Michigan interested in rising Illinois star RB Ty Isaac
Last Friday, Joliet, Ill., was the scene of one of the best opening game performances in the Midwest. Joliet Catholic star Ty Isaac, a junior tailback, rushed 17 times for 221 yards, including touchdown runs of 46 and 70 yards.
As impressive as those numbers are, it was his final play that will almost certainly become the stuff of lore.
Down 31-25 with less than a minute to go, Isaac hauled in an over-the-shoulder pass as he ran down the sideline, broke free of a would-be tackler, then sprinted 75 yards for the winning score.
"Man, it was awesome," Isaac said. "It's tough to not think about it, but me and everybody (on the team) discussed it, and it's just Week 1. We can't get complacent and satisfied, but right off the bat it was a great feeling. Even I was like, 'Wow!' It was just a great play overall. It was a good throw, a great catch, and I made some things happen."
Packing on the accolades
Isaac couldn't have scripted a better start to his junior campaign. He had flashes of brilliance as a sophomore, but his talent was somewhat muted by injury.
"I played most of the season with a partially torn PCL," he said. "Obviously I did not have as much production as I would have liked to, but I still think I did fairly well.
It was certainly well enough to make him one of the region's most highly regarded juniors heading into this year. Compared by some to Green Bay Packers running back Ryan Grant, this 6-2, 215-pounder possesses imposing size, is light on his feet and has impressive vision.
"Obviously being as big as I am -- and this is me being a little biased -- I think at my size it kind of surprises people on how quick I can do things," Isaac said. "Most people wouldn't be expecting me to be able to make the moves I've made.
"I can be whatever type of runner you need me to be. Whatever it takes to get another yard, a first down, a touchdown -- you're obviously going to see that. I know that I can block and I can catch passes. I can do whatever you need me to do."
An increasing number of college coaches are beginning to agree with that assessment. Isaac has scholarship offers from Toledo, Arizona, Purdue, Northwestern, Illinois and Notre Dame. Michigan is among the programs showing strong interest and recently had Issac on campus for the annual "Barbecue at the Big House."
"I really liked it," said Isaac of his time in Ann Arbor. "The coaches are good guys. They seem like they are pretty straightforward people. I like the campus and the Big House is real nice. Overall, it was a good visit and I liked it a lot.
"I talked to (Michigan running backs) Coach (Fred) Jackson and he said he watched my film. He liked it and wanted to stay in touch. Basically (they said) send tape from the first two or three games and they will go from there."
If Isaac's next few contests are anything like his first, Michigan won't be the only suitor knocking at his doorstep. When they do, they'll all have a great deal of ground to make up in the familiarity department. In addition to proximity, in-state schools Illinois and Northwestern also have going for them the presence of Joliet Catholic players on their current or future rosters.
"Malin (Jones) from my school has committed (to Northwestern)," Isaac told Scout.com. "I'm pretty familiar with them. I've been to the school a few times. It's a great place and great school. It's another school you know is real good one."
Isaac feels similarly about Illinois — the home of the tailback he and Jones split carries with in 2010, Josh Ferguson.
"Obviously with (Ferguson) going (to Illinois), it's definitely something that will help me," he said. "People don't get that advantage very often. I get to talk to him about things. He tells me a lot of things about the school he likes. I got to see it for myself (in the summer), but he's as helpful as he can be. Him and Malin both are talking to me about (their schools)."
No top school yet
While that might seem to tip the scales in favor of those programs, Isaac insists that's far from the case. Visits to Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Iowa and Ohio State have all left positive impressions, and he remains interested in visiting a host of others. At this point in his recruitment Isaac hasn't yet begun the process of comparing and contrasting his options. He is much more concerned with keeping an open mind and maintaining his current team as his priority.
"Anybody that has contacted me to this point I'm interested in because I don't have a top anything," Isaac said matter-of-factly. "I've still got two years of high school football left. I really just want to find the right fit for me. It could be a division 1-AA school for all I know. As long as I fit good, the coaches and me vibe, and everything works out.
"I just want to focus on my junior season and get back to (the playoffs). After my junior season I'll have a lot of time off besides lifting. I'm going to take some time (at that point) to think about what I have. Hopefully I'll have a couple more offers. I'm not into it just to see how many offers I can get -- just to see where I stand at that point in maybe December or January and go from there. (A decision) could be (made) during junior year, it could be senior year. I don't really know."
That loose timeline should provide ample opportunity for Isaac to build the types of relationships necessary to determine which situation fits him best.
"How they are going to play me," said Isaac, highlighting the fact some schools covet him as a linebacker. "Obviously my first choice is I want to play running back. Then just the people. Above all, that is what is really going to sell the school. It could have everything, but if it does not have the people and atmosphere, not a lot of people are going to want to be there."