Bilyeu, Finnane top list of Elgin-area recruitsBartlett quarterback AJ Bilyeu verbally committed to play college football at Air Force last month. | Andrew A. Nelles ~ For Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 9, 2011 4:44PM
With high school football practices set to begin Wednesday, the 2011 season is quickly approaching.
On the recruiting front, several of the area’s top players are attracting interest from Division I and Division I FCS programs, and the future is coming into focus for a few seniors who have already received offers.
Bartlett quarterback A.J. Bilyeu made news last month when he verbally accepted an offer from Air Force, but he isn’t the only local player to catch the eye of coaches from the Mountain West Conference program.
Like Bilyeu, St. Edward lineman Evan Finnane was offered a full athletic scholarship to play at Air Force. Finnane hasn’t made a commitment yet as he is also expecting an offer from Army, where his older brother Shane made the team as a walk-on two years ago.
Evan Finnane has been a fixture on the offensive and defensive lines for the Green Wave during his high school career. He is being recruited as a defensive tackle after finishing with 59 tackles and six sacks during a junior season in which he was named to the All-Suburban Christian Conference Gold Division team.
“Evan has definitely worked hard and earned the respect that he’s gotten,” St. Edward coach Mike Rolando said. “It’s great to see at least one offer on the table for him, and I know there will be more to follow.”
Wisconsin ranks high on the list of other schools showing an interest in Finnane. The 6-foot-2, 260- pounder was invited to a camp by the Badgers, but whether that interest turns into a scholarship offer is yet to be seen.
For Bilyeu, who hopes to study to become a doctor in college, the recruiting process came to an end when he found a perfect fit with Air Force. While tuition to service academies is free to those who are accepted, the opportunity is there for Bilyeu to have his education paid for through medical school.
At 6-3 and 175 pounds, Bilyeu ranks as one of the top returning quarterbacks in the western suburbs. He garnered All-Upstate Eight Conference Valley Division honors as a junior when he completed 105 of 157 passes for 1,437 yards and 19 touchdowns.
With his college decision already made, Bilyeu can focus on the task at hand of guiding an offense that should help Bartlett compete for the UEC Valley title. Former Hawks quarterback Josh Hasenberg’s program records for career passing yards and passing touchdowns are also within reach for Bilyeu, who is going into his third varsity season.
“I think A.J. is pretty excited about going to Air Force,” Bartlett coach Tom Meaney said. “As for this season, if he stays healthy, he can break a lot of records.”
While Bilyeu and Finnane are the first local players to receive offers from a Division-I program, several other area standouts are on the recruiting radar.
St. Edward linebacker Luke Duffy is garnering interest from a number of Ivy League schools, including Harvard, Dartmouth, Princeton and Yale. The All-SCC Gold honoree led the Wave with 97 tackles last year as a junior.
Streamwood running back Alex Morrow spent the summer attending a number of camps at schools such as Iowa, Indiana and Penn. He has remained in contact with coaches from several schools, but doesn’t have any offers at the moment. Morrow ran for 759 yards and seven touchdowns as a junior and landed All-UEC River honors.
Elgin High’s Dennis Moore also had a busy summer on the recruiting camp circuit. He said he is getting significant interest from Northern Illinois and Drake, and he also recently made a visit to Ball State.
A two-way standout for the Maroons, Moore is being recruited as a defensive back after tallying 44 tackles and four interceptions and earning All-UEC River honors at the position as a junior.
“It’s always encouraging to have these schools looking at me and calling me,” Moore said. “It just makes me want to work harder.”
Last but certainly not least, South Elgin’s David Reisner seems like a safe bet to get an offer from a Division-I program.
One of the top kickers and punters in the region, Reisner is going into his fourth varsity season. He is a two-time Courier-News All-Area team member who averaged 58.3 yards per kickoff and 34 yards per punt during his junior season.
The All-UEC Valley honoree went to camps at Purdue, Illinois, Northern Illinois, Iowa State and Western Michigan. He also won a field-goal competition while attending a camp in Los Angeles for some of the top kickers in the nation.
Reisner says Illinois and Iowa State top his list of potential destinations, but for now he’s still waiting for formal offers.
“I’m hoping to get (an offer) before the season starts, but the college coaches I’ve been speaking to lately are not in a rush to make a decision probably until after their seasons are over,” Reisner said.
Summer get together
St. Edward wrapped up the end of its summer camp by hosting a 7-on-7 competition and lineman challenge under the lights July 29 at Greg True Field. Elgin High and Streamwood brought some more local flavor to the event, which also included Waukegan.
The Green Wave beat all three schools to win the 7-on-7 passing competition. St. Edward finished second to Waukegan in the lineman challenge, but Finnane blew away the field in the bench press when he completed 30 reps at 185 pounds.
“The booster club was out there and they had the concessions going full force,” Rolando said. “It was a really good time.”