Former Illinois center Randy Taylor loves his work with NCSA Sports. The former major college assistant coach has an opportunity to evaluate high school football players all over the country and offer them suggestions on how best to prepare for the rigors of college recruiting and how to find the best fit for their ability level.
He is especially knowledgeable about the players in Illinois. While he didn't have his notes in front of him for this interview, he offered some early thoughts on several top prospects for the 2011 recruiting class. His first thoughts were toward two sons of NFL football players at Vernon Hills.
"To me, Davaris Daniels is maybe the best skill kid in the area. The thing about him is he's just so fluid and runs well. I just think he could be a heck of a wide receiver. He's not a real thick kid yet, but he can run and he's athletic. He's a really good player.
"Evan Spencer is more of a tweener in position. I don't know how fast he is, but the thing I like about him is he's a good football player. He's got good instincts, and he competes. He might be a safety, he might be a slot, inside receiver.
"Both of those kids aren't afraid either. Daniels will try to force the run, he's just not a big, physical kid. To me, Spencer is a little rougher around the edges athletically. They both have good bloodlines."
However, Taylor chose an athlete from downstate Edwardsville as his top prospect from Illinois.
"I think the best player in the state is Rodney Coe. To me, that kid could play running back or d-tackle."
With a new offense requiring more downfield passing, the Illini are in the market for a strong-armed quarterback this year. Taylor is uncertain whether there is an ideal player for that role within the state.
"I don't know if it's a great quarterback year. Robin Earl's son is a taller 6'-4" to 6'-5" kid up at Stevenson. He's a possibility."
What about Reilly O'Toole? He led Wheaton Warrenville South to the Class 7A state championship.
"I like him, I just think he has a ways to go. What I remember about him is he has okay arm strength, but he takes a little while to get the ball out. He runs that read option, spread stuff. He runs okay, he's a tough kid. He competes, and I like his decision-making. He doesn't seem to get too flustered.
"He's not necessarily a tremendous athlete, but he's a good enough competitor he makes up for it and makes plays when he has to pull the ball down. But he's not gonna outrun too many people. He needs to build his body strength. Maybe over the spring and summer, that's when I think he'll develop more."
WWS defeated Glenbard West in overtime for the championship. Taylor thinks at least three players from that team have college futures.
"Offensive lineman Jordan Walsh has got a chance to really be good. Sophomore defensive lineman Tommy Schutt is gonna be really good.
"Revie Sorey's kid Trace plays at Glenbard West. He's 2011. He might be their most skilled athlete. He's a running back. That kid has not fully reached his potential I don't think. If he gets his head on straight, he could be a pretty good tailback or safety. I'd need to see how fast he runs, but he's athletic."
Taylor mentioned a couple other skill players from the Chicago area he likes.
"There's a safety out at Highland Park I really like as a receiver. Cole Stern is an athletic basketball player. I like the way he attacks the football, plays inside out. And Jack Konopka from Palatine Fremd can play tight end or left tackle."
Taylor continues his discussion in part two.