Preps News

Top 20 impact players to watch in the IHSA State Football Playoffs

1 year agoEdgy Tim

The IHSA State Football Playoffs begin this Friday with Round 1 action.

Here are several top impact names to Watch in Class 8A through Class 5A from Round 1 games:

Class 8A 

Bolingbrook junior WR/DB I’Marion Stewart

Stewart has been a varsity starter for the Raiders and head coach John Ivlow since his freshman season. Stewart — who already has multiple Power 5 scholarship offers — has exceptional speed, wiggle and burst, shows impressive hands and has just incredible body control.

Lyons Township junior OL/DL Eddie Tuerk

Tuerk has been a never-leave-the-field grinder for the Lions this fall. Tuerk — who is also holding multiple Power 5 scholarship offers this fall — has the frame and potential to become an impact player on either side of the football at the highest level of college football.

Loyola Academy DE Brooks Bahr

Loyola has a ton of talent year in and year out, yet no one on the 2022 roster has as much of an impact on the opponents’ game plan as Bahr. Bahr — who is verbally committed to Michigan — is a versatile defensive linemen who can be moved all over the line if needed and provide consistent pressure and production for the Ramblers defense.

Lincoln Way East senior ILB Jake Scianna

Scianna is a rare three-year varsity starter for the Griffins and the leader of one of the top defenses in the state. Scianna — who has been drawing recruiting attention from multiple FBS schools — has a great football IQ and speed while his ability to read and react is high level. 

Naperville North junior WR/S Luke Williams

Williams is one of the top two-way players in the Class 8A state playoff field. Williams — who has offers from the likes of Nebraska, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin and Missouri — possesses impressive speed, athletic tools and plays both receiver and safety at a very high level.

Class 7A 

Mount Carmel senior QB Blainey Dowling

You’ll be hard pressed to find a quarterback in the Class 7A state playoff field who has had as much of an impact this season as Dowling. He made significant improvements in his overall game this past offseason, including adding more strength along with working on and improving his overall quarterback fundamentals. Dowling is drawing recruiting attention from various FBS and FCS schools this fall. 

Brother Rice senior DT Roderick “Trey” Pierce III

Pierce — who is still verbally committed to Wisconsin despite the recent firing of head coach Paul Chryst — was described by one opposing coach as “a monster inside and a kid we could not block.” He is also drawing more and more recruiting offers and attention since his senior season video hit college coaches’ inbox. Pierce has added new offers just this week alone from MIchigan State, Michigan and Auburn. 

Batavia senior RB/LB Tyler Jansey

Jansey has been a varsity starter for the Bulldogs since his sophomore season and is also playing running back along with anchoring the defense this season. Jansey — who is also committed to Wisconsin — has an impressive work ethic, a non-stop motor and his ability to improve each season has been impressive.

St. Rita senior ILB Matt Kingsbury

Kingsbury is truly an old school throwback inside linebacker who makes play after play for the Mustangs this season. Kingsbury — who was named as a Lawless Award winner in the Chicago Catholic League this week — has several FBS offers while schools such as Purdue, Wisconsin, Minnesota and others are taking another hard look at his senior season video this fall.

St. Charles North senior RB/LB Drew Surges

Surges is another two-way full-time starter who has undoubtedly been the North Stars’ go-to guy all season long. I’m impressed with his overall athletic ability along with his non-stop motor while seldom leaving the field. Surges is currently holding scholarship offers so far from both Air Force, Navy and several FCS schools this fall. 

Class 6A 

St. Ignatius junior DL Justin Scott

In a matter of months, Scott went from a slightly known name to Rivals.com’s No. 11 ranked player in the nation in the Class of 2024. Scott continues to learn the game, improve his overall craft and has the look, size and down-the-line potential to develop into a name you will hear about plenty on Saturdays very soon.

East St. Louis senior OL Miles McVay

McVay is verbally committed to Alabama and has been terrorizing opposing defensive linemen since his freshman season for the Flyers. He is ranked as a 4-star player by Rivals.com and leads an NFL-sized Flyers offense this postseason. 

Crete-Monee senior WR Joshua Franklin

Franklin has truly been money for the Warriors and head coach John Konecki over the past handful of seasons. Franklin — who is verbally committed to Western Michigan — has sprinter speed, incredible athleticism and he simply does everything well on the football field. 

Malik Elzy Simeon Image

Simeon senior WR/S Malik Elzy

Elzy — who recently decommitted from Cincinnati — is another high-level athlete and playmaker whose game has continued to develop and improve each and every season. He is already drawing new recruiting interest and offers from several high-level Power 5 schools. What has impressed me the most this season from Elzy is that he also plays safety for the Wolverines and he’s made the adjustment to playing defense look way too easy.

Chicago Kenwood junior DE Marquise Lightfoot

Lightfoot also just sort of popped up on everyone’s recruiting radar screen this past summer after having an impressive Rivals Camp performance. Lightfoot — who is 4-star ranked by Rivals.com — reminds me of former Morgan Park and Michigan State standout DE Demetrius Cooper at the same stage of his high school career.

Class 5A 

Morgan Park junior RB Tysean Griffin

The 4-star ranked running back could very well be the modern day Superman for all we know. Like Superman, Griffin is soft spoken off the field with a Clark Kent-esque personality and doesn’t seem to seek the spotlight or any real attention. Yet once Griffin hits the field…he changes. Griffin is a hard-nosed runner and athlete who’s capable of breaking open a game with every touch. Griffin already has early offers from the likes of Tennessee, Nebraska, Arkansas, Illinois, Missouri plus several others.

Nazareth Academy senior WR/DB Justin Taylor

Taylor has been a major impact multi-positional player and multi-year varsity starter for the Road Runners since his freshman season. Taylor — who is verbally committed to Wisconsin — has huge upside, already looks college-ready physically and will undoubtedly be an impact player.

Glenbard South junior WR Cam Williams

Williams started adding scholarship offers at the end of his freshman season at Glenbard South and the recruiting madness has never let up. Williams — who is already verbally committed to Notre Dame — has all the tools to become a major impact player for the Fighting Irish. He is already physically mature/college-ready on several levels. Williams plays receiver, safety and punts for the Raiders this season.

Kankakee senior WR/S Jyaire Hill

Hill is a 4-star ranked safety by Rivals.com and a multi-talented two-way standout player for the Kays and head coach Derek Hart this season. Hill — who already has his choice of Power 5 schools this fall — seems to be close to both Illinois and Missouri these days but he also seems to not be close to making a college decision for now. 

Morris senior LB Sam Reddinger

Reddinger — who is verbally committed to Northern Iowa — has been an impact player for Morris over the past two seasons. Reddinger has played both running back and linebacker this season and several FBS schools continue to keep tabs on his senior season. 

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