Big Ten: Football Recruiting

Class Rankings: Dec. 23 update

December, 23, 2014
Dec 23
3:30
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National recruiting analyst Craig Haubert joins ESPN’s Phil Murphy to break down updates to the ESPN class rankings for 2015 football recruiting. A wild Friday saw four of the nation’s top 150 players announce college decisions.

To read the full class rankings, click here.
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A flurry of commitments and decommitments has led to considerable movement in the latest class rankings update. Several top-10 programs added ESPN 300 prospects, including Tennessee, which picked up top-10 ILB Darrin Kirkland Jr. The Vols already have a class that features a talented group of defensive linemen, and have now added a big, powerful inside linebacker that can develop into a tough downhill run-stopper. Butch Jones now has Tennessee in contention for a second-straight top-five finish.

Outside the top 10, USC landed a verbal from in-state tight end Tyler Petite, a tall, lengthy prospect with the size, speed and leaping ability to potentially create mismatches as a receiving target at the position. After landing the former Duke commit, USC's class features eight ESPN 300 prospects.

Ole Miss also saw a move up in the rankings with a pair of additions. The Rebels landed ESPN Junior College 50 QB Chad Kelly, a player who is physically gifted enough to be a strong candidate to replace QB Bo Wallace, a one-time junior college transfer himself. Ole Miss, who not sits at No. 17, also landed ESPN 300 OT Michael Howard. He is a lean OL prospect that needs to fill out, but is an athletic and tenacious player and with development could end up being a real strong pick-up out of Florida for the Rebels.

Inside the rankings

Coach Art Briles has had two very distinct luxuries when it comes to recruiting in today's complicated landscape -- recruiting in the shadows and recruiting without pressure. Both are actually in many ways, one in the same. As Briles has built this program, he's been able to do it his way without public pressure or booster interference because early on, nobody thought it could be done and nobody cared.

This staff was able to go after who they wanted, on their own timetable and without much scrutiny. In today's recruiting world, that's a huge luxury. Players like Levi Norwood, Antwan Goodley or Tevin Reese, who was a late qualifier, were all bypassed by other Power 5 programs, but nobody even noticed Baylor signed them or griped, "who are these guys" on signing day.

As a result, prospects like these were brought along at a normal pace and developed properly by the coaching staff. Redshirting the bulk of the classes for the first few years has also been huge for the Bears. The challenge going forward will be dealing with increased program exposure and expectation level which almost always brings with it increased recruiting scrutiny from boosters and fans alike. But the Bears don??t need to change a thing.



To see the full class rankings, click here.

Top sleeper commits: Big Ten 

December, 17, 2014
Dec 17
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Five-star and ESPN 300 prospects create the most buzz, but with more than a hundred FBS programs competing for talent it takes more than just those top-rated prospects to have success. Rosters are built largely with prospects who enter college with little fanfare, but their development and contributions are key. Every year we see prospects who flew under the radar but developed into some of their conference's top players.

Throughout our evaluations we come across many players who show promise and are great additions based on their upside for development and/or scheme fit.

Here are five commitments in the Big Ten who we feel are unheralded but additions worth keeping an eye on:

On The Trail Show (noon ET)

December, 16, 2014
Dec 16
8:00
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Join RecruitingNation's panel of experts to break down a week of huge commits and what's ahead for visits and all-star games.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

With every passing second, Michigan is falling further and further behind in the recruiting battles for the Class of 2015.

Every other school that has not been touched by college football’s silly season will spend the next three days making in-home visits with recruits’ moms and dads, hosting prospects on official visits or dropping by high schools checking on junior and sophomore targets. Plus, on average most recruits take only two or three visits and for many this weekend puts them at that magic point in their decision-making process and now they’ll be able to hash out a choice with family and friends over the holidays.


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Three reasons why Michigan disappointed 

December, 11, 2014
Dec 11
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"Michigan Man" Brady Hoke cleaned up Rich Rodriguez’s failed spread “experiment” in his first season and led the maize and blue to a Sugar Bowl victory. Four years later, Hoke has been fired, the Wolverines have not found his replacement and Rich Rod’s Arizona Wildcats are headed to the Fiesta Bowl. What happened?


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Big Ten season recruiting superlatives 

December, 11, 2014
Dec 11
9:00
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While the recruiting season isn't quite finished, we are done with the regular season. It has been a crazy year within the Big Ten with coaching changes, big commits and big decommits as well. Here is a closer look at the Big Ten's recruiting superlatives.


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Late last week, Oregon State commitments and recruits were blindsided by the news that head coach Mike Riley was leaving for Nebraska. While some commits remained on board, others quickly straddled the line between staying and leaving. Two -- linebacker Tyrin Ferguson and safety Adrienne Talan -- announced their decommitments.

Less than a week later, those same Oregon State commits were blindsided yet again, but this time the news was far more positive. The Beavers announced former Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen would be taking over in Corvallis.


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Class rankings: Dec. 10 update

December, 10, 2014
Dec 10
3:30
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Alabama, which has already signed three consecutive No. 1 classes, has occupied the top spot in the 2015 rankings since its release. Knocking the Crimson Tide's class, which features 17 ESPN 300 prospects, from the top spot might not be impossible, but it remains a tough task. Despite recently losing a commitment from ESPN 300 WR Daylon Charlot, Bama quickly rebounded, adding a verbal from No. 5 OLB Adonis Thomas. The four-star is reminiscent of 2014 Crimson Tide signee Christian Miller, and possesses excellent size and speed measurables in a hybrid OLB/DE skillset and the versatile defender should fit very well in their base 3-4 defense.

The team that could eventually push Alabama for the top class is Florida State after five-star Josh Sweat picked the Seminoles. FSU, which has had some success recruiting defensive linemen in Virginia with Derrick Nnadi in 2014 and Darvin Taylor II in this class, landed a big commitment in the one-time No. 1 overall prospect Sweat. The No. 2 defensive end is an outstanding athlete with a wonderful combination of speed and power and he can be a versatile and disruptive defender in the Seminoles defense. The current No. 5 player overall in the ESPN 300 was sidelined with a knee injury during his senior season and that could slow initial contributions, but the talented defender is an early enrollee and still possesses great upside with the potential to be an impact player while Tallahassee. The addition of the five-star helped the Seminoles to move into the No. 2 spot in the class rankings.

Inside the rankings

The most difficult thing to do in recruiting is project what a player will be three to five years down the line and perhaps no coach in America does it better than TCU's Gary Patterson. The value of having coached at the mid-major level prior to making the jump to the Big 12 has provided this staff with valuable insight and evaluation tools when it comes to developing players who predominantly will be graded in the 77-82 range for just about all their classes. This was particularly true in the 2012-2014 classes.

This includes players like former WR Josh Boyce (who was lightly recruited) as well as freshman Emmanuel Porter just to name a couple. For TCU, it is about getting the right player -- does he work hard, will he compete and does he have upside in his physical development? Those are the three key things to each TCU class. The other undervalued area that has set the Horned Frogs apart is the staff's ability to project a player at a different position than the one he played in high school. Former TCU great Jerry Hughes was a running back, current safety Sam Carter was a quarterback, OC Joey Hunt was a DT and current starting QB Trevone Boykin was a wide receiver/QB athlete that had to transition to playing QB fulltime.



To see the full rankings, click here.
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Nebraska and Florida have both filled their vacant head coaching positions after letting go of Bo Pelini and Will Muschamp, respectively, which has put Michigan in the spotlight.

Fans and recruits are now waiting to see what happens at Michigan and who the new coach will be. Speculation has run rampant with names across the board from NFL to college coaches being thrown around.


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Whether it's the extra practice or the extra exposure, it's always a positive for a team to get a bowl bid. The Big Ten has 10 teams playing in bowl games this season, and beyond the obvious, there are some recruiting implications for a few of the teams within the conference.

Here is a look at what teams might benefit from the bowl game they will play in and why they could see a positive impact on the recruiting trail.


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Weekend recruiting wrap: Big Ten 

December, 9, 2014
Dec 9
9:00
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The regular season might be over, but there is still plenty of recruiting to be done. Here is a look at the biggest recruiting news from the past week and a look ahead within the Big Ten.


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Class rankings: Dec. 3 update

December, 3, 2014
Dec 3
3:30
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There was little positive movement in the rankings, but all was far from steady as classes on the decline took center stage in this update. 'Tis the season for coaching changes, and two dismissals at prominent programs led to some key decommitments and classes dropping.

Michigan, which signed top-10 classes in 2012 and 2013, faltered on the field, and after four years in Ann Arbor, head coach Brady Hoke was let go. After his departure, the Wolverines class, which had been in decline for a while, losing four ESPN 300 commitments in October and November, suffered another big loss with No. 3 TE-Y Chris Clark decommiting. Having now lost five ESPN 300 commitments since the season started and with a class down to just six total commits, the Wolverines are currently a long way from the top 10. Following the news of the coaching change in Lincoln, Nebraska quickly saw three key offensive prospects decommit, led by ESPN 300 WR Stanley Morgan, and dropped from the rankings.-- Craig Haubert

Inside the rankings

Alabama is at the pinnacle of college football recruiting because it simply has more resources than everyone else. Facilities, finances, booster support, alums, tradition, winning, history, etc. They are all positives. Couple that with Nick Saban's philosophy in player evaluation, attention to detail and pro personnel model, and you have the ideal recipe for long-term success and sustainability.

At Alabama, if it has to do with winning and losing, winning always wins when it relates to recruiting resources. If the Tide need something because it will help them win, they get it. From an evaluation standpoint, Bama is every bit as concerned about the best player as it is with the right fit. From measurable standards to a specific set of critical factors, we have seen them bypass great players because they weren't the right fit. The bottom line is that for the last seven years, Alabama has drafted players while its competitors recruit players.-- Tom Luginbill

To see the full class rankings, click here.
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Penn State is in need of immediate help along the offensive line, so it’s no surprise the coaches have looked to the junior college ranks for assistance. The Nittany Lions have given up 42 sacks on the season; only five teams have given up more.


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Recruits react to Brady Hoke firing 

December, 2, 2014
Dec 2
3:44
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When Michigan fired coach Brady Hoke on Tuesday there were only seven commits left in the 2015 class. Those prospects have stayed committed this long, and most plan to do so despite the coaching change.

ESPN 300 offensive lineman Grant Newsome said he picked Michigan for the education and the opportunity within football, not for the coach. Because of that, he plans to stay committed to the Wolverines.


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