Best receiver in NFL draft is from Chicago area

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Ole Miss WR Laquon Treadwell. (AP)

INDIANAPOLIS – Laquon Treadwell is a Chicago-area kid who is about to be drafted in Chicago. The Ole Miss receiver calls it “historical.”

“It’s going to be an amazing time for me,” said Treadwell, who led Crete-Monee to a Class 6A state title in 2012. “I’ll cherish it, and that’s something I’ll never forget.”

Treadwell is widely regarded as the top receiver in this year’s draft class. He’s an imposing receiver who recovered from a broken leg and dislocated ankle in his sophomore season to make 82 catches for 1,513 yards and 11 touchdowns last year.

But Treadwell’s decision to not run the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine was met with disappointment by teams. Treadwell said he wasn’t prepared after a late switch in training facilities. Still, it’s led to questions about his speed.

“The questions, they don’t really bother me,” said Treadwell, who wants to run the 40-yard dash in the low 4.5s. “I still have to go out there and play and have the production on the field. I don’t let it get to me. I’ll run what I run and just stay confident in myself.

Treadwell’s ability to reach this point after his gruesome leg injury shouldn’t be overlooked, either.

“Some look at it as, ‘He can overcome adversity,’ and some really don’t care,” Treadwell said. “I just feel like it showed how I really love the game, how passionate I am, my dedication toward the game and my commitment.”

A proud tradition

Illinois running back Josh Ferguson credited what he learned playing at Joliet Catholic under coach Dan Sharp for his being at the combine. Ferguson’s draft stock has improved since a strong showing at the East-West Shrine Game.

Ferguson played with two other Division-I running backs at Joliet Catholic: Ty Isaac, who transferred from USC to Michigan, and Malin Jones, who now plays at Louisville after starting at Northwestern.

“They taught you how to win very early at that school,” said Ferguson, who did 21 repetitions of 225 pounds and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.48 seconds.

“It taught me hard work. It taught me to be diligent in your craft and be persistent about everything. Those were all things I took with me to Illinois and will definitely be carrying on.”

A family tradition

Center Jack Allen is leaving behind a family tradition at Michigan State to start a new one in the NFL. Allen’s younger brothers, Brian and Matt, followed him to Michigan State after being top recruits like him at Hinsdale Central. Brian, a guard, started next to Allen this past season.

“This has always been a big goal of mine,” Allen said of training for the NFL. “You just don’t start thinking about this. You don’t start working for something like this eight weeks ago. This is something that all of us have been working on since we were 18-year-old kids and we stepped foot on campus.”

Getting a look

Offensive tackle Fahn Cooper, a Crystal Lake South product, took a long path to the combine. He was a low-profile recruit at Bowling Green before leaving for the College of DuPage and eventually earning a scholarship offer from Ole Miss.

Cooper started at tackle spots in Ole Miss. But he earned the league’s attention playing in place of left tackle Laremy Tunsil, the potential first overall pick, when Tunsil was suspended for seven games.

“Being in the combine,” Cooper said, “It’s motivation for a lot of other guys who may be discouraged to say, ‘Hey if you push though it you can make something happen with yourself.’ ”

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