Come for the wide receivers, stay for their teammates.
That might be the pitch to college recruiters for Kenwood, which has established itself as one of the state’s top producers of talented wideouts,
Two former Bronco receivers — Dante Reynolds and Lewis Bond — graduated early, skipping the abbreviated pandemic season to get a head start on their collegiate careers at Boston College.
Now Kenwood has the Public League’s top junior prospect according to 247Sports.com, and — no surprise — he’s a receiver, Jalil Martin.
Martin, a three-star prospect ranked 21st among Illinois juniors by 247Sports, appreciates the legacy he’s continuing.
“When I transferred (in) my freshman year, I already knew Dante prior to high school, I was already under his wing,” said Martin, who began his prep career at Lindblom.
“Seeing him step up his sophomore year — I took everything from Dante really. Lewis coming in, that was like another big brother.”
Martin is grateful for Reynolds and Bonds’ mentoring, which covered everything from game preparation to workouts to providing rides to those workouts.
Then, when his teammates wound up with Power Five scholarships, it showed Martin what was possible.
“Being a CPS school, we don’t really get those Power Five looks,” he said. “But seeing people like Dante and Lewis and even a couple other people from other CPS schools (get offers) it really brought faith to us, knowing that more people are starting to look at us.”
Martin picked up his first Power Five offer, from Syracuse, during the long offseason. That was a bit of light in a dark time, when there was no guarantee he would have a junior season,
“It was nice knowing they were actually looking at me, even the little workout films, going to little throwing sessions with other people across the state,” Martin said. “It just kept me ready.”
Kenwood coach Sinque Turner isn’t surprised his program has become known for its talented wideouts, a group that also includes sophomore Logan Lester.
“There’s so many opportunities in the offseason to get exposure,” Turner said of the receivers. “There’s not as much exposure for the offensive and defensive linemen,
“Maybe some defensive backs. But it’s really hard to go out and display a good performance at the defensive back position if you’re not really skilled. There’s a lot more skilled receivers than defensive backs in the country.”
But getting college recruiters to notice Martin and Lester pays off for their teammates.
“We’ve got good players all around and those guys bring attention to the program,” Turner said.
Given the ratio of good defensive backs to good receivers, it makes sense that Martin’s role has expanded this spring.
“I play corner,” Martin said. “It gives me a better chance to be looked at by colleges on both sides of the field.”
Where does his coach see Martin playing at the next level? “I’m biased,” Turner said with a laugh. “I see him as a defensive back. I think everybody would love a 6-3, 190-pound corner.
“The matchups college coaches are getting dinged with now, they’re looking for those kind of guys.”
And lately, Kenwood is where to find them.