March 31, 2023


CCL/ESCC recruiting notes: Loyola quarterback Jake Stearney commits to Colgate

Loyola quarterback Jake Stearney (15) passes the ball during the second quarter of the football game at Loyola Academy High School on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021.

Jake Stearney didn’t want to wait any longer to make his college decision.

The Loyola quarterback had spent a lot of time going through the recruiting process, selling himself to coaches from different schools. Even though he received a late offer from Bowling Green, Stearney knew he needed to take the opportunity that felt right and committed to Colgate on May 6.

“I just knew it was the perfect place for me, and if I waited, I would regret it in the future,” Stearney said. “It’s an opportunity you can’t miss.”

Stearney, a junior, visited Colgate on April 16 and knew right away that the campus felt like home. He liked interacting with the coaches and current players on the team and liked how seriously the school takes academics.

The quarterback also liked the familiarity Colgate coaches had working with Loyola players. Four different Ramblers have played at Colgate since 2012, including senior Marco Maldonando, who will join the team this fall.

Stearney held scholarship offers from Lindenwood, Northern Iowa, Colgate and Bowling Green, but was also in communication with schools like Miami (Ohio), Northern Illinois, Kent State, Holy Cross and Kansas.

Stearney was the CCL/ESCC Blue Offensive Player of the Year and earned all-conference honors. He threw for 2,179 yards, 19 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

“I could’ve easily waited for a bigger D-I, but this Colgate offer is perfect and ideal for me,” Stearney said. “It’s just an opportunity that I can’t miss. It’s going to be a great place for me.”

Marist’s Jamel Howard Jr. earns offers from Wisconsin, Illinois

Even though Jamel Howard Jr. had an inkling good news could be on its way, the Marist junior was still surprised to get Power-Five scholarship offers from both Wisconsin and Illinois on the same day.

The defensive line prospect had been in communication with coaches from both staffs for months, but Howard was excited that his hard work paid off when both schools offered May 6.

“I was really excited when I found out they were interested in me, but ever since then, we’ve been in contact,” Howard said. “I’ve just been working hard, doing everything they’re asking me to do.”

Howard went into his coach’s office where Wisconsin defensive line coach Ross Kolodziej offered him a scholarship. Right when Howard left the meeting, Illinois defensive line coach Terrance Jamison called and asked if Wisconsin beat him to it.

Jamison offered him a scholarship. ranks Howard as a three-star prospect, 21st in the state in its 247Sports Composite ranking. has Howard as a three-star, 27th-best in the state.

Howard has visited Wisconsin before for a junior day and plans to take an official visit to Madison the second week of June. He doesn’t have any other visits planned.

The junior still wants to make his decision some time before his senior season starts, but he’ll be motivated to keep working.

“Usually when something good happens, you don’t want to stop there,” Howard said. “I’m just going to keep pushing more and more that I’m getting the job done and getting my name out there.”

Timing everything for Nazareth’s Justin Taylor

Justin Taylor thought he was a few weeks away from making his college decision.

Then Wisconsin offered him a scholarship Wednesday.

The Nazareth junior wanted to wrap up his recruitment in the next few weeks and commit to a school he felt close and comfortable with, but with the Badgers offer, he’s glad he waited.

“It’s Wisconsin, one of the best schools in the Big Ten and how many kids they put in the league,” Taylor said. “Jim Leonhard being one of the best defensive coordinators in college football, it was crazy to me.”

Taylor had been in contact with Wisconsin outside linebackers/run-game coordinator Bobby April for the last couple months ever since Wisconsin visited Nazareth at the beginning of the spring evaluation period. He started to talk to defensive coordinator Leonhard a week ago.

Leonhard called Wednesday night and offered Taylor a scholarship.

The junior now holds two Power-Five offers from Wisconsin and Kansas State, on top of offers from Navy, Bowling Green, Toledo, Kent State, Ball State, Miami (Ohio), Northern Iowa, Eastern Illinois, Wyoming, Army, Western Illinois, Western Michigan, Air Force, Colorado State, Ohio and Holy Cross.

Rivals lists Taylor as a three-star athlete, 25th-best in Illinois.

Taylor will visit Wisconsin on Friday for an unofficial visit and then will return to Madison for an official visit the first week of June. He doesn’t know his timeline yet, but will make a decision once he and his family feel comfortable.

“It definitely put my name out there that I’m a guy who’s dynamic and can make plays,” Taylor said. “The fact that they believe in me boosted my confidence a little bit.”

Nazareth freshman Gabe Kaminski picks up early offers

One of Gabe Kaminski’s goals was to earn a scholarship offer by his junior season.

The Nazareth freshman had already earned his first offer at the end of his first month in high school.

Kaminski holds three Power-Five offers, the latest, from Illinois, came May 6, and is grateful to be in this position at such an early age but also knows he needs to handle the early attention correctly.

“Getting these offers early can be a blessing and a curse,” Kaminski said. “It’s a blessing because it boosts me, gives me motivation, but it can also strain you from the course. You just have to stay persistent.”

Kaminski didn’t expect to get many varsity chances during his freshman season, but when many teammates cramped up in their first game, Kaminski got a chance to play and has started since.

Iowa was the first school to offer in late September while Tennessee offered at the end of January. Kaminski went into his coach’s office during a free period May 6 and talked to Illinois head coach Brett Bielema for a long time. The Illini had visited Nazareth three times already, including that morning.

Kaminski has visited Iowa twice and also seen Wisconsin, Illinois and Notre Dame. He plans to camp at Iowa, Wisconsin, Notre Dame and Tennessee this summer.

He knows he’ll have a target on his back the rest of his high school career, which is just more motivation to work harder.

“I think I need to have a mindset that I’m going to have a target on my back, no matter what,” Kaminski said. “I just have to stay humble, act like none of this matters.”

Mount Carmel’s Darrion Dupree picking up offers

Darrion Dupree isn’t changing his approach even though he has six scholarship offers as a sophomore.

“I’m grateful for picking up these offers, but I’m still working for the season,” the Mount Carmel running back said.

Dupree holds offers from Missouri, Syracuse, Nebraska, Bowling Green and Miami (Ohio), with Connecticut being the latest to offer Thursday.

Rivals ranks Dupree as a four-star recruit in the Class of 2024, second-best in the state. 247Sports has Dupree as a four-star running back in its 247Sports Composite rankings, third-best in the state.

Dupree has already visited Iowa, Notre Dame and Illinois and wants to make more visits and see how programs approach things different. He’s expected to visit Missouri sometime this summer and might visit Georgia and Notre Dame too.

“I just continue to grind and I’m grateful to have these offers,” Dupree said. “It pushes me more to have more opportunities.”

Michal Dwojak

Michal Dwojak

Michal is an award-winning sports journalist based in Chicago. He most recently served as the sports editor of The Glenview Lantern and Northbrook Tower and is a graduate of the College of Media at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.