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Illinois’ top five high school football receiving careers

Illinois’ top five high school football receiving careers
(Credit: IHSA/BVM Sports)

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (BVM) — After a shortened spring 2020 season, high school football in Illinois has returned in full force this fall. Many stars continue to emerge, which is no surprise considering the level of talent that has come out of the state over the past few decades.

In particular, the IHSA has had some spectacular wide receivers come through its history books, several of which have gone on to have solid careers beyond high school. Let’s take a look at the top five wide receivers in the state based on career receiving yards.

  1. Tom Guardi: Riverside-Brookfield High School, Class of 2002 – 3,498 yards

Guardi is the oldest player to make this list and his career performance is impressive considering the passing game was not quite as prominent when he played compared to today. Guardi’s standout career at Riverside-Brookfield finished in style, as he grabbed 63 passes for 1,347 yards and 15 touchdowns in his senior year, giving him the IHSA record in receiving yards at the time. Guardi stayed home to play college football at the University of Chicago.

  1. Laquon Treadwell: Crete-Monee High School, Class of 2013 – 3,563 yards

As a first-round NFL Draft pick, Treadwell has to be the most well-known name on this list. His pro talent first became recognized at Crete-Monee High School, where Treadwell was a first team all-state player in both his junior and senior seasons. In 2011, Treadwell helped lead his team to a state championship. A consensus All-American, Treadwell committed to the University of Mississippi where he had a tremendous three-year career, highlighted by a 1,100-yard junior season. His rise continued when he was selected No. 23 overall by the Minnesota Vikings in the 2016 NFL Draft. Currently, Treadwell holds a spot on the Jacksonville Jaguars’ practice squad. While his NFL career didn’t live up to expectations, he is still remembered for the tremendous mark he left in Illinois.

  1. Flynn Nagel: Marist High School, Lemont High School, Class of 2015 – 3,613 yards

Nagel’s receiving talent was recognized early in his career with his explosive speed and strong hands. In 2013, he impressed as a junior at Marist High School with 1,488 yards and 18 touchdowns. He transferred to Lemont High School for his senior year, where he put up a similar yardage output, but increased his touchdown total to 28. A three-star recruit, Nagel decided to stay home and play with Northwestern University. In his senior season with the Wildcats in 2018, Nagel caught 68 balls for 780 yards as an All-Big Ten honorable mention player. After his college career, the receiver had several NFL workouts, and finally latched onto a pro career with the Dallas Renegades of the XFL — a league which eventually folded due to COVID-19.

  1. Justin Wright: Taylorville High School, Class of 2019 – 3,817 yards

Wright is another elite talent and the most recent on this list to come out of Illinois. His tremendous career saw him compile close to 4,000 yards and 48 touchdowns — the third-best mark in the state. In 2017, Wright had the best single-game receiving performance in Illinois high school history when he caught 12 balls for an eye-popping 390 yards — a mark which was also ranked 12th nationally at the time. Wright has gone on to play for the St. Ambrose University where he is currently a junior. 

  1. Jordan Westerkamp: Montini Catholic High School, Class of 2012 – 4,548 yards

Also the IHSA’s all-time leader in receptions (235) and receiving touchdowns (68), Westerkamp had perhaps the most successful career of any wide receiver to suit up in Illinois, as evidenced by his over 700-yard advantage on this list. In his final three seasons, the standout helped Montini Catholic to three consecutive state championships, capped by a 353-yard, five-touchdown performance in his final high school game. Westerkamp already created a legacy in Illinois, but he would do so in Nebraska as well during his college career with the Cornhuskers. A two-time captain and All-Big Ten player, Westerkamp finished his college career with 167 receptions — second all-time in Nebraska program history — as well as 2,474 yards and 18 receiving touchdowns. Signed as an undrafted free agent by the Miami Dolphins, Westerkamp had stops in the CFL, AAF and XFL during his pro career as well.