Football notebook: Marist’s Pat Coogan piling up offers, Notre Dame offers Sam Jackson, Rolling Meadows’ new coach

Pat Coogan, a 6-5, 275-pound offensive lineman, has more than 20 offers, and they’ve been coming in fast and furious lately.

SHARE Football notebook: Marist’s Pat Coogan piling up offers, Notre Dame offers Sam Jackson, Rolling Meadows’ new coach
Marist lineman Pat Coogan.

Marist lineman Pat Coogan.

Provided photo

Though sportsremainon hold along with the rest of everyday life, recruiting goes on.

And forMarist junior Pat Coogan, the pace is faster than ever.

The 6-5, 275-pound offensive lineman has more than 20 offers, and they’ve been coming in fast and furious lately.

On March 26, it was Notre Dame. On Monday, Ohio State. On Wednesday, Oklahoma and defending national champ LSU.

It’s been a heady time for Coogan, a three-star prospect ranked sixth among Illinois juniors by Rivals.com and 36th nationally among offensive tackles.

He thinks back to when this all seemed so far away.

“Whenever I watched a college game ... I didn’t think it was a real possibility (to play at that level),” Coogan said.

In fact, his ceiling just last year was to play varsity as a sophomore.

“I thought that was the biggest thing ever,” Coogan said.

He started all 13 games for the Class 8A semifinalists and by midway through the season felt like he belonged. Then, a few weeks after the season ended, Coogan was called into Marist coach Ron Dawczak’s office.

“(Illinois coach) Lovie Smith was standing there,” Coogan said. “That was the first (college) coach I ever shook hands with.”

Anothermilestone was Kent State becoming the first school to offer him a scholarship.

“It was really a relief for me,” Coogan said. “Everybody kept telling me to be patient, it’s coming, it’s coming.”

Now the list reads like a who’s who of the Power Five leagues: Arizona, Stanford, California, Michigan, Oregon and on and on.

Why so much interest? It’s Coogan’s versatility, according to Josh Helmholdt, who covers Midwest recruiting for Rivals.

“What I really appreciate about Pat Coogan is he could legitimately play all five positions on the line,” Helmholdt said. “You look at him as a player and he’s really solid. He may not have the ceiling, the upside of the higher-rated guys. But he has a very high floor.”

Coogan was able to make some college visits before live recruiting was shut down, but has had others canceled in the wake of the stay-at-home order. His goal has been to commit before the start of his senior season.

“People always tell me, when you know, you know,” he said, “It could be tomorrow.”

In the meantime, he’s staying busy with e-learning and working out six days a week in his basement.

The enforced separation from his teammates is tough. “We have a good bond,” he said. “We have group chats, group FaceTime to keep on talking and keep on building.”

Meanwhile, the offers keep coming.

More Irish interest

Notre Dame, which already has a commitment from Bolingbrook safety Justin Walters in the class of 2021, also has offered Naperville Central quarterback Sam Jackson.

Helmholdt also is high on Jackson, a 5-11, 170-pounder who decommitted from Monnesota.

“Interesting ... playmaker kid,” Helmholdt said. “He has the versatility about his game. I’m not sure where he fits. ,,,

“He has unique skills. He’s so explosive. He’s a guy, you want to get the ball in his hands early and often. (And) with that athleticism he could fit well at cornerback.”

Rivals gives Jackson three stars and ranks him 17th among Illinois juniors, 43rd nationally among athletes (the designation for players with the potential to play multiple positions).

Closer to home

Sam Baker liked his head coaching job at Grayslake North and wasn’t looking to leave.

But when Matt Mishler resigned after nine seasons at Rolling Meadows, Baker — who lives in Fox River Grove — leaped at the opportunity.

“I had my short list of jobs that were a shorter distance and better programs,” Baker said. “Meadows was the top one.”

Now Baker has the task of continuing the tradition built by Doug Millsaps and Mishler, who between them guided the Mustangs to 16 playoff berths in the last 17 years. Mishler was 72-25 with undefeated regular seasons in 2016, ‘18 and ‘19 and a trip to the 7A semifinals last fall.

“It’s what you look for as a coach — the culture of the kids and people there,” said Baker, who was 24-17 with two playoff berths in four seasons at Grayslake North.

With 39 seniors graduating from the semifinal team, Baker said. “in theory it’s going to be a rebuilding year.”

But there are decent numbers in the program with more than 60 juniors and sophomores. And Baker doesn’t plan to fix what isn’t broken.

“Matt and I have known each other a couple years,” Baker said. “We’re like-minded on offense.”

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