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August 25, 2011
In this two-week series, Rivals.com is taking a look at the high school football talent in rival regions - breaking down the best prospects, best teams and giving our vote for which area is superior.
TODAY'S MATCHUP: Chicago vs. Detroit
The case for Chicago
Chicago boasts one of the top three metropolitan populations in the country and the football tradition in the Windy City is littered with some of the game's greatest names. Legendary pros Dick Butkus and Mike Singletary have helped define Chicago as a hard-nosed and rugged town. The collection of talent in the region this year fits that description perfectly.
The strength of Chicago's 2012 class is on the offensive and defensive lines, from where six area prospects have been labeled four stars, including three ranked among the top 100 prospects in the country. The group is led by four-star defensive tackle Tommy Schutt of Glenbard West, who is ranked as the nation's No. 29 overall prospect.
Other four-stars on the defensive line include Lombard Montini Catholic tackle Jaleel Johnson and Lake Forest Academy end Faith Ekakitie. The offensive line is just as formidable, with Jordan Diamond, Dan Voltz and Ryan Ward all holding spots in the Rivals250.
The line positions in the Chicago area also feature depth. Mt. Carmel's Vontrell Williams, Orland Park Sandburg's Dan Feeney, Downer's Grove South's Scott Daly and Glenbard West's Johnny Caspers hold offers from, or are committed to, BCS schools. Additionally, Wheaton St. Francis' Kyle Bosch and Lemont's Ethan Pocic are two of the Midwest's top offensive linemen in the 2013 class.
Another position of strength in Chicago is running back. Northwestern commit Malin Jones of Joliet Catholic highlights a group that also includes his 2013 teammate, Ty Isaac, as well as three-stars David Smith of Bremen and Tevin Coleman of Oak Forest.
The area's top quarterback is Simeon's Robert Gregory, the top wide receiver is Lombard Montini Catholic's Jordan Westerkamp, the top linebacker is Bolingbrook's Antonio Morrison and the top defensive back is Crete Monee's Anthony Standifer.
The case for Detroit
Although Detroit's population has been famously decreasing the last couple decades due to the recession of the auto industry, the area's production of high school football talent has not declined. This year, the Detroit Metro area has four prospects ranked in the Rivals250 and nearly 50 total prospects currently claiming Division I offers.
A popular commercial touts Detroit's sense of style and luxury, and the Motor City certainly adds flare to the 2012 class with a collection of impressive athletes. The region's top talent exists mostly at the skill positions, but also sprinkles in several defensive front seven and line prospects to remain as a blue-collar town.
In fact, the top of the list is highlighted by two linebackers - Cass Tech's Royce Jenkins-Stone and Orchard Lake St. Mary's James Ross. True to form for the class in 2012, though, both are known as much for their outstanding athleticism as they are for their hitting ability.
The region's other two Rivals250 prospects are wide receiver Aaron Burbridge and cornerback Terry Richardson. Burbridge and Farmington Hills Harrison teammates Devin Funchess and Mario Ojemudia have each committed to in-state Big Ten schools. Richardson and Jenkins-Stone highlight a group of seven Cass Tech prospects with Division I offers, including Iowa commit Laron Taylor and three-star athlete Ruben Lile.
Topping the position rankings in the area are Warren De La Salle junior Shane Morris at quarterback, Martin Luther King's Dennis Norfleet at running back, Burbridge and Funchess at wide receiver and tight end, respectively, Plymouth's Robert Riche on the offensive line and Catholic Central's Matthew Godin on the defensive line.
The two Midwest cities are better known for their basketball talent, but hold their own on the gridiron. They have nearly the identical number of prospects boasting Division I offers, but Chicago is heavier at the top, featuring more Rivals250, Rivals100 and three-star prospects than Detroit. Most college coaches will tell you the game is won in the trenches, and Chicago has a decided advantage in that department as well.
A fantastic Lakes Region debate that would make for a great series of games each year would end in a split most seasons. But entering the 2011 football season it would not to be most years. The Motor City is a major player on the national scene this season while Chicagoland is expected to be in a bit of a downturn. Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech, Novi (Mich.) Detroit Catholic Central, Farmington Hills (Mich.) Harrison are the top of the Detroit totem pole and there are plenty of very good teams below that. For Chicago the best that it could throw into battle is Park Ridge (Ill.) Maine South. With Wheaton (Ill.) Wheaton-Warrenville South in a reload season; Chicago (Ill.) Mount Carmel and Lake Zurich (Ill.) High filling out the top of the state it is a clear advantage for Detroit this year.
- Dallas Jackson