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Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Big Ten class ranking analysis

By Tom VanHaaren

The end of the regular season means coaches will have more time to focus on recruiting and closing out their recruiting class. The Big Ten has seen plenty of movement within the last week, so here is a look at where the conference stacks up in the recruiting class rankings.

Trending up:

It’s hard to argue that Wisconsin isn’t trending up right now, moving up three spots to No. 31 in the class rankings. The Badgers have landed four commitments in the last week and the coaching staff isn’t done.

T.J. Edwards (Lake Villa, Ill./Lakes), Micah Kapoi (Kapolei, Hawaii/Kapolei), Jacob Maxwell (Greendale, Wis./Greendale) and Dareian Watkins (Galion, Ohio/Galion) all committed to Wisconsin this past week, giving the Badgers 25 total commitments in the 2014 class.

And while it wasn’t a commitment, it was definitely positive news when ESPN 300 running back Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom) included Wisconsin in his top four on Tuesday along with UCLA, Cal and Oklahoma. The No. 72-ranked prospect has included the Badgers among his top list for quite some time now and would be a huge get for coach Gary Andersen.

Trending down:

Purdue has been dormant in terms of recruiting news. The Boilermakers lost linebacker Drue Tranquill (Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll) recently, but haven’t been able to replace his spot in the class.

With 10 commitments for 2014, Purdue still has some work to do to fill out the roster and get some help for the coming years. It’s still possible that offensive lineman Denzel Ward (Chicago/Simeon) could end up elsewhere as well, so there is plenty left that could happen with this class.

One to watch:

There are a few prospects to watch in the near future that could affect the class rankings as plenty of recruits are closing in on decisions.

Wisconsin commits Craig Evans (Sun Prairie, Wis./Sun Prairie) and Joe Keels (Kenosha, Wis./Highland Community College) are both still looking around despite their commitment to the Badgers. Evans recently released a top three of Wisconsin, Michigan State and Arkansas while Keels is considering Nebraska and the Badgers.

Some of the bigger uncommitted targets still on the board, though, include defensive tackle Malik McDowell (Southfield, Mich./Southfield) and linebacker Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County).

McDowell is planning to take visits to Florida and potentially a few other SEC schools while McMillan is set to make his announcement on December 16. Both are considering Ohio State while McDowell is also considering Michigan in his top group.

Bold prediction:

Northwestern and Penn State both close strong on signing day.

The Wildcats are hosting the three remaining 2014 prospects on their board this weekend. Parrker Westphal (Bolingbrook, Ill./Bolingbrook), Garrett Dickerson (Oradell, N.J./Bergen Catholic) and Khari Blasingame (New Market, Ala./Buckhorn) will all be on official visits along with most of the committed prospects as well.

If Northwestern can land those three targets it would be an outstanding finish to its 2014 class.

The Nittany Lions still have ESPN 300 defensive tackle Thomas Holley (Brooklyn, N.Y./Lincoln) on the board and Holley will likely decide sometime in December.