CCL/ESCC recruiting notes: Loyola’s Donovan Robinson picks up first Power Four offers

Iowa State, Virginia, Arizona all offer the Rambler

Loyola junior Donovan Robinson added his first three Power Four offers after an impressive junior season with the Ramblers.

Loyola junior Donovan Robinson always believed he could play at the highest level of college football. All he needed to do was put in the work to get there.

Robinson is one step closer to fulfilling that belief after earning Power Four offers from Iowa State, Virginia and Arizona.

“I’ve always known since I was a little kid that I could play at that level, play with the competition at the Power Four level,” Robinson said. “It was just a good feeling.”

Robinson is coming off an impressive year where he helped the Ramblers win their second straight state championship. He finished with 36 tackles and five pass breakups in Loyola’s secondary. 247Sports lists Robinson as a three-star athlete in the Class of 2025, the 23rd-best prospect in Illinois.

Virginia became the first Power Four school to offer Robinson in early February before Iowa State joined a day later and Arizona followed later in the month. Robinson holds a total of 13 offers, including those from other Division-I schools like Army, Western Michigan, Toledo, Bowling Green, Wyoming and Northern Illinois.

The Cavaliers have made a good early impression on Robinson.

“I like the coaching staff,” Robinson said of Virginia. “It was one of the schools that I got to visit, so I got to see what everything was about.”

He also visited Iowa State, Western Michigan and Missouri and his upcoming months will be filled with visits. Robinson plans on checking out Minnesota, Michigan State, Illinois, Washington and Nebraska.

I’ve always known since I was a little kid that I could play at that level, play with the competition at the Power Four level. It was just a good feeling.”

—  Donovan Robinson, Loyola junior

Some schools view Robinson as a safety but most think he can play linebacker collegiately. He’ll play safety as a senior for Loyola and is excited to keep building toward a dream he knew he could achieve.

“It feels like a dream come true to get to this point,” Robinson said. “I realize now that I have what I have, I still have to work hard to get to the next level and keep going.”

Friars’ Paris builds offer list

Fenwick junior Jack Paris has come a long way since receiving his first collegiate offer.

Paris couldn’t remember a single thing from his meeting with Toledo after the Rockets offered him because of how excited he was. He’s gotten used to the process 12 offers later, but it still feels surreal each time a coach says the word offer.

“It’s been great,” Paris said. “I’m really happy because it shows the hard work is paying off the last couple of months. I’m really happy about it.”

Paris, a linebacker prospect, has continually been picking up offers since the calendar flipped to 2024. Toledo was the first to offer in January and others have followed suit, including a Power Four offer from Vanderbilt. He also holds Division-I offers from Army, Navy, Akron, Ball State and Wyoming.

247Sports lists Paris as a three-star prospect, the 39th-best in Illinois Class of 2025. Paris earned All-CCL/ESCC honors for his junior season after finishing with 68 tackles, 13 for a loss, and nine quarterback hits in the Friars’ secondary.

College coaches have mostly recruited as a linebacker but some safety coaches want him to play in the secondary. Paris plans on growing his weight to 230 pounds and playing linebacker as a senior for Fenwick. But in college, he’s fine to play anywhere coaches need him.

“Wherever you want me to play, I’ll play,” Paris said. “I believe I can cover any athlete on the outside and disrupt any run game.”

Paris has only visited Northwestern but plans on checking out Vanderbilt, Toledo, Wyoming, Virginia, Minnesota, Northwestern and Purdue in the next few months. Vanderbilt, Toledo and Wyoming have shown the most amount of interest in Paris early in his recruitment.

Paris doesn’t have a timeline for when he’ll make a decision but knows he’ll be looking at the coaching staff and how a school feels when he makes his visits in the spring.

“A huge thing for me is the culture in the school and the football program,” Paris said. “Culture is a huge thing for me.”

Caravan’s Jones adds Power Four interest

For the past two or three years, Braden Jones has woken up at 5 a.m. almost every single day. Each morning, he trained in order to achieve his dreams of playing collegiate football.

That hard work paid off last week when Jones, a Mount Carmel sophomore, added three Power Four offers from Auburn, Wisconsin and Notre Dame.

“I never expected to be in this position,” Jones said. “This really did catch me off guard. I’ve been working for a while but I didn’t expect it to come this fast.”

Those three joined Iowa State and Nebraska, who had offered earlier this year, along with Akron. At 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds, Jones turned some heads this past fall with his ability to rush quarterbacks and stop running backs as an edge rusher.

Jones said all three of his latest offers caught him by surprise in some way. He had been in contact with both Auburn and Notre Dame while the Badgers offered out of the blue.

Jones hasn’t visited any schools yet but is planning to go to Notre Dame on April 6 and maybe visit Wisconsin later in the spring.

“I’m hoping to learn more about the school’s history, a little bit about their coaching staff and how they do at their job,” Jones said.

In the meantimes, Jones will continue to do what’s gotten him to this unexpected point. After helping the Caravan win their second straight state championship this fall, he’s got all the motivation needed to keep up with those 5 a.m. mornings.

“Now that’s it showing off for me, it’s just like wow, this is what can happen,” Jones said. “If I can do more, what’s going to happen next?”

Ramblers’ MacPherson hard work paying off

Loyola junior Drew MacPherson has become a staple at the running back position for the Ramblers the last couple seasons, helping his team win back-to-back state championships.

College coaches have taken notice as MacPherson now holds 12 offers.

“It feels really cool,” MacPherson said. “I’ve always been a fan of college football. All the hard work throughout the years, it’s not done but it’s just showing.”

Army, Fordham, Illinois State, Akron, Ball State, Ohio and Miami (Ohio) were the latest schools to offer MacPherson in the new calendar year. They joined other Mid-American Conference schools like Kent State, Western Michigan and Northern Illinois.

MacPherson finished another strong season for the Ramblers this fall, rushing for 855 yards on 155 carries, with nine touchdowns. He also caught 515 yards on 28 catches.

He’ll have plenty of traveling to do in the spring after only visiting Missouri thus far. MacPherson plans on checking out Michigan State, Iowa State, Miami (Ohio), Iowa, Ohio and maybe Boston College and some team in the New York area.

While MacPherson doesn’t have a set timeline in place for when he wants to make his decision, he does know what he’ll be looking for during his visits.

“It really comes down to a relationship between the players and the coaches, not just what the coaches are going to tell you,” MacPherson said. “The players, what they’re thinking when they’re walking through, are they excited to see the coach. The family aspect of it, it is a close-knit group, which is what I look for.”

Spartans’ Willis strong junior season pays off

St. Francis junior Ian Willis wanted to put confidence in college coach’s minds with a strong junior season. He figured if he could do well in the fall, they’d start to believe in him like Willis believes in himself.

Willis caught 73 catches for 941 yards and 15 touchdowns this past season and coaches noticed. He added seven offers in the new year.

“That was really big for me,” Willis said. “I was excited to start picking up some looks.”

Marshall, Miami (Ohio) and Bowling Green all offered in January, Kent State, Northern Iowa and Buffalo joined in February while Illinois State offered last week. Willis is a three-star prospect according to 247Sports, the 54th-best junior prospect in Illinois.

Northern Iowa has shown the most interest in Willis’ recruitment while Miami (Ohio), Buffalo and Illinois State have all also shown strong interest. Willis has already visited Toledo, Miami (Ohio), Illinois State and Northern Illinois and said he’s planning on checking out Northern Iowa, Buffalo Bowling Green in the coming months.

Willis said he’d like to commit to a school sometime in the middle of the summer or near the start of the Spartans’ season. That could change if a coach wants to see the first three games of Willis’ senior season.

Before then, he’ll look for a school where he can quickly get some playing time, plays good programs and has a strong business school.

“Just a school that shows me a lot of love,” Willis said. “The receivers coach likes me a lot, the head coach that likes me a lot and a school that throws the ball a lot.”