Deakon Tonielli still marvels at the prospect of playing college football, even after a recruiting process that saw him garner a lot of interest.
He determined his destination.
The 6-foot-6 Oswego senior tight end recently announced his verbal commitment to Michigan, choosing the defending Big Ten champions from 15 scholarship offers criss-crossing multiple Power Five conferences.
“To be completely honest, I still don’t realize this is happening,” Tonielli said. “For me, it’s like another year of football with a new team. But to sit down, realize that I’m going to play at the next level, it’s so great.
Tonielli is rated a four-star recruit by recruiting website 247Sports. He is Illinois’ third player in the Class of 2023 and 17th nationally. Tonielli chose Michigan from a wide range of offers, including Purdue, Michigan State and Big Ten Illinois, as well as Tennessee, Cincinnati, West Virginia and Louisville.
Tonielli made visits to Illinois, Purdue and Michigan in June before making his decision on June 19. He also visited Michigan last fall and again in March.
“I chose Michigan based on the education and the bond that comes with the team. It felt like home,” said Tonielli, who was offered by Michigan in August 2021. “Whenever I was up there, never wanted to leave the guys or the staff.
Tonielli, a two-time Record Newspapers All-Area draft pick, had a team-high 32 catches for 385 yards and two touchdowns last fall in his sophomore college season.
“He just has the draft ability,” Oswego coach Brian Cooney said. “When a kid is 6-6 and weighs 225 pounds, college coaches tell me that’s what our guys look like, he looks like some of our best. It has versatility, depending on how they plan to use it. He’s a guy you can flex with, create mismatches. He can work the line like a real tight end and he loves that job. He likes to find alleys with his athleticism to open up, he has a great ability to hit at full speed and then brake. And his hand-eye coordination, I’ve never seen that in such a big kid. He has a lot of tools that work to his advantage.
It didn’t take long for Cooney to see it either.
“The first time I saw him in first grade, he stood out straight away,” Cooney said. “We quickly saw what he could do. In first year, he didn’t spend much time with his current class. As a sophomore, in the first game, he had a few catches that were hard to explain for such a tall kid. He looked different and flowing. The progression from year to year is impressive. This year he will be a major target, which is good news for us.
Tonielli is grateful to have the recruiting process in the rearview mirror so he can aim for his senior season in high school.
“Talking to all the coaches can be very hectic, but it’s such a blessing and I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity,” Tonielli said. “Making the decision feels like a big weight is lifting off your shoulders.”
Oswego East QB Tre Jones commits to Navy
Tre Jones is on board.
The Oswego East senior quarterback made his verbal commitment to the Navy on June 24, choosing the midshipmen from offers including Arizona State and South Florida.
Jones was volunteered by the Navy in April and toured the Annapolis campus June 15.
“I personally just thought they had a plan for me,” Jones said. “People recruit you and if they don’t have a plan, you don’t know what to expect. They had a plan.
This plan expands the Navy’s passing game, helping what was more of a running-based offense to take off. Jones, a dynamic dual threat, threw for 853 yards and eight touchdowns and rushed for 310 yards and five touchdowns for Oswego East last fall after transferring to his home district from Montini.
“After a conversation with the Navy head coach, they said signing me into their program was the first step for them to open their offense,” Jones said. “They want to spread it more and be able to throw the ball and be successful. They are going to be true to their identity and direct the ball, but they want to open up the passing game. With my legs and arm, it’s perfect for them to make that transition.
Jones’ move was the culmination of a recruiting process that began when Arizona State offered him while he was still at Montini.
“Patience was the most important thing,” Jones said. “Anyone who is a year older than me or a year younger than me knows that this recruitment process has been different in the past. Covid and the transfer portal have brought many different elements to recruitment. It forces you to be more patient and more careful in your recruitment.