High school football notebook: Naperville North’s David Olano commits to Illinois, Notre Dame grabs state’s top prospect

David Olano is the No. 1 kicker nationally in the class of 2023 according to the Chris Sailer kicking website. And he’s committed to Illinois.

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Naperville North’s David Olano is the nation’s top-ranked high school kicker in the Class of 2023 according to the Chris Sailer kicking website.

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Naperville North’s David Olano always dreamed of being a Division I athlete.

But not in football.

“I played club soccer for 13 years, and high school soccer,” the rising senior said. “I was pretty serious about it, traveled all around. That was something I thought I would be playing in college. I thought I could have a shot.

“Things change.”

They sure do. Now, Olano is the No. 1 kicker nationally in the class of 2023 according to the Chris Sailer kicking website. And he’s committed to Illinois.

Olano went to the Illini specialist camp, which was his first college camp. Illinois coaches liked what they saw, giving Olano one of his two scholarship offers (Air Force is the other).

The timing, well before Olano’s senior season, is significant. Offers for kickers and punters typically lag behind those for offensive and defensive stars, so having his future locked up so early is another indication of the high regard the Illini have for Olano.

“For a specialist, it’s kind of early to go commit somewhere,” he said. “It was definitely something of a relief to get it taken care of.”

He was receptive to the pitch of Illinois coach Bret Bielema, who has made clear his intention to make Champaign the preferred destination for local talent.

“One of the things they preached was the best in Illinois stay in Illinois,” Olano said.

The culture was a significant draw for him.

“The values they hold as a program — it’s not just something they say, it’s something you feel,” Olano said.

His journey from one sport to another has been a quick one. He didn’t start kicking till before the spring 2021 high school season after he “fell out of love” with soccer.

Finding immediate success in his new sport has been pretty much a dream come true.

“I never thought in a year I’d commit to a Big Ten school,” Olano said. “It’s surreal to see it come so quick.”

Irish grab state’s No. 1 player

Alleman offensive tackle Charles Jagusah, ranked No. 1 in Illinois and No. 55 overall nationally in the 247Sports.com composite ratings, committed to Notre Dame on June 30.

That leaves just three uncommitted players in the state’s top 10 about seven weeks before the high school season opener: No. 2 Jyaire Hill, a cornerback from Kankakee; No. 5 Miles McVay, an offensive tackle from East St. Louis; and No. 8 Malik Elzy, a wide receiver from Simeon.

Northwestern has won commitments from three players in the top 10: No. 5 Anthony Birsa, an offensive guard from Joliet Catholic; No. 9 Damon Walters, a safety from Bolingbrook; and No. 10 Aidan Gray, a quarterback who is Olano’s teammate at Naperville North.

The other top-10 players who’ve announced their decisions are No. 3 Deakon Tonelli, an Oswego tight end heading to Michigan; No. 6 Kaden Feagin, a multi-position standout from Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond bound for Illinois; and No. 7 Paris Patterson, an East St. Louis offensive lineman who picked Arkansas.

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