Monday, November 18, 2013
Weekend recruiting wrap: Big Ten
By Tom VanHaaren
There were quite a few big games within the Big Ten this weekend, which means there were big recruiting implications as well. Here is a look at the happenings on the recruiting trail around the conference.
Biggest commitment: Nebraska landed two commitments on Saturday with juco wide receiver Robert Lockhart (Boca Raton, Fla./Hinds Community College) and linebacker Jaevon Walton (New Orleans/Edna Karr).
Those were nice pickups for the Cornhuskers, but the biggest commitment from this past week was no doubt Da'Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge) to Alabama.
Hand chose the Tide over Michigan in a decision that surprised quite a few people. Had Michigan landed Hand it would have given the Wolverines two five-star commitments in this class and a bona-fide pass rusher on the defensive line. Huge, huge loss for Michigan.
Biggest offer: There were a few big offers this weekend and two of them came from Michigan. After missing on No. 6-ranked Hand, Michigan quickly sent out an offer to in-state lineman Jhonny Williams (Berrien Springs, Mich./Berrien Springs).
Williams is committed to Missouri but has started to garner some serious attention. Notre Dame offered before Michigan did, so he might have some thinking to do.
The Wolverines also extended an offer to 2014 Cal running back commit Vic Enwere (Sugar Land, Texas/Fort Bend Austin). The three-star back has been hearing from Michigan for some time now, but now that he has an offer says it is likely that he takes a visit to Ann Arbor.
Illinois offered 2015 offensive lineman David Moorman (Northville, Mich./Northville).
Iowa offered 2015 teammates wide receiver Jabari Greenwood, Marcus Lewis and Richie Petitbon (Washington, D.C./Gonzaga). Lewis committed to Virginia Tech on Saturday, but the other two are still open.
Best performance by a commit/target: ESPN Junior 300 linebacker Jerome Baker Jr. (Cleveland/Benedictine) says Penn State, Michigan and Ohio State are the three schools recruiting him the hardest. The 2015 prospect also plays running back and had 19 carries, 252 yards, five touchdowns and an interception on defense in his game this weekend.
Not to be outdone, Michigan 2015 running back commit Damien Harris (Berea, Ky./Madison Southern) had 21 carries, 341 yards and six touchdowns in his game. That gave him 2,469 yards and 39 touchdowns on the season.
Most important visit: Northwestern is still after ESPN 300 prospects Parrker Westphal (Bolingbrook, Ill./Bolingbrook) and Garrett Dickerson (Oradell, N.J./Bergen Catholic). Westphal is likely to visit Evanston for the Michigan State game, but Dickerson was on campus this weekend.
This was an unofficial visit, so Dickerson could still come back on an official visit in the next few weeks. If Northwestern can get him back on campus this season it might be able to wrap up both of these big targets.
Biggest answer: Michigan missing on Hand opened the door for Ohio State to eventually overtake the Wolverines in the class rankings. Michigan is currently sitting at No. 7 with Ohio State at No. 9, but the Buckeyes still have some big prospects on the board.
If Ohio State closes as most people think it will, the Buckeyes should be in position for a top-five class and its second undefeated regular season in a row. Quite the accomplishment for coach Urban Meyer after only two seasons in Columbus.
Biggest question: The biggest question is which ESPN 300 prospects will end up in the Big Ten. There are quite a few still on the board, and even some prospects who have decommitted from other programs, now considering Big Ten teams.
Defensive back Kiy Hester (Wayne, N.J./DePaul Catholic) decommitted from Rutgers and now says Michigan State and Ohio State are in the mix. The Spartans are still in on ESPN 300 targets Parrker Westphal, Montae Nicholson (Monroeville, Pa./Gateway) and even wide receiver Jamil Kamara (Virginia Beach, Va./Bishop Sullivan Catholic).
There are no bigger remaining targets than five-star linebacker Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County), the No. 12 overall prospect. McMillan is still considering Ohio State and very well could end up as a Buckeye.
Thomas Holley (Brooklyn, N.Y./Lincoln), John Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Long Beach Poly), Johnnie Dixon (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla./Dwyer), Marshon Lattimore and teammate Erick Smith (Cleveland, Ohio/Glenville), Malik McDowell (Southfield, Mich./Southfield), Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom) and Brian Wallace (St. Louis, Mo./Christian Brothers College) are all other ESPN 300 prospects who could end up in the Big Ten.
There's a lot of talent left to get for the conference.