Chase Gianacakos didn’t start playing football until arriving at St. Charles North High School. It’s looking increasingly likely that he’s going to make up for lost time long after his eligibility with the North Stars expires.
A junior offensive lineman at North, Gianacakos received his first two Division I scholarship offers over a 72-hour period, nabbing an offer from Kansas on Saturday and Toledo on Monday.
To say Gianacakos, who turned 17 Sunday, is becoming a hot property might be an understatement.
His recruitment is heating up so rapidly that he was visiting one Mid-American Conference program, Ball State, on Monday, when he learned from one of the Cardinals’ coaches about the Toledo offer. The coach had seen word of the Rockets’ offer to Gianacakos on social media before Gianacakos had time to check his email from the Toledo staff.
“I was like ‘What? Wow,’ ” Gianacakos said.
Gianacakos’ name has gained traction in football recruiting circles after a pair of strong January showings at showcase events – a national combine in San Antonio, Texas and the Core 6 Showcase in Westmont. He ascended to a Rivals.com list of the top 30 Illinois recruits for the class of 2014.
Naturally, the weight room has been good to Gianacakos. After all, his parents, Rich and Stephanie, met in a weight room at the University of Illinois, where Rich was an O-lineman for the football team and Stephanie played volleyball.
An offensive tackle, Gianacakos is up to about 6-foot-6, 286 pounds, 10 pounds heavier than his playing weight as a junior.
Gianacakos said he lifts at school and at home as much as he can, while juggling speed training at Nate’s Premium Athletes and technique training through Mike Jones at Deerfield-based Core 6.
“I think a lot of schools are saying I have good, quick feet, I’m athletic for a big guy and I’ve just been working really hard to keep up my technique and keep getting better because I feel offensive line positions are a technical position,” Gianacakos said. “You can never get too much coaching with it.”
In addition to Ball State, Gianacakos already has visited Illinois, Michigan State and Boston College, with future visits planned for Northern Illinois, Northwestern and Missouri and potentially Minnesota, Duke and Maryland.
Despite his parents’ Illini heritage, Gianacakos said his parents have encouraged him to carve out his own path if Champaign does not end up looking like his best bet.
He doesn’t feel compelled to limit his options to the midwest considering a worldly upbringing. Because of his father’s job, Gianacakos lived internationally throughout his late grammar school and middle school years, residing in China, England, Spain and the Netherlands. Hence, the late start in football.
Strong academics and “great tradition” will be bigger pulls than geography, Gianacakos said.
“Those are probably the biggest things with me,” Gianacakos said. “I don’t mind traveling because I actually lived overseas for seven years so I don’t really mind going places or being in a different environment because I’m just kind of used to it.”
At North, Gianacakos and his teammates are acclimating to a new head coach. The school recently hired former Elk Grove defensive coordinator Rob Pomazak to succeed the retiring Mark Gould.
Gianacakos said he has spoken with Pomazak on the phone but hasn’t met him in person yet, which he expects to change soon.
“I’m really excited about him,” Gianacakos said. “He seems like a great guy. He had a great program going at Elk Grove, being defensive coordinator and all. I’m really excited for this coming season.”
And especially excited that it looks like it won’t be his last.
• Jay Schwab is sports editor of the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5382 or firstname.lastname@example.org.