CCL/ESCC notes: Brother Rice’s Christian Pierce adds offers from Penn State, Michigan State, Texas A&M

Pierce grows impressive list as he prepares to return from injury

Brother Rice's Christian Pierce

Brother Rice’s Christian Pierce added three more Power Four offers to an already impressive list in the latest contact period. Penn State, Michigan State and Texas A&M all joined in the push for the top-ranked Class of 2025 linebacker in Illinois.

Pierce enjoyed the chance to talk to different coaches during the contact period the past couple of weeks as he progresses through his recruitment.

“It’s always a great time when coaches come through, you get to talk to them a little bit and get to know a little bit about every program,” Pierce said. “So it’s a good learning time about every school that comes through. I really enjoy it.”

Rivals lists Pierce as a four-star linebacker and the 10th best prospect in Illinois while 247Sports ranks him as a three-star, the 12th-best in the state. Pierce already held offers from schools like Ohio State, Texas, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa and Louisville.

Pierce is looking forward to getting back to full strength after missing most of his junior season after tearing his ACL against Marist in Week 2. He earned All-CCL/ESCC honors for a sophomore season where he finished with 100 total tackles, 11 for a loss, with four blocked passes.

While not playing with his teammates was tough, Pierce is excited to almost be fully cleared to get back on the field.

“It was a tough process, but it wasn’t something I couldn’t go through without the support of my teammates and my family,” Pierce said. “I was there for my team as much as I could be, helping them with everything they needed on the sidelines. It was a tough process but I got through it.”

Piece already made visits to Iowa, Louisville, Notre Dame, Wisconsin and is planning on visiting some of the schools that offered him during their spring practices. He also had a chance to watch his brother Trey win a national championship with Michigan.

“It’s always a great time when coaches come through, you get to talk to them a little bit and get to know a little bit about every program. So it’s a good learning time about every school that comes through. I really enjoy it.”

—  Christian Pierce, Brother Rice junior

Recruiting visits aren’t new for Christian Pierce, who made plenty of trips with his older brother during his recruitment. That recruitment helped prepare Christian and his family for his own. While there might be some jokes about joining Trey with the Wolverines, Christian appreciates the support to make his own decision.

“I learned a lot from my brother,” Christian Pierce said. “He helps me out with my recruiting process a lot. I really appreciate him in that aspect.”

Indiana, Michigan State latest to offer Nazareth’s Gabe Kaminski

Nazareth’s Gabe Kaminski added two more offers in the latest contact period. Michigan State re-offered with its new coaching staff while Indiana also joined the mix.

Kaminski already holds 18 offers from schools like Notre Dame, Michigan, USC, Wisconsin, Northwestern and Illinois and enjoyed talking to coaches during the latest contact period.

“It’s been great,” Kaminski said. “I’ve had a lot of coaches coming in to visit. I’ve just been focusing on recruiting a lot.”

Rivals lists the junior edge rusher as a four-star prospect, the ninth-best 2025 prospect in Illinois while 247Sports has him as a three-star, also No. 9 in the state. Kaminski had another impressive season, helping the Roadrunners win a second straight state championship while accumulating 132 tackles, 43 for a loss, with 19 sacks, two fumble recoveries and one interception.

He recently visited Illinois and Wisconsin the last two weekends, respectively. While Kaminski said he still needs to fully plan out where he’ll visit in the spring, he will plan on returning to Illinois, checking out Michigan State as well as Stanford.

Nazareth Academy’s Gabe Kaminski (5) tries to tackle York’s QB Sean Winton before getting a pass off during the second quarter on Friday Sep. 1, 2023, in Elmhurst.

Kaminski said he still needs to decide whether he’ll do a top-five list during this dead period that runs through March 3, but he’s hoping to take some official visits late in the spring and make a commitment in June.

Strong academics and a good football team are important factors for Kaminski during his recruitment, but he also wants a strong support system.

“As I build relationships with coaches, I see obviously who’s really interested in me as I get to talk more in depth with me,” Kaminski said. “I get to see what the school has to offer. It’s been great.”

Marist’s Brad Fitzgibbon gets more looks

Marist’s Brad Fitzgibbon knew it was only a matter of time before his hard work would get noticed. That time finally came in January when he earned his first Power Four offers from Wisconsin, Kansas State, Vanderbilt, Iowa State and Kansas.

“It’s nice getting the attention I feel like I’ve been missing,” Fitzgibbon said. “But now that I got it, I feel good about it. It’s been nice, really cool.”

Fitzgibbon added those offers after already holding some from Mid-American Conference schools like Bowling Green, Miami (Ohio), Central Michigan, Toledo and Buffalo. 247Sports lists the 6-foot-4, 280-pound defensive lineman as a three-star and the 25th prospect in the state. He finished his junior year with 10 tackles, seven for a loss, in five games, missing some time with a knee injury.

Fitzgibbon dedicated himself to getting up to 280 pounds, knowing that size would fit well with his ability to rush quarterbacks.

“To be rewarded for making that commitment to my body was really nice,” Fitzgibbon said.

He’s already visited Miami (Ohio), Toledo, Vanderbilt and Wisconsin and plans to go to Iowa, Michigan State and maybe Kansas State in the coming months.

Fitzgibbon is looking forward to building relationships with the different coaching staffs and seeing which one gels the most with his style.

“I want to learn what the personality of my prospective coach would be like,” Fitzgibbon said. “Whether that defensive line, defensive coordinator or even head coach. That’s something I look into.”

Loyola QB Ryan Fitzgerald’s patience pays off

Sometimes the lulls of recruiting can force an athlete to question whether the offer they hold was just a blimp on the radar. Loyola’s Ryan Fitzgerald started to feel that way after receiving an offer from Kent State in December but then had his recruitment go quiet for a month.

Fitzgerald quickly learned it wasn’t a fluke after Toledo, Northern Illinois, Bowling Green and Akron all offered in the last month.

“It’s very cool and it’s very humbling,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s cool to see ii growing up and now playing out in my life.”

Fitzgerald quickly got the attention of many college coaches after an impressive first season as the Ramblers’ starting quarterback. He threw for 2,056 yards and 20 touchdowns while rushing for 634 yards and 14 touchdowns, helping the Ramblers win their second straight state championship.

Recruiting isn’t foreign to Fitzgerald. His father Pat was the former Northwestern head coach and Ryan Fitzgerald was familiar with how the process works having watched from afar.

There have been times where Pat Fitzgerald has helped his son before a coach’s visit, telling his son that a coach might ask about something and look for something. But coaches reiterated to Ryan that his recruitment will not have anything to do with his dad or their relationship with him.

Pat Fitzgerald was fired in August amid allegations of hazing and enabling a culture of racism and served as a volunteer coach with the Ramblers this past fall.

“I use my knowledge of seeing from the past,” Ryan Fitzgerald said. “I really just want to have it be my own, not using my name and all that and the relationship I have with my dad.”

Ryan Fitzgerald has already visited Toledo, Northern Illinois and Iowa and is still working on setting up some visits during spring practices.

He’s looking forward to building relationships with the coaching staffs but also is curious to learn about how much freedom the quarterback gets in different offenses. He can make a lot of changes in Loyola’s offense and is curious to see how different offenses could work.

“It’s cool seeing how schools do things differently,” Ryan Fitzgerald said. “But it’s also just interesting to see how that’s run and how much success they have with that offense.”

Mount Carmel QB Jack Elliott’s recruitment takes fast turn

Mount Carmel quarterback Jack Elliott learned just how quickly recruiting can escalate in a matter of moments.

Elliott didn’t hear from many coaches until the last week of the contact period, when Northern Illinois, Yale and Bowling Green all offered in a span of a couple of days.

“It’s exciting,” Elliott said. “You don’t really know where your future is going to be at but having these opportunities is really good.”

Those three schools joined an offer list that includes Western Michigan, Kent State and Akron. Elliott is coming off an impressive junior season where he helped the Caravan win their second straight state championship. He threw for 3,148 yards and 34 touchdowns while also rushing for 847 yards and seven touchdowns.

Elliott has a visit to Northwestern planned in the Spring and said he’d likely visit other schools like Yale and Western Michigan.

Although he had to wait, Elliott is grateful that his hard work is paying off both on the field and in his recruitment.

“Now that it’s finally paying off, it’s rewarding,” Elliott said.