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Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Big Ten class rankings analysis

By Brad Bournival and Tom VanHaaren



From Wisconsin moving up in the polls to a few schools moving down, it was a busy week in the Big Ten and the class rankings reflect that.

Here’s a look at what conference recruiting writers Brad Bournival and Tom VanHaaren saw and some trends to follow in the upcoming weeks:

Trending up

Brad Bournival: Big Ten recruitment as a whole. While Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan State held firm at Nos. 9, 25 and 38 respectively, Wisconsin (37) bumped up a spot. The Badgers have had safety Lubern Figaro (Everett, Mass./Everett), wide receiver Chris Jones (Hyattsville, Md./DeMatha Catholic) and defensive end Rohan Blackwood (Brooksville, Fla./Nature Coast Technical) commit in the last three weeks and seem to be picking up steam as they head to a big official visit weekend on Oct. 12 when Northwestern comes to town.

Tom VanHaaren: Northwestern currently has the No. 27 ranked class in the country. The Wildcats have the second highest ranking in the AP poll from the Big Ten and have a lot of momentum going on their side. This weekend is a big opportunity for the coaching staff to show that they belong in that upper echelon of the Big Ten and are here to stay. If this is a good, exciting game, it will be a big win for Northwestern in terms of exposure and recruiting.

Trending down

Bournival: Nebraska. The Cornhuskers, who are ranked 38th, were jumped a spot and still have just 12 commitments in the Class of 2014. The squad had a busy summer with 10 of its dozen pledges committing in either June or July. Since that time, however, Nebraska has welcomed only defensive tackle Peyton Newell (Hiawatha, Kan./Hiawatha) into the fold (on Aug. 30). That could all change with Big Ten action set to kickoff the rest of the way and visitors flocking to Memorial Stadium.

VanHaaren: Purdue. Losing to Northern Illinois, a Mid-American Conference team, can’t help in the Boilermakers' case to hold onto outside linebacker commit Drue Tranquill (Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll). The three-star commit is also considering Notre Dame, so it’s crucial for Purdue to show improvement under a new coaching staff moving forward.

One to watch

Bournival: The recruitment of three-star Mike Gesicki (Manahawkin, N.J./Southern Regional) is hitting the home stretch after the senior standout’s official visit to Ohio State last weekend. It was a weekend that wowed the 6-foot-5, 202-pound Gesicki. The hybrid tight end/wide receiver is expected to take a visit to Penn State on Oct. 12 to see the Nittany Lions take on Michigan and an announcement should follow soon thereafter.

VanHaaren: Inside linebacker Jason Cabinda (Flemington, N.J./Hunterdon). The three-star linebacker is committed to Syracuse, but he just received an offer from Penn State. He was high on the Nittany Lions before he committed, so that could be something to watch. It also looks as though other Big Ten schools could get involved in his recruitment very soon.

Bold prediction

Bournival: Expect the recruitment of ESPN Junior 300 wide receiver David Dowell (Lakewood, Ohio/St. Edward) and his twin running back brother Andrew to explode very soon. Andrew counts offers from Kent State, Illinois, Ohio and Toledo, but is being courted by Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Ohio State and Penn State.

David has pocketed offers from Kent State, Illinois, Tennessee and Toledo and has the same interest from Big Ten schools.

Mid-season highlight videos will be going out soon and with that the duo’s list of suitors should take off.

VanHaaren: Wisconsin will take the lead with 2014 running back Chris James (Niles, Ill./Notre Dame) when he takes an official visit Oct. 12. James shifted his top group and the Badgers and Pitt are now at the top. Wisconsin has been gaining momentum and I believe the coaching staff will push further ahead with this visit.