Led by University of Illinois recruits Darius Mosely from O'Fallon and Althoff High graduate Merrick Jackson, the metro-east Division I football recruiting haul included at least a dozen player this season.
Mosely took advantage of early graduation and has already enrolled at Illinois, getting a head start on the rest of the Class of 2013 as he begins his college academic and football career.
O'Fallon High record-setting quarterback Todd Porter will sign with Western Kentucky, where the new head coach is Bobby Petrino.
"This was a good senior class around here and it's going to be a really, really good class next year, too," Belleville West coach Cameron Pettus said, noting the heavy recruiting attention already going to Southwestern Conference players like West junior linebacker Tori Millender, East St. Louis junior linebacker Kyron Watson and Flyers sophomore lineman Terry Beckner, among others.
Pettus said technology has made things easier on colleges trying to gain information and video on recruits, but their basic job remains the same.
"You've still got to get kids' attention, get them on campus and show them what you can do for them," said Pettus, a former McKendree University assistant. "There's a lot more information out there and they can get information on kids easier and lot quicker. But when it comes down to it, they've got to sell their school and try to convince those kids why they need to come there."
Jackson committed to Illinois last summer, then responded with a solid senior season that helped Althoff to a second-place finish in 2A.
"I think the sky's the limit or him if he's committed to working and once he gets under the care of those guys," Althoff coach Ken Turner said. "It's a great opportunity and when you get there, you're going to get the highest level of competition."
Verbal commitments are just that -- kind of a basic agreement that could change between the time it is given and when letter of intents are signed Wednesday.
It happened a few years ago when former Althoff all-state running back Jason Ford shifted from Iowa to Illinois. This year it was Jerseyville all-state quarterback Mitch Kimble, who switched from Northern Illinois to Syracuse after former NIU coach Dave Doeren was hired at North Carolina State.
Originally committed to Ball State, talented East St. Louis receiver Daniel Williams instead will sign with Jackson State.
Two Belleville linebackers who got plenty of recruiting attention recently made their college selections
Belleville East senior James Cotton (6-3, 220) chose Tennessee-Martin, while Belleville West senior Pierre Gee-Tucker thought long and hard before finally deciding on Northern Iowa.
Cotton led the Lancers' defense with 42 tackles and an interception. He chose Tennessee-Martin over offers from Western Illinois, Southern Illinois University Carbondale and Illinois State.
"He's got good size, he runs well and he's a tough kid," Belleville East coach Tim Funk said. "I think his best football's ahead of him and he's got a lot of upside."
Cotton was a two-year starter who also got a lot of mileage on the offensive side for East.
"We asked him to play receiver and even tight end for us, so he did a lot of things," Funk said.
Gee-Tucker, who had 101 tackles, had a lot to consider. Besides the school choices, some programs liked him as a linebacker and others as a safety.
"He was being recruited by a lot of good football schools and a lot of good schools, period," Pettus said. "But ultimately he felt the most comfortable at Northern Iowa. They're definitely getting a very good football player."
Southeast Missouri State grabbed two top players from the Alton area in Alton High defensive back Tyler McLemore and Marquette all-state running back Michael Ford.