Player of the Year: Laquon Treadwell

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When Laquon Treadwell arrived for the first day of summer camp after a successful freshman season at Crete-Monee, the coaching staff informed him he was no longer going to play quarterback.

“I didn’t see it coming,” Treadwell, looking back more than three years later, said. “I was the quarterback my freshman year and had worked hard and trained to be quarterback.”

Initially, the coaching staff moved him to defensive back.

“That didn’t work out,” Treadwell said.

He then was shifted to receiver which, while more comfortable than defensive back, wasn’t an immediate hit.

“We went to a seven-on-seven camp at St. Xavier and I dropped like four passes,” Treadwell recalled. “But after that, it started clicking.”

And the rest, as they say, is history.

The 6-foot-3, 200-pound receiver is one of the most sought-after uncommitted receivers in the college world.

It’s no wonder. He has 75 catches for 1,339 yards and 15 touchdowns. His athleticism, speed and sure hands make him a terror to defend.

He’s also rushed 28 times for 164 yards and six more TDs.

Yet, his contributions this season are not limited to offense.

Treadwell has 43 tackles, two sacks and five interceptions at free safety. And he’s kicked 32 extra points on the season.

The contributions add up to Treadwell being named the Pepsi-Cola/SouthtownStar 2012 Football Player of the Year.

“This is a blessing,” Treadwell said. “There’s a lot of talent out here. I know the hard work is paying off.”

Treadwell amassed his huge receiving numbers despite drawing double-teams on most game nights.

It’s been quite a transformation since his first day lining up at receiver.

“I’m happy with the decision the coaches made,” Treadwell said. “They saw something in me that I didn’t see.”

Ironically, when Treadwell was playing quarterback for the University Park Lions youth football team, his coaches told him he should be a receiver.

“They said, ‘You’re a good quarterback, but you’d be a great receiver,’ ” he said.

Treadwell recently bumped into one of his old Lions coaches who has watched his transformation from quarterback to nationwide phenom at wide receiver.

“Coach ‘V’ is what we call him and he said, ‘I told you,’ ” Treadwell said. “We laughed about it.”

There’s nothing funny about the amount of interest Treadwell has garnered from colleges. Nearly every top program in the country has inquired about his services.

While he hasn’t committed, he has narrowed his choices to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Michigan, Michigan State and Mississippi.

He’s in no hurry to make a decision.

“Once I finish taking my official visits and see where I fit in the best, I’ll make a decision,” he said.

The only thing on Treadwell’s mind these days is helping Crete-Monee to the Class 6A state championship.

The Warriors take on undefeated Cary-Grove at 1 p.m. Saturday in Champaign.

“I’m going to push this team to the limit all week at practice,” Treadwell said. “We’ve got to battle hard and get off to a quick start.”

Crete-Monee coach Jerry Verde said Treadwell’s competitiveness, combined with his enormous skills, is what separates him from the competition.

“He has all the tools but his competitive drive is incredible,” Verde said. “When he loses in a drill at practice, he’s upset. He’s also extremely knowledgeable. He can run our entire offense and defense and make adjustments.”

Did Verde envision Treadwell developing into an elite receiver when he pulled him away from quarterback?

“We thought he would make a bigger impact at receiver,” said Verde, with a laugh. “I mean, to say I knew he would develop into what he is now, I don’t think you could ever imagine it. I mean, just about every big-time college has contacted him.

“He always had the tools. He was special when he was a freshman. He’s the best player I’ve ever coached and that includes my days at H-F (as an assistant coach). He’s unbelievable.”

Treadwell by the numbers

Catches: 75

Yards: 1,339

Touchdowns: 15

Carries: 28

Yards: 164

Touchdowns: 6

Completions: 1

Pass attempts: 2

Yards: 61

Touchdowns: 1

Tackles: 43

Sacks: 2

Interceptions: 5

Extra point kicks: 32

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