Core 6 Reloads

Jack Hockaday

Another crop of Core 6 Athletes is set to sign their LOIs and move on to the college level, but there is plenty of young talent in the Chicago area ready to step up and make a name for themselves. Here are some of the youngsters who are making noise so far.

Every Sunday, Core 6 Athletes has been hosting 7 on 7 tryouts and workouts as well as training for linemen. While some of their top juniors like Flynn Nagel and Miles Boykin already have offers, there are also young and under the radar guys who may be on the verge of earning offers or kicking their recruitment into high gear.

Hockaday Makes Strides

Maroa-Forsyth's Jack Hockaday already had several BCS offers, some on the strength of his sophomore year, but Core 6 founder Paul Szczesney sees a different player as a junior, and that's saying something.

"He looked even better than last year. He did really well. He looked unbelievable in one on ones. He was right on the receivers and was doing really well."

The 6-foot-1, 205-pound linebacker's offer list includes Iowa, Illinois, Duke, Indiana and Nebraska.

Strong Up Front

Nazareth Academy's 6-foot-6, 275-pound Jack Shutack has impressed Szczesney and offensive line coach Mike Jones with not only his size, but ability. Szczesney believes offers may start coming for him during the next contact period.

Offers may still be a little ways off for a pair of sophomores, but the potential has already been seen in Nick Koenig and Kevin Armen. Koenig is a 6-foot-6, 310-pounder from St. Charles North who will step up on varsity and replace Michigan State commit Chase Gianacakos next year. While Armen (6-4, 260), who Szczesney says has "definitely stood out" is at Crystal Lake South.


There are several players at the workouts who have had to wait their turn at top programs, but are due to breakout over the next few months.

State champion Mount Carmel was lead by a strong running game that included Illinois commit Matt Domer, but Jaquan Buntyn is a 5-foot-11, 200-pound junior who flashed lots of ability this season when he received opportunities. In addition to Buntyn, Szczesney says cornerback Marquise Peggs is the "next big thing" at Mount Carmel. Peggs is a good sized cover man who should draw interest with his length and man to man skills.

Bolingbrook cornerback Armani McNulty has shown in workouts that Parrker Westphal was not the only Division-1 defensive back the Raiders had on the roster. McNulty has good size at 6-feet, 175-pounds and is one to watch in the offseason.

Crete-Monee has had several major prospects over the last couple years including SEC Freshman of the Year Laquon Treadwell. The Warriors have another big receiver working with Core 6 in Carlos Baker, who has a big 6-foot-6 frame and has made great strides in the Sunday sessions.

A group of highly recruited players lead Lombard Montini to the state title this year and returning for the Broncos next year will be physical safety Isaac Lane and athletic wide receiver Leon Thornton. Lane has tremendous size and although he was known as a hitter during the season, has shown coverage skills in 7 on 7. Thornton (6-2, 190) is a player Szczesney says is a safe bet to pick up offers even though none have come through just yet.

Fresh Faces

How about the group of freshmen Core 6 has assembled? Brother Rice wide receiver Ricky Smalling is a long, athletic kid who is making a lot of noise.

Providence Catholic's Martez Malone is already 6-foot-3, 180-pounds and has a bright future.

"Everyone's talking about him," Szczesney said. "He's done really well. He catches the ball really well. He's still improving his speed. He's only a freshman, but he's definitely a D1 kid."

Lincolnshire Stevenson's Henry Marchese is another big class of 2017 receiver to watch for.

"He's about 6'2 and watching him move around and catch the football, I think he's a D1 guy down the road."

Waking Up the Sleepers

A handful of juniors are making a name for themselves after not necessarily being firmly on the radar during the season.

One such player is Djogi Bumba, a 5-foot-11, 180-pound cornerback who has been coming all the way up from Urbana.

"He's really good. He came up the first time because he's teammates with Alex Beckman. We didn't notice him much, but the second time, he was one of best players out there, DB wise and overall. He had a huge day last weekend."

Addison Trail quarterback Mike Rybarczyk, Brother Rice wide receiver Marcus Jones are two others to watch. Rybarczyk is an athletic 6-foot-3 passer while Jones is a quick slot type.

Finally, Szczesney believes he has a major sleeper in Providence Catholic tight end Nate Vejvoda, who has a big frame (6'5, 210) and the athletic tools to be a major threat in the passing game.

In the 2016 class, Naperville Central cornerback Emmanuel Rugamba is a kid who Szczesney says has been on "everybody's top list of performers." Recommended Stories

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