NAPERVILLE, Ill. - Chicago Morgan Park has represented itself quite well for countless years in the Chicago Public League with titles and state playoff berths. Over the years the school has become a hot spot for college coaches to visit through the recruiting process. At the Rivals.com Junior Day at Naperville North High School this past Saturday, Morgan Park stars Demetrius Jones, Chris James and Ramone Johnson showed they are next in line by passing the eyeball test.
So much of the recruiting process is about making a great first impression and often that first impression is based upon passing what college coaches call the eyeball test. Simply put, coaches look at players and see if they look like Division I players. The crew from Morgan Park more than passed the test as each one of them already look physically ready to make the leap to the next level.
The headliner at Morgan Park this season is Jones, the 6-foot-3, 192-pound quarterback that walks with a sense of confidence and charisma that is hard to explain. Jones, who is called Double D by all of his friends and teammates, is good and he knows that. Yet, he's also humble enough to know that he still has a long way to go to be a complete quarterback.
"I know that I'm a good player," Jones said with a sly smile. "My teammates look to me to make big plays and win games, but I also know that I have a lot of work ahead of myself. I have to keep working on the little things."
Jones on film with his blazing orange Reebok shoes will remind a lot of people of Virginia Tech recruit Ike Whitaker from the 2005 class. Both players have long and thin frames, and they also some times aren't the most mechanically sound when they deliver the pass. But both are incredible playmakers and get the job done regardless of how pretty the pass looks coming off their right hands.
Jones, who already has offers from Illinois, Michigan and Notre Dame, is the talk of Chicago as everybody knows that he has the chance to be the best quarterback in the city in years.
But Jones isn't alone at Morgan Park when it comes to the ability to play at the next level.
James, a stand out receiver that measured at 6-foot, 177-pounds on Saturday, already has a scholarship offer from Illinois and is getting heavy interest from Iowa, Ohio State, Michigan State, Purdue and Northern Illinois.
"I'm aggressive and physical," James said on Friday while going over his highlight tape with Rivals.com analysts. "With me and Double D, we get things done. I hope that they look to me more this year to become an even bigger weapon on offense, because I know I can get it done."
James made it clear that he has an early leader in the Illini.
"I really just like everything that Illinois has to offer," James said. "I get a real feeling that the new coaching staff has a serious passion to win. I also enjoyed the atmosphere at Illinois this past weekend with its fan fest. I'm still not committed to anyone, but Illinois is definitely my early favorite."
To help pave the way for Jones and James, Morgan Park can look to Johnson, the stout offensive lineman that measured in at 6-foot-5 and 307 pounds. He, too, has an early scholarship offer from Illinois and is also getting attention from Purdue, Michigan, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech and Wisconsin.
"I'm very aggressive," Johnson said. "I hate losing, so I'll do whatever it takes to get the job done."
Johnson with his size could project as either an offensive guard or a tackle, but his drive blocking skills might best suit him for the guard position, but he doesn't care either way - as long as he gets his shot, and it's already clear that he will.
OTHERS LOOK IMPRESSIVE, TOO This past weekend's event at Chicago was the largest turnout of the season and there were countless players that not only had Division I scholarships, but they also passed the eyeball test. Here's a look at several other impressive looking players.
-Deerfield, Ill., quarterback Alex Loukas already has a scholarship offer from Iowa State and heavy interest form Michigan, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Purdue and Stanford. He looked impressive measuring in at a solid 6-foot-4 and 193 pounds. Loukas' father played in the NFL and at Northwestern and he also has uncles that played at Wisconsin and Southern Illinois.
-Kevin Green showed up at last year's Chicago Junior Day and created a major buzz there with his chiseled frame. He showed up again and was all the talk again, measuring at 6-foot-2 and 213 pounds. Bowling Green has jumped in early with a scholarship offer, and others like Wisconsin, Iowa, Notre Dame, Purdue, Michigan, Ohio State and Illinois are involved early.
-Kankakee, Ill., outside linebacker Dustin Jefferson measured 6-foot ½ last year at the Iowa NIKE Training Camp and he's added a half inch since last summer as he now stands at 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds. Illinois has jumped in early with a scholarship offer to the impressive looking player. He also plans to camp at Iowa, Purdue, Tennessee and Ohio State.
-Chicago Vocational quarterback Isiah Williams measured at 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds. Northern Illinois has already offered Williams a scholarship.
-Marques Wilkins of Decatur (Ill.) Macarthur is a 6-foot-1, 192- pound receiver that is the cousin of Oklahoma defensive tackle Moe Dampeer. Wilkins is already a major recruit with an offer from Illinois and heavy attention from Iowa, Michigan, Northwestern, Wisconsin and Missouri.
-Timi Oshinowo of Naperville (Ill.) Neuqua Valley will be one of the more highly recruited offensive linemen in the Midwest, and he was probably one of the three best looking linemen that Rivals.com has seen through three junior day events. He measured in at 6-foot-6 and 270 pounds.