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Football notebook: Naperville Central’s Jaden McGill has a decision to make, Dontrell Jackson commits

Football signing day is on Dec. 16. And Jaden McGill, the state’s top uncommitted senior, still has to figure out not only where he will play college football but also at what position.

Jaden McGill (6) stiff arms Glenbard West’s Greyson Metz (7) back in 2018.
Jaden McGill (6) stiff arms Glenbard West’s Greyson Metz (7) back in 2018.
Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

Jaden McGill has some important decisions to make and not a lot of time to make them.

Football signing day is on Dec. 16. And McGill, the state’s top uncommitted senior, still has to figure out not only where he will play college football but also at what position.

McGill started the past two seasons at quarterback for Oak Park. But if there is an Illinois prep football season this school year, the 6-foot, 180-pounder will be playing for Naperville Central after transferring.

The 247Sports.com recruiting website gives McGill three stars and its composite rankings have him No. 38 in Illinois and No. 119 nationally among athletes in the class of 2021.

That seems apt, given that he’s being recruited at three different positions.

“I’ve been in touch with Western Michigan,” McGill said. “They want me for quarterback. ... Southern Illinois has been on me a lot, they like me at wide receiver. ...

“Since I’ve been in Naperville, my coach reached out to Purdue, he reached out to Michigan State. They wanted some more evidence of me playing (cornerback).”

Michigan State is one of McGill’s Power Five offers along with Kansas State. He also has seven offers from Mid-American Conference schools, as well as one from Navy.

His timetable, like so many other people’s, has been turned upside down by the pandemic.

“In the spring, I had so many visits lined up,” McGill said. “My original plan was to make a decision in June or July.”

But with in-person recruiting shut down, he’s found the process much tougher to navigate.

“It’s been virtual visits only, over the phone,” McGill said. “It’s been hard to get a feel for schools over the phone. ... I felt when I was going to go and visit, I was going to be set up perfectly to make a decision in the summertime.”

With COVID-19 cases surging in Illinois and the prep football season currently scheduled to start with practice in February, McGill isn’t sure when he’ll get back on the field.

“I wish we could have played like Indiana in the fall,” he said. “Seeing how basketball is playing out (with the season indefinitely postponed), that got me kind of scared.”

What has him excited, though, is the prospect of suiting up for the Redhawks, who are loaded with star power on the offensive side of the ball.

McGill’s teammates include a pair of four-star prospects: senior quarterback Sam Jackson. who is committed to Purdue, and junior receiver Reggie Fleurima.

“I’m around guys that love to play football,” McGill said.

They’re just hoping to have the opportunity to do so before the school year is over.

Marist’s Dontrell Jackson takes action

It may look like Marist quarterback Dontrell Jackson Jr. went with the hot hand when the junior committed to Coastal Carolina earlier this week.

The Chanticleers (7-0) are one of college football’s breakout programs in this pandemic year, owning the only perfect record in the Sun Belt Conference and snagging a No. 15 ranking in the current AP Top 25.

But this commitment is about what Coastal Carolina did off the field, rather than on it.

“I just felt it was the best situation for me,” Jackson said. “That program has been the No. 1 program to show the most interest, most love to me. They offered before the season even started. (This year’s success) didn’t really play a big factor in it.”

Rivals Midwest recruiting analyst Josh Helmholdt isn’t surprised to see Jackson make his choice now.

“The quarterback market is going to be really interesting for the 2022 class,” Helmholdt said.

With uncertainty surrounding how many scholarships are going to be available because of players getting an extra year of eligibility amid the pandemic, “a lot of guys are going to pop early,” Helmholdt said.

For Jackson, a three-star prospect with an Illinois offer among others, it helps that the Chanticleers have a system that can showcase his strengths.

“They run a lot of option, but mainly spread,” Jackson said. “I feel like their offense is a perfect fit for me.”