High School: Player of the Year
An elite group of 20 players have put themselves in the running for ESPNChicago.com High School Football Player of the Year award after five weeks of play.
As of right now, Wheaton Warrenville South quarterback Reilly O’Toole is leading the pack. Over the coming weeks, check back at ESPNChicago.com to see how that changes as this list will be updated weekly with additions and subtractions and ultimately trimmed down to one player with the announcement coming at the end of the season.
Coming off a junior season where he helped the Tigers to a Class 7A state championship, O’Toole has taken his game to another level this year. He has the ability to throw short and long and remains accurate either way for the No .1-ranked Tigers. He’s committed to Illinois.
Last week: Completed 11-of-18 passes for 228 yards and three touchdowns in a 41-13 win over Naperville North. Wheaton Warrenville South improved to 5-0.
Season: 57-of-83 passing for 1,082 yards, 15 touchdowns and one interception; two rushing touchdowns.
2. Vernon Hills senior wide receiver DaVaris Daniels
Daniels’ future may be at wide receiver, but he does everything at the high school level. He passes, runs, catches, returns kicks and defends for the undefeated Cougars. He’s the state’s highest-rated college football prospect and just recently committed to Notre Dame.
Last week: Rushed for 27 yards and one touchdown, caught four passes for 70 yards and one touchdown, completed one pass for 13 yards and intercepted one pass in a 34-0 win over Antioch. Vernon Hills improved to 5-0.
Season: 4-of-6 passing for 71 yards and one touchdown; 10 receptions for 277 yards and four touchdowns; 203 rushing yards and five touchdowns; one punt return touchdown; three interceptions and one defensive touchdown.
3. Plainfield North senior running back Kapri Bibbs
Bibbs has been one of the season’s biggest surprises. A mixture of power and speed, Bibbs has been nearly unstoppable. He’s put up massive numbers despite missing the season’s first game. He’s committed to Colorado State.
Last week: Rushed for 340 yards and four touchdowns on 28 carries in 28-0 win over Romeoville. Plainfield North improved to 4-1.
Season: Rushed for 1,169 yards and 19 touchdowns on 119 carries.
Lifka is the Brian Urlacher of Illinois high school football. A combination of strength and mobility, Lifka finds a way to be around the ball wherever it may be. Against Glenbard North earlier this season, he made 18 tackles. He’s committed to Boston College.
Last week: Made 11 tackles, including one for a loss, in a 41-13 loss to top-ranked Wheaton Warrenville South. Naperville North fell to 3-2.
Season: 66 tackles, seven tackles for a loss, three sacks, three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery.
5. Elk Grove senior quarterback Nick Meyer
Few players mean as much to their team as Meyer does to Elk Grove. He does it in the air and on the ground as the Grenadiers’ quarterback, but he also is a starting defensive back. He rarely gets off the field, and his game doesn’t suffer for it. He’s uncommitted.
Last week: Rushed for 144 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries and was 10-of-17 passing for 116 yards and one interception in a 23-7 win over Buffalo Grove. Elk Grove improved to 4-1.
Season: 76-of-132 passing for 986 yards, 10 touchdowns and four interceptions; 603 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on 81 carries.
6. Lake Zurich senior running back Jacob Brinlee
Brinlee is a threat to break one whenever he touches the ball. There’s no running back in the state that needs as few carries as he does to pile up yards. His vision puts him into that elite category. He’s uncommitted.
Last week: Rushed for a school-record 281 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries in a 44-22 win over Libertyville. Lake Zurich improved to 5-0.
Season: 734 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on 57 carries; one receiving touchdown.
7. Schaumburg senior running back Shepard Little
Little sat out last season, but he’s making up for it this year. The Saxons have become a state contender thanks to the speed and vision of Little. He’s uncommitted.
Last week: Rushed for 174 yards and one touchdown on 29 carries and caught two passes for 24 yards in a 17-14 win over Fremd. Schaumburg improved to 4-1.
Season: 991 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on 120 carries; 10 receptions for 183 yards and two touchdowns.
8. Simeon junior quarterback Robert Gregory
Gregory showed signs last season that he could be a star quarterback. He opened the 2010 season with a bang throwing for three touchdowns and running for three more in an upset win over Simeon. Ever since, he and the Wolverine have been on a roll. He’s uncommitted.
Last week: Ran for 59 yards and three touchdowns and completed 1-of-8 passes for 10 yards in a 42-0 win over Curie. Simeon improved to 5-0.
Season: 34-of-61 passing for 530 yards and seven touchdowns; 497 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.
Akui made a push for the Player of the Year award as a junior after rushing for 1,870 yards and 31 touchdowns. He did all that despite suffering a couple of injuries. Also a state wrestling champion, Akui can run with power and speed despite his 5-6, 195-pound frame. He’s uncommitted.
Last week: Rushed for 146 yards and two touchdowns in a 42-21 win over Bishop McNamara. St. Rita improved to 5-0.
Season: 652 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on 132 carries.
10. Joliet Catholic senior running back Josh Ferguson
Ferguson has all eyes on him much like Wheaton Warrenville South’s Reilly O’Toole because he’s committed to Illinois. Ferguson has a knack for finding a hole and getting to the outside. He’s already broken a handful of runs this season.
Last week: Rushed for 243 yards and four touchdowns in a 57-0 win over Nazareth. Joliet Catholic improved to 4-1.
Season: 594 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on 57 carries.
11. Wheaton North senior quarterback Reece Butler
Butler was an emergency quarterback for Wheaton North last year and steadily improved while leading the Falcons on an unlikely playoff run. This season, he’s emerged as one of the state’s top quarterbacks. He excels because he knows his strengths and weaknesses. He’s uncommitted.
Last week: Completed 11-of-18 passes for 153 yards and rushed for 82 yards and one touchdown in a 21-13 win over West Aurora. Wheaton North improved to 5-0.
Season: 86-of-116 passing for 1,076 yards, 10 touchdowns and zero interceptions; 208 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
12. Glenbard West senior running back Nick Burrello
Opponents have to account for Nick Burrello in so many ways. He’s equally as good of a running back, wide receiver and kicker returner. He’s uncommitted.
Last week: Caught a 51-yard touchdown pass and returned a punt for a 60-yard touchdown in a 41-15 win over Proviso West. Glenbard West improved to 5-0.
Season: 542 rushing yards and six touchdowns on 58 carries; 12 receptions for 284 yards and one touchdown; 562 punt and kick return yards and two touchdowns.
13. Wheaton Warrenville South senior wide receiver Titus Davis
Davis has become one of the state’s top wide receivers after barely playing a season ago. With added confidence this season, Davis has become quarterback Reilly O’Toole’s favorite long-ball target. The two have hooked up for six touchdowns of 40-plus yards. He’s uncommitted.
Last week: Caught four passes for 86 yards and one touchdown in a 41-13 win over Naperville North. Wheaton Warrenville South improved to 5-0.
Season: 20 receptions for 507 yards and nine touchdowns.
14. Carmel junior running back Jordan Kos
Kos has had to share carries with Carmel’s other running backs for most of the season, but he has especially stepped up the last few weeks in the team’s narrow victories over Joliet Catholic and Marist. Kos has breakaway speed and has torched defenses with it this season. He’s uncommitted.
Last week: Rushed for 213 yards and one touchdown in a 20-16 win over Marist. Carmel improved to 5-0.
Season: 674 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on 76 carries.
15. Barrington junior running back Chase Murdock
Murdock is the type of back that just wears down defenses. Barrington gives him the ball time after time, and he picks up yards time after time. Murdock, who is 6-1 and 205 pounds, is uncommitted.
Last week: Rushed for 217 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries in a 38-21 win over Conant. Barrington improved to 5-0.
Season: 740 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on 132 carries.
16. Stevenson senior running back Joe Cassata
Cassata has taken the lead in Stevenson’s running game. Also a linebacker, Cassata, who is 5-11 and 200 pounds, is a combination of speed and power. He’s uncommitted.
Last week: Rushed for 102 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries in a 41-20 win over Lake Forest. Stevenson improved to 5-0.
Season: 594 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on 69 carries; six receptions for 84 yards and one touchdown.
No. 17 Crystal Lake South senior quarterback Drew Ormseth
Ormseth entered the season with high expectations and has lived up to them. Ormseth has shown off his ability to pass and run while helping the Gators to an undefeated record. He’s uncommitted.
Last week: Completed 5-of-8 passes for 156 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions and rushed for one touchdown in a 40-0 win over Dundee-Crown. Crystal Lake South improved to 5-0.
Season: 27-of-52 passing for 604 yards, eight touchdowns and one interception; 312 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
18. Mount Carmel senior running back Michael Banks
Banks has bounced around positions at Mount Carmel, but now has found a home at running back. With incredible speed, Banks is a defensive nightmare whenever he tries to get outside. He missed the Caravan’s last game. He is uncommitted.
Last week: Sat out a 35-14 win over De La Salle due to an injury. Mount Carmel improved to 4-1.
Season: 527 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 35 carries.
19. Loyola junior quarterback Malcolm Weaver
Weaver stepped in Loyola’s quarterback position this season and has taken off with it. He’s thrown for 200-plus yards in four games and has the Ramblers again competing for the Catholic League title. He’s uncommitted.
Last week: Completed 14-of-20 passes for 216 touchdowns and four touchdowns in a 35-0 win over St. Ignatius. Loyola improved to 4-1.
Season: 66-of-121 passing for 992 yards and 14 touchdowns.
20. Thornridge senior running back Mik’ail McCall
Thornridge isn’t having the season it hoped, but McCall is. McCall has shown game after game why he’s headed to play for Michigan State next season.
Last week: Rushed for 103 yards and two touchdowns in a 27-19 loss to Bradley. Thornridge fell to 2-3.
Season: 791 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns.