Football Preview: Top 10 defensive players

Batavia's Michael Jansey cuts off the running back. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.
Batavia's Michael Jansey cuts off the running back. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.

It’s a banner year for defensive talent all around the area. Batavia’s Michael Jansey Jr. leads the way, one of several Big Ten recruits that make the list of the area’s ten best defensive players.

1. Michael Jansey Jr., Batavia, Sr., LB (6-2, 210)
Northwestern recruit recorded 63 tackles in the regular season last year and was responsible for 11.5 sacks and 22 tackles for loss. Hits hard and plays the ball extremely well. A true playmaker that seems to know what is coming before it happens.

Raby's Romel Goston runs a drill. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.

Raby’s Romel Goston runs a drill. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.

2. Romel Goston, Raby, Sr., DB (6-1, 175)
Northern Illinois recruit and 2017 All-Area First Team selection. Goston has a high football IQ. He’s quick to the ball and will contribute at multiple positions but he’s a game changer at defensive back. Finished last season with 54 tackles, five interceptions and two sacks.

Phillips receiver Fabian McCray catches a pass for a touchdown. Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times.

Phillips receiver Fabian McCray catches a pass for a touchdown. Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times.

3. Fabian McCray, Phillips, Sr., DB (6-2, 180)
Illinois recruit. An athlete who can do it all, McCray has a great football IQ and sees the field well. Over the past few seasons, it’s become clear he’s most dangerous on defense because of his ability to read the ball in the air. He’s had several multiple interception games.

4. Denver Warren, West Aurora, Jr., DL (6-3, 318)
Michigan recruit. Possesses some of the most raw, explosive speed in the area. Add his massive size and the Blackhawks have a talented playmaker leading the defense.

5. Rylie Mills, Lake Forest, Jr., DE (6-5, 275)
Big bodied and powerful, Mills has the size to push offensive lineman around. He has quick feet and a high ceiling. Holds offers from most of the Big Ten, Notre Dame, Alabama, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Georgia and Clemson.

6. Duke Olges, New Trier, Sr., DE (6-5, 260)
Northwestern recruit. Olges is a two-sport athlete that has a nose for the ball. He excels as a defensive end, tight end and on the baseball diamond. A solid player that knows the scheme at New Trier and uses his athleticism to break into the backfield.

7. Khali Saunders, IC Prep, Sr. LB (6-4, 220)
Purdue recruit. Recorded 101 tackles last season along with two defensive touchdowns. Also scored seven touchdowns on offense and had 640 receiving yards. He’s got quick feet and can make plays.

8. Cameron Mitchell, Bolingbrook, Sr. DB (5-11, 175)
Northwestern recruit. Part of a talented group of defensive backs at Bolingbrook. Mitchell has good speed and changes direction well. He’s versatile on the field and can contribute no matter the defensive approach.

9. Wynston Russell, Homewood-Flossmoor, Sr. DB (5-11, 180)
Oregon State recruit. Russell’s biggest strengths are his knowledge of the game and his athleticism. The Vikings are expecting big things from their defense this season and Russell should be one of the leaders of the unit.

10. Jackson Bruscianelli, Montini, Sr. LB (6-0, 200)
The Broncos leading tackler in 2017, recording 136 tackles and 10 for loss at middle linebacker. He has solid fundamentals and is an overall strong performer. Montini is poised to get back on the map this season, led by its defense.

This is the seventh story in the Sun-Times 2018 Football Countdown series. The No. 4 ranked team will be revealed Friday.

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7 comments

  • Michael Cruickshank

    2020 Chris Cruickshank,Linebacker joliet West

  • Tim

    Cam Mattox, Hillcrest. You heard it here first.

  • Metal Bleachers are Best

    Great list. I have to believe the challenge is choosing the top 10 from probably 30 great players. Jalen Grant will be good, but he plays offensive line – this is a defensive list. Tyler Nubin is solid, but this is a great year for DBs in Chicago – possibly the finest output of talent the area has ever seen. The four on the list are superb. Nubin’s greatest asset is speed, utilized on both sides of the ball. Challenge for him this year is on the offensive side – huge hole at QB.

  • b real

    I guarantee Jr. Jalen Grant OL Mount Carmel will be the #1 player in state next year. 6’3 300 with shoulders as wide as your dining room table!

  • Darin brown

    Interesting Tyler Nubin was not on your list. National recruit. Committed to Minnesota. Plays DB and listed as top 10 player in the state of Illinoi.

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