very hard, while the Class of 2014 commitments have also been working in unison to draw more players to ISU.
"Illinois State is really putting together a great group of recruits," Romel said. "I was able to get to know those guys and they are a great group on and off the field. We all seemed to get along well and going to a program with such a strong group of kids coming in is important. Hopefully we can be the class to help Illinois State get to the next level and a national championship."
The recent multi-million dollar upgrades to Hancock Stadium hasn't hurt the curb appeal for Illinois State.