Football: Joliet Catholic’s Ty Isaac heads a sensational classJoliet Catholic Academy's #32 TY Isaac looks down field for some running room vs Nazareth Academy held at Memorial Stadium Joliet on Friday, September 30, 2011. | Larry Kane~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 20, 2012 9:32PM
College football coaches are getting ready to focus on the Class of 2013, and Illinois’ recruits may get as much attention as they have in decades.
“You’ve got [top] national schools that haven’t been here since the ‘80s,” said CBS College Sports recruiting analyst Tom Lemming, citing such marquee names as USC, Oklahoma, Florida, LSU and Miami.
Lemming thinks this group could rival the Class of 1986, which produced 141 major-college players. Notre Dame alone signed 10 of those players, eight of them from St. Rita and St. Laurence.
Josh Helmholdt, who covers the Midwest for Rivals.com, also is bullish on the current junior class.
“I’ve done this probably for 10 years,” he said. “This is maybe the most talent-rich group of Illinois prospects, especially at the top.”
There’s no question which player is at the head of this class: Joliet Catholic running back Ty Isaac, the reigning Sun-Times Player of the Year.
The 6-3, 215-pounder has played in the same backfield with current Illinois freshman Josh Ferguson and Northwestern recruit Malin Jones, and he looks to be the best of the bunch. Lemming has Isaac as the top running back in the country and the No. 8 player overall, while Rivals ranks him 18th nationally.
“That kid is one of the most unique physical specimens I’ve covered,” said Helmholdt, who saw Isaac play once last fall and then observed him in a January workout. “Ty does a great job of playing small. He’s so tough to tackle.”
Though they have different body types, Isaac brings to mind former NFL great Barry Sanders for Helmholdt. “His torso is going one way, his hips another, his legs a third,” Helmholdt said. “The knock that I’ve heard on him — is he fast enough? I think he’s definitely fast enough.”
What has helped Isaac’s cause most? Probably that he had arguably the greatest performance by a running back in Illinois prep history in the Class 5A final last fall: 26 carries for 515 yards and six touchdowns in a 70-45 loss to Montini.
“The state championship game made him go from blue-chip player to elite player,” Lemming said. “He’s remarkable.”
Though Isaac is the best player in the Class of 2013, he is hardly the only big-timer. The group also includes a pair of exceptional quarterbacks, a slew of quality offensive linemen and talent at a number of other positions as well.
One of the quarterbacks, Maine South’s Matt Alviti, became of the first players in his class to make a college choice when he committed to Northwestern last weekend. “Next to Isaac, he’s the most productive guy in the state,” Lemming said. “He puts the ball on the money every time.”
The other QB is Aaron Bailey, a 6-2, 215-pounder whose running and passing were key ingredients in Bolingbrook’s Class 8A title run last fall. Lemming compares Bailey to Thornton grad and long-time NFL standout Antwaan Randle El: “The kid is electric when the ball is in his hands.”
Among the premier offensive linemen are Lemont’s Ethan Pocic (6-6, 290), Lincoln-Way West’s Colin McGovern (6-7, 285), St. Francis’ Kyle Bosch (6-4, 275), Barrington’s Jack Keeler (6-7, 280) and Naperville North’s Colin Goebel (6-4, 270). McGovern has committed to Notre Dame, while Bosch has committed to Michigan.
Others who will draw plenty of big-time offers include Crete-Monee wide receiver Laquon Treadwell (6-3, 190), whom Lemming has pegged as the state’s No. 2 prospect behind Isaac; Thornton defensive back/receiver Jalen Banks (6-0, 190); and Glenbard West tight end Nathan Marcus (6-5, 215).
It all adds up to what figures to be a banner year for Illinois prep prospects.
“The more schools that come in, the more other kids are going to get offered [scholarships],” Lemming said. “Eighty to 100 will get offers; I think 50 have offers [already].”