- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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By now you've had time to digest the 2013 recruiting classes in the Big Ten. Many of you turned the page to 2014 long ago, so it's time for us to catch up.
The Big Ten has 19 verbal commits for the 2014 class, which ranks fourth among FBS conferences and 11 behind the SEC. Nine Big Ten schools have received commitments, and future Big Ten members Maryland and Rutgers both are on the board with one commit each.
Here's a snapshot of 2014 recruiting in the Big Ten ...
Comment: The Illini didn't get their first 2013 commitment until Feb. 28, 2012, and they're pursuing several coveted in-state prospects. Some recruits might wait and see with Illinois as coach Tim Beckman faces a pivotal season after a disastrous 2012.
Comment: The Hoosiers didn't get their first 2013 commitment until last June, so there's not a major rush here. Indiana finished the past recruiting cycle very strong and was able to flip a few players who had pledged elsewhere.
Comment: The Hawkeyes are off to a good start with offensive lineman Ross Pierschbacher, an in-state prospect who has received good reviews. Iowa also remained within its borders for athlete Jay Scheel, who had received interest from other area teams like Nebraska and Iowa State. Both men are on ESPN's Watch List.
Comment: Fast starts have been a hallmark of Brady Hoke's recruiting at Michigan, and the trend is continuing for the 2014 class. Size stands out among all three Wolverines' commits, including 6-foot-6, 230-pound quarterback Wilton Speight from Richmond, Va., who reclassified for the 2014 class after breaking his collarbone as a junior. ESPN Watch List prospects linebacker Michael Ferns and defensive tackle Bryan Mone are nice additions.
Comment: The class is off to an excellent start as all three commits are on ESPN's 2014 Watch List. The intrigue surrounds wide receiver prospect Drake Harris, who has received interest from Ohio State, Michigan and other top programs and could be pried away from Michigan State. The class also includes another Bullough, this time Byron, the younger brother of current Spartans Max and Riley.
Comment: Running back Jeff Jones not only puts Minnesota on the board for 2014, but he's a solid in-state prospect on the ESPN Watch List. A lack of homegrown talent hurt Minnesota in the 2013 class, which included just one in-state prospect, so Jones' pledge is a good sign.
Comment: It's still early, Huskers fans, although your anxiety about Bo Pelini's recruiting won't be quelled until Nebraska gets on the board with some decorated prospects. Nebraska's first 2013 recruits didn't commit until mid-April of last year.
Comment: The Wildcats' defensive back recruiting has improved in recent years, and the coaches hope they've made another good addition in safety Jordan Thomas, an ESPN Watch List prospect from Klein, Texas.
Comment: Although Ohio State continues to recruit aggressively in the Southern states, its first four commits for 2014 come from the Midwest (3 Ohio, 1 Michigan). The Buckeyes went to Detroit's Cass Tech High School, a traditional Michigan hotbed, for cornerback Damon Webb. They recently lost a commitment from defensive end Lawrence Marshall, who is still considering the Buckeyes but also Michigan and Michigan State.
Comment: Running back is and will be a major need for Penn State, especially after the 2012 season. The addition of Maryland native Mark Allen, who committed back in October, should help.
Comment: New Boilers coach Darrell Hazell took his time putting together a staff and had to focus on finishing the 2013 recruiting cycle, so the lack of commits isn't a huge surprise. It will be interesting to see Hazell's vision/strategy for his first full class at Purdue and how successful he'll be on the trail.
Comment: All four Wisconsin commits made their pledges last year, before the coaching change. New coach Gary Andersen did a good job of keeping Wisconsin's 2013 recruits on board and will need to do the same with this group, which includes ESPN Watch List selections in quarterback Chance Stewart and offensive lineman Jaden Gault.
5hAndrea Adelson and Austin Ward
6hTom VanHaaren and Erik McKinney
1dAndrea Adelson and Austin Ward