Fred Beaugard is a defensive end at Montini High School in Lombard, one of the most perennially successful programs in the state. Though they won a second consecutive state championship in 2011, the journey wasn't a flawless one.
"We lost to Marian Central and Loyola along the way to the State Championship. Those were in the first half of the season though. We just got focused and got back on track. We came together and knew our goal was a three-peat. We wanted to show teams that we weren't going to lose."
When it mattered most, Montini's defense got the job done, and Beaugard was a big reason for its success. Playing alongside defensive tackle and Iowa signee Jaleel Johnson, Beaugard prepared himself to be the leader of the defensive line next year.
"I think I did pretty well at pass defense and pass rush. Our corners were able to come up and make interceptions. I learned a lot from our defensive line because they were all seniors. They taught me how to overpower the person in front of me, how to stay low and practice hard."
Beaugard says he has been working mostly on strength, getting faster, pass rushing skills and footwork this offseason, but he knows that most importantly, he and his teammates will have to step up as leaders.
"Yeah, I see everyone on the team taking a leadership role. We have to each be iron so we all get better. Nobody can give up, and everyone has to push each other to perfection."
Beaugard's main strength is in pass-rush situations, but he's worked hard to become a well-rounded player. He has the size to be a versatile end already, but knows he can't rely solely on his size for success.
"My physicality on the field is noticeable. I can also stop the run pretty well. I have good size at 6'-3" and about 240 pounds. I just focus on my technique more than my size now. Technique helps you accomplish what you want."
Montini is a program with a long tradition of success, so it's no surprise Beaugard wants to see that characteristic, both on the field and in the classroom, in a future school as well.
"Really, I want to see a winning tradition. The number one thing I'm really looking at is my degree. I'm probably going into business."
Montini's success draws a lot of attention to the program, and Beaugard has heard from a slew of schools so far.
"I've been offered by North Dakota, so I've been hearing from them a lot. Illinois, Indiana, NIU, Western Kentucky, Iowa State. I think Western Kentucky, Bowling Green, and Minnesota could be close to offering. Most schools want to see me in camp this summer."
One school Beaugard has visited twice this spring is Illinois. He had a lot of positive remarks about the in-state school.
"I came down with my parents and two of my teammates (Joey Borcellino and rising junior Dylan Thompson). It gave me a chance to see the campus, which was beautiful. I really got to see the football part too.
"Their practice was intense, which I really liked. The coaches have good drills to get their players ready for the season. The practice and workout schedule was pretty good. It keeps the players in top shape and gets them ready for the season."
Though he's a defensive lineman, he's in the recruiting area of Illinois offensive line coach Luke Butkus. Beaugard can tell Butkus and the rest of the staff are aiming for success.
"Coach Butkus has been talking to me so far. He's a really interesting guy. He's a new coach, but he and the other new coaches are really dedicated to this idea of a new era of getting back to championships and all that."
Though many recruits are extremely busy taking numerous visits throughout the spring, Beaugard has kept his travels to a minimum so far. When summer comes, he plans to get back on the road.
"The only other school I've been to is Bowling Green. I don't really have any plans to go to any others during the spring really. I might hit some places in the summer. I'll go to the Nike combine in Champaign in June too."