Beth Long’s football recruiting notebook

Naperville Central quarterback Payton Thorne tops the list of the area's best quarterbacks. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.
Naperville Central quarterback Payton Thorne tops the list of the area's best quarterbacks. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.

Quarterback Payton Thorne has led Naperville Central into the Class 8A quarterfinals.

The Redhawks won Friday at Homewood-Flossmoor and will face Maine South on Saturday.

Now Thorne, a 6-2, 180-pound junior, is starting to turn heads on the recruiting trail. He was impressive against the Vikings, passing for 196 yards and three touchdowns.

‘‘Our offensive line has helped a ton with the improvement of my game,’’ Thorne said. ‘‘They have given me time in the pocket and enabled me to feel out the pocket. The schemes that we run have given me the chance to learn more about reading the defense, and I’m incredibly fortunate to have the coaches, players and teammates that I have.’’

Thorne has been dynamic this season, thanks in part to his offseason work.

‘‘Throughout the summer, I was working on my throwing motion,’’ Thorne said. ‘‘I had a hitch in my motion last year, so I was working on smoothing that out and getting through by bending my legs.’’

It has worked, and colleges are beginning to notice.

‘‘Right now, I am talking to a few schools,’’ Thorne said. ‘‘I just took a visit out to Stanford a couple of weekends ago. Iowa has sent a couple of things in the mail. I’ve talked to Michigan State a little bit and Duke. It’s been fun so far, but I’m focused on the high school season right now.’’

The process has only just begun for Thorne.

‘‘[Schools] are looking for guys that are going to work and guys that have serious work ethic,’’ he said. ‘‘I’ve got to keep working in the classroom and as a leader and as a player, and everything will fall into place after that.’’

Denver Warren is one to watch

West Aurora defensive lineman Denver Warren is only a sophomore, but he already has several scholarship offers.

‘‘I’m so blessed to be able to have the physical abilities I have,’’ Warren said. ‘‘The recruiting process is going great for me. I have four Division I offers now.’’

Iowa State, Central Michigan, Syracuse and Michigan State have made him offers.

‘‘My first offer, I was shocked,’’ said Warren, a 6-3, 300-pounder. ‘‘My family and coaches told me it would come, but I didn’t know it would be so soon. . . . But I know I still have to work like I have no offers.’’

College coaches have been giving Warren plenty of feedback.

‘‘They tell me they love how quick I am on my feet,’’ Warren said. ‘‘They also say I’m very violent with my hands and know how to shed blocks and get to the ball. I’m also told I’m great pressing down and stopping plays in the backfield before they even develop.’’

Warren knows there is still plenty of room for improvement.

‘‘I’m working on just having better hands and making sure I dominate in the trenches,’’ Warren said. ‘‘That’s my home; I have to own it. I want to become more explosive and faster to be the best I can be.’’

The next stop is the U.S. Army All-American combine in January in San Antonio. Warren also would like to visit Alabama and Tennessee during the offseason.


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