LOMBARD, Ill. -- Core 6 Athletes has been training the top prospects in the Chicago area for the last several years, and on Wednesday night the group hosted its first banquet to honor some of its top athletes. Here is a notebook from the event:
Division I prospects from the classes of 2013, 2014, 2015 and even 2016 were in attendance as well as college coaches from Illinois, Indiana, Northwestern, Ohio State, Vanderbilt, Eastern Illinois, Southern Illinois, Eastern Michigan and Ball State.
Ohio State linebackers coach Mike Vrabel was the opening speaker of the night and he told an amusing story about head-butting one of his players before the Buckeyes' game against "the team up north" last month, then having to get 10 stitches in his forehead. He expressed how fortunate he has been to be involved in the game as long as he has and encouraged the players in attendance to play as long as they can.
Vrabel said when he came to Ohio State he had 14 years of NFL experience, but did not have experience in recruiting.
He did not have much of a recruitment out of high school, and noted, "with Urban, it is all about recruiting." He now handles Ohio State's recruiting in the Chicago area.
Illinois head coach Tim Beckman's speech closed the evening. He quickly did away with the microphone and his voice had no trouble carrying through the banquet hall. Beckman said it would be like an Illini team meeting. Beckman focused on three key principles: family, gratitude and commitment and he praised Core 6 for their commitment to those principles.
Four awards were handed out at the event:
Newcomer of the Year: Erik Swenson, class of 2016 OT, Downers Grove South
Defensive Player of the Year: Jalen Banks, Thornton Township (Vanderbilt commit)
Offensive Player of the Year: Kendrick Foster, Peoria Richwoods (Illinois commit)
Swenson, a 6-foot-7, 280-pound offensive tackle out of Downers Grove South, looks to be the first major recruit to emerge from the Chicagoland area's 2016 class. He certainly has the look of a Division I offensive tackle prospect and his father is taller than he is so Swenson may not be done growing. From the film I have seen of him, he played beyond his years as a full-time starter at left tackle on an 8A ballclub.
Michigan offensive line coach Darrell Funk was through Swenson's school this week, and colleges appear to already know his name. Those coaches who were in attendance at the Core 6 banquet Wednesday night certainly will not forget his name any time soon.
Among the class of 2013 prospects in attendance were a pair of close friends -- Chicago Julian defensive end Demetrius Cooper and Chicago Morgan Park defensive end Khairi Bailey. Cooper actually was notified he had received an offer from N.C. State during the banquet. New Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren offered Cooper a scholarship when he was at Northern Illinois.
Cooper has been committed to Michigan State since August and has not visited anywhere else since. He was not sure if he would entertain the offer from N.C. State. He is scheduled to take an official visit to Michigan State in January and would like for the Spartans to consider Bailey as well.
The 6-foot-3, 240-pound Bailey said he has an official visit scheduled to Arizona State in January, and is still planning to take an official visit to Northern Illinois. He noted his mother is very fond of the Huskies.
Two Chicago area defensive backs who were at Wednesday's banquets and are starting to see their recruitments pick up with two months left until National Signing Day were Crete-Monee cornerback Jaylen Dunlap and Hillside Proviso West safety Jameer Thurman.
The 6-foot-2, 180-pound Dunlap landed his first two scholarship offers of the process this week from Eastern Michigan and UAB. The offers were so fresh, he has not had a chance to make a decision about official visits to either schools, but is highly interested in both programs.
Thurman, a 6-foot, 190-pound three-star prospect, has been one of the more perplexing recruitments in the Midwest for 2013. He has shown the potential to be a Division IA athlete, and although he has heard from many schools at that level he has yet to land an offer. He does have offers from Division IAA programs, and has scheduled an official visit to North Dakota for the weekend of Dec. 11. Western Kentucky appears to be the Division IA program closest to offering and talks are ongoing with the Hilltoppers about taking an official visit there.
Several top prospects from the class of 2014 were in attendance, including two early Rivals250 four-star recruits: Plainfield South linebacker Clifton Garrett and Chicago De La Salle offensive lineman Jamarco Jones.
Garrett, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound linebacker, had named Michigan State, Notre Dame and Ohio State as favorites earlier in the process, but told me Wednesday night he is really wide open and has no favorites at this time. However, did go on to talk extensively about Ole Miss and how he is really high on the Rebels at this time.
Garrett's Core 6 teammate, five-star wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, just returned from an official visit to Ole Miss to name the Rebels as his leader. Garrett says they talk from time to time, and he also noted the nation's No. 1 player, Robert Nkemdiche, and the potential that he could end up there. He said Ole Miss assistant coach Chris Kiffin has said Garrett could be the face of the 2014 class were he to jump on board.
Earlier this week, Nebraska became the latest school to offer Garrett, bringing him to a total of 10 scholarship offers. The Cornhuskers intrigue Garrett and he plans to look into them further.
The 6-foot-5, 285-pound Jones is up to 15 scholarship offers already and he hosted coaches from Maryland, Michigan State, Indiana and Penn State in-school on Wednesday. Jones is taking an unofficial visit to Northwestern this weekend for a bowl practice and is already planning to attend Florida's spring game in April.
Some top class-of-2014 prospects in attendance included Hinsdale Central teammates Brian Allen and Ian Bunting, both of whom hold multiple BCS offers, as well as Oak Park River Forest defensive end Nile Sykes.
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Sykes might have had the most interesting comment of the night when he mentioned Wisconsin defensive coordinator Chris Ash joining Doeren's new staff at N.C. State. Both Ash and Doeren recruited Sykes when they were at Wisconsin and Northern Illinois, respectively, and Doeren had offered Sykes. The junior defensive end is now looking forward to receiving interest from Doeren's staff at N.C State.
Besides the Northern Illinois offer, Sykes also picked up early scholarship offers from Illinois, Purdue and Toledo. Illini assistant coach Mike Ward visited his school on Wednesday and coaches from Minnesota were in his school last week.