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Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Big Ten class rankings analysis

By Tom VanHaaren and Brad Bournival

We’re moving into Week 2 of the college football season and there wasn’t much movement in terms of recruiting. Here is a look at some trends and questions going into the weekend for the Big Ten conference.

Trending up:

Brad Bournival: Michigan State. Even though the Spartans didn’t move up in the rankings, the green-and-white have plenty of big-time visitors slated to attend this weekend’s game against South Florida. ESPN 300 athlete Montae Nicholson (Monroeville, Pa./Gateway) is the biggest of the bunch, but he’ll be joined by ESPN Junior 300 running back Larry Scott (Hubbard, Ohio/Hubbard), 2015 cornerback Tyson Smith (Bloomfield, Mich./St. Mary’s Prep) and 2016 offensive tackle Thiyo Lukusa (Traverse City, Mich./Traverse City West), as well as 2014 commits Matt Sokol (Rochester Hills, Mich./Adams), Deon Drake Jr. (Detroit/Cass Tech), Jalen Watts-Jackson (Orchard Lake, Mich./St. Mary’s Prep) and David Beedle (Clarkston, Mich./Clarkston).

VanHaaren: Nebraska. The defense struggled in the Cornhuskers’ first game, but there are plenty of defensive players still listing Nebraska as a top school. The home game this weekend against Southern Miss could end up being a big event for the coaching staff and provide a few more answers with this class. Safety Josh Kalu (Houston/Alief Taylor) is one of the visitors, and he thinks highly of Nebraska. If Kalu makes a decision this weekend, it would be a big get for the staff. He would be the third defensive back commit in the class and would help fill a major need.

Trending down:

Bournival: Purdue. The Boilermakers just can’t seem to buy a break lately. Although Wisconsin’s offer to Drue Tranquill (Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll) fell on deaf ears, the Boilermakers have to watch out for Notre Dame with the outside linebacker, and UCLA with offensive tackle commit Denzel Ward (Bradenton, Fla./IMG Academy). Add the fact that Purdue lost in coach Darrell Hazell’s debut 42-7 to Cincinnati, and this weekend’s game at home against Indiana State becomes crucial for the Boilermakers.

VanHaaren: Iowa. The Hawkeyes lost to Northern Illinois in the home opener 30-27. The staff lost its biggest commitment in offensive lineman Ross Pierschbacher (Cedar Springs, Iowa/Cedar Springs) before the season started, and this loss wasn’t any help in getting him back. Iowa has 13 total commitments right now and a good class, but if the season continues on this path, it could mean bad things for the Hawkeyes going forward.

One to watch:

Bournival: Wisconsin. The Badgers haven’t had a commitment since July 8 and are ripe for a pledge after opening the season with a 45-0 win over Massachusetts last weekend. Tennessee Tech rolls into Madison this weekend, and so do defensive end Rohan Blackwood (Brooksville, Fla./Nature Coast Technical), tight end Ryan Izzo (Sparta, N.J./Pope John XXIII), defensive tackle Jeremy Patterson (Jesup, Ga./Wayne County), and wide receiver Krenwick Sanders (Jesup, Ga./Wayne County) on official visits. While a commitment might not happen this weekend, the ball should be set in motion for a pledge soon thereafter.

VanHaaren: This weekend. Plenty of Big Ten teams are hosting big prospects this weekend, including Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska and Ohio State. Michigan’s game against Notre Dame is probably the highlight game, but all four of those schools could end up eventually landing a prospect who is visiting this weekend.

Bold prediction:

Bournival: Athlete Noah Brown (Sparta, N.J./Pope John XXIII) will join Ohio State’s 2014 recruiting class next week. The four-star senior doesn’t mind the fact the Buckeyes have countless young players with speed and has set an official visit for this weekend. It looks like a two-team race between Ohio State and Rutgers for Brown, who wants to make a decision by next week. The fact the Buckeyes got an official visit bodes well for the scarlet-and-gray. Last season, Brown logged 41 receptions for 630 yards, rushed for 847 yards on 98 carries and scored 17 total touchdowns.

VanHaaren: It isn't likely to happen this weekend, but Michigan will eventually land three prospects from this weekend's visitor list. Targets including Da'Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge), Malik McDowell (Southfield, Mich./Southfield), 2015 defensive end Jashon Cornell (St. Paul, Minn./Cretin-Derham Hall), Tim Settle (Manassas, Va./Stonewall Jackson), Matt Burrell (Fredericksburg, Va./Chancellor), linebacker Justin Hilliard (Cincinnati, Ohio/St. Xavier) and 2016 offensive lineman Erik Swenson (Downers Grove, Ill./Downers Grove North) all will be on hand, along with a few other big targets.