The top central Illinois high school football players of the last 20 years

Wes Huett
From left, Sherrick McManis, Boomer Grigsby and Andy Studebaker are three of the top football players to come from the Peoria area since 2000.

The Journal Star is looking back at some of the best players, teams and games from the last 20 years of high school football in central Illinois.

This week we pick the best football players who graduated from Journal Star-area high schools since the year 2000. When compiling this list, we took into account not just what each did they walked the halls in central Illinois, but also what they accomplished in their time in the college and pros.

What about the teams? The top central Illinois high school football programs of the last 20 years

Sherrick McManis, RB/DB, Richwoods 2006

One of the best athletes from the city, regardless of sport. The 11-year NFL veteran is a multi-year special teams captain for the Chicago Bears. Before that, the longest-tenured member of the Bears was all-Big Ten defensive back at Northwestern and multi-positional weapon for iconic Peoria program Richwoods.

Boomer Grigsby, LB, Canton, 2000

After his time as an all-area LB at Canton, the 5-foot-11, 250-pounder went on to dominate at Illinois State — where the school hall of famer was named a three-time first-team All-American and the FCS all-time career leader in tackles. He was drafted by the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, playing three-plus seasons in the league.

Andy Studebaker, LB, Eureka, 2004

The 6-foot-3, 255-pounder played 97 career NFL games over eight seasons before retiring in 2016 after a second stint with the Indianapolis Colts. As a junior at Division III Wheaton College, the all-American led the NCAA with 17.5 sacks. He was a captain and two-way standout at Eureka.

Colton Underwood, RB/DL, Washington, 2009

One of the most-decorated football players in Illinois State history knocked around NFL training camp rosters before retiring from injury in 2016. The 6-foot-3, 255-pound former Washington all-stater might be better known for his stint as "The Bachelor," on the hit ABC reality show in 2019.

Kendrick Foster, RB, Richwoods, 2012

The only two-time Journal Star football player of the year also is the area's top all-time rusher with 6,401 yards in four seasons at Richwoods. The 5-foot-9, 190-pounder went on to Illinois, where he led the Illini in all-purpose yards in each of his junior and senior seasons.

Kendrick Green, OL/DL, Peoria High, 2016

The 6-foot-4, 315-pounder currently is a three-year starting offensive lineman for the Illini and NFL prospect. The all-stater led Peoria High to the 2016 state championship, starting both ways.

Josh Augusta, TE/DL, Peoria High, 2012

Four-year defensive lineman in the SEC, helping Missouri as a force in the middle of its line at 6-foot-4, 335 pounds. Bounced around NFL training camp rosters with the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs before being drafted into the XFL.

Logan Tuley-Tillman, OL/DL, Manual, 2012

The Peorian played his college ball at Michigan, Akron and Texas-El Paso, starting every game of his final two years in college. The 6-foot-7, 305-pounder spent time in the American Football Association and was drafted into the XFL before it folded this spring. He was invited to San Francisco 49ers minicamp earlier this year.

Caleb TerBush, QB, Metamora, 2008

The 6-foot-5, 240-pounder was an all-state dual-threat QB his senior season, helping Metamora to a state title. Played 22 games over three seasons at Purdue, starting his junior year as starter and being named captain in 2012. TerBush had a short stint with the NFL's Arizona Cardinals in 2013.

Nick Mangieri, WR/LB, Dunlap, 2011

The 6-5, 275-pounder was a three-year starter at Indiana, capping his career in 2015 as a team captain and all-Big Ten pick. He played in 47 games with 35 starts.

Brett Taylor, LB, Macomb 2012

One of the most decorated players in Western Illinois history, the linebacker was a two-time FCS all-America pick and runnerup for ther top defensive player at that level. The 6-foot-2, 230-pounder also was a three-year starter at Macomb, setting all-time school marks in tackles. Had training camp stint with NFL's Minnesota Vikings in 2018.

Brad Herman, TE/LB, Metamora, 2008

The 6-foot-5, 255-pound all-stater was one of the most dominant two-way players in Metamora history. He led school to state title before a four-year career as a tight end at Iowa. Signed with the NFL's New England Patriots out of college, but had his pro career cut short by injury.

Coran Taylor, QB, Peoria High, 2018

The dual-threat all-state QB captained Peoria High's record-setting state championship offense in 2016, helping the Lions roll up 57.5 points per game. He accounted for nearly 7,000 total yards and 71 TDs in two seasons before heading to Illinois. The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder is set for his junior season as a QB with the Illini.

Charlie Mangieri, TE/LB, Dunlap, 2017

The 6-foot-4, 250-pounder is the third Mangieri brother in the Big Ten — set for this third season with the Wildcats. The three-time captain was a two-way starter for Dunlap.

PJ Mangieri, OL, Dunlap, 2009

An all-area lineman with the Journal Star as a Dunlap senior in 2008. He went on to star as a long snapper at Nebraska, and eventually spent time in NFL training camps with the Cowboys and Jets.

Marques Cox, OT/DE, Peoria High, 2018

The 6-foot-6, 310-pound all-stater was huge part of the offensive and defensive lines for record-setting and championship Peoria High teams. Now a redshirt sophomore for at Northern Illinois, where he started 10 games at left tackle as a freshman.

Lacale London, DL, Peoria High, 2014

The 6-foot-5, 280-pounder worked hard to land in the NFL, now a member of the Chicago Bears practice squad. All-stater was one of top D-lineman statewide while at Peoria High, where he helped put Lions football back on the playoff map. Took juco route at Iowa Central before two solid seasons at Western Illinois.

Jared Rients, OL/DL, Fieldcrest, 2015

Four-year starter on offense became the first pure down lineman to win the JS Small-School Player of the Year award in 2014. The 6-foot-5, 300-pounder helped the Knights to a 12-1 record and 2A semifinal finish his senior year and earned all-state honors. Went on to Illinois State, where he started all 15 games for the Redbirds during their FCS quarterfinal run in 2019.

Geno Hess, RB, Peoria High, 2018

The all-stater rolled up 5,666 career rushing yards and 79 career TDs as part of a prolific Peoria High offense. The 5-foot-8, 209-pounder is set to begin his redshirt sophomore season at Southeast Missouri State, where he was an Ohio Valley all-newcomer pick last season.

Michael Fay, QB, Metamora, 2011

One of the most accomplished players in Metamora history. The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder doesn't have the college bona fides as many on this list, but he was 35-4 in three seasons as starting QB — a stretch that included a state title, state runnerup and semifinal appearance. Rolled up nearly 5,000 total yards and 60 or so total TDs as a dual-threat QB.

Christian Uphoff, WR/DB, Washington, 2016

The 6-foot-3 safety and kick returner eyes NFL chances as he enters his senior season at Illinois State. The two-way player was all over the field for Washington as a returner, runner, receiver and in the secondary.

JJ Guedet, OL/DL, Washington, 2018

The 6-foot-7, 210-pounder was a dominant two-way lineman for Washington, named all-state as a senior. Redshirted his freshman season at Minnesota and begins the 2020 season in the mix at offensive tackle.

Josiah Miamen, TE/DE, Dunlap, 2018

The 6-foot-4, 240-pounder was a two-way player for Dunlap, which he led to the 2017 title game. Redshirted his freshman season at Iowa and begins the 2020 season down the depth chart, but with a huge up arrow.

Kaevion Mack, WR/DB, Peoria High, 2020

Dynamic two-way player for Peoria High, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound receiver for its record-setting offense and one of area's top defenders. Set to begin his freshman season at Western Michigan of the Mid-American Conference.

Jarod DePriest, OL/DL, Farmington, 2019

The two-time all-state lineman helped Farmers to three consecutive unbeaten regular seasons, his size and strength unique to the small-school game. Currently a 6-foot-5, 265-pound redshirt freshman for South Dakota State.

Stan Morris contributed to this story.