Nobody is having a bigger impact on high school football in the Windy City area than Core 6 Athletes.
LB Clifton Garrett is one of two Top50 2014 prospects expected at the Core 6 Athletes Winter Showcase.
And with each passing year, Core 6 Athletes sees its reach grab farther and farther away from its home base nestled in the Chicago suburbs.
That was evident last Sunday when 140 top high school football players preregistered to compete for a spot on one of Core 6’s summer 7-on-7 teams.
The type of professional product President/CEO Paul Szczesny and his staff have will also be on display on Martin Luther King Day, Jan. 21, in the form of the third-annual Core 6 Winter Showcase to take place at Westmont (Ill.) Yard. 247Sports will be on hand to cover the event.
Many of the area and state’s top prospects have been regular clients at Core 6 over the last three years including James Adeyanju (Wisconsin), Dan Voltz (Wisconsin), Faith Ekakitie (Iowa), David Smith (Oklahoma), Jack Lynn (Minnesota), five-star receiver Laquon Treadwell (undecided), Ethan Pocic (LSU), Logan Tuley-Tillman (Michigan), Colin Goebel (Iowa), Jalen Banks (Vanderbilt), Demetrius Cooper (Michigan State), Reggie Spearman (Illinois) and Kendrick Foster (Illinois). Each have honed their crafts under Szczesny’s group with guys like Tuley-Tillman and Foster making a four-hour round-trip drive to get in their training sessions. Others come from 45 minutes to an hour away from various suburbs to compete.
Many of the names listed above matured into national recruits following regular training sessions at Core 6. Several more have gone on to play major college football, or evolve into MAC conference signees. Almost every client plays on the next level in some capacity.
“It all comes down to coaching,” Szczesny said. Joining him on his staff, former Kansas State quarterback Grant Gregory, former high school and college All-American Mike Jones who played at Iowa, and former Illinois receiver Chris James. Szczesny himself played linebacker at Indiana.
“I think we have one of the best staffs. Some of the coaches we have could easily be coaching at the college level. Then there is obviously the competition. We try and recruit the best guys. That’s been the same thing from day one. Guys knowing any day they come for a training session or event, they have an opportunity to compete against the best and maximize their exposure.”
As soon as football season ends, Szczesny and his guys get to work. Athletes come through the doors Sunday through Thursdays. A typical day at Core 6 has clients working on their acceleration, quickness, explosiveness and power. They also get position work and the staff breaks down their film from the season. Workouts begin bright and early, regularly scheduled at 6 a.m.
OT Jamarco Jones is the other Top50 2014 prospect that works with Core 6 Athletes.
“Our job at the end of the day is to make sure we’re maximizing potential,” Szczesny said. “We’re trying to build a college atmosphere where they’re competing and getting some guidance regarding college football. Guys are waking up early, the same thing you have to do in college. Come in and compete, that’s what we’re trying to build here.”
Last year’s 247Sports MVPs from the Core 6 Winter Showcase went to USC running back commit Ty Isaac and Pocic. There will be steep competition for that award this go-round as prospects from Indiana, Wisconsin and Missouri will also travel in for the event.
Linebacker Clifton Garrett and offensive tackle Jamarco Jones are rated as Top50 prospects according to 247Sports. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Garrett attended the Showcase last year and had zero offers at the time. A full year later, he’s considering scholarships from the likes of Ohio State, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Nebraska, Ole Miss and Wisconsin. The 6-foot-6, 290-pound Jones has offers from all of those schools as well as Florida, Michigan and Vanderbilt among others.
The Next Wave
Garrett and Jones won’t be the only guys from Core 6 to be recruited nationally in the 2014 class. Tight end Ian Bunting has scholarships from Vanderbilt, Illinois and Purdue. His teammate at Hinsdale (Ill.) Central in Brian Allen is perhaps the Midwest’s top interior offensive lineman. Michigan State, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa and Purdue have offered. The Illini and Boilermakers have also offered Montini Catholic outside linebacker Nile Sykes.
At last year’s showcase, Northwestern Top247 pledge Tyler Lancaster along with his future Wildcats teammate Blake King, Notre Dame four-star commit Colin McGovern and Iowa State verbal Nick Severs were all prospects just beginning to make a name for themselves. Several juniors look to be headed down that same path heading into this year.
QB Jack Beneventi could be one of the nation's top signal-callers in the class-of-2015.
Downers Grove (Ill.) North outside linebacker/defensive end Vontae Diggs could soon see his recruitment erupt.
Tori Millender reports an early offer from Purdue. Quarterback Jake Kolbe recently scored his first offer from Toledo. Safety Matt Morrissey also has an offer from the Rockets. Illinois has extended a scholarship to receiver Jauan Wesley. Receiver Denzel Tolliver is on the board with a Northern Illinois offer.
Offensive linemen JB Butler, Zach Novoselsky and Kirk Barron who is traveling from Mishawaka (Ind.) Marian are all guys to watch. As are defensive lineman Dylan Thompson, running backs James Butler and Jarvion Franklin and quarterback JoWahn Brown.
As is the case every year, several new names will emerge.
Dekalb (Ill.) High sophomore running back Dre Brown has already seen offers come in from Illinois and Northern Illinois. Lisle (Ill.) Benet Academy sophomore quarterback Jack Beneventi is receiving personal interest from Notre Dame, Michigan State and Penn State among others.
In the 2016 class, Downers Grove (Ill.) South offensive tackle Erik Swenson could be a top-10 recruit nationally and already reports verbal offers from Illinois, Michigan and Notre Dame. The 6-foot-7, 285-pound Swenson will be in attendance but will not workout because of an injury.
The Next Step
Moving forward, Szczesny plans on taking his competitive Core 6 showcases national. Besides his annual Chicago event, this year he’ll have one in Cincinnati the weekend of Feb. 17. He’s also aiming for one in Arizona next year.