Glenbard North made it to the state semi-finals last year, and is poised to make another deep run this season as one of their top players, Justin Jackson, returns.
The speedy 5'11, 180-lb junior running back is not only one of the top players on the team, but in the state, and in the Midwest in the 2014 class. Panthers head coach Ryan Wilkens says he's special on and off the field.
"[What makes him special is] his quickness, his understanding of the game; those two in particular, and his competitiveness. I'd say those three are the keys. He's also a 5.0 student on a 5.0 scale. He has five honors classes. He's an exceptional student."
Wilkens has had many colleges inquire about his star player, and he has earned several early scholarship offers. More may come this year as Jackson shows more of his versatility.
"Illinois, Northwestern, Boston College, and Purdue have offered. He's taking it as it comes. He does a pretty good job of rolling with it. We've had quite a few schools come through, and a lot of guys want to see him this year at both positions. He started at DB all year, was an All-American defensive back, and at the end of the year, he played tailback during our playoff run. This year, he'll be our featured tailback and still play defensive back."
As far as where schools see him, Wilkens says, "Pretty split. He's being looked at as more of an athlete than anything else I'd say."
Right now, it's early, but several players in Jackson's class are already making commitments. That is not likely to happen with him, as he is staying patient and taking his time.
"He understands it's a process, and he's just going into his junior year. He'll wait until this season ends."
And like everything else he does, Jackson will handle the recruiting class with humility.
"He's a very good kid. He's constantly pulling for his friends. He's humble. He has his priorities set right and he understands academics are very important. He does things right."