CHICAGO - After landing three very talented offensive prep players (a running back and two offensive lineman) from Joliet Catholic Academy last month, Saint Xavier University football coach Mike Feminis recently bolstered his defense with the signings of two standout high school players in linebacker Chris Friend and defensive lineman Joshua Wallick. Friend is 5-10 and 215 pounds and hails from Washington, Ill., where he played at Washington High School. Wallick is 6-2 and 295 pounds and resides in Fisher, Ill., where he played at Fisher High School.
Friend was named to the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Class 5A Football Coaches' Association All-State Team this past fall. He played under Darrell Crouch at Washington and helped lead the Panthers to the IHSA Class 5A semifinals before falling to eventual state champion Sacred-Heart Griffin, 44-14. Wallick was an all-state selection on the 2013 ISHA Class 1A Football Coaches' Association All-State Team and helped the Bunnies qualify for the first round of the Class 1A state playoffs. As a junior, Wallick turned in a perfect 51-0 record as a wrestler and won the IHSA Class 1A 285-pound weight class state title. He played football for Fisher under head coach Matt Leng.
"Chris and Josh are two exceptional young men who will have great careers at SXU," said Feminis. "Chris really stood out on film. He reminds me of (former SXU All-American MLBs) Mike Lally and Sean Kenney out of high school. Chris reads his keys extremely well, plays downhill and is a very physical tackler. I expect him to compete for playing time right away and I won't be surprised four years from now if he is mentioned in the same sentence as Mike or Sean. We think he's that good."
"Evaluating Josh was a little more difficult, because he absolutely dominated the kids at that (Class 1A) level who were much smaller than him," continued Feminis. "He is extremely strong and plays with great leverage, which probably comes from his background as a wrestler. But what put him over the top for us is how well he moves for such a big guy. Watching a 300-pound lineman run down on a kickoff and make a tackle was impressive. Josh turned down a preferred walk-on opportunity at the University of Illinois to come here, so we feel very fortunate to get him."
"What tops it all off with Chris and Josh is their character, work ethic, and leadership skills," said Feminis. "Both of their coaches have said they are off the charts, so these two kids are fantastic additions to our defensive side of the ball."