Northern Illinois Grid 'Class of 2006' Recruits: Best Athletic Group During Joe Novak Regime

GO HUSKIES
GO HUSKIES

GO HUSKIES
DeKalb, IL - By now, whether it's National Letter of Intent signing day or August practice or a post-game interview, you know that Northern Illinois University head football coach Joe Novak does not blow smoke.

While his candor with the media is well-known and respected, every
February Novak tactfully avoids rating his new incoming recruiting class
as "...the best ever or best whatever..." Until Wednesday (February
1), that is.

"As a whole, this class is the best athletically we've brought in here," the 11th-year Huskie taskmaster admitted about his 17 new Northern Illinois National Letter of Intent gridiron signees. Stop the presses. This is a Novak revelation.

"Consciously, our staff made that decision early in the recruiting process. With all the teams spreading the field on offense now, we have more ground to cover. We may have been slightly deficient on a skill level with our back seven defenders. This is a strong, physical group that can run and pursue. Numbers-wise, we have more athletes in this group.

"We have some defensive backs, taller and in the 200-pound range, and outside linebackers who can run and who can make plays. I like this class. We're happy. It's a good group. I thought our coaching staff did a great job identifying our needs, selling our program, and filling those same needs."

Of course, the recruiting is made easier by the fact that Novak's Huskies have won four of the last five Mid-American Conference West Division titles, put together a school-record National Collegiate Athletic Association Division 1-A era six consecutive winning seasons (6-5 in 2000 and 2001, 8-4 in 2002, 10-2 in 2003, 9-3 in 2004, and 7-5 in 2005), and appeared on the ESPN brand national telecasts eight times in the last two campaigns.

"Sure winning is important," Novak said. "Recruits want to go where they can win. The national television exposure? For some of the out-of-state kids, it was a factor in their decision. I believe people in the Chicago area and in-state know what we've done in recent years."

While each Northern Illinois recruiting class rates as its own entity, consecutive groups are like an interlocking puzzle and fill the needs opened via graduation. In different years, the Huskies have different roster gaps.

For example, Novak lost three of his five offensive line regulars to graduation in 2005. What happened? The Huskie coaching staff brought in frosh center Mike Krause (Germantown, WI), plus offensive guards Jason Onyebuagu (Indianapolis, IN / Warren Central) and Panan Tense (Hillside / Oak Park Fenwick). Novak liked all three new O-line types and compared Onyebuagu and Tense to Northern Illinois All-America OG-OT and Hall of Famer Todd Peat (1983-86). "Great comparison, both guards have excellent footwork for being 300-pounders and for what we do upfront," Novak added.

"A year ago, we did not bring in a quarterback. We thought it was imperative to bring in a quarterback and we got one. We needed a quality tailback and we got that," Novak said in reference to intriguing Huskie quarterback prospect Billy Lowe (Lakeland, FL) and tailback Ricky Crider (Evansville, IN / Reitz). The 6-foot-3, 214-pound Lowe directed the offense for the unbeaten (15-0) USA Today national championship and Florida Class 5A state title team last December.

"Billy has a real lot of upside," Novak said. "He looks like a linebacker, built along the lines of Chris Finlen when he was a senior. He's put together and has some raw skills. We think he has a lot of ability and needs some work."

Typically, this Novak Northern Illinois class features 12 in-state signees, four from contiguous states (two from Indiana and one apiece from Missouri and Wisconsin), and one from Florida. "We're a state school and should recruit within our home state," Novak said. "With the exception of Billy Lowe, we recruited everyone else within a four-hour's drive of campus. We tried recruiting quarterbacks in this area, but we had to go to Florida."

Chicago-based recruiting expert Tom Lemming concurred in regards to
the latest Huskie recruiting class and its quality. "They have beaten Big Ten schools for some kids," Lemming told the Chicago Sun-Times. "They will sign players at every position, a lot of good athletes." According to Rivals.com, NIU inked three of the state's Top 30 high school prospects.

Novak and Company produced another "balanced" class with nine players on offense and eight on defense. The group includes 11 All-Staters and six National Honor Society members. The "Class of 2006" position breakdown: Two tight ends, two wide receivers, two offensive guards, one center, one quarterback, one tailback, two linebackers, two free safeties, one cornerback, one strong safety, one defensive tackle, and one defensive end.

NORTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY 2006 FOOTBALL LETTER OF INTENT SIGNEES (17)

BRYAN BECKNER / TE / 6-4 / 235 / Fr. / Bourbonnais (Kankakee Bishop McNamara)

Scoop: Solid run blocker with "three-to-one" career reception (42)-to-touchdown (13) ratio (2004-05). Made 42 career receptions for 620 yards (14.8-yards-per-catch average) and 13 TDs (2004-05). Two-sport man. Prep: Named First-Team Catholic League All-White Division, Honorable Mention Kankakee Daily Journal All-Area, and Illinois Football Coaches Association Academic All-State on 9-3 conference kingpin and state Class 5A playoff qualifier as senior. Produced 22 catches for 340 yards (15.5 ypc. average), six TDs, and 80-yard long-gainer at TE, plus 30 tackles, 10 pass deflections, and seven QB sacks at DE this past season. Cited on preseason Chicago Sun-Times league Top Five Players and Area Top 100 Players lists (2005). Caught 20 passes for 280 yards (14.0 ypc.) and seven TDs on 5-5 state Class 5A playoff qualifier as junior. National Honor Society, Illinois State Scholar, and Honor Roll student. Major: Liberal Arts & Sciences. Coach: Rich Zinanni.

TYLER CLASEY / WR / 6-1 / 187 / Fr. / Champaign, IL (Centennial) Pronunciation: CLAY-see.

Scoop: Two-way all-league and all-area grid performer. Made 86 career catches for 1,290 yards (15.0 yards-per-catch average) and 12 TDs (2003-05). Punted 69 times for 2,692 yards and 39.0-yard average (2004-05). Prep: Named team captain and Defensive Player of the Year, First-Team All-Big 12 Conference at DB and Second-Team All-Big 12 at WR, First-Team Champaign News-Gazette All-Area at DB, and Special Mention Champaign News-Gazette All-State at DB on 6-4 state Class 6A playoff qualifier as senior. Made 36 receptions for 615 yards (17.1-yards-percatch average), 65-yard career long-gainer, and six TDs at WR, plus produced 34 tackles, six pass interceptions, and four blocked kicks (three punts) at DB (2005). Ranked No. 18 in area receiving last fall. Averaged 39.9 yards per punt on 33 boots in final year. Selected Second-Team All-Big 12 with 28 stops and 28 catches for 402 yards (14.3 ypc.) and four TDs on 5-5 state Class 6A playoff unit as junior. Earned first letter with 22 grabs for 273 yards (12.4 ypc.) and two TDs. Lettered in football (3) and basketball (3). Captained cage squad (2005-06). National Honor Society member, Big 12 Conference Leadership Award, and Dean's List student. Major: Finance. Coach: Mike McDonnell.

KRIS COOKE DT / 6-3 / 305 / Fr. / Homewood (Homewood-Flossmoor)

Scoop: Two-year captain. Collected 25 career QB sacks and 177 tackles in three varsity campaigns (2003-05). Prep: Named team captain, Honorable Mention Daily Southtown All-Area, Special Mention Chicago Sun-Times All-Area, and First-Team Star Newspapers All-Area on 6-4 state Class 8A playoff qualifier and independent program as senior. Credited with 80 stops, 13 QB sacks, five deflections, and three fumble recoveries in final year. Selected team captain and First-Team All-SICA Blue Conference with 62 tackles and seven QB sacks as junior. Produced 35 hits and five QB sacks on 7-4 league kingpin and state Class 8A playoff qualifier as soph. Tabbed on preseason First-Team All-Area by Northwest Indiana Times and Next 100 Midwest Players to Watch by The Sporting News (2005). Played DT, OT, LB, and FB. Lettered in football (3) and track (1). Nickname: "Cookie Monster." Major: Liberal Arts & Sciences. Coach: Tom Bailey.

RICKY CRIDER TB / 5-9 / 185 / Fr. / Evansville, IN (Reitz)

Scoop: Ranks as No. 9 all-time career rusher in Indiana prep history with 6,356 yards. Ran for 39-yard TD on first varsity rushing attempt as frosh vs. Jeffersonville (2002). Four-year starter and three-time All-City pick. Holds numerous school and city records. Recruited by Purdue, Indiana, Illinois, and Ball State. Prep: Named team captain and MVP, Kiwanis Award recipient, First-Team All-Southern Indiana Athletic Conference, First-Team All-City and Downtown Quarterback Club's Outstanding Player, First-Team Evansville Courier & Press All-Metro and Team Player of the Year, First-Team Indiana Football Coaches Association Region 9, and First-Team Associated Press Class 5A (Large Schools) All-State on 11-2 league, city, and sectional champions as senior. Tabbed as state Class 5A Player of Year by High School Sports Publications (2005). Rushed for school-record 2,478 yards and 33 TDs last season and RHS-record 6,356 yards and 83 TDs during career. Produced three of top five rushing campaigns in school annals with 2,478 yards in 2005, 1,956 in 2004, and 1,400 in 2003, plus posted three of top four RHS single-season rushing TD totals (33 in 2005, 22 in 2003, and 20 in 2004). Started on 10-2 (2002), 12-1 (2003), 6-4 (2004), and 11-2 (2005) city champions. Lettered in football (4) and track. Three-year state qualifier in high jump. Won city HJ title with 6-foot-5 effort (2005). Cum laude Honor Roll student. Major: Physical Education. Coach: John Hart

ED JACKSON DE / 6-4 / 230 / Fr. / Belleville (Cahokia)

Scoop: Three-sport man and one of top St. Louis Metro area QB sack practioners with 24 in last two campaigns (2004-05). The master of multi-positions (DE, TE, FB, RB, QB, C, OG, OT, and DT). Two-way all-league gridiron performer as junior. Prep: Selected team captain, First-Team South Seven Conference, First-Team Belleville News-Democrat All-Area, and First-Team St. Louis Post-Dispatch All-Metro on 9-4 state Class 5A playoff semifinalist as senior. Recorded 117 overall tackles, 13 QB sacks, and two fumble recoveries on defense that yielded 14.2 ppg., plus added six receptions for 73 yards and two TDs on offense (2005). Awarded First-Team All-South Seven Conference honors at TE and DE on 9-2 state Class 5A playoff squad as junior. Collected 31 overall hits and 11 sacks (2004). Selected for Down Under Bowl all-star game (2006). Lettered in football (3), basketball, and track. Averages 10.0 ppg. as forward on hardwood (2005-06). Throws shot put in track. Honor Roll student. Major: Business. Coach: Antwyne Golliday.

JAMES JEFFERIES CB / 5-9 / 165 / Fr. / Chicago (Mount Carmel)

Scoop: Two-sport standout and classroom all-star. Made 46 career receptions for 614 yards (13.4 yards-per-game average) and eight TDs and set school career kickoff return record (29 for 698 yards and 24.1 ypr. average) (2003-05). Prep: Named team captain and Most Valuable WR, First-Team All-Catholic League Blue Division, and First-Team Tom Lemming's Prep Football Report All-Area on 6-0 league champion and 13-1 state Class 7A runner-up as senior. Led team in receiving with 15 catches for 241 yards and three TDs on offense and contributed 35 tackles, five interceptions, and two deflections on defense (2005). Produced two receptions for 13 yards and two tackles in Class 7A state title game vs. Prospect (11-26-05). Selected preseason First-Team Northwest Indiana Times All-Area, Chicago Sun-Times loop Top Five Players and Area Top 100 Players, and Chicago Tribune league Top Five Players and Area Top 100 Players (2005). Caught 18 passes for 270 yards and three TDs on 9-4 state Class 6A semifinalist as junior (2004). Made 13 receptions for 103 yards and two TDs and started twice at QB in soph year (2003). Lettered in football (3) and basketball. Named on All-Elgin and All-Luther North tournament teams on hardwood. Four-year National Honor Society member and Honor Roll student. Nickname: "J.J." Major: Kinesiology. Coach: Frank Lenti.

MIKE KRAUSE C / 6-3 / 270 / Fr. / Germantown, WI

Scoop: Two-way consensus First-Team All-Stater. Started 38 consecutive games at OT-DT on three consecutive WIAA playoff qualifiers---including Division 2 state champion (2003). Recorded 146 career tackles and 14 QB sacks (2003-05). Prep: Named team captain and MVP, First-Team All-North Shore Conference at both OT and DT and loop Offensive Lineman of the Year, First-Team Wisconsin Football Coaches Association All-Region, First-Team Milwaukee Journal Sentinel All-Area and Area Lineman of the Year, First-Team WFCA All-State at OT-DT, First-Team Associated Press All-State at DT, and Second-Team All-State at OT, plus First-Team All-State at DT by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel as a senior. Recorded 65 stops and six QB sacks on 9-3 state WIAA Division 2 playoff quarterfinalist (2005). Voted team captain and Defensive MVP, First-Team All-NSC at OT and DT, plus league O-lineman of Year, and made 51 tackles and six sacks on 8-4 state playoff quarterfinalist as junior. Cited as team "Rookie of the Year" with 30 stops on 12-2 WIAA Division 2 state kingpin as soph. Picked for South squad in WFCA Shrine All-Star Game (2006). "He's (Krause) the best defensive lineman I saw all year. He just goes sideline to sideline. His motor runs all the time and he plays both ways. He's just relentless," said Hartford head coach Dan Brunner. Lettered in football (3) and track (3). Qualified for WIAA Division I state meet in shot put and discus as junior. Placed 12th in WIAA state discus (150-3) and 19th in shot put (49-4 1/4) (2005). National Honor Society member and seven-semester High Honor Roll student. Major: Management. Coach: Phil Datka.

ALEX KUBE FS / 6-1 / 200 / Fr. / Cary (Cary-Grove) Pronunciation KOO-bah.

Scoop: Consensus All-Stater. Multi-position (FS, SS, RB, WR, PR, KOR, and PK) standout in state-ranked program that won 24 of 26 games and back-to-back Fox Valley Conference crowns (2004-05). "...the best defensive back that I've coached in 29 years. He plays faster than he runs," said Cary-Grove head coach Bruce Kay. Prep: Named team captain and MVP, Larry Myer Defensive Player Award recipient, First-Team All-Fox Valley Conference, First-Team Northwest Herald All-Area and Player of the Year, First-Team Daily Herald Fox Valley All-Area and team co-captain, First-Team Chicago Sun-Times All-Area, Second-Team Chicago Tribune All-State, First-Team Champaign News-Gazette All-State, and First-Team IFCA Class 6A All-State on 11-1 state playoff quarterfinalist as senior. Ranked No. 29 on state prospect list by Rivals.com (2006). Cited on preseason Chicago Sun-Times loop Top Five Players and Area Top 100 Players (2005). Rushed for 694 yards and 10 TDs on 74 carries (9.4 ypc. average), made seven catches for 151 yards (21.6 ypc.) and four TDs, converted 15-of-16 PAT kicks, and posted 64 tackles (38 solo) last fall. Returned opening kickoff of year for 91-yard TD vs. Jacobs (8-26-05). Tabbed First-Team All-FVC, Special Mention Daily Herald All-Area, and First-Team Northwest Herald All-Area with team-leading 111 tackles on 13-1 Class 7A state playoff runner-up as junior. Posted nine stops in Class 7A state title game vs. Libertyville (11-27-04). Personal: Lived in Germany for six years and played for Algonquin Copa FC that won Youth World Cup twice (1998-99). Major: Communications. Coach: Bruce Kay.

MIKE LEPPER LB / 6-2 / 215 / Fr. / Oak Lawn (Richards)

Scoop: Three-year state Class 6A playoff veteran at tradition-rich suburban power. Two-time gridiron captain and All-Area pick (2004-05). Big hitter with sprinter's speed. Prep: Selected team captain and team Hardest Hitter Award recipient, First-Team All-SICA Orange Conference, and First-Team Star Newspapers All-Area on 7-3 state Class 6A playoff entry as senior. Recorded 85 tackles, 10 QB sacks, five fumble-cause hits, and two blocked kicks last fall. Produced career-high 16 hits vs. Blue Island Eisenhower (9-30-05). Named on preseason Area Top 100 Players list by Chicago Tribune (2005). Won All-SICA East and All-Area honors with 70 stops, three pass deflections, two QB sacks, and two blocked kicks on 10-2 state Class 6A playoff squad as junior (2004). Contributed to 8-4 state Class 6A playoff team as soph (2003). Played LB, FS, and CB. Lettered in football (3) and track (4). Ran sprints (100 and 200 meters) and relays (4 x 100 and 4 x 200). Honor Roll student. Personal: Brian Urlacher fan. Major: Liberal Arts & Sciences. Coach: Gary Korhohen.

MARCUS LEWIS WR 6-2 195 Fr. Gurnee (Warren Township)

Scoop: Two-sport All-Area standout. Caught 89 receptions for 1,576 yards (17.7 yards-per-catch average) and 17 TDs in last two years. "...I've never been around a receiver who can jump and position his body like Marcus can. Those two things there make him an outstanding receiver," said Warren head coach Dave Mohapp. Prep: Selected First-Team All-North Suburban Conference Lake Division, First-Team Pioneer Press All-Area, First-Team Waukegan News-Sun All-County, First-Team Daily Herald All-Area, First-Team Chicago Sun-Times All-Area and Class 5A-8A All-State, Special Mention Champaign News-Gazette All-State, and Second-Team Chicago Tribune All-State on 9-2 league runner-up and state Class 8A playoff qualifier as senior. Tabbed Midwest Region "Next 100 Players to Watch" by The Sporting News and Area Top 100 Players by Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune in preseason (2005). Produced 39 catches for 798 yards (20.5 ypc. average) and nine TDs last fall. Made two second-half TD grabs (28, 14 yards) in 24-23 playoff loss vs. Maine South (11-5-05). Named First-Team All-NSC Lake Division, First-Team Waukegan News-Sun All-County, First-Team Daily Herald All- Area, and Special Mention Chicago Sun-Times All-Area with 50 catches for 778 yards (15.6 ypc. average) and eight TDs as junior. Made career-high 15 grabs vs. Maine South (9-3-04) and caught three second-half TDs in Class 8A playoffs vs. Stevenson (11-6-04). Averages 14.0 ppg. on state-rated WTHS quintet that won 16 of first 17 games and reached finals of Pontiac Holiday Tournament (2005-06). Named to All-Pontiac Holiday Tournament team (2005). Voted First-Team All-NSC, and First-Team All-Area, plus tallied career-high 41 points vs. Mundelein in basketball (2004-05). Lettered in football (4) and basketball (3). Major: Business. Coach: Dave Mohapp.

BILLY LOWE QB / 6-3 / 214 / Fr. / Lakeland, FL

Scoop: First-Team All-Stater on undefeated USA Today National High School and Florida Class 5A state champions (2005). All-State and All-America wrestler. Tall, mobile, agile, southpaw QB with underclassman experience at LB. "Billy's a great competitor and a good leader. He has a good demeanor for a quarterback. He's a tough kid. He can let things roll off him and focus on the job at hand," said Lakeland head coach Bill Castle. Prep: Named team captain and MVP, FIrst-Team All-District 8, First-Team All-Region 2, First-Team All-Polk County, and First-Team Florida Sports Writers Association Class 5A All-State on 15-0 USA Today national kingpin and Florida High School Athletic Association state titlist as senior. Hit 91-of-157 passes for 1,260 yards, two PATs passes, 14 TDs, and two interceptions, plus added 441 rushing yards and eight TDs on 80 carries (2005). Selected MVP of Califlorida Bowl all-star game (12-31-05). Directed LHS attack that generated 406 yards on 61 plays (completed 3-of-12 passes for 70 yards, 56-yard long-gainer, and one TD) in 39-10 triumph in state championship game vs. Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas (12-9-05). Played WLB (44 tackles) and back-up QB (10-of-19 passes for 145 yards) on 15-0 state, district, and region champions as junior (2004). Lettered in football (4) and wrestling (3). Gained All-State mat status by placing fifth in state Class 3 (Large School) meet in 160-pound bracket as soph and produced 121-20 career mark in wrestling (2002-05). Two-time AAU Greco-Roman All-America. National Honor Society member. Personal: Born in Mainz, Germany. Major: Liberal Arts & Sciences. Coach: Bill Castle.

JASON ONYEBUAGU OG / 6-2 / 305 / Fr. / Indianapolis, IN (Warren Central) Pronunciation: OH-knee-boo-ah-goo.

Scoop: All-State three-peat Blue Chipper on combined 41-4 back-to-back-to-back Indiana state championship elevens (2003-05). "Jason is one of the top center prospects in the country. He's an absolutely dominating lineman. The skill kids... got a lot of the publicity, but he is the guy that made things go. He's the best high school center I've seen. Jason is extremely athletic. He can stand underneath the basketall hoop, jump up and grab the rim with two hands. He understands the blocking schemes. He understands defense. He made all of our offensive line calls and he has for three years," said Warren Central head coach Kevin Wright. Recruited by Indiana, Marshall, Toledo, and Western Michigan. Prep: Named team captain, First-Team Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference, First-Team Indianapolis Star Super Team and 2005 Mr. Football Position Award (O-line), and First-Team AP Class 5A (Large Schools) All-State on 14-1 league and state champions as senior. Graded 95 percent on O-line assignments, plus blocked for Indianapolis Star state Mr. Football (QB Dexter Taylor) on offense that averaged nearly 500 yards-per-game total offense (2005). Selected for Max Emfinger High School All-American Bowl Game Classic (2006). Ranked No. 5 in preseason Midwest "Power 50" and cited among "Next 100 Players to Watch" by The Sporting News and made Rivals.com Midwest Top 150 (2005). Won First-Team All-MIC and First-Team All-State honors on 14-1 and 13-2 state Class 5A kingpins (2003-04). Played C, OG, and DT. Fouryear Honor Roll student. Major: Business. Coach: Kevin Wright.

VERNON SIMS TE / 6-5 / 252 / Fr. / Rockford (Boylan)

Scoop: Great Northern Illinois bloodlines. Father Vernon Sims (DE-OLB in 1983-86) and late uncle Reggie Sims (TE in 1981-84) both lettered on 10-2 and Top 30-ranked Huskie Mid-American Conference and California Bowl III champions under legendary NIU Athletics Hall of Fame head coach Bill Mallory (1983). . Prep: Two-sport All-NIC-9 Conference selection. Named team captain and First-Team All-NIC-9 Conference on 7-4 state Class 7A playoff qualifier as senior. Ranked among NIC-9 Conference reception leaders with 10 catches for 193 yards and four TDs (2005). Earned First-Team All-NIC-9 accolades with seven grabs for 120 yards and one TD as junior (2004). Performed at TE, DE, and DT. Lettered in football (3) and basketball (3). Played on two Illinois High School Association Regional championship quintets (2004 and 2005) and made First-Team All-NIC-9 last winter. Averaged 11.3 ppg. and 7.1 rbpg. as starting center on RBHS squad that won 17 of first 20 games and shared NIC-9 lead (2005-06). Collected eight points, three rebounds, and one blocked shot in 15-minute stint at NIU Convocation Center vs. state-ranked Westchester St. Joseph (1-14-06). Major: Liberal Arts & Sciences. Coach: Dan Appino.

MIKE SOBOL SS / 6-0 / 190 / Fr. / Pevely, MO (Herculaneum)

Scoop: Athlete among athletes. Recognized as St. Louis area Suburban Journal Athlete of the Year ("...the best of the best") (2005). School's first three-sport All-Stater last year. Prep: Named team captain and MVP, First-Team Mississippi Area Football Conference All-White Division at LB-QB, Honorable Mention St. Louis Post-Dispatch All-Metro on defense, and First-Team Missouri Sportswriters & Sportscasters Association Class 3A All-State on defense on 7-4 District champion and state playoff qualifier as senior. Ranked No. 19 among St. Louis Post-Dispatch "Super 30" Metro area recruits (2006). Produced 2,214 yards total offense (115-of-170 passes for 1,534 yards and 19 TDs, plus 680 rushing yards and 11 TDs on 102 carries) and 60 tackles (45 solo) last season. Voted team and league MVP, First-Team MAFC All-White Division at QBDB, and Second-Team MSSA Class 3A All-State on defense on 9-2 District kingpin and state playoff unit as junior. Made First-Team MAFC All-White Division on 10-1 District winner and state playoff entry as soph. Lettered in football (4), wrestling (4), and track (3). Four-time state qualifier in wrestling and two-time state placer (third in 152-pound class with 39-7 record as soph and third at 189 with 47-4 mark as junior). Named Missouri Officials Association Outstanding Freshman (2003) and Outstanding Sophomore (2004). Two-time District kingpin in 300 meter intermediate hurdles and two-time state qualifier on 4 x 400 meter relay unit. Placed fifth in state 300 IM hurdles as junior. Personal: Older brother Jeff will be a soph DL prospect at Illinois this fall. Dad Mark lettered four times as DT at Northeast Missouri State (now Truman State) (1975-78), plus made Honorable Mention AP Little All-America (1978) and school's All-Century Team (2000). Mom Judy played tennis at Truman State. Frosh class president. Major: Liberal Arts & Sciences. Coach: Bill Sucharski.

JUSTIN STEWART / FS / 6-1 / 185 / Fr. / O'Fallon (Township)

Scoop: All-State and Academic All-State gridiron selection as senior. Three-sport man. Prep: Named team captain and Most Valuable Player, First-Team All-Southwestern Conference, First-Team St. Louis Post-Dispatch All-Metro at DB, First-Team IFCA Academic All-State, and Honorable Mention IFCA Class 7A All-State on 5-5 state Class 7A playoff qualifier as senior. Credited with 125 tackles (63 solo), one interception, and one fumble recovery at FS, plus hit 18-of-66 passes for 257 yards and three TDs and rushed for 412 yards and three TDs at QB (2005). Ranked No. 9 prospect among St. Louis Post-Dispatch "Super 30" (2006). Selected team Most Valuable Offensive Player, First-Team All-SWC on defense and First-Team on offense, and Academic All-State on 11-1 league champion and state Class 7A playoff quarterfinalist as junior. Led team in rushing with 1,264 yards on 159 carries (7.9 yards-per-attempt average) and 17 TDs (2004). Tabbed Third-Team All-SWC DB on 8-3 state Class 7A playoff entry as soph. Lettered in football (3), basketball (3), and track (2). Averages 11.3 ppg. and 3.9 rbpg. on 14-7 cage unit (2005-06). Set school record in triple jump (45-11 1/2) as junior. National Honor Society member and student council vice president. Major: Business. Coach: Todd Moeller.

PANAN TENSE / OG / 6-4 / 315 / Fr. / Hillside (Oak Park Fenwick) Pronunciation: Pa-NAN TEN-say.

Scoop: Two-year Friar O-line regular on state Class 5A playoff quarterfinalist as junior and Prep Bowl playoff squad as senior. Prep: Named team captain and Most Valuable Offensive Lineman, First-Team Catholic League All-Blue Division, First-Team Suburban Life All-Area, Special Mention Chicago Sun-Times All-Area, and Special Mention Chicago Tribune All-State as senior. Rated No. 26 on state prospects list by Rivals.com (2006). Earned three-star ranking in preseason Rivals.com Midwest Top 150 (2005). Cited on preseason Area Top 100 Players and Catholic League Blue Top Five Players listings by Chicago Sun-Times, plus Area Top 100 Players, Area Top 20 Recruits, and league Player to Watch by Chicago Tribune (2005). Won Honorable Mention Catholic League All-White Division honors on 10-2 loop champion and state Class 5A playoff quarterfinalist as junior. Played OG as junior and OT-DT as senior. Produced 20 tackles, four QB sacks, two fumble-cause hits, and one blocked field goal on defense (2005). Major: Business. Coach: John DiCanio.

JOHN TRANCHITELLA / LB / 6-2 / 200 / Fr. / Addison (Driscoll) Pronunciation: TRAN-cha-tell-ah.

Scoop: Consensus All-Stater and captain on state title team (2005). Scored four TDs in last two state title games. Three-year regular (two years at both DB and WR). "Johnny truly is dedicated. He eats, sleeps, and drinks football," Driscoll head coach Mike Burzawa. Prep: Named team captain, First-Team All-Suburban Catholic Conference, First-Team Daily Herald DuPage All-Area, First-Team Chicago Sun-Times Class 1A-4A All-State, and First- Team Illinois Football Coaches Association Class 4A All-State on 13-0 league and Class 4A state kingpins as senior. Ranked No. 1 in team scoring (110 points on 18 TDs and one two-point PAT), No. 1 in receiving (38 catches for 643 yards and nine TDs), and No. 2 in rushing (744 yards and nine TDs on 95 attempts) (2005). Rushed for 66 yards on eight carries and one TD (two-yard run), plus caught three passes for 95 yards and two TDs (20 and 36-yards) in state title game vs. Newton (11-25-05). Rated No. 28 on state prospect list by Rivals.com (2006). Cited among league's preseason Top Five Players by Chicago Sun-Times and Area Top 100 Players by Chicago Tribune (2005). Made First-Team All-SCC and Special Mention Daily Herald DuPage All-Area on 12-2 state Class 3A kingpin as junior. Tallied 84 points (14 TDs), rushed 24 times for 207 yards and four TDs, plus caught 18 balls for 507 yards and six TDs (2004). Posted 151 all-purpose yards (62 on KO returns, 50 rushing, plus one TD, 28 receiving on two grabs, and 11 on one interception) in state title game vs. Bureau Valley (11-26-04). Won first letter on 14-0 state Class 4A champion as soph (2003). Lettered in football (3), basketball, and track. Set school records in 4 x 100 and 4 x 200 relay units. Nickname: "Tranch." Major: Sports Management. Coach: Mike Burzawa.

(For further information, please contact Mike Korcek)
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