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Beth Long’s football recruiting notebook

It’s no secret that keeping top talent in-state will be one of the biggest focuses for Illinois coach Lovie Smith.

So far, he’s done just that. The latest name to have joined the list is Huntley senior defensive end Olalere Oladipo, a 6-4, 235 pound athlete who is best defined by his pure, raw potential. Just ask first-year Red Radiers coach Matt Zimolzak.

“The thing that make him special is that he is a natural athlete,” Zimolzak said. “He was a three-sport athlete last year in football, basketball and track and he’s gifted in that way. He perseveres, he wasn’t really good at receiver and we convinced him to give defensive line a shot last year. He went after it and worked really hard at getting good at it.”

In just a year, Oladipo went from trying to find his niche on the field to committing to Illinois.

“I am going to play defensive end and I am very excited,” Oladipo said. “I am having a lot of fun playing defensive end and I feel like I am able to use more of my skills to play defensive end rather than defensive tackle. I have more room to work with and I am looking forward to the season and wreak havoc on the field.”

As for his college choice, Oladipo held a simple commitment ceremony with his teammates, friends and family at Huntley and made his choice by selecting an Illinois hat from his final three of Illinois, Indiana and Penn State.

“I am feeling great,” Oladipo said. “It is a big weight off my chest. I feel like I can focus on my senior season and have a great year. Picking up the hat was crazy. I can’t really describe the feeling that went through my body. It was a sigh of relief almost. It’s been a long seven, eight months and now it’s happened.”

Oladipo joins Brother Rice senior wide receiver Ricky Smalling, Marian Catholic quarterback Cam Thomas, St. Rita linebacker Marc Mondesir, and Bolingbrook senior athlete Kendall Smith as class of 2017 commitments for Illinois.

Names to watch

Oak Park-River Forest is off to a fast 2-0 start to the season, thanks to a roster full of talented athletes. Senior all-around athlete Eddie Gorens (6-4, 210 pounds) has been a big part of that. There isn’t much that Gorens hasn’t done this season. He’s lined up at defensive end, wide receiver and even running back for the Huskies.

“I have been working out all summer because I knew that I would be all over the field,” Gorens said. “I’ve been making sure I was ready to go for games for months. As for recruiting, I went to a Ball State camp, they were showing a lot of interest in me and I went to a Northern Illinois camp and they were as well.”

Another athlete to keep an eye on is Loyola quarterback Tommy Herion. After a fast 2-0 start, the 6-1, 180 pound senior is focused on what’s to come.

“Recruiting is going pretty well,” Herion said. “I’ve been talking with a lot of the same schools that I have been all summer. I’m going to send out [tape of] my first two or three games and wait to hear back. I’m just focused on Mount Carmel this week though. Everything else will take care of itself.”