Last year, the Core 6 Showcase allowed us to get an early look at some of the top talents in Illinois. We found out that Ty Isaac was who we thought he was, where guys like Jalen Banks and Kendrick Foster showed us they were even better than we previously thought. It was also our first chance to see youngsters like Nyles Morgan and Clifton Garrett, who have since become household names. This year should be more of the same:
Backing It Up
On paper, the strongest group is the linebackers, lead by the aforementioned Garrett. Two players coming from the West side of the state are Tori Millender, who has an early Purdue offer, and Kyron Watson, who has an impressive highlight reel. Both physical, hard-hitting guys, this event will take them out of that element and allow us to see them run and cover.
Others at the position looking to gain some of the recognition and offers those guys have including Lake Forest's Trent Williams, Fenwick's Robert Spillane, Oswego's Bryce Holm, and Morgan Park's Tajuan Hartley.
Two guys who are hybrid guys who can play linebacker, but may also go pass rush against the offensive linemen are Downers Grove North's long, athletic Vontae Diggs and Lombard Montini's explosive Nile Sykes.
A few other players who already have offers and college attention are still coming in to show their abilities and do what the Core 6 mantra says: Compete.
Hinsdale Central wide receiver-tight end Ian Bunting is an athletic 6'6 kid with a couple of early offers and a lot of looks. His size makes him a tough matchup, and we're looking forward to seeing run routes and do some of the things in person that we've seen from him on tape. Denzel Tolliver is similar to Bunting in that he's a wide receiver also getting looks as a potential tight end on the next level. He has an early offer from Northern Illinois.
Brian Allen was at last year's event, and already had some offers there, but has since grown his list to five, all from Big Ten schools. Harvey Thornton receiver Juwan Wesley recently picked up his first offer from Illinois, and Naperville Central quarterback Jake Kolbe landed his first from Toledo.
Making Their Mark
Following last year's showcase, guys like Blake King, Tyler Lancaster, and others moved their recruitments forward and earned offers. A few others who do not have any offers yet, but are Division-1 talents, will be attending this year and looking to kick start their recruiting processes as well.
Coming off a strong Army Combine appearance, Tinley Park Andrew running back Jarvion Franklin is a rising name in the recruiting world. He's a big, physical back who ran well in San Antonio.
Two prospects from Montini have Division-1 ability and size in defensive end Dylan Thompson and wide receiver Simmie Cobbs. Evergreen Park's Jacquet McClendon is another big receiver who is getting college looks but is still waiting on his first offer. Gary West Side's Jon Vea Johnson is a speedy slot receiver, and Joliet Catholic's Henry Jones is a 6'3, 205-lb youngster with NFL bloodlines.
The quarterbacks include Sean McGuire, coming from Wisconsin for the Showcase, along with Thornton's Jowhan Brown, and Marmion Academy's Brock Krueger.
The offensive line group should be a good one. J.B. Butler and Zach Novoselsky have been receiving interest from a number of schools, as is massive Chase Gianacakos, who had a good showing down in San Antonio as well. Kirk Barron is coming in from Indiana and is a pancake machine hearing from schools coast to coast. Those linemen will be facing a good crop of defensive linemen including Crete-Monee's 6'5 Chris Slayton.
Safety Greg Taylor is coming from East St. Louis, where he had a big junior year as a defensive back, running back and slot receiver. He's joined in the secondary by Alim Muhammed, a Missouri product and Trent Sherfield, who played quarterback at Danville, but is athletic enough to project to defensive back as well.
The running backs are lead by East Chicago's Martayveus Carter, a prospect we believe will end up picking up some offers, along with James Butler of Bartlett, who had a big sophomore season.
The Young Guns
We are going to be looking at the next crop of guys too, and there are some good young prospects coming through.
Dre Brown, a running back from DeKalb already has a couple of offers. We think Benet quarterback Jack Beneventi, a 6'5 kid who had a great season this year, could be a BCS guy as well. Brett Gasiorowski of Glenbard North is another big young quarterback at 6'4 and is creating some early buzz.
Lincolnshire Stevenson's Cameron Green and Montini's Leon Thornton are both good sized, athletic young receivers.
Jack Shutack of Nazareth and Trevor Ruhland of Cary-Grove are both offensive linemen to watch for. Shutack is a long, lean kid with good athleticism, where Ruhland, an Iowa legacy, is technically sound and a real mauler in the trenches.
Mount Carmel cornerback Marquise Peggs and Fenwick's Aaron Garland are two defensive backs to watch along with Wisconsin product Elijah Strong.
In the 2016 class, Erik Swenson has been a known prospect since middle school, and after the way he played as a freshman, the 6'7, 280-lb offensive tackle is living up to the hype. He has an early offer from Illinois. Running back Shurun Nunnery is coming in from Wisconsin.