Throughout its history, Fenwick High School has had several distinguished players in the football program like Johnny Lattner and Marques Sullivan.
But with four NCAA Division I recruits on this year’s team, it’s hard to recall another time when the Friars had such a talented group. Fenwick Athletic Director Scott Thies couldn’t either.
“I’m not sure that we have ever had this collection of talented kids,” said Thies, a 1999 graduate of Fenwick. “The 2016 team had quite a few good ones, but not at this level.”
Quarterback Kaden Cobb (Ball State) and wide receivers Eian Pugh (Illinois) and Max Reese (Eastern Michigan) orally committed to their schools during the summer. Now, center Jimmy Liston has become the latest Fenwick player to commit to a top NCAA Division I program when he announced August 31 that he would attend Purdue University next fall.
For the 6-foot-4, 310-pound senior, the decision to become a Boilermaker made a lot of sense.
“There’s so much upside. [Purdue is] close to home, has a great coaching staff, has a great culture and has great academics,” said Liston, who plans to study finance. “My father played there in the ’80s and won two bowl games, and it’s an opportunity that I could not pass up.”
Liston credits his success to being around a talented senior group. Competing with his classmates, he said, has made him a better player.
“Individual success is only a factor of how good the team is. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for my great teammates,” he said. “They’re that piece of the puzzle that I need to get better each day.”
Liston also enjoys the camaraderie he has with Cobb, Pugh and Reese.
“They’re great football players, but even better dudes off the field,” he said. “I’ve got nothing bad to say about any of them; they’re just the best. They’re great leaders, and all of them want to see Fenwick be held upon the pedestal like it used to be.”
Now that the recruiting process has come to an end, Liston — a four-year varsity starter — can fully focus on helping lead Fenwick to gridiron success this fall. The Friars got the season off to a terrific start with a 35-12 rout of Morgan Park Aug. 27 at Triton College, and Liston was especially excited about playing in front of stands packed with Friar Nation again.
“It felt ecstatic. Our student section is amazing and it was special to play in front of a packed house,” he said. “There wasn’t an empty seat and it was real loud. We’ve got a great fan base.”
With an improving offense to go with an already strong defense, Fenwick has the potential for an outstanding season, an assessment Liston agrees with.
“There’s so much talent on this team,” he said. “We’ve got to take it one game at a time and focus on our next opponent each and every week.”