Decision time: Palatine lineman Williams chooses Michigan; Geneva receiver Taylor picks Georgia

Suburban high school football players in the Class of 2025 have been busy recently choosing the colleges they want to play for.

In the past week there were a number of significant area Division I football commitments. The biggest two came from Palatine defensive end Jaylen Williams and Geneva’s Talyn Taylor, both four-star recruits.

Williams, who is a 6-foot-6, 275-pound defensive end, has been on everyone’s radar since the end of his freshman year. He chose Michigan over 25 other Division-I offers, including nearly every Big Ten team. He will play for new Wolverines coach Sherrone Moore, who replaced Jim Harbaugh this winter.

“I want to thank all the coaches from all the schools for their hospitality and how they treated my family,” Williams said. “It truly is a relief to have this done so I can focus with my Palatine teammates on the upcoming season.”

Williams said the first time he visited Ann Arbor he felt comfortable.

“It truly felt like home to me,” Williams said. “It wasn’t anything specific, but I just liked the culture of how they take care of the players and make sure that you get a degree.”

Geneva’s Talyn Taylor (1) runs the ball during a game at St. Charles East on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022.

Taylor, who is 6-1, is going to be a Bulldog. The wide receiver — ranked among the top recruits in Illinois — selected Georgia over Ohio State, Michigan, USC and Notre Dame.

Williams’ Palatine teammate, Parker Brault, just committed to Marshall. Brault, who will play center this year and is 6-3, 290 pounds, had 13 Division I offers mostly from the MAC and Conference USA.

“Honestly, they are just genuine people there,” Brault said. “There is a religious part to it too. They have religious group meetings every Wednesday and Sunday and that is important to me. It is a great program. Coach (Charles) Huff is a genuine guy. It felt like home. I believe in what they are doing here. I don’t want to be in a locker room that is afraid of people.”

Nate Cleveland from Hoffman Estates committed to Minnesota. Cleveland, who also stars for the Hawks’ basketball team, picked the Golden Gophers from over 15 other schools.

“I am really pumped, and I can’t wait to get there and be part of the team,” said Cleveland, who plays linebacker and quarterback for the Hawks. “I felt that coach PJ Fleck brought lots of energy there. It is something I want to be around. There are a lot of hardworking people, and I expect us to do well the next few years.”

Glenbard West’s Mason Ellens, ranked as a three-star athlete, committed to Iowa State. The 6-foot Ellens, who plays defensive back and running back for the Hilltoppers, is also a speedster, running 100 meters in 10.73 seconds.

“I really liked the way the teammates bonded together when were together,” said Ellens, a three-year starter. “The coaches were great. It really felt like home.”

Glenbard West’s Michael O’Connell committed to Northwestern. The 6-7, 270-pound offensive tackle, who also plays basketball, chose the Wildcats over eight other schools.

Hersey tight end Logan Farrell recently committed to North Carolina. Farrell, who has been a two-year starter for the Huskies, also was third in the state last month in the shot put and sixth in the state in the discus.

Farrell made another visit to North Carolina last weekend to meet with coach Mack Brown, his wife, Sally, as well as offensive coordinator Chip Lindsay and tight ends coach Freddie Kitchens.

“I had no doubts before and it was amazing this past weekend,” said Farrell, a three-star recruit. “I was just astonished at how good of coaches they are and what great people they are. Coach Brown said that he wants all his coaches to coach you like they we are their son or daughter.”

Wheaton Warrenville South’s Amari Williams, who plays both wide receiver and strong safety, gave Northern Illinois coach Thomas Hammock his verbal commitment. He said that part of his decision came from wanting to stay close to his family, especially his brothers Eddy and Logan.

“I really liked the coaching staff,” said Williams, who had offers from MAC schools Toledo, Western Michigan and Ohio. “Northern showed love and hospitality. It’s not too far from home, and I am a big family guy.”

Naperville North quarterback Jacob Bell was so enamored with his visit to Ball State that he committed to play for the Cardinals quickly over other MAC schools.

John Starks/jstarks@dailyherald.comNaperville North’s Jacob Bell throws against Naperville Central in a high school football game at North Central College in Naperville on Friday, Sept. 29, 2023.
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