NAPERVILLE, Ill. – Leave it to the Windy City to blow out the others by having the best Rivals.com Junior Day turnout of the season thus far. Saturday's event at Chicago's Naperville North High School featured more than 160 prospects, several potential four or five-star recruits and a guest appearance by Chicago Bear cornerback Jerry Azumah.
The two-hour program started off with a bang as Azumah touched briefly on his experiences with the recruiting process and what he had to overcome to make it to the NFL. He was followed by Joe Hornback, the keynote speaker at most Rivals.com Junior Day events.
Hornback took the players in attendance all the way through the recruiting process, talking to the players about everything from how to fill out questionnaires and about letters that they are receiving now, to how to handle summer camps, telephone calls and unofficial visits.
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"I really learned how to evaluate every school that is recruiting you and to not overlook them just because you don't think you're going to end up there," Chicago Morgan Park receiver Chris James, who measured in at 6-foot and 177 pounds, said. "Coach made it a point to say that you should fill out every questionnaire and let that school know that you're interested because you never know what might happen."
Another area Hornback delved into at the third junior day event of the year that recruits said helped them was the talk about what questions you should ask a college coach when he offers you a scholarship and how many scholarships at each level of college football that teams can offer.
"The talk about what questions I should ask the coaches will really help me," Deerfield, Ill., quarterback Alex Loukas, who measured in at 6-foot-4 and 193 pounds, said. "I never really thought about this process like a job interview, but now that I know how to be better prepared, I know what I should do more to help me maximize my chances at being better recruited."
To further illustrate the points that Hornback brought up, Rivals.com recruiting analyst Tim O'Halloran invited several players that just completed the recruiting process to talk about their experiences.
Iowa-bound four-star selections Dace Richardson and Tony Moeaki of Wheaton (Ill.) Warrensville South were joined by Morgan Park standouts Phillip Brown and Sam Porter, and they all shared stories about the recruiting process with the players, parents and coaches.
While each one of them did have a unique story, it was Brown and Porter that both said attending the Rivals.com Junior Day event last year gave them the perfect foundation to go through the recruiting process and they would recommend anybody thinking about attending them in the future to do it.
"I originally committed to Ball State, but when Illinois came after me, I went back and thought about some of the things that we talked about at last year's junior day and that helped me make the right decision in the end," Porter, who signed with the Illini, said.
Even players that are going to be highly recruited said the event was worthwhile.
"You should have seen my father taking notes," said Naperville (Ill.) Neuqua Valley offensive tackle Timi Oshinowo, who was measured at 6-foot-6 and 270 pounds. "We've been through this before with my brother, but there were a lot of new things that I picked up."
Morgan Park quarterback Demetrius Jones (6-3, 192) also said he learned a lot.
"I now know what the right reasons are to pick a school," Jones said. "You can't learn things like that sitting at home."
Rivals.com will have more coverage of the third junior day event in Chicago throughout the weekend, including a look at the players that passed the eyeball test, what prospects have already picked up scholarship offers and features on some of the elite prospects in attendance.