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Sun-Times Player of the Year Laquon Treadwell is the No. 1-ranked receiver nationally in the Class of 2013. | Patrick Gleason~For Sun-Times Media
Every so often, Laquon Treadwell shuts down his cell phone for incoming calls.
That’s something you have to do when virtually every major football program is recruiting you and the media and scouting services are constantly looking to get the inside scoop on your college plans.
But there’s something that Treadwell doesn’t ever turn off and probably couldn’t even if he tried: the inner drive that has made him such a sought-after recruit — and the Sun-Times Player of the Year.
One of the things that sets Treadwell apart, according to his coach at Crete-Monee, Jerry Verde, is “how competitive he is. It doesn’t matter what we’re doing. ... When he loses, he’s genuinely upset.”
That has not been an issue this season for the big, strong, multitalented player who started his high school career as a quarterback, then moved to defensive end and wide receiver. Now Treadwell is a wideout, free safety and kicker for the best team in Crete-Monee history.
The Warriors have not lost this season, going 13-0 to reach Saturday afternoon’s Class 6A final against Cary-Grove (also 13-0) at Memorial Stadium in Champaign.
That game is Treadwell’s primary focus. He has been waiting for this moment since the 2011 Warriors’ unbeaten run ended with a second-round playoff loss to eventual Class 6A runner-up Peoria Richwoods.
“This was our expectation, to make it this far,” he said. “We know we’re not done.”
Crete has an exceptional collection of talent, especially for a 6A school. Four other seniors besides Treadwell could wind up playing major-college football: receiver Lance Lenoir, cornerback Jaylen Dunlap, lineman Austin Rosenfeldt and quarterback Marcus Terrell. And junior linebacker Nyles Morgan and sophomore safety Omari Stringer also are getting that kind of interest.
The buzz around the Warriors is only enhanced by Treadwell’s decision not to decide on a college until his prep career is over. He plans to take all of his official visits, then give a commitment in “two weeks to a month.” In the meantime, recruiters who might have moved on to other targets are still coming around and noticing how good Treadwell’s supporting cast is.
But the reason they’re there is Treadwell, a solid 6-3, 195-pounder who’s a five-star prospect ranked No. 1 among senior wide receivers by Rivals.com. He has excellent numbers: 75 catches for 1,339 yards and 15 touchdowns, 28 carries for 164 yards and six scores and even 1-for-2 passing for 61 yards.
But that doesn’t tell the whole story of why all the colleges want him.
“He’s definitely got NFL potential,” veteran CBS College Sports recruiting analyst Tom Lemming said, citing Treadwell’s soft hands and ability to get extra yards after the catch. “He’s got all the tools. He’s as good as any receiver I’ve seen come out of Illinois.”
Treadwell has been in the eye of the recruiting storm for a while,
“It’s a blessing,” he said. “[Though] I’ve been stressed out sometimes trying to figure out which schools to put in the top [tier]. It’s fun at the beginning; you enjoy the attention.”
Fortunately, Treadwell has people in his life to keep him grounded, including his mother and grandmother.
“It’s very, very great to have her around,” he said of his mother. “She sees what I can’t see as a kid, if an adult tries to play a trick.”
Another important person in Treadwell’s life is his little brother Juawan, who sometimes reads Laquon’s recruiting letters before he does. Maybe someday there will be another Treadwell bringing all the college recruiters to Crete.
For now, Treadwell sometimes has a hard time believing he’s the man.
“It does feel like a dream,” he said. “I remember my freshman year, I was working out with a good coach of mine. He’s just snapping on me, ‘The No. 1 player can do it. Can you?’?”
Now he’s the No. 1 player. And it’s no dream.