Daily Herald's 2017 Season Coverage
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updated: 9/4/2014 11:00 PM

Vernon Hills' McNamara takes adjustment in stride

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By the time this season is over, Vernon Hills junior Connor McNamara might look like a lifetime member of the quarterback club.

McNamara grew up a running back. He never played anything but running back while climbing the ranks of youth football.

"You could tell he had the mentality of a running back," Vernon Hills coach Bill Bellecomo said.

But McNamara was turned into a quarterback midway through his freshman year and stepped in last year on varsity when starting quarterback Jordan Freibrun went down with an injury.

Now, he's the Cougars' full-time starter at quarterback in an offense that looks like it was made for a well-groomed quarterback who has been years in the making.

In a loss to DeKalb last week, McNamara threw the ball 51 times.

"We think Connor can do that," Vernon Hills coach Bill Bellecomo said. "We kind of threw him into quarterback at first. And I think he was kind of nervous.

"But as he's getting better with his decision-making he's gaining a lot of confidence. And we're going to be able to use him like that. He's going to be one of the better (quarterbacks) in Lake County. He's a great athlete and we love how he can make plays."

Early birds:

This isn't your father's recruiting, and probably not even your older brother's.

Seemingly every year, college coaches are seeking commitments from athletes at an earlier age.

At Carmel, two juniors Noah Turner and Sean Foster already have multiple Division I offers on the table.

Turner, a 6-foot-4, 240-pound tight end, has been courted by Indiana and Illinois. Foster, a 6-foot-7, 270-pound offensive lineman has 12 offers, the first of which came from Nebraska.

"Nebraska offered and then they all came rolling in," Carmel coach Andy Bitto said. "The offers keep coming in (for both Turner and Foster).

"It's unbelievable. I've never had kids offered this early in my 30-year career."

Big time:

Another big, tall offensive lineman from the area will be playing college ball next year.

Zach Wallace, a 6-foot-7, 245-pound senior from Lake Zurich, committed to Wyoming. The coaches there were impressed as soon as they saw Wallace's tapes.

"For a kid who is that tall, Zach really does a great job of playing very low," Lake Zurich coach Dave Proffitt said. "He's going to continue to (fill out). I think he could be something really special at Wyoming."

Wallace, interested in engineering, found that Wyoming was a perfect match for him academically.

Smooth transition:

It sure doesn't seem like Rob Hamilton's specialty was defense last year.

Last week, he was the center of Mundelein's offense.

The former cornerback turned running back scored all three of the Mustangs' touchdowns in a 34-20 loss to Wheeling.

"We want to get the ball outside to Rob on the perimeter," Mundelein coach George Kaider said. "He's got a lot of speed there."

Mundelein will still use Hamilton in certain situations on defense. He also plays safety.

Quote of the week:

Grant coach Vito Andriola on his team's 22-play, 80-yard, 8-minute opening drive last week against Crystal Lake Central that resulted in a touchdown: "It was the greatest drive I've ever been a part of as a head coach. Everything was the way it should have been. It was tremendously exciting." Andriola was a head coach at both Grayslake and Dundee-Crown for three years before taking over at Grant.

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