Signing Day: Illinois nabs Naperville North’s dynamic duo

Drake Davis, Naperville North varsity football quarterback player during practice. Mark Black/

Most of the area’s top football recruits wrapped up their recruitments during the new early signing period back in December. That means the final February Signing Day has lost a lot of luster.

The focus has shifted to the preferred walk-on spots to help schools bolster their rosters and add some talent.

Two area players claimed roster spots as preferred walk-ons at Illinois. Naperville North’s dynamic duo of receiver Nick Calcagno and All-Area quarterback Drake Davis are heading to play for Lovie Smith.

“I ended up deciding on taking the preferred walk-on route because I knew I wanted to play at the highest level that I could,” Calcagno said. “My final three schools were Iowa, Iowa State and Illinois. I ended up feeling the most comfortable staying on the offensive side of the ball with Illinois. And I got along great with the coaching staff.”

Davis transferred to Naperville North from Bureau Valley and had a huge senior season with 2,724 passing yards and 32 touchdowns. Calcagno and Davis helped the Huskies to a 5-3 record in the DuPage Valley conference.

“All I’ve ever needed was a chance, and I feel like with Illinois I have found a home at a place that will give me one,” Davis said.

One thing that resonated with both Davis and Calcagno was the experience of the coaching staff.

“The NFL coaching experience in the coaching staff is very hard to match,” Calcagno said. “Also, I like the fast paced tempo offense that the new offensive coordinator is bringing in. It is very similar to what I’ve run the last four years so I’m excited to stay in a similar offense.”

Calcagno, a 6-3, 205-pound receiver had offers from Northern Illinois, Indiana State and Southern Illinois along with a few others.

“I’m a little bigger than the normal wide receivers that Illinois usually has but I believe that I am a strong pass catcher and I can get open a lot because of my route running,” Calcagno said. “So hopefully, I’ll be able to bring a little different wide receiver approach to the offense.”

Recruiting was a process to be remembered for these two.

“I’ve met a lot of great people and made a ton of great relationships through out my high school career but I’m ready to start the next chapter of my life in Champaign and building more relationships with new people,” Calcagno said.

Davis, a 5-10, 165-pound prospect with a big arm has nothing but gratitude for the process.

“I want to thank the staff at Illinois for giving me the chance of a lifetime,” Davis said,” Davis said.

Calcagno agrees.

“Being committed is an awesome feeling,” Calcagno said. “It’s been such a long process and I’m very happy that it’s over but also very happy with where I ended up.”


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