I will be breaking this series into parts as I notice more recruits that are deserving of this list.
Qualifying for this list: Everyone has their own qualifications to be classified as underrated. Therefore, there is no exact way to make this list. Factors such as amount of offers, quality of offers and attention from other media outlets are factored in, but at the end of the day its about if the athlete can compete at the next level or not. After evaluating hundreds and hundreds of players, these are some of the players who I believe are the most underrated in the Illinois high school football recruiting landscape.
Wt: 200 lbs
Commitment status: Undecided
You can find Zach on Twitter @oles_zach.
First off, I owe Coach Big Pete of Deep Dish Football for the comparison I’m about to make. Zach Oles’ game is a lot like Ohio State commit and consensus national top 100 prospect, Tate Martell. They are similar in stature, possess good speed, are very mobile in the pocket, have pinpoint accuracy on short to mid range throws and can make the deep throws as well. Perhaps the biggest difference between them is that Martell has offers from multiple power 5 schools while Oles’ only D1 offer is from Butler. Martell is the superior player and deserves every single one of his offers, I’m not arguing that, I’m pleading Oles case to have more than his just 1 offer. The biggest issue with Oles’ game is that he isn’t the ideal size for a D1 QB at 5’11”. When D1 coaches see a QB’s height below 6’0″ they will generally look elsewhere. It’s unfortunate, especially with a talent like Oles, but it’s just the way it works in recruiting.
On film, Oles shows exceptional accuracy on short to midrange throws hitting his receivers in stride with regularity. He is surely one of, if not the most accurate QBs in the state. To add to that, he also posses a rocket arm that, when he has a chance to step up, can get the ball to his receivers in a hurry. Oles is a dual threat QB with pretty good speed for a QB (4.7 40) and can throw very well on the run and against his body. His game is not perfect though. Oles needs to improve his vision as he immediately looks to run if his first receiving option is not there. It works out a lot in high school, but defenders are much faster in college and his running game won’t be as affective. Its not easy for a high school QB to go through receiver progressions, but with college coaching Oles will improve on that and look for other receivers before deciding to use his legs to pick up yards. I think Oles would be great for a D2 program, but would fit best in a FCS program. I highly suggest everyone check out his HIGHLIGHT TAPE and let me know their thoughts on him because I truly think coaches are missing out on a gem in this kid.
Wt: 190 lbs
Commitment status: Undecided
You can find Herbert on Twitter @ThatGuy_Herb .
Hughes transferred in from Stagg this offseason and has not missed a beat in his production. Unfortunately for his recruiting, he has been splitting the majority of carries with returning senior RB Tyler Nutall. Nutall is a good player, but not the same level recruit that Hughes is. I had the chance to see Hughes play against a very good Lincoln Way East team and he did not disappoint. While splitting carries with Nutall, Hughes cranked out runs of 51 yards and 78 yards. On the 78 yard run, Western Michigan commit John Michael Schmitz pulled and created a nice hole for Hughes to get to the second level. #6 stuck his foot in the ground and cut on a dime to dodge the first would be tackler, then used his massive thighs to power him forward through a few arm tackles and was off to the races for the endzone against the Lincoln Way East defensive backs. Hughes doesn’t have lightening speed (mid to high 4.5 40), but I can assure you he looks much faster than that in person and especially after that impressive 78 yard run. On film, Hughes also shows good vision in finding the open hole and even better explosiveness to burst through it when its open. When in space, #6 shows off his fleet feet and great cutback ability. He isn’t known as a pass catching back, but has decent hands out of the backfield.
Hughes 78 yard TD run was very impressive, but he did not even exemplify his best characteristic on that long run: his patience. Hughes has a tendency to “dance” around in the backfield as some may call it that can cause him to lose yards at times. Its never ideal to lose precious yardage, but more often than not it works out for Hughes as this is his way of patiently waiting for holes to open before he explodes through the gap. He needs to work on perfecting his “dancing” to negate these negative plays and a college coach can surely help with that. He is 6’0″ 190 lbs, runs a mid 4.5 40 and is a very powerful, yet patient runner (albeit needing some work on the latter). He will put on more weight and muscle in college and, when its all said and done, will likely end up somewhere around 6’0″ 220 lbs – perfect fit for a FCS/D2 workhorse RB with good patience and some speed. Hughes is sitting on 1 D1 offer from Valparaiso. I think he would be a steal for a D2 school, but will fit in best at a FCS school. He needs to be getting more attention than he is receiving.