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High school football notebook: Checking in with Naperville Central’s Reggie Fleurima, good news from H-F’s Craig Buzea

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on live recruiting, Reggie Fleurima has 13 Power Five offers already.

Naperville Central’s Reggie Fleurima getting warmed up before practice last season.
Naperville Central’s Reggie Fleurima getting warmed up before practice last season.
Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

It wasn’t that long ago that Reggie Fleurima was the state’s busiest kid.

Now the Naperville Central junior has more time than he knows what to do with as he waits for prep football to return in Illinois.

Back in third grade, Fleurima was doing five different sports: football, basketball, baseball, soccer and wrestling.

“I was getting so tired,” he said. “My dad said, ‘We’ve got to cut it down.’”

Most of the sports didn’t last long on his itinerary, though he played basketball till he got to high school.

“When I was younger, I was more of a 4 or 5,” he said. “But there’s no such thing as a 6-2 power forward.”

So since his freshman year, Fleurima has focused on football, and it’s clearly been the right call.

The 6-2, 200-pound receiver is a four-star recruit, ranked fourth among Illinois juniors in 247Sports.com’s composite ratings. He’s also 25th among wide receivers and 204th overall among all players nationally.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on live recruiting, Fleurima has 13 Power Five offers already, including eight from the Big Ten: Illinois, Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Penn State and Purdue. He also owns offers from the SEC (Missouri) and Pac 12 (Oregon State).

One more offer that could be on the horizon is Notre Dame, where his dad, also named Reggie, played nose guard for Lou Holtz in the early 1990s.

“I’ve been to a ton of Notre Dame games,” the younger Fleurima said. “I talked to (offensive coordinator) Tommy Rees (Monday) night. He’s been to the school three, four times. They’ve definitely shown interest.”

Another school in that category is Stanford, which would like to see some junior film of Fleurima. When that’ll be available is anyone’s guess, with Gov. J.B. Pritzker standing firm on his decision not to allow prep football till spring at the soonest.

In the meantime, Fleurima and the Redhawks are taking advantage of IHSA-allowed contact days to stay sharp. When football does come back, Naperville Central will have one of the state’s premier pass-and-catch duos. Senior Sam Jackson, a Purdue recruit who’s also a four-star prospect, will be throwing to Fleurima.

“We’re mentally and physically ready,” Fleurima said. “We could play a game next Friday.”

H-F’s Craig Buzea is back on the sidelines

While most of the Illinois prep football community is unhappy about not playing this fall, the delay may be a blessing in disguise for Homewood-Flossmoor coach Craig Buzea.

Buzea, who is 94-24 in 10 seasons at H-F, was diagnosed with acute leukemia last winter. Thanks to some aggressive chemotherapy, he was declared cancer-free in January,

“I was feeling great, as good as I’ve felt in a long time, out doing anything I wanted to do,” Buzea said. “(But) it had always been discussed the real cure for leukemia was a stem cell transplant.”

At first, Buzea was skeptical.

“The stem cell transplant is not an easy process,” he said, thinking, “Why do I want to put myself in the hospital (again)?’”

But then his doctor said, “I would tell you if you were my husband, you would be getting a transplant.”

“We knew then that was the right thing to do,” Buzea said.

So it was back in the hospital for another month. He’s out again and feeling good enough to return to H-F for the fall contact days allowed by the IHSA.

Homewood-Flossmoor coach Craig Buzea in 2014.
Homewood-Flossmoor coach Craig Buzea in 2014.
Sun-Times file photo

Not having games now means Buzea doesn’t have to adjust his coaching style. He figures if the season had started on time, he might have had to be just a remote participant. “My immune system is still very vulnerable,” he said.

But he can be with his team during practice now, while staying socially distant.

“I can’t have any contact,” he said. “You want to hug them, (but) my wife is putting up the stop sign.”

Still, Buzea is grateful just to be getting back into some semblance of a familiar routine.

“The main benefit of it is you get to reconnect to your players,” he said. “Just to talk to them face to face is my biggest thrill.”