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Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Critical positions in Big Ten recruiting

By Tom VanHaaren and Brad Bournival

There are still big holes to fill in recruiting for the 2014 class and top targets still on the board. A lot of position groups are being addressed in recruiting, but not many have been completely filled.

Big Ten recruiting writers Tom VanHaaren and Brad Bournival take a look at the most important position for each Big Ten team in the 2014 class.

Most important position: Wide receiver
Who they have: Mike Dudek (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley), Malik Turner (Springfield, Ill./Sacred Heart-Griffin), Tyrin Stone-Davis (Philadelphia, Pa./Pierce College), Geronimo Allison (Council Bluffs, Ia./Iowa Western Community College).
Who they want: Illinois has four receivers leaving and the coaching staff landed four receivers in this class, but Illinois could still take one or two more in this class. Coray Keel (Snellville, Ga./South Gwinnett) could be an option.

Most important position: Quarterback
Who they have: Alexander Diamont (Los Angeles, Calif./Venice).
Who they want: The Hoosiers have their man and nabbed him early. While Indiana wasn’t in the market last season for offensive linemen either, it didn’t take a signal caller and the rule of thumb is to take at least one in every class. With sophomores Tre Roberson and Nate Sudfeld in the fold along with junior Cameron Coffman, the ability for Diamont to come in and learn under the three will help in the future.

Most important position: Linebacker
Who they have: Jameer Outsey (Somerset, N.J./Franklin), Ben Niemann (Sycamore, Ill./Sycamore), Aaron Mends (Kansas City/Winnetonka).
Who they want: The Hawkeyes are still after a fourth linebacker mainly because they lose all their starters after the season and want to continue the youth movement. The biggest name Iowa is still after is three-star outside linebacker Elijah Lee (Blue Springs, Mo./Blue Springs). While he’s still committed to Kansas State, Lee does have family in Iowa.

Most important position: Offensive playmakers
Who they have: Jeff Jones (Minneapolis, Minn./Washburn), Dimonic McKinzy (Kansas City/Wyandotte).
Who they want: Jones is a big get for the Gophers, but they are going to need to hang on to him. Playmakers isn’t a position group, but Minnesota only currently has six commitments in the 2014 class. RB Gregory Howell (Coral Gables, Fla./Coral Gables) and WR Kendrick Holland (Winter Haven, Fla./Winter Haven) are two prospects who could help Minnesota’s class.

Most important position: Wide receiver
Who they have: Drake Harris (Grand Rapids, Mich./Christian), Maurice Ways (Beverly Hills, Mich./Country Day), Freddy Canteen (Elkton, Md./Eastern Christian Academy).
Who they want: Michigan had a big need at receiver, especially since the Wolverines will be losing current receivers Jeremy Gallon, Drew Dileo, Joe Reynolds and Jeremy Jackson after this season. The three prospects the coaching staff landed are all they needed and there won’t be any more receiver in this class.

Michigan State:
Most important position: Offensive line
Who they have: Brian Allen (Hinsdale, Ill./Hinsdale Central), Chase Gianacakos (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles North).
Who they want: Nick Padla (Berrien Springs, Mich./Berrien Springs) has taken a few visits to Michigan State recently and could end up being a part of this class if he gets an offer. Alex Bookser (Pittsburgh/Mt. Lebanon) has Michigan State in his top group, but the Spartans are likely behind for him as Pitt and Ohio State are likely ahead in that race. Lukayus McNeil (Indianapolis/Decatur Central), David Hedelin (San Francisco, Calif./San Francisco Junior College) and a few others might also be in the mix.

Most important position: Defensive line
Who they have: Peyton Newell (Hiawatha, Kan./Hiawatha), Mick Stoltenberg (Gretna, Neb./Gretna).
Who they want: Renell Wren (St. Louis/Lutheran North) and Rohan Blackwood (Brooksville, Fla./Nature Coast) as well as junior college defender Claudeson Pelon (Mesa, Ariz./Mesa Community College) all look like options for what is likely one or two more spots for a defensive end in this class.

Most important position: Defensive back
Who they have: Jordan Thomas (Klein, Texas/Klein Collins), Dareian Watkins (Galion, Ohio/Galion).
Who they want: The biggest target at defensive back is ESPN 300 prospect Parrker Westphal (Bolingbrook, Ill./Bolingbrook). It looked like he was down to Vanderbilt and Northwestern, but Michigan State might have gotten back in the conversation. Safety John Bonney (Houston, Texas/Lamar) and Adarius Pickett (El Cerrito, Calif./El Cerrito) might be options, but both seem headed elsewhere.

Ohio State:
Most important position: Offensive line
Who they have: Marcelys Jones (Cleveland/Glenville), Kyle Trout (Lancaster, Ohio/Lancaster), Demetrius Knox (Fort Worth, Texas/All Saints Episcopal), Jamarco Jones (Chicago/De La Salle).
Who they want: The Buckeyes swung and missed many times in 2013 and the depth chart is an issue at Ohio State, so it’s important to take at least one, if not two linemen in this class. The Buckeyes are looking big, too with Damian Prince (Forestville, Md./Bishop McNamara), Alex Bookser (Pittsburgh/Mt. Lebanon). Brock Ruble (Hyattsville, Md./DeMatha Catholic) and Brian Wallace (St. Louis/Christian Brothers) still in the mix as well. It should also be noted four senior starters exit the team following the 2013 season.

Penn State:
Most important position: Defensive tackle
Who they have: Antoine White (Millville, NJ/Millville).
Who they want: With the limited number of scholarships the Nittany Lions have, they have to make sure they hit a home run with virtually every commit, which is why they’re not stockpiling them in on the line. ESPN 300 DT Thomas Holley (Brooklyn, N.Y./Lincoln) is at the top of their list right now.

Most important position: Offensive line
Who they have: Kirk Barron (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian), Denzel Ward (Bradenton, Fla./IMG).
Who they want: Right now, the Boilermakers might want to make sure they hold onto Ward, who will take an official visit to UCLA after landing an offer from the Bruins. This squad took only one lineman in 2013 after taking a bushel basket full in 2012. Lukayus McNeil (Indianapolis/Decatur Central) remains a target, but Purdue has some ground to make up there.

Most important position: Offensive line
Who they have: Jaden Gault (Monona, Wisc./Monona Grove), Michael Deiter (Genoa, Ohio/Genoa), George Panos (Hartland, Wisc./Arrowhead).
Who they want: Don’t be surprised if more names aren’t added to this list as Frank Ragnow (Victoria, Minn./Chanhassen) picked up an offer over the weekend. The biggest target, however, is taking an official visit the weekend of Oct. 11 when Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) joins a star-studded group of potential pledges for the game against Northwestern.