Big Ten: Je\'Ron Stokes

By now, you've seen where several Big Ten recruits stack up in the final ESPN 300 for 2013. Check back in three or four years to see who met expectations and who did not.

What about the most decorated Big Ten recruits from four years ago? In preparation for national signing day Feb. 6, the folks at RecruitingNation took a look back at the ESPN 150 from 2009 (there wasn't an ESPN 300 back then) and recorded what each recruit did at the college level.

A total of 21 Big Ten recruits made the 150 from 2009. Some turned out to be stars, others never got on track and a few haven't written the final chapter of their college careers.

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

Top 50

  • No. 22: Jaamal Berry, RB, Ohio State -- Played sparingly in 2010 and 2011 before off-field issues led to a suspension. Transferred to FCS Murray State and recorded 675 rush yards this past season.
  • No. 32: Dorian Bell, LB, Ohio State -- Appeared in eight games for Ohio State in 2010 before being suspended the following year and eventually transferred to FCS Duquesne, where he performed well in the 2012 season.
  • No. 47: Craig Roh, DE, Michigan -- Started 51 games for Michigan, a team record, and earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors in each of the past two seasons.
Nos. 51-100

  • No. 67: Je'Ron Stokes, WR, Michigan -- Played sparingly at Michigan before the coaching transition from Rich Rodriguez to Brady Hoke. Transferred to Bowling Green and caught 15 passes this past season.
  • No. 69: David Barrent, OT, Michigan State -- Played in seven games as a reserve before back problems ended his career in May 2011.
  • No. 74: Eric Shrive, OT, Penn State -- Shrive appeared in every game as a reserve guard in 2012 and could compete for a starting job in 2013.
  • No. 81: Quinton Washington, G, Michigan -- Washington has moved to defensive tackle and entered the starting lineup in 2012, recording 32 tackles and a sack.
  • No. 87: Terry Hawthorne, WR, Illinois -- Hawthorne played mostly cornerback at Illinois and made starts in all four seasons, earning honorable mention All-Big Ten honors in each of the past two. He also returned kicks and punts and should be selected in April's NFL draft.
  • No. 88: C.J. Barnett, CB, Ohio State -- Barnett has been a mainstay in Ohio State's secondary the past two seasons, recording 56 tackles, two interceptions and six pass breakups in nine games in 2012. He is expected to start at safety for the Buckeyes in 2013.
  • No. 94: Isaiah Bell, S, Michigan -- Bell didn't play a snap for Michigan before leaving the program in March and playing for Division II Lake Erie College this past season.
  • No. 99: Jamie Wood, S, Ohio State -- Wood has appeared in 30 games for the Buckeyes, mostly on special teams, but has battled shoulder problems and underwent surgery last fall.
Nos. 101-150

  • No. 101: Denard Robinson, athlete, Michigan -- Who's this guy? Robinson started three seasons at quarterback for the Wolverines, setting an NCAA quarterback rushing record as well as many other milestones. He was the Big Ten's Offensive Player of the Year in 2010 and finished his career with 4,495 rush yards, 6,250 pass yards and 91 touchdowns.
  • No. 112: Edwin Baker, RB, Michigan State -- Had a breakout season in 2010 as the starter, rushing for 1,201 yards and 13 touchdowns. But he lost his starting job to Le'Veon Bell in 2011 and declared for the NFL draft after the season. He was a seventh-round pick of the San Diego Chargers and spent most of 2012 on the team's practice squad.
  • No. 115: Kraig Appleton, WR, Wisconsin -- Had three receptions in the 2009 season before being suspended the following spring and eventually leaving school. He was the victim of a shooting in July 2011 but survived.
  • No. 116: Keenan Davis, WR, Iowa -- Started the past two seasons and finished second on the squad in receptions in both years (47 in 2012) but never blossomed like many thought he would.
  • No. 124: Melvin Fellows, DE, Ohio State -- Fellows played sparingly in five games in 2010 but endured chronic knee problems that eventually forced him to take a medical harship, ending his career.
  • No. 126: Jack Mewhort, C, Ohio State -- Mewhort saw the field a lot early in his career at guard and moved to left tackle last season, where he flourished. He'll help anchor Ohio State's offensive line in 2013.
  • No. 128: Moses Alipate, QB, Minnesota -- Has been a nonfactor so far in his career. Switched from quarterback to tight end and checks in at 6-foot-5, 297 pounds.
  • No. 131: Duron Carter, WR, Ohio State -- Saw the field early in his Buckeyes career before academic problems eventually forced him to leave for a junior college. He transferred to Alabama but never played because of academics and transferred again to Florida Atlantic, where he sat out the 2012 season.
  • No. 144: Tate Forcier, QB, Michigan -- Forcier started the 2009 season, led Michigan to a memorable win against Notre Dame but struggled down the stretch and lost his job to Robinson in 2010. Academic issues sidelined him for the 2011 Gator Bowl, and he left school weeks later. Although he transferred to San Jose State, he never played.
  • No. 148: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan -- Lewan has been a mainstay for Michigan's offensive line, earning Big Ten offensive lineman of the year honors in 2012. Projected as a first-round pick in the 2013 NFL draft, Lewan surprised many by deciding to return to Michigan for his senior season.

An interesting mix, for sure. Lewan, the last player listed, might turn out to be the most successful. So few of the Big Ten's top 100 recruits panned out, and Ohio State fans have to be shaking their heads a bit at this list, as only Mewhort and Barnett look like success stories. There were unfortunate injury situations like Michigan State's Barrent and Ohio State's Fellows, some academic casualties (Carter, Forcier), and a downright sad story with Appleton. Baker was the only player on the list to make an early jump to the NFL.

Although several players didn't pan out, Michigan undoubtedly has to feel the best about the 2009 class as Robinson produced a record-setting career, Roh was a solid player, Lewan is a star and Washington could be a star in 2013.

Eight Big Ten teams are represented on the 2009 list. Those that aren't: Indiana, Nebraska, Northwestern and Purdue.

RecruitingNation also re-ranks the top 10 classes , with both Ohio State (No. 9) and Michigan (No. 10) holding their positions.
Attrition is a part of college football, especially at this time of year, but at what point does it become a concern?

Freshman tight end Chris Barnett is the third player to leave Michigan this week, joining junior wide receiver Je'Ron Stokes and freshman offensive lineman Tony Posada. Barnett made his pledge to new Wolverines coach Brady Hoke after he took over in January. A third Hoke recruit, linebacker Kellen Jones, left the Wolverines and enrolled at Oklahoma.

When examined on an individual basis, none of these departures hurts Michigan too much. And each player has his own reasons for leaving a program. These players didn't figure to be big parts of the plan for 2011, although Barnett could have been a factor in 2012.

If Rich Rodriguez were still coaching the Wolverines, he'd be getting criticized for player departures. Hoke shouldn't be held to a completely different standard.

It will be interesting to see if this is just a brief wave of departures, or if other players, particularly those who committed to Hoke and his staff, decide to leave.
Michigan has lost two players this week, although neither departure should sting too much.

Team officials confirmed that wide receiver Je'Ron Stokes has left the Wolverines. Stokes played in each of the past two seasons, mostly on special teams, and recorded three receptions for 27 yards.

He didn't appear to be a big part of the plan on offense this fall, as Michigan returns veteran wideouts Roy Roundtree and Junior Hemingway, and younger receivers such as Jeremy Jackson have received good reviews during preseason camp.

Some will remember Stokes from his route to Michigan. The heralded recruit was headed to Tennessee before the Vols fired Phil Fulmer as coach. He decided instead to join the Wolverines but never blossomed on the field.

Michigan on Monday confirmed the departure of freshman offensive lineman Tony Posada.

Neither departure hurts Michigan much in the grand scheme. The Wolverines could be a bit thin at receiver in 2012, although Darryl Stonum is expected to return after being forced to redshirt this season.

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg


ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan senior running back Brandon Minor is dressed and went through warm-ups before the game against Western Michigan.

Minor didn't seem to show many signs of the ankle injury that's been bothering him, though fellow senior Carlos Brown will start the game. Michigan officials said Minor's status depended heavily on how much he did in warmups. Brown was taking reps with the first-team offense.

Freshman wideout Je'Ron Stokes was the only player a bit questionable today, but he looks good to go for the Wolverines.

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

I'm still in an All-Star mood the day after the Midsummer Classic, and I was excited to read an excellent post by colleague Brian Bennett over at the Big East blog. BB took a look at the home run hitters in the Big East, guys like West Virginia's Noel Devine who can take one to the house at any given time.

 
Jeff Hanisch/US Presswire  
He hasn't scored much, but Arrelious Benn averaged over 15 yards per catch in 2008.  

The Big Ten has taken heat in recent years for a lack of speed and explosiveness, but the league certainly has its share of game-changers. Here are a few of them.

Illinois wide receiver Arrelious Benn -- His lack of career touchdown catches is puzzling (5), but Benn remains extremely dangerous with the ball. He averaged 15.7 yards per catch last season and can gash a defense as a rusher or a return man.

Ohio State running back Brandon Saine -- Dan Herron likely will get the first shot as the Buckeyes' starter, but most fans can't wait to see a healthy Saine get more carries. Injuries have limited Saine so far in his college career, but he's an extremely explosive back who can do damage in space.

Minnesota wide receiver Troy Stoudermire -- Stoudermire excelled as a return man last fall -- he led the Big Ten with 1,083 kick return yards -- and performed well as a receiver during spring drills. Defenses have to respect his downfield speed, but they could be so occupied with Eric Decker that the sophomore will get free.

Penn State running back Stephfon Green -- It remains to be seen how Green responds from ankle surgery, but opposing defenses better not forget about him, even if Evan Royster becomes more of a featured back. Green dazzled his teammates last spring and summer and should have a more productive sophomore season after some ups and downs in 2008.

Michigan State wide receiver Blair White -- White ranked ninth in the league in receiving average despite doing almost all of his damage in the season's second half. The speedy senior averaged 15.3 yards per reception and will enter the fall in a more enhanced role.

Wisconsin wide receiver David Gilreath -- Gilreath might not be a starter this season, but his top-end speed as a receiver, rusher and return man will get him on the field. He averaged an absurd 16.8 yards per catch last fall, finishing second on the team in receiving yards (520), to go along with 11.4 yards per rush.

Purdue wide receiver Aaron Valentin -- The junior college transfer had only 11 catches last year but racked up 224 yards (20.4 yards per reception). He'll take on a much bigger role this fall as Greg Orton and Desmond Tardy depart. Keith Smith should be Purdue's top possession wideout, giving Valentin the chance to attack defenses down the field.

Penn State wide receiver Derek Moye -- Moye is a prototypical outside receiver who brings top-end speed to the mix this season. He had only three catches in 2008 but will have every chance to establish himself as Penn State's primary deep threat.

Michigan wide receiver Darryl Stonum -- Expectations will be higher for Stonum this year as he enters his second season in what should be an improved offense. Stonum averaged 12.6 yards a catch in what many described as a disappointing freshman season, but he still has the skills to be explosive.

Also, keep an eye on these freshmen with home-run ability:

  • Michigan running back Vincent Smith
  • Iowa running back Brandon Wegher
  • Minnesota quarterback MarQueis Gray
  • Michigan wide receiver Je'Ron Stokes
  • Wisconsin wide receiver Kraig Appleton

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Michigan junior wide receiver Toney Clemons is leaving the program and has been granted his release.

Clemons appeared in 19 games for the Wolverines, starting two games as a true freshman in 2007 and one last fall. He has 12 catches for 106 yards in his career.

Concerns about fitting in with Michigan's spread offense proved to be the deciding factor for Clemons, who is a cousin of former Michigan star wideout/return man Steve Breaston.

"It's time for me to make a change and go in another direction than what I am needed for," Clemons told the Valley News Dispatch. "I still love Michigan. It's still my No. 1. Athletically, this is the right move for me. I want to take my blessings and gifts elsewhere."

Clemons wants to transfer to a Pac-10, ACC or SEC school, though he said he hasn't ruled out Big East members Pitt and West Virginia, both of which are close to his hometown of New Kensington, Pa. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Clemons appears on Michigan's roster for spring ball but had not practiced.

"I had a long talk with [head coach Rich Rodriguez] and he wasn't too happy with me leaving," Clemons said. "I just don't want to play in a spread offense. This is best for me as an athlete."

Clemons becomes the third offensive player who started a game last season to transfer from the team. Running back Sam McGuffie left for Rice, and quarterback Steven Threet hasn't announced his next destination.

The Wolverines seem to be featuring smaller, quicker receivers in the spread and have decent depth with Martavious Odoms, Greg Mathews, Darryl Stonum, LaTerryal Savoy, Junior Hemingway and others. Former quarterback Justin Feagin also is working as a slot receiver, and Michigan in February signed Je'Ron Stokes, an ESPNU 150 prospect.

Recruiting snapshot: Michigan

February, 5, 2009
2/05/09
4:40
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

As one of the bright spots in Big Ten recruiting this year, Michigan hits cleanup in our recruiting rundown. 

Number of recruits: 22

Key needs: Quarterback, defensive line, defensive back

Highest-rated player (Scouts Inc.): Craig Roh (No. 4 nationally among defensive end)

The quote: "If we had 3-9 at a different school, it would be even more difficult. But because we are at a great place, and because we have some things in place, when their families came, they saw the program, and saw the reasons why we struggled the way we struggled and knew they could be part of helping us fix it." -- Head coach Rich Rodriguez on his 2009 recruits

Quick take: Michigan's historically bad 2008 season put an increased burden on Rodriguez and his assistants during the recruiting process. Simply keeping verbal commitments on board was a challenge, and Michigan lost nine players. But Rodriguez and his staff filled in the gaps nicely and built momentum toward signing day, when they signed a top 10 class. Quarterback was a chief priority and Michigan landed two players (Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson) who will compete for the starting job. The additions of top defensive linemen Roh and William Campbell and wide receiver Je'Ron Stokes were vital for a program that showed it remains a major player in the recruiting race. 

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

It's time to recap national signing day for the Big Ten, and let's begin with the recruiting scorecard.

The Big Ten finished seventh nationally among conferences in total commits with 189, likely the result of several smallish classes (Iowa, Northwestern, Indiana) and the scarcity of junior college players. It's interesting to see how few jucos (3) came to the Big Ten compared with some of the other BCS conferences (SEC had 40, Big 12 and Pac-10 both had 29).

As far as ESPNU 150 commits, the Big Ten finished third behind the SEC and ACC with 19 players, with Ohio State and Michigan each landing seven prospects.

Aside from Michigan, the final Scouts Inc. top 25 recruiting rankings weren't kind to the Big Ten.

Ohio State fell five spots to No. 9, the result of cornerback/running back Justin Green switching to Illinois and some questionable lower signees. I would point out, though, that several of Ohio State's recent superstars (James Laurinaitis, Malcolm Jenkins) didn't arrive with many accolades.

Michigan moved up four spots to No. 10 after picking up several key players on signing day, namely wide receiver Je'Ron Stokes and quarterback Denard Robinson. Penn State dropped a spot to No. 16 after a mostly quiet signing day highlighted by the addition of wide receiver Justin Brown.

Both Michigan State and Illinois fell out of the rankings after placing Nos. 21 and 22 on Tuesday. Considering the Spartans had no late decommitments and answered several needs, it was a surprise to see them drop out. Illinois had a wild signing day in which it lost wideout Kraig Appleton, held onto wideout Terry Hawthorne and added Green, but Ron Zook's class doesn't quite match up with the last two years.

Scouts Inc. also graded the Big Ten classes, with both Ohio State and Michigan receiving A-minuses for their classes. Wisconsin might have moved past Minnesota by landing Appleton, though the Gophers' late signing of Michael Carter shouldn't be discounted. Michigan State got a good review for its class, while Purdue, Iowa and Indiana rounded out the bottom.

Ohio State running back Jaamal Berry is among the Top 10 instant-impact prospects selected by Scouts Inc. Berry will compete for the starting running back spot vacated by Chris "Beanie" Wells.

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

National signing day is in the books, and dozens of high school prospects have pledged to Big Ten teams. The Big Ten signed only one Top 25 prospect in Ohio State running back Jaamal Berry, but the league had reason to feel good about many of its recruits.

As we begin to digest the day, here are five key developments from the league.

1. Michigan's profits outweigh losses in return to top -- The Wolverines had an eventful signing day, which included a few defections but more key additions, and the end result was a top 15 class that keeps Michigan among the nation's recruiting elite. As expected, Michigan added a second quarterback (Denard Robinson) on signing day and also landed top wide receiver Je'Ron Stokes. Though the team lost two defensive tackle commits, Michigan did well in Florida and seemed to build momentum toward signing day. After the worst season in team history, Michigan responded very well on signing day.

2. Illinois breaks even with East St. Louis wideouts -- Rumors had increased leading up to signing day that high school teammates and Illinois commits Terry Hawthorne and Kraig Appleton would sign elsewhere. Turns out, Illinois went 1-1 with the East St. Louis, Ill., products, as it retained Hawthorne but saw Appleton sign with Wisconsin, giving the Badgers a much needed boost at the wide receiver spot. Keeping Hawthorne on board and convincing Justin Green to drop Ohio State for the chance to play running back in Champaign offset several decommitments late in the recruiting process. 

3. Minnesota lands cornerback Carter -- The Gophers' 2009 class doesn't rival last year's haul in terms of size and overall talent, but Minnesota reminded the Big Ten that it remains a major player in recruiting by landing cornerback Michael Carter. The Florida native had committed to West Virginia but switched Wednesday to Minnesota, giving the Gophers an impact player in a secondary that made major strides last year with takeaways but still had a long way to go. 

4. Ohio State reaffirms recruiting dominance -- The Buckeyes have dominated Big Ten play on the field this decade and continue to do so on the recruiting trail. Despite losing Green to Illinois and not landing wideout Marlon Brown, Ohio State welcomed a top-5 class that easily ranks as the best in the Big Ten. Berry and linebacker Dorian Bell headline a group that includes seven players ranked in the ESPNU 150. 

5. Spartans quietly ink stellar class -- There was no drama Wednesday in East Lansing, just the affirmation of an excellent recruiting class that should continue to raise Michigan State's profile under head coach Mark Dantonio. The Spartans brought in a Top 25 class and had no late detractors from a group that addresses needs at offensive line, linebacker and wide receiver/tight end. Dantonio is very high on running backs Edwin Baker and Larry Caper, both of whom will compete for the starting job vacated by All-American Javon Ringer. 

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Michigan still has some work to do on the field, but coach Rich Rodriguez and his assistants certainly have the arrow pointed up again after national signing day.

Minutes ago, the Wolverines added a major piece to their top-15 class as wide receiver Je'Ron Stokes announced he would play for Michigan. Stokes, ranked as the nation's eighth best wide receiver and 68th best player by ESPN's Scouts Inc., picked Michigan over Illinois, Georgia and Tennessee, the school where he originally committed. 

The 6-foot-1, 178-pound Stokes fits the speed-first mold Rodriguez is trying to create with Michigan's wide receivers. Stokes joins Cameron Gordon as the only wideouts in Michigan's 2009 class. 

With the additions of Stokes and quarterback Denard Robinson earlier in the day, Michigan has bolstered its depth at the skill positions and set the stage for some intriguing competition heading into the fall. 

Michigan's ability to rebound in recruiting following the worst season in team history should restore some faith in Rodriguez. Granted, the program lost several commitments during the slide, including defensive tackles Pearlie Graves and DeQuinta Jones earlier Wednesday, but overall this was a very good day for the Wolverines.

The rewards might not show until 2010, but the talent is in place for Michigan to reclaim its status as a national powerhouse. 

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Most Big Ten teams have completed the bulk of their 2009 recruiting, and a few squads with smallish classes (Northwestern, Iowa) are essentially finished and looking ahead to 2010. 

But national signing day on Wednesday will bring plenty of suspense for one Big Ten program. 

Michigan is anxious to learn whether quarterback Denard Robinson and cornerback Adrian Witty, teammates at Deerfield Beach High School in Florida, choose to attend college in Ann Arbor. Robinson and Witty are scheduled to announce their college selections together on signing day.

According to the Detroit Free Press' Josh Helmholdt, Robinson and Witty "are good friends off the field and want to attend the same school together. Only Michigan and Kansas State have offered both. Florida is also a contender for Robinson, but this one looks like it will go in Michigan's favor."

Both Michigan and Illinois also remain in the mix for wide receiver Je'Ron Stokes, a Tennessee commit who appears extremely open to going elsewhere. Georgia is the latest team interested in landing Stokes, who visited Illinois last weekend. 

Quarterback and cornerback both are key positions for Michigan heading into the 2009 season. The Wolverines had two quarterbacks decommit (Kevin Newsome and Shavodrick Beaver) and would love to have Robinson compete with Tate Forcier and holdovers Steven Threet and Nick Sheridan for the starting job.  

Robinson ranks 102nd overall in the ESPNU 150. 

Michigan loses starting corner Morgan Trent and could use another elite prep corner to join Justin Turner in the 2009 class. 

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