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Homewood-Flossmoor’s 2019 OLB/S Justin Whiteside talked schools showing preemptive interest in him, his offseason regimen and also put a large emphasis on his under recruited teammates. Head coach Craig Buzea also gave me his thoughts on Whiteside.
Commitment status: Undecided
Wt: 200 lbs
LPI: Tell me about what you’ve been doing to take your game to the next level. Also, do you play any other sports or 7on7 in the offseason?
JW: Well, this winter season I decided not to play basketball this year for HF. Instead I decided to take on a new sport which is wrestling in order to help take my game to the next level in football. After wrestling is over, I plan to go straight to the weight room. Another thing I do to help take me to the next level is to take better care of my body by eating better. I do thing like take in more protein. I also lift before school, at morning wrestling practices, and I workout at home on weekends. Also I’ve recently came back to 7 on 7 football with the team I began with, Coach Tony Novak’s Go Deep Football team.
LPI: Do you consider yourself a leader of your team? If so, how do you lead and go the extra mile for your teammates?
JW: Last year was my junior year and we already had guys there like Mario Wright, Justin Hall, Jeff Griffin, Opeyemi Fatuki, Kellyn Gerenstein, and other seniors there that were taking on that leadership role, and it was their senior year so I just let them be the captain of the ship. Nevertheless, I still was a leader but only on the field. It’s just a natural instinct that when things start to go wrong I tend to just take charge. This upcoming season you can expect to see me as a leader like I was my sophomore year during the time I wasn’t on varsity.
LPI: What schools have shown serious interest in you or may be close to offering?
JW: No, I have no offers but I have some interest from University of Minnesota, University of Central Michigan, University of Illinois, Miami of Ohio, Indiana State University, MacMurray College, and Wabash College. None really super serious though. I’ve also heard that Toledo, Georgetown, and Ball State wanted to meet me so hopefully I meet with them soon.
LPI: Do you have any planned visits set? If so, where at?
JW: I don’t have any planned visits but U of I and Minnesota both spoke about coming to visit though. I do hope to take a trip and visit some of the schools that are interested in me at some point in time.
LPI: Who are some of your teammates or training partners that you believe can play at the next level, but have gone overlooked by college coaches?
JW: Everyone knows about 2018 RB/DB Justin Hall, LB Mario Wright, DL/OL Jeff Griffin, DB/SR Marcell Ellis and 2019 CB Wynston Russell, SS Kellen Williams, DE/DT Isaiah Coe, and RB Leon Tanna, but we have a lot of guys that are getting over looked.
Opeymi Fatuki – 2018 MLB #35 reminds me of Floyd Maywhether. He’s undersized, but hits like Ray Lewis literally, and is as fast as a DB. He also he tackles anything in between and outside the tackles. He has a bloodhound’s nose for the football. He overpowers O Lineman often. He’s very smart, advanced and his play recognition is off the charts. Whether it’s reading his keys and beating the RB to the hole, recognizing a screen and taking it down behind the line of scrimmage, reading the QB on a spy and meeting him where he thought was a opening, or even using his speed in pass coverage to get interceptions. He was the heart of our defense. He had a great academic year, a phenomenal season, was a captain for our team, and he finished with all conference and all state.
Justin Olukon – #25 2018 SS/NB for us who’s very physical especially when playing bubble screen which never gains yards when thrown to his side. He’s able to come in the box and play as a 4th linebacker when needed and effectively keeps contain. When covering fast Slot Receivers and TEs his physicality and speed keeps them in check. He always does his job and always is working hard. He has no offers.
Jeremiah Ratliff – #11 2018 CB for us who’s long and has range. Jump balls usually go in his favor and he’s good at undercutting routes. He also played some FS for us which came easy to him.
Adonis Jones – #10 2018 DB for us that didn’t play a lot but when he did he made a impact and I’m just talking about what you called it when he hits a receiver and knocks them out the game. When he was in the game you noticed. He’s crazy athletic and can play every DB position. He’s strong and has good size. He’s just somebody that’s been overlooked his whole life. All he ever asked for was a chance and every time he got a chance he took advantage of that, yet that still wasn’t enough to stop him from being overlooked. He has no offers.
Nathaniel Lynn – #44 2019 DE for us who worked his way from the bottom of the depth chart to starting through the summer. He plays with extremely great pad level, he’s extremely physical when playing the run especially on the goaline, he overpowers O lineman, and he is great in the pass rush game whether he’s interior or edge rushing. Him and I meet in the back field on 3rd down often. He’s tough to block and very smart too. He’s in my opinion a complete DE.
Charlie Brooks – #54 is another 2019 DE for us that is also very physical and is a tireless worker. He’s always trying to find a way to get better. He’s strong and fast. He also can play almost every position on the DL. He was very versatile and also very coachable as he did what coach asked him to do no matter what.
Caveon Harris – #34 class of 2019. Was a LB for us that was moved to NG for the benefit of the team and played it with no complaints. This was his first year playing NG and he absolutely excelled at it. I was shocked by how strong he was repeatedly blowing centers back and occupying double teams and sometimes triple teams. He made it easy for me, Fatuki, and Mario to make plays without being touched. When told to use his speed on a slant and stunts he made the OL look silly. It’s ridiculous, one time he made the center and both guards run into each other, pile up on each other, and then proceeded to make the play for a 5 yd loss, it was crazy! Half of the time Fatuki, Mario, and I felt like we had up close and personal seats to the game because between Caveon, Lynn, Coe, and Brooks we had no choice but to watch the game because before we could get out our stance they were making play 3-5 yards deep in the back field. It was a show we enjoyed and got use to watching. He also plays a some DE for us.
Gerrell Jackson – #47 is a freaky fast and athletic 2019 DB for us. He was a rotational player for us. He flew around a making plays and when it came to speedy slot receivers they would never get open. He plays every defensive back position and does effectively. Next year is going to be special for him.
Luke Venegas – #55 is another 2019 LB for us who played all three LB positions. He also was rotational for us and when he got in, he made plays often. He has a nose for the football and puts his body online the line for every tackle. His nickname is “the bonecrusher”… the name should explain him.
Offensively, we have a plethora and a variety of different players that I could talk about forever. They all have one thing in common, and that is that they are all versatile. The players are 2018 QB Kellyn Generstein, RB Tommy Danzler, WR Ryan Flournoy, OL Taroo Roberts, OL Brandon Johnson, OL/FB Isaiah Lampkins, and 2019 QB Kahlid Lamarre, RB Tyreese Lee, WR Maurion Scott, SR Jack Koyn, TE/LS Jack Schmitz. We also have a reliable Kicker in 2018 Brenden Hurley. He hits field goals and PATs like they’re layups.
Homewood Flossmoor Head Coach Craig Buzea on Whiteside on and off the field
“Justin continues to build himself up in the weight room. The strength and power that is being developed combined with his freakish athletic ability makes him a very recruitable athlete next year. Justin’s range in unparalleled at the Linebacker position and also will allow him to play a box safety at the next level. Has the ability to cover backs out of the backfield and we are toying with the possibility of playing him some on the offensive side of the ball as well. Very explosive athlete with high character and drive and passion to be one of our best football players next season.”