Two years ago, Glenbrook North’s Jackson Carsello was a sophomore dreaming of playing college football.
As a 6-2, 195-pound offensive lineman, he knew it would take some work — and some food — to make that dream a reality.
“I put on 30 pounds from end of junior [season] to January,” Carsello said. “Same thing from sophomore season to junior year.”
Now, Carsello is a 6-4, 270-pounder and Northwestern’s newest recruit for the Class of 2021.
Carsello announced his commitment Wednesday on Twitter, making him the Wildcats’ second local player in that class. Lake Forest linebacker Mac Uihlein is the other.
The transformation of his body helped get Carsello on college recruiters’ radar. It was overseen by his dad Timm, who was a lineman for Western Michigan’s Mid-American Conference championship team in 1988.
Another mentor for Carsello is Glenbrook North coach Matt Purdy, a former college lineman who played in three bowl games for Iowa.
“I lifted five or six days a week, [ate] a lot of food,” Carsello said.
His father even used a reference from Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer to drive his point home: “My dad was like, ‘Keep eating, keep eating. No one likes a skinny Santa.’”
Carsello isn’t skinny, but he isn’t fat either.
“I probably put on about 70 pounds of muscle,” he said.
That helped jump-start his recruiting earlier this year. Carsello has more than 20 offers, including Illinois, Indiana and four Ivy League schools: Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton and Yale.
Northwestern showed early interest, and he was able to make a visit and see one of the Wildcats’ last spring workouts before the coronavirus lockdown in March.
“I was able to create a great relationship with [offensive line] coach [Kurt] Anderson,” Carsello said.
Growing up on the North Shore, he was plenty familiar with the Wildcats, having gone to multiple games at Ryan Field with his Junior Spartans youth teammates.
So the chance to play Power Five football close to home at a prestigious academic institution made NU an easy sell for Carsello.
He’s happy to have been able to navigate the college selection process so smoothly during the time of COVID-19.
“These have been totally unprecedented times,” he said. “This is probably the only recruiting class that will have to make a decision in a worldwide pandemic.”
New faces on North Side
Two Public League teams will have new coaches this fall.
Craig Knoche takes over at Payton for George Klupchak, who is the new coach at Maine West.
Knoche had been an assistant at Oak Park and before that, at Perspectives. He also has college coaching experience at North Park, Stanford, Wisconsin, the University of Chicago and Wabash, serving as offensive coordinator at the latter two.
Dedrick Dewalt, a Simeon grad who played at Boston College and in the NFL for the Titans and Rams, is the new coach at Lane. He replaces Tony Faltin, who resigned.
Syracuse recruit leaves Nazareth
Rising senior receiver Landon Morris, who committed to Syracuse in May, announced on Twitter earlier this month he is transferring to Fishers (Ind.). Morris cited the uncertainty of fall sports in Illinois as a factor in his decision, and thanked Nazareth coach Tim Racki: “You’ve taught me lessons not just on the football field but off the field as a man!”
Michigan-bound quarterback JJ McCarthy, who had been the state’s top-ranked prospect in the Class of 2021, previously announced he was leaving Nazareth to play at IMG Academy in Florida this fall.