Gridiron greatness: Area players pick their colleges

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


PAGE 1 BR 8Photo by Jeff Vorva

Brother Rice quarterback Cam Miller will continue his career at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan.


One area football player will be coached by Tom Sawyer.

One will be heading to Princeton.

A handful will be heading to downtown Chicago to play for Robert Morris University. A few will be staying even closer to home at St. Xavier University.

And this is only the beginning.

The Feb. 3 national signing day passed with several area players making their football decision official. While there was plenty of pomp and circumstance surrounding that date, there are still a load of players who will be making their decisions in the coming weeks and months.

Here is a look at the signees so far:


The RedHawks finished second in the state in Class 8A and offensive lineman Brent Holder is heading to Princeton and running back Darshon McCullough is going to Eastern Illinois University.

 “I am so proud of these guys,” Marist coach Pat Dunne said. “They have worked hard in the classroom and on the field, and it’s exciting to see them take it to the next level. I know they will both do well. They are great representatives of Marist football.”

One player who still has to make his decision is Reporter/Regional Player of the year Brendan Saklitzky, a quarterback who threw for 3,705 yards and ran for 1,088 more and accumulated 47 touchdowns. There are several opportunities for him to play quarterback at a smaller school but the door is open for him to join a bigger school as a preferred walk on and change positions.

Brother Rice

Quarterback Cam Miller and offensive lineman Jelani Edmond will continue to be teammates. The pair   will head to Saginaw Valley State in Michigan.

St. Laurence

Quarterback Alex Martinez is heading to St. Xavier University while receiver Willie Walton will continue his career at Division II Wayne State.

Offensive lineman Alex Negoski is heading to the University of Wisconsin Stout.


Linebacker Ian Chladek is heading to Robert Morris University.

Wide receiver Avery Verble committed to Winona State University, which is coached by a man named Tom Sawyer who said the converted quarterback “will fit in with some of the great receivers of the past.’’


Linebacker Tim Houlihan committed to Robert Morris University and defensive back Joe Doyle selected St. Xavier University.


The Astros will send receivers EJ Rueck and Alec Hufstedler to Robert Morris University.


Tight end Josh Sterling signed up with Robert Morris University.

Oak Lawn, Chicago Christian and Evergreen Park did not have any signees last week but could have some commit in the coming weeks.

At St. Xavier, 13 players committed to the NAIA power.

Aside from Martinez and Doyle, defensive back Tim Walsh, a transfer from Loras College and a graduate of Evergreen Park High School, will join the Cougars next season.

Other signees are offensive lineman Reid Adams (from Michigan), defensive back Trevon Anderson (Bolingbrook), wide receiver Harold Davis (Joliet Catholic Academy), linebacker Felix Imbanga (Urbana), linebacker Demetrius (DJ) Mack (Rockford Guilford), wide receiver Mike Markasovic (Providence Catholic), defensive lineman Dimitrije Milutinovic (Glenbrook North), offensive lineman Mike Ribando (South Elgin),  linebacker Danny Saracco (Plainfield South) and wide receiver Chris Simmons (Nazareth Academy).

“We’re not quite done yet, but I’m ecstatic with our class so far,” said SXU football coach Mike Feminis.  “This group is loaded with speed and athleticism on both sides of the ball.  It’s not a secret where our bread is buttered (Chicago area), because it’s been our philosophy for 18 years.  Even getting a kid from Michigan (Adams) only happened, because of his coach’s Chicago-area connection to our staff.”

He boasted about his new players.

“Markasovic, Davis and Simmons are the next wave of big-time playmakers for us and Alex Martinez is a tough, gritty, dual-threat QB, who really fits our system.  He’s a local kid and a winner,” said Feminis.  “Saracco was one of the top linebackers in the Joliet area for the last three years and Imbanga is similar to Omar Salazar (current SXU linebacker), not very big, but makes up for it with quickness and toughness.  Both of these guys also have a great nose for the ball and are physical tacklers.  Mack is an intriguing talent, who we think can play outside linebacker or rush end.

“Anderson is a shutdown corner we targeted early in the process and we’re expecting him to help us immediately,” Feminis added.  “Doyle is a solid addition too in the secondary and Walsh came home after playing a year at Loras College, so we're anxious to see what he can do.  On the O and D-lines you’re looking at three kids (Milutinovic, Ribando and Adams), who are physically ready to compete and play at the college level.  I wouldn’t be surprised if all of them made an impact as freshmen.”