"Personally, I would like to be all-state," said Sykes. "And our team goal, we would like to be the first team in our school's history to go undefeated for a state championship."
The Montini Broncos have won three consecutive Illinois 5A championships, but none of those came in unblemished seasons. A 5-0 start to the season has the team feeling confident this could be their year.
For Sykes, the season brings the chance to add to his impressive recruiting résumé. The three-star linebacker holds a long list of offers, including Purdue, Cincinnati, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa State, Missouri, Northern Illinois, Syracuse and more.
The plan for Sykes is to keep in contact with those interested schools, spending plenty of time on the phone each night. The recruiting process is all about building relationships.
"It's a great feeling," said Sykes. "It shows how much they care about me, and how highly they think of me. It's very, very important to me."
With each school, Sykes is looking for a certain fit. He hopes to find a place with his desired major, sports management; a comfortable feeling with the coaching staff; and a defense he would work well with.
The busy recruitment has kept Sykes focusing on each option. For now, he's just taking the process in stride.
"I'm just waiting it out, seeing what other opportunities come my way," Sykes said. "That's where I am."
The schools showing Sykes the strongest interest include Illinois, Indiana, Iowa State, Missouri and Syracuse. As for Purdue, the contact hasn't been as frequent.
"I just don't know how interested they are in me," he said. "They talk to me every now and then, ask how I'm doing, see if I'm going to get to a game, but as far as talking to me and building a relationship, they don't talk to me that much."
There's still time for Purdue to get back in the game. Sykes is waiting out the process and seeing where it takes him. But the clock is ticking.
"I'm not going to wait forever," he said. "Sooner or later, I'm going to focus on a few schools."