Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Big Ten [Print without images]

Tuesday, July 29, 2014
ESPN 300: 5 things to know in the Big Ten

By Tom VanHaaren


The ESPN 300 has been updated, and we are moving closer and closer to the college football season. Plenty of top prospects are uncommitted but could soon be off the board.

Here are five things to know about the ESPN 300 within the Big Ten.

Biggest battles to come:

Plenty of top prospects are still considering Big Ten teams. With highly ranked recruits, teams often have to wait for the players to make their decisions later in the recruiting process, so recruiting battles are sure to ensue.

Running back Damien Harris, the No. 1-ranked back in the class of 2015, is one of those prospects whom teams will battle for. Harris is set to announce his top five schools on Friday and will announce his decision on Dec. 13. The Ohio State Buckeyes, the Kentucky Wildcats and the Alabama Crimson Tide are all likely to make the list. The former Michigan Wolverines commit could very well end up as a Buckeye.

Offensive lineman Matt Burrell is a big target for multiple Big Ten teams, including Ohio State and the Penn State Nittany Lions. Those two schools and a few SEC teams will fight for Burrell to land one of the best linemen in the country.

On the opposite side, defensive lineman Neville Gallimore has shot up the recruiting board of many teams in recent months. The Canada native is a target for Ohio State and Penn State, among others, but will be tough to land in the end.

Other prospects, including running back Mike Weber, receiver Van Jefferson and defensive back John Reid, will be tough battles for Big Ten teams as well.

Top class:

Penn State currently holds the top class in the Big Ten and is looking to fend off fast-rising Ohio State. The Buckeyes shot up to the No. 6-ranked class, two spots behind the Nittany Lions, after landing five-star prospects Justin Hilliard and Jashon Cornell on the same day.

Penn State has a shot at holding on to the top class in the conference come February, but there is a good chance the Buckeyes will eventually pass them.

Sleeper class:

Northwestern Wildcats. The Wildcats have landed some big prospects in 2015, including wide receiver Cameron Green. Coach Pat Fitzgerald and his staff have reeled in 18 commitments so far, and the class is shaping up to be another excellent haul.

Player likely to flip:

Marcus Lewis beat me to the punch. The ESPN 300 defensive back would have been my pick, but he decommitted from Florida on Tuesday. Lewis visited Michigan for the team’s annual BBQ and promptly opened up his recruitment after the trip. It seems that Michigan has a good shot with the talented defender.

Coach who needs to pick it up:

This might sound like a cop-out, but each Big Ten team has done a pretty good job in the 2015 class. Illinois, Indiana and Iowa have all landed some big targets and top targets on their boards. Those teams needed to fill some holes and have good classes, and they have done just that.

Rutgers and Purdue really need to hit big with their recruiting classes, though. Both programs need help on the field, and this class could be crucial to their success if they find the right guys.