Big Ten: Dakota Royer

National signing day is less than 48 hours away, and Big Ten fan bases are preparing to officially welcome the 2014 class. My interest in recruiting has increased during the years, but I likely will never reach the mania of many fans.

[+] EnlargeWilliam Gholston
Zuma Press/Icon SMIWilliam Gholston played three seasons for Michigan State, recording 142 tackles and 10 sacks.
The reason: There have been so many examples of supposed top recruits who go bust, and under-the-radar guys who become stars, especially in a largely developmental league like the Big Ten. Recruiting evaluation is an inexact science.

As we prepare for the faxes to roll in, especially from the Big Ten prospects in the ESPN 300, it's always interesting to take a look back at how the top Big Ten recruits from four years ago performed. There wasn't an ESPN 300 back in 2010, just an ESPN 150, which included 15 Big Ten players. Some became stars, some never got started and others haven't closed the book on their college careers.

Let's take a closer look (positions listed according to ESPN recruiting profiles):

Top 50

  • No. 12: Demar Dorsey, S, Michigan -- Although Dorsey signed with Michigan, he was denied admission to the school. He had a checkered past but reportedly was given no specific reason for the denial. Dorsey appeared headed to Louisville but never made it and played for Grand Rapids Community College in 2011. He planned to transfer to Hawaii in 2012 but never played for the Warriors.
  • No. 42: William Gholston, DE, Michigan State -- Gholston played three seasons for the Spartans, recording 142 tackles, including 30 for loss and 10 sacks. He started 24 games and stood out in bowl wins against Georgia and TCU. After a big performance in the 2012 Outback Bowl, Gholston appeared on several preseason watch lists but underachieved at times during the 2012 campaign. He skipped his final season and was a fourth-round pick in the 2013 NFL draft.
Nos. 51-100

  • No. 56: Rod Smith, RB, Ohio State -- Smith redshirted the 2010 season and has been in a reserve role the past three seasons, playing briefly at linebacker in 2012. He has 83 career rushes for 448 yards and four touchdowns. Smith once again will compete for the starting job this fall.
  • No. 66: Khairi Fortt, LB, Penn State -- He played two years for Penn State, recording 50 tackles, including 6.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks, before transferring to Cal in 2012 when the NCAA imposed sanctions on PSU. Fortt sat out the 2012 season because of injury and had 64 tackles (3.5 for loss) in nine games last season before suffering an arm injury. He declared for the NFL draft last month.
  • No. 70: Dakota Royer, DE, Penn State -- Royer didn't play at linebacker in his first two seasons, moved to tight end after spring ball in 2012 and moved back to linebacker early in camp. He then decided to walk away from football, remained on scholarship and graduated in May.
  • No. 80: James Louis, WR, Ohio State -- Louis redshirted the 2010 season and then opted to transfer from Ohio State to Florida International. He never played for FIU and is no longer listed on the roster.
  • No. 82: C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Iowa -- He appeared in every game during the past four years and started the past two-and-a-half seasons, earning first-team All-Big Ten honors from the coaches as a senior in 2013. Fiedorowicz had 91 career receptions for 899 yards and 10 touchdowns, including six this past season.
  • No. 88: Evan Hailes, DT, Penn State -- Hailes redshirted in 2010 and played two games in 2011, recording two tackles. A series of blood clots, which first surfaced in the spring of 2011, ended his career in 2012. He remained with the team in a coaching role.
[+] EnlargeDevin Gardner
AP Photo/Charlie NeibergallThe reviews have been mixed for Devin Gardner, who passed for 2,960 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2013.
Nos. 101-150

  • No. 112: Rob Bolden, QB, Penn State -- Bolden in 2010 became the first freshman quarterback in 100 years to start a season opener at Penn State. He made 16 starts in two years at Penn State but transferred to LSU after the NCAA imposed sanctions on the program in 2012. Bolden has yet to play for the Tigers and has one season left.
  • No. 118: Miles Dieffenbach, C, Penn State -- Dieffenbach redshirted in 2010 and didn't play in 2011 before starting 23 games the past two seasons at left guard. He'll likely enter the 2014 campaign in the same spot.
  • No. 128: Devin Gardner, QB, Michigan -- Gardner appeared in 12 games as a reserve quarterback in his first two seasons before alternating between wide receiver and quarterback in 2012, starting the final four games under center. He started 12 games at quarterback in 2013 and passed for 2,960 yards and 21 touchdowns, delivering several huge performances and also some duds. Gardner, who received a medical redshirt for the 2010 season, returns for his final year this fall.
  • No. 131: Darryl Baldwin, DE, Ohio State -- Baldwin worked as a reserve defensive lineman in 2011 before moving to offense in the spring of 2012. He played mostly special teams in 2012 and backed up left tackle Jack Mewhort the past two years. Baldwin could move into a starting role in his final season.
  • No. 137: Corey Brown, WR, Ohio State -- After recording just 22 receptions in his first two seasons, Brown emerged as the Buckeyes' top option in the passing game as a junior and senior. He combined to record 123 catches for 1,440 yards and 13 touchdowns and earned second-team All-Big Ten honors in 2013 from the coaches.
  • No. 147: Andrew Rodriguez, G, Nebraska -- Rodriguez played mostly in a reserve role for his first three seasons and then started every game as a senior in 2013, alternating between right tackle and right guard for an injury-plagued Husker line. He earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors from both the coaches and the media.
  • No. 148: C.J. Olaniyan, DE, Penn State -- After redshirting in 2010, Olaniyan recorded 18 tackles and a sack during his first two seasons. He started every game last fall at defensive end and led Penn State in both sacks (5) and forced fumbles (3), recording 11 tackles for loss, an interception and a fumble recovery. He'll enter his final season projected as a starter.

More misses than hits in the group, although several players still could finish their college careers as stars.

Big Ten lunch links

August, 9, 2012
Working for the weekend ...

Royer leaves Nittany Lions, stays enrolled

August, 8, 2012
Penn State backup tight end Dakota Royer -- a player once ranked by ESPN as the 70th-best prospect in the country -- has left the program for unspecified reasons but will remain a student at the university, according to an email he sent ESPN.

The redshirt sophomore will not transfer, but instead plans to earn his degree in May. He becomes the 10th player to leave since the sanctions were announced.

"Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond my control, I regret to inform you that I felt it necessary to remove myself from the team," he said in a written statement. "I want to thank my teammates for their support and camaraderie, as well as Coach (Bill) O'Brien and his staff for the opportunity."

The 6-foot-1, 228-pound tight end enrolled early at Penn State in 2010, but never lived up to his billing as a top linebacker prospect. He saw no action last season, and O'Brien moved him to tight end this spring. Royer was listed behind redshirt freshman Kyle Carter as Tight End "F" and was expected to battle senior Brian Irvin for some playing time once Kevin Haplea transferred to Florida State. Seven tight ends remain on the roster, however, so the move is not expected to affect the offense.

A two-way player out of Manheim Central in Manheim, Pa., Royer was considered the Class of 2010's second-best prospect -- behind only linebacker Khairi Fortt (ESPN's No. 66 overall player), who transferred to Cal last week in the face of sanctions.
Being one of the top-rated recruits in the country is a double-edged sword. You get all the attention and hype you'd ever want coming out of high school. But there is also more pressure on you to succeed once you step foot on campus. And there's more pressure on coaches and programs to get the most out of their big-time prospects. As the old saying goes, potential will get you fired.

With that in mind, today we're taking a look back at the top Big Ten recruits from the 2010 class and seeing where they stand. It's not fair to judge these guys until the end of their college careers, and in several cases these players haven't even gotten on the field yet. But it's never too early to take stock.

We're going to use the ESPNU150 list from 2010 as our guide. The Big Ten had 14 players make that elite list. We'll divide the players into three categories: those who've made the biggest impact so far, those who have played but for whom the jury is still out and those who haven't played yet. (One interesting thing to note: None of the 14 made Adam's 2010 Big Ten All-Freshman team):

Away we go ...

Biggest impact

Rob Bolden, QB, Penn State (No. 112 overall, No. 4 position rank)

[+] EnlargeRob Bolden
AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, FileRob Bolden made a big impact as a freshman, but his future remains up in the air.
You all know the Bolden story. He started the first seven games as a true freshmen and eight games overall, throwing for 1,360 yards, five touchdowns and seven interceptions. Then he lost his job to walk-on Matt McGloin after suffering a concussion against Minnesota, and there was a heated quarterback battle this spring. The last we heard, Bolden hadn't decided whether he'll stay at Penn State or transfer before the 2011 season.

Corey Brown, WR, Ohio State (No. 137 overall, No. 20 position rank)

"Philly," as he's called, played in all 13 games last season and saw time on the kick and punt return teams as well as at receiver. He caught eight balls for 105 yards and a touchdown, which came in the win over Purdue. He won the outstanding first-year player award from the coaching staff. But he also had trouble with drops this spring. With the Buckeyes' lone returning starter at receiver, DeVier Posey, out for the first five games, Brown will need to become a consistent force.

Khairi Fortt, LB, Penn State (No. 66 overall, No. 2 position rank): Will Fortt be one of the next great players at Linebacker U.? He saw action in nine games last year, including a start against Illinois in which he recorded 11 tackles. Penn State is loaded at linebacker, but Fortt saw a lot of time with the first-team defense this spring and will be hard to keep out of the lineup this fall.

William Gholston, DE, Michigan State (No. 42 overall, No. 3 position rank)

The Big Ten's highest-rated recruit in 2010 served as the Spartans' backup left end and played in 10 games before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury against Minnesota. He collected 13 tackles and a half-sack as a true freshman and had five stops and an assisted tackle for loss against Iowa. The 6-foot-7, 265-pounder should slide into a starting role in 2011.

Jury's still out

C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Iowa (No. 82 overall, No. 6 position rank)

Fiedorowicz saw action in all 13 games but did not record a catch as a true freshman as he saw most of his time on special teams. The 6-foot-7 sophomore is expected to back up starter Brad Herman this season but could see time when the Hawkeyes use two tight ends.

Devin Gardner, QB, Michigan (No. 128 overall, No. 5 position rank)

Gardner got to play in three games as a true freshman. He threw for 85 yards and a touchdown against Bowling Green and also ran for a score in that game. Then he hurt his back and missed the rest of the season, and Michigan is hoping to get a medical redshirt year for him. Of course, his opportunities were limited anyway and figure to be the same for the foreseeable future because he's stuck behind another pretty good quarterback. Fella named Denard. You might have heard of him.

Andrew Rodriguez, OG, Nebraska (No. 147 overall, No. 7 position rank)

The 6-foot-6 Rodriguez got his feet wet with five appearances in 2010, becoming the first true freshman to play on the offensive line for Nebraska since 2006. With starting guards Ricky Henry and Keith Williams now departed, there's a good chance Rodriguez fills one of those spots in 2011.

Look out for

Darryl Baldwin, DE, Ohio State (No. 131 overall, No. 13 position rank)

Baldwin took a redshirt year in 2010 and should see some snaps this year, albeit most likely in a backup role.

Miles Dieffenbach, C, Penn State (No. 118 overall, No. 1 position rank)

Dieffenbach redshirted in 2010 as senior Doug Klopacz held down the center spot. Dieffenbach is expected to back up junior Matt Stankiewitch in 2011.

Evan Hailes, DT, Penn State (No. 88 overall, No. 9 position rank)

It may be a while before we know anything about Hailes. He redshirted in 2010, and Joe Paterno said after the spring game that Hailes could miss the entire 2011 season with an undisclosed illness.

James Louis, WR, Ohio State (No. 80 overall, No. 12 position rank)

Louis redshirted in 2010 and was inconsistent this spring, like most of the Buckeyes' young receivers. At least the opportunity for playing time is there.

C.J. Olaniyan, DE, Penn State (No. 148 overall, No. 16 position rank)

Olaniyan redshirted last season and got some first-team reps this spring with starters Jack Crawford and Eric Latimore slowed by injuries. Those two will start when they get healthy, but Olaniyan should see time in the rotation along the defensive front.

Dakota Royer, LB, Penn State (No. 70 overall, No. 7 position rank)

A defensive end in high school, Royer is battling for playing time at the crowded linebacker position with the Nittany Lions. He redshirted in 2010 and will have to fight to get on the field behind an experienced crew this season.

Rod Smith, RB, Ohio State (No. 56 overall, No. 7 position rank)

Smith reported late to preseason camp last year while he worked on some academics and ended up redshirting. Now he's part of a group of tailbacks battling for carries while starter Dan Herron is out for the first five games. The 6-3, 230-pound bruiser impressed during bowl practice last year, had seven carries for 36 yards in the spring game and could become the featured back in Herron's absence. But the running back competition figures to continue into fall camp.

Opening camp: Penn State

August, 5, 2010
Schedule: First practice takes place today in State College. Practices will be scheduled around the end to Penn State's second summer academic session, which has final exams beginning Aug. 13.

What's new: Quite a lot. Penn State loses six first-team All-Big Ten performers from 2009, including quarterback Daryll Clark and defensive tackle Jared Odrick, the league's co-Defensive Player of the Year. All eyes will be on the quarterback spot as last year's backup, Kevin Newsome, competes alongside Matt McGloin and two true freshmen, Paul Jones and Robert Bolden. The Lions also will have a new-look lineup at linebacker, although Nate Stupar and Bani Gbadyu are familiar names.

Key battle: Everyone knows about the quarterback race, which likely won't be decided until late in camp. But there are other battles, too. The offensive line has to be better this year after struggling against elite defensive fronts like Iowa and Ohio State in 2009. Penn State is set with standout Stefen Wisniewski at right guard, but the left guard spot will feature plenty of competition between DeOn’tae Pannell and Johnnie Troutman. Both players have experience but one needs to emerge.

New on the scene: Penn State brings in the Big Ten's top recruiting class and should see some immediate contributions from its freshmen. You know about the quarterbacks, but keep an eye on defenders like Khairi Fortt, Dakota Royer, C.J. Olaniyan and Mike Hull. Penn State must replace five starters on defense and build depth there as well.

Switching it up: Chaz Powell ranked fourth on the team in receiving last season, but he practiced at cornerback this spring and could be a big contributor there. Sophomore Stephon Morris did some good things as a true freshman in 2009, but Powell should push him.

Breaking out: You just know Penn State will have a new group of stars on defense after losing Odrick, Navorro Bowman, Sean Lee and others. Devon Still is poised for a big season at defensive tackle if he can stay healthy, and Jack Crawford could take the next step and become one of the league's premier pass-rushers. The linebacker group should be very interesting, as Michael Mauti, a fan favorite, gets his opportunity to shine. If Penn State finds a capable quarterback, wide receiver Derek Moye might have a breakout season.

Back in the fold: Mauti tore his ACL in camp last summer and missed the entire 2009 season. He'll definitely be in the mix for a starting spot, most likely at outside linebacker.

Quoting: "We've got a tough schedule and we've got a good young squad that's got a long way to go to be good. We've got a bunch of kids that'll work at it and get better each week. Before it's all over, we'll be a pretty good football team. How many games we'll win? I don't know." -- Head coach Joe Paterno
Third in a series examining key players departing, staying and arriving at Big Ten schools.

Going ...

Daryll Clark, QB: Clark earned first-team All-Big Ten honors in each of his two seasons as Penn State's starting quarterback. He set several team passing records, including career touchdown passes (43) and single-season passing yards (3,003). Clark won Big Ten co-MVP honors in 2009 and finished with a 22-4 record as Penn State's starter.

Jared Odrick, DT: In a conference filled with outstanding linemen, Odrick might have been the most disruptive. He earned Big Ten co-Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2009 after leading Penn State in sacks (7) and ranking second in tackles for loss (11). Odrick commanded consistent double teams and helped Penn State rank sixth nationally in rush defense (89.9 ypg).

Staying ...

Evan Royster, RB: Many folks thought Royster would enter the NFL draft after recording his second consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season. His return provides a huge lift for a Penn State offense that should be better up front but will turn to an inexperienced quarterback. Royster has averaged 6.1 yards a carry during his career and needs 481 yards to become Penn State's all-time rushing leader.

Stefen Wisniewski, G: A consensus first-team All-Big Ten selection at center in 2009, Wisniewski moved back to his natural position of guard this spring and is primed for a big senior season. He has lived up to the hype from his family lineage, and will be a prime contender for Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year honors this fall.

Coming ...

Khairi Fortt, LB: Penn State loses all three starting linebackers from 2009 and needs to build depth there. Fortt, ranked by ESPN recruiting as the nation's No. 2 inside linebacker, enrolled early and has all the physical tools to contribute early in his career. He's one of several incoming freshman defenders -- Dakota Royer, Mike Hull -- who could play right away for Penn State.

Paul Jones, QB: Jones tossed two touchdown passes in the Blue-White Game to put himself in the mix for Penn State's starting quarterback spot. Lions head coach Joe Paterno doesn't like playing freshmen, especially at the quarterback spot, but Jones likely won't back down as he competes with Kevin Newsome and Matt McGloin.

More revolving door ...

The 2010 recruiting classes are signed and sealed, and ESPN Recruiting's JC Shurburtt is handing out awards for the top recruiters in each conference.

His pick for the Big Ten comes as no surprise: Penn State defensive line coach Larry Johnson.

Johnson's name is always mentioned among the nation's top recruiters, and for good reason. His recruiting exploits in the Maryland/Washington D.C./Virginia area are a big reason Penn State rarely sees any drop-off in the defensive front seven.

Shurburtt praises Johnson for helping to sign defensive end Dakota Royer and defensive tackle Evan Hailes, both ESPNU 150 prospects, for Penn State's nationally ranked 2010 class.

Penn State recruiting analysis

February, 4, 2010
Penn State Nittany Lions

The class

Recruits: 20 (all high school seniors, six players enrolled early)

Top prospects: Khairi Fortt is ranked as the nation's No. 2 inside linebacker by ESPN's Scouts Inc., while defensive linemen Dakota Royer, Evan Hailes and C.J. Olaniyan all were among the ESPNU 150. Penn State also landed the nation's best center in Miles Dieffenbach, as well as a quarterback (Robert Bolden) who can compete for snaps right away.

Sleepers: Late addition Shyquann Pulliam could really help the secondary, an area Penn State must continue to upgrade. Mike Hull adds depth to the linebacking corps after Penn State loses all three starters from the 2009 team. Running back Silas Redd could be a big help if the Lions suffer injuries to one of their top ball carriers.

Needs met: Penn State once again did a fabulous job of reloading in the defensive front seven with players like Fortt, Royer and Hailes. The Nittany Lions needed another quarterback and got a very good one in Bolden. Joe Paterno's staff also thought to the future at both tight end and offensive line and brought in several very solid prospects there.

Analysis: Penn State signed unquestionably the best recruiting class in the Big Ten, and it could have been even better. The Nittany Lions not only brought in elite prospects, but they addressed their needs in the front seven and bolstered the offensive line and some of the skill positions. After losing a lot of decorated players from the 2009 team, Penn State will need this class to contribute in 2010 and 2011. Despite Paterno's age and his uncertain future, Penn State has elevated its profile in recruiting the last two years.

Scouts Inc. grade: A-minus

PSU, Iowa, MSU sign classes

February, 3, 2010
Penn State has announced the signings of 20 players who make up the Big Ten's top recruiting class for 2010. Although Penn State's class fell one spot to No. 8 in ESPN's rankings today, the Nittany Lions had one of the nation's most complete classes, particularly on the defensive side. Players like Dakota Royer, Khairi Fortt, Evan Hailes and several others should help Penn State very early in their careers. Quarterback Robert Bolden should compete for the starting job right away as the Nittany Lions try to replace Daryll Clark.

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz finalized a 21-man recruiting class that features several of the Midwest's top players. The Hawkeyes landed one ESPNU 150 prospect in tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz, and players like offensive lineman Andrew Donnal, running back Marcus Coker, and athlete A.J. Derby all should be key contributors. Iowa's class really bolsters the defensive front with five linemen and three linebackers.

Michigan State hasn't sent out an official release just yet, but the Spartans' 21-man class is signed and sealed. Defensive-minded coach Mark Dantonio bolstered the defense with players like ESPNU 150 prospect William Gholston, linebacker Max Bullough and defensive backs Mylan Hicks. The Spartans also added depth at quarterback with Joe Boisture. This class might not have made quite as big a splash as last year's haul, but Michigan State once again did very well within the state and the Big Ten region.
My in-season responsibilities prevented me from updating the scorecard for quite a while, but it's back now. And with recruiting season heating up and several big prizes (Seantrel Henderson, Jordan Hicks) still out there, this is the perfect time to see how teams are doing.

For all your recruiting needs, go here and here.


  • 2010 verbal commits: 8
  • ESPNU 150 prospects: 0
  • Comment: Another disappointing season finally cost Illinois on the recruiting trail, as tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz, an ESPNU 150 prospect, switched his verbal to Iowa. The Illini still boast several good prospects, including quarterback Chandler Whitmer, who remains in Ron Zook's corner. Illinois hasn't had a verbal commitment since early August, so Zook really needs to work his magic in the coming weeks.

  • 2010 verbal commits: 21
  • ESPNU 150 prospects: 0
  • Comment: Jibreel Black's decommitment and switch to Cincinnati stings the Hoosiers, but IU still brings in a sizable class that includes some solid players. Indiana hasn't had a verbal commitment since late August, but the class looks pretty complete.

  • 2010 verbal commits: 20
  • ESPNU 150 prospects: TE C.J. Fiedorowicz
  • Comment: The Hawkeyes' success on the field has translated very well to recruiting, as the team added several excellent players during the fall. Fiedorowicz headlines a class that also includes Iowa prep star A.J. Derby. Iowa has received six verbals since the start of the season.

  • 2010 verbal commits: 21
  • ESPNU 150 prospects: QB Devin Gardner
  • Comment: Gardner hasn't wavered in his commitment to head coach Rich Rodriguez and the Wolverines, and the lure of early playing time likely has kept the class in place. Michigan got a big commitment from cornerback Cullen Christian days after the season ended, though things have been fairly quiet since the summer.

  • 2010 verbal commits: 15
  • ESPNU 150 prospects: DE William Gholston
  • Comment: Gholston could reopen his recruitment, which would leave Spartans fans holding their breath. The top-rated player in the state of Michigan would be a major boost for MSU. Mark Dantonio's team picked up three verbals during the season, including one from wide receiver Keith Mumphery.

  • 2010 verbal commits: 22
  • ESPNU 150 prospects: 0
  • Comment: Tim Brewster and his staff continue to recruit at a high level and landed several solid prospects during the season. Among them is wide receiver Chris Hawkins, who could make an immediate impact in 2010. Running back Josh Huff from Texas also is a solid addition. Minnesota picked up 11 verbals during the season, tops among Big Ten teams.

  • 2010 verbal commits: 15
  • ESPNU 150 prospects: 0
  • Comment: After a slow start, Northwestern is putting together a solid 2010 class. The Wildcats recently added running back Ibraheim Campbell, the fifth player to commit during the season. The class seems heavy on defensive tackles and offensive skill players, both areas of need.

  • 2010 verbal commits: 13
  • ESPNU 150 prospects: RB Roderick Smith, WR James Louis, DE Darryl Baldwin, WR Corey Brown
  • Comment: Offensive firepower might be an issue in Columbus right now, but help is certainly on the way. Brown has been Ohio State's only in-season commit, but other big names soon could follow. Ohio State has bolstered the wide receiver and defensive end/linebacker spots.

  • 2010 verbal commits: 20
  • ESPNU 150 prospects: DE Dominique Easley, LB Khairi Fortt, DT Evan Hailes, DE Dakota Royer, WR Adrian Coxson, QB Robert Bolden, C Miles Dieffenbach, DE C.J. Olaniyan
  • Comment: Penn State entered the season with the Big Ten's best recruiting class and has only made it better. The Nittany Lions staff has done a fabulous job with this class, landing Fortt, Easley, Olaniyan and two other prospects during the season. Penn State has addressed almost every position and should be very pleased on national signing day.

  • 2010 verbal commits: 20
  • ESPNU 150 prospects: 0
  • Comment: Danny Hope and his assistants continue to raid the state of Florida, and now they're bringing in more coveted prospects to Purdue. Wide receiver O.J. Ross from Daytona Beach, Fla., headlines a class that already includes seven Floridians. Purdue added eight verbals during the season, including cornerback Ricardo Allen.

  • 2010 verbal commits: 18
  • ESPNU 150 prospects: 0
  • Comment: Wisconsin has a tradition of turning solid players into stars and should have ample opportunities with this class. The Badgers added six verbals during the season, including safety/linebacker Manasseh Garner and offensive tackle Rob Havenstein.

Big Ten in the recruiting rankings

September, 30, 2009

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

The fine folks at ESPN's Scouts Inc. have published their September recruiting rankings, which feature two Big Ten teams in the top 15.

Penn State comes in at No. 7, two spots below its August mark but still tops in the conference . Ohio State moves down a spot to No. 10. Despite a fast start to the 2010 class and the commitment of quarterback Devin Gardner, Michigan didn't make the rundown.

Here are the comments about both the Nittany Lions and the Buckeyes.

No. 7 Penn State

Commits: 18
ESPNU 150 Commits:
Top Prospect: DE Dominique Easley

Penn State's stellar class got a big bump last week with the commitment of 260-pound end Dominique Easley (Staten Island, N.Y./Curtis). The talented pass-rusher is one of the quickest players off the ball in this class. In addition to Easley, Joe Paterno and his staff will be bringing two other supremely talented D-linemen in Dakota Royer (Manheim, Pa./Central) and Evan Hailes (Chesapeake, Va./Oscar Frommel Smith). Penn State needs quarterbacks, and it got two in this class with P.J. Jones (McKees Rocks, Pa./Sto-Rox) and heralded Robert Bolden (Orchard Lake, Mich./St. Mary's). Bolden is the more athletic of the two. Wideouts Adrian Coxson (Baltimore/City College) and Alex Kenney (State College, Pa./State College) and running back Silas Redd (Stamford, Conn.) give this class excellent skill talent that will help to support the young quarterbacks -- both of whom could be candidates to replace Daryll Clark.

No. 10 Ohio State

Commits: 13
ESPNU 150 Commits: 5
Top Prospect: RB Roderick Smith

The Buckeyes are adding some offensive weapons in this class, highlighted by four-star RB Roderick Smith (Fort Wayne/Harding). He will provide a bruising dimension in the backfield. He resembles former Buckeye great Beanie Wells on film and is tall, has great bulk and is still lean enough through the waist and lower body to remain fluid with some wiggle. He joins a pair of Under Armour All-American WRs in James Louis (Delray Beach, Fla./Atlantic Community) and Corey Brown (Springfield, Pa./Cardinal O'Hara). Both have explosive speed, quickness and acceleration. Ohio State also added some playmakers on defense, including a pair of four-star DEs in Darryl Baldwin (Solon, Ohio/Solon) and David Durham (Charlotte, N.C./Charlotte Christian). Baldwin, 6-5, 255 pounds, has a great physical build to go with good tools. Durham, 6-2, 225 pounds, is a talented and versatile player who can play a number of positions, but will likely wind up at end.

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Here are two Big Ten recruiting nuggets for you, courtesy of the fine folks at ESPN's Scouts Inc.

Under Armour All-American defender Dominique Easley picks Nittany Lions

ESPNU 150 defensive end Dominique Easley of Curtis (Staten Island, NY) has given Penn State a commitment for the Class of 2010.

The 6-foot-3, 260-pound prospect also visited Florida, Georgia and Rutgers. Others among his 18 offers were Tennessee, Michigan, Miami-Florida, Oregon, Boston College, UConn, Duke, Maryland, Pittsburgh, Texas Tech, UCLA and Syracuse.

Easley pledged after watching the fifth-ranked Nittany Lions defeat Temple, 31-6, on a campus visit this past weekend.

"I always liked Penn State," Easley told Staten Island Live.Com. "I didn't think I was going to commit, but being out there and talking to everybody made me feel like this was the place."

He also told ESPN affiliate Web site via text message, "The education is unbelievable and Coach [Larry] Johnson is the coach for me because he reminds me of my high school coach."

ESPN's Craig Haubert said of the news, "The New York prep star seemed like he was headed to Florida at one point over the summer, but Penn State was able to persevere and land the talented defender. With Easley they get a versatile lineman who possesses one of the quickest get-off's in the 2010 class. The ESPNU 150 member is a DE/DT tweener who we think will grow more into a true DT in time, but he can give Penn State some options in how they use him especially early on.

"The Nittany Lions are assembling a very talented group of defensive line help in this class and are preparing to inject a big infusion of youth to the position. Easley along with fellow UA All-Americans end Dakota Royer (Manheim, Pa./Central) and defensive tackle Evan Hailes (Chesapeake, Va./Oscar Smith) sit at the top of Penn States class and join recent commit C.J. Olaniyan (Warren, Mich./Mott) as talented defensive line prospects in this class."

Easley registered 51 tackles, 10 sacks and two fumble recoveries, both returned for touchdowns, during his junior season.

Indy safety James Manuel says yes to the Gophers after official

James Manuel (Indianapolis, Ind./Warren Central) committed to Minnesota over offers from Michigan State, Iowa, Louisville and Cincinnati after making an official visit to campus,'s Bill Kurelic reports.

"I really enjoyed my visit," Manuel said. "I had a great, great time at the game even though they lost. The atmosphere was crazy. The coaches said I have a good chance to come in and compete for a spot."

The high school corner who projects as a safety for the Gophers registered a 4.19 20-yard shuttle, 7.26 three-cone drill, 30.5-inch vertical and 10-foot-8 broad jump at the Atlanta Under Armour Combine.

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Attention, recruitniks: the ESPNU 150 recruiting rankings are out, along with a breakdown of how the selections were made and some nuggets from JC Shurburtt.  

It won't take you long to notice a pattern, and I'm not talking about the fact the top six players are uncommitted.

The rankings are very heavy on players from the south and southeast, while prospects from Big Ten territory are few and far between. 

Only four players in the top 50 hail from Big Ten states: linebacker Jordan Hicks (No. 2, Ohio), offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson (No. 4, Minnesota), defensive end William Gholston (No. 33, Michigan) and wide receiver Kyle Prater (No. 43, Illinois). 

Does this mean there's no talent in Big Ten states? Hardly. But at least according to these ratings, more and more elite prospects play their high school football in warm-weather states. It's why we're seeing more Big Ten teams expand their recruiting efforts to the south and southeast. 

Here's the list of ESPNU 150 prospects committed to Big Ten teams:

  • No. 33: William Gholston, DE, Michigan State
  • No. 58: Roderick Smith, RB, Ohio State
  • No. 71: Dakota Royer, DE, Penn State  
  • No. 81: Evan Hailes, DT, Penn State
  • No. 83: Evan Louis, WR, Ohio State
  • No. 86: C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Illinois
  • No. 103: Adrian Coxson, WR, Penn State
  • No. 112: Darryl Baldwin, DE, Ohio State
  • No. 114: Robert Bolden, QB, Penn State
  • No. 115: Andrew Norwell, OT, Ohio State
  • No. 117: Devin Gardner, QB, Michigan
  • No. 134: Miles Dieffenbach, C, Penn State
As for the team breakdowns, Penn State leads the way with five commits, followed by Ohio State with four. Michigan State, Illinois and Michigan each have one. 

Check Thursday's blog for your updated recruiting scorecard.

Big Ten recruiting scorecard

July, 30, 2009

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Penn State and Ohio State both add big-name recruits, and other teams fill in the gaps. Here's your updated recruiting scorecard. 


  • 2010 verbal commits: 8
  • ESPNU 150 Watch List: Safety Corey Cooper, quarterback Chandler Whitmer, tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz
  • Quick take: No new commits for the Illini, but a solid class is taking shape with Fiedorowicz's recent pledge. Wide receiver Kyle Prater remains a good possibility for Illinois, which will take advantage of a strong in-state crop in 2010. 


  • 2010 verbal commits: 15
  • ESPNU 150 Watch List: None
  • Quick take: Indiana's fast start is one of the more intriguing early storylines in Big Ten recruiting. Time will tell if the Hoosiers are being too impulsive with their offers, but several of their additions look solid. Linebacker Jack Denton is a very nice pickup for Mike Yeager, and Cameron Cole adds depth in the secondary.


  • 2010 verbal commits: 10
  • ESPNU 150 Watch List: Defensive end Matt Hoch, tackle Andrew Donnal
  • Quick take: Things have slowed down a bit for Iowa, which got its last commitment from Donnal on July 13. Iowa has bolstered both lines and its linebacking corps, which loses Pat Angerer and A.J. Edds after the season. The next step: more skill guys.


  • 2010 verbal commits: 16
  • ESPNU 150 Watch List: Quarterback Devin Gardner, wide receiver Jeremy Jackson, wide receiver Ricardo Miller, guard Christian Pace, safety Marvin Robinson
  • Quick take: Nothing new for Michigan, which should be fairly selective from here on out after a very quick start. Rich Rodriguez will look to bolster both lines after stocking up on skill guys early on.


  • 2010 verbal commits: 10
  • ESPNU 150 Watch List: Defensive end William Gholston, linebacker Max Bullough, quarterback Joe Boisture
  • Quick take: Safety Isaiah Lewis fits the Mark Dantonio mold in the secondary and gives Michigan State its second defensive back commitment for 2010. The Spartans have good balance among their 10 commits and soon could add heralded wide receiver Tony Jones. 


  • 2010 verbal commits: 10
  • ESPNU 150 Watch List: None
  • Quick take: All has been quiet on the Gophers' recruiting front since a flurry of additions in late June and early July. Minnesota's re-commitment to the run game has paid off with Donnell Kirkwood and Lamonte Edwards. Tim Brewster now must address the defense in the coming weeks and months.


  • 2010 verbal commits: 7
  • ESPNU 150 Watch List: None
  • Quick take: No new commitments for the Wildcats, who are still looking to land their first in-state prospect. Northwestern has more high-level early commits (Paul Jorgenson, Trevor Siemian) than in past seasons, and Pat Fitzgerald seems willing to be patient as he fills out a smallish class. 


  • 2010 verbal commits: 10
  • ESPNU 150 Watch List: Tackle Andrew Norwell, linebacker Jamel Turner, defensive end David Durham, running back Roderick Smith, defensive end Darryl Baldwin, wide receiver James Louis
  • Quick take: Look out, here come the Buckeyes. Wideout James Louis gives Ohio State six watch list commits out of 10 and bolsters the passing game for the future. What's more impressive is that the Buckeyes went into Florida and plucked one of the state's best prospects, who had offers from all of the SEC powers. 


  • 2010 verbal commits: 15
  • ESPNU 150 Watch List: Wide receiver Adrian Coxson, running back Silas Redd, center Miles Dieffenbach, defensive end Kyle Baublitz, defensive tackle Evan Hailes, quarterback Robert Bolden, wide receiver Alex Kenney, defensive end Dakota Royer
  • Quick take: It's now official: Penn State has the Big Ten's top recruiting class at this point in the process. Royer gives the Nittany Lions eight watch list prospects, three of whom play defensive line. Tight end Kevin Haplea is another solid addition for Penn State, which has turned the page after some recruiting struggles during the middle part of this decade. 


  • 2010 verbal commits: 9
  • ESPNU 150 Watch List: Quarterback Robert Marve (2007 watch list)
  • Quick take: Chalk up two more Florida recruits for Purdue, which added defenders E.J. Johnson and William Lucas since the last scorecard. Lucas is a bit undersized at linebacker but makes up for it with good quickness and strength. After signing 14 players from Florida in his first recruiting class, Purdue head coach Danny Hope continues to look to the Sunshine State for talent.


  • 2010 verbal commits: 12
  • ESPNU 150 Watch List: Safety Frank Tamakloe
  • Quick take: The Badgers are clearly leaning toward the defense with their 2010 class and added two more defenders in safety Michael Trotter and linebacker Cody Byers, who played a lot of safety in high school and could see time there. It's not an official Wisconsin recruiting class without a running back, and Bret Bielema satisfied his quota with Jeff Lewis, a decent in-state prospect with good size.