Big Ten: Jordan Thomas

In the coming days, I'll take a closer look at whether the Big Ten would benefit from having prospects take official visits earlier, such as at the end of their junior years in high school. It's an idea Big Ten Network analyst Gerry DiNardo has championed, and one that makes since because of the accelerated recruiting cycle and the far-flung locations of some Big Ten schools.

Some Big Ten teams might not benefit from earlier official visits. They have no trouble getting recruits to campus and piling up early commits. Others must play the waiting game and make strong pushes before national signing day. Coaching changes can make an impact when teams get verbal commits, as Penn State has learned in recent weeks. Recruits also have been more likely to flip pledges leading up to signing day, forcing some teams to scramble to fill spots.

We're a day away from the big day, and while there are a few key undecided recruits who will make their choices Wednesday, most of the hay is in the barn, so to speak.

When did Big Ten teams get their 2014 recruits to verbally commit? Here's a closer look (as of Monday night):

ILLINOIS

Total commits: 18 (four already have signed)

March-May 2013: 4
June-July: 8
August-September: 0
October: 1
November: 0
December: 4
January: 1
February: 0

INDIANA

Total commits: 25 (six have signed)

March-May 2013: 0
June: 5
July: 4
August: 0
September: 1
October: 3
November: 0
December: 2
January: 6
February: 4

IOWA

Total commits: 21

January-April 2013: 2
June: 5
July: 3
August: 2
September: 1
October: 1
November: 2
December: 1
January: 4

MICHIGAN

Total commits: 16 (seven have signed)

August 2012: 1
February 2013: 3
April-May: 7
June: 3
July: 1
August: 1
September-February: 0

MICHIGAN STATE

Total commits: 21 (two have signed)

August 2012: 1
September 2012: 1
April-May 2013: 5
June: 4
July: 1
August: 1
September: 2
October: 0
November: 1
December: 3
January: 1
February: 1

MINNESOTA

Total commits: 19 (two have signed)

February-April 2013: 3
May: 0
June-July: 3
August: 0
September: 1
October: 1
November: 2
December: 1
January: 6
February: 2

NEBRASKA

Total commits: 26 (two have signed)

March 2013: 1
April-May: 0
June: 7
July: 3
August: 1
September: 0
October: 1
November: 2
December: 2
January: 6
February: 3

NORTHWESTERN

Total commits: 16 (one has enrolled)

March-April 2013: 4
May: 5
June: 1
July-November: 0
December: 3
January: 1
February: 2

OHIO STATE

Total commits: 22 (seven have signed)

December 2012: 1
January-February 2013: 3
March-May: 4
June: 5
July: 2
August: 1
September: 1
October-November: 0
December: 2
January: 3
February: 0

PENN STATE

Total commits: 25 (five have enrolled)

October 2012: 1
February-April 2013: 5
May: 2
June-July: 3
August-September: 0
October: 3
November: 1
December: 1
January: 8
February: 1

PURDUE

Total commits: 20 (two have signed)

May 2013: 2
June: 3
July: 1
August-September: 0
October: 1
November: 1
December: 8
January: 3
February: 1

WISCONSIN

Total commits: 27 (four have signed)

April 2012: 1
August 2012: 1
September 2012: 1
May 2013: 2
June-July: 5
August: 0
September: 2
October: 3
November: 5
December: 3
January: 2
February: 2

Notes/comments
  • The James Franklin effect certainly can be seen in Penn State's class, as all nine recruits who committed in January or February did so after Franklin's hiring on Jan. 11. Franklin flipped several prospects from his former team, Vanderbilt, and also brought in some surprises during a furious push down the stretch.
  • Early recruiting has been a hallmark for Brady Hoke at Michigan, and it's no surprise to see the Wolverines basically done with their 2014 class before the season. Michigan had 21 of its 27 recruits in the 2013 class verbally commit before the 2012 season.
  • Iowa's commit pattern was the steadiest in the league, as the Hawkeyes received at least one pledge every month between June 2013 and January 2014.
  • Nebraska has accelerated its recruiting pace in each of the last two years. The Huskers had just five verbal commits before the season in the 2012 class but doubled that total in the 2013 class and have 12 in the 2014 crop. Nebraska is one of the Big Ten schools that seemingly could benefit from earlier official visits because of its location in relation to recruiting hotbeds.
  • Gary Andersen's first full recruiting class at Wisconsin is a huge one, and Andersen and his staff did much of their work both during and after the 2013 season. Seventeen of Wisconsin's 27 pledges came after the games began.
  • Northwestern stockpiled commits early on and would have been done in mid-December after Parrker Westphal's pledge, but two prospects (Noah Westerfield and Jordan Thomas) decommited last month, forcing the Wildcats to make some late additions.
  • Ohio State's recruiting is following a somewhat familiar pattern under Urban Meyer: strong winter and spring, a few summer pickups, relatively quiet during the season and then a nice push from mid-December to early January. The Buckeyes have landed some of their best prospects late in the process, from 2013 recruits Mike Mitchell and Vonn Bell to 2014 standout Raekwon McMillan.
  • Purdue and Minnesota tend to add the bulk of their commits later in the process. The Boilers added 12 commits in the 2013 class following Darrell Hazell's hiring in early December, and 12 of their 20 commits in this year's class came after Dec. 1. Minnesota picked up nine of its 19 commits in the current class after Dec. 1 -- a similar ratio as it had in the 2013 class.

Weekend recruiting wrap: Big Ten 

January, 20, 2014
Jan 20
8:00
AM ET
As usual there is a ton of action happening around signing day. The Big Ten has had commitments, decommitments, offers and everything in between.

Here is a look at what took place within the conference on the recruiting trail this past week:



There are still big holes to fill in recruiting for the 2014 class and top targets still on the board. A lot of position groups are being addressed in recruiting, but not many have been completely filled.

Big Ten recruiting writers Tom VanHaaren and Brad Bournival take a look at the most important position for each Big Ten team in the 2014 class.


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By now you've had time to digest the 2013 recruiting classes in the Big Ten. Many of you turned the page to 2014 long ago, so it's time for us to catch up.

The Big Ten has 19 verbal commits for the 2014 class, which ranks fourth among FBS conferences and 11 behind the SEC. Nine Big Ten schools have received commitments, and future Big Ten members Maryland and Rutgers both are on the board with one commit each.

Here's a snapshot of 2014 recruiting in the Big Ten ...

ILLINOIS

Commits: 0
Comment: The Illini didn't get their first 2013 commitment until Feb. 28, 2012, and they're pursuing several coveted in-state prospects. Some recruits might wait and see with Illinois as coach Tim Beckman faces a pivotal season after a disastrous 2012.

INDIANA

Commits: 0
Comment: The Hoosiers didn't get their first 2013 commitment until last June, so there's not a major rush here. Indiana finished the past recruiting cycle very strong and was able to flip a few players who had pledged elsewhere.

IOWA

Commits: 2
Comment: The Hawkeyes are off to a good start with offensive lineman Ross Pierschbacher, an in-state prospect who has received good reviews. Iowa also remained within its borders for athlete Jay Scheel, who had received interest from other area teams like Nebraska and Iowa State. Both men are on ESPN's Watch List.

MICHIGAN

Commits: 3
Comment: Fast starts have been a hallmark of Brady Hoke's recruiting at Michigan, and the trend is continuing for the 2014 class. Size stands out among all three Wolverines' commits, including 6-foot-6, 230-pound quarterback Wilton Speight from Richmond, Va., who reclassified for the 2014 class after breaking his collarbone as a junior. ESPN Watch List prospects linebacker Michael Ferns and defensive tackle Bryan Mone are nice additions.

MICHIGAN STATE

Commits: 3
Comment: The class is off to an excellent start as all three commits are on ESPN's 2014 Watch List. The intrigue surrounds wide receiver prospect Drake Harris, who has received interest from Ohio State, Michigan and other top programs and could be pried away from Michigan State. The class also includes another Bullough, this time Byron, the younger brother of current Spartans Max and Riley.

MINNESOTA

Commits: 1
Comment: Running back Jeff Jones not only puts Minnesota on the board for 2014, but he's a solid in-state prospect on the ESPN Watch List. A lack of homegrown talent hurt Minnesota in the 2013 class, which included just one in-state prospect, so Jones' pledge is a good sign.

NEBRASKA

Commits: 0
Comment: It's still early, Huskers fans, although your anxiety about Bo Pelini's recruiting won't be quelled until Nebraska gets on the board with some decorated prospects. Nebraska's first 2013 recruits didn't commit until mid-April of last year.

NORTHWESTERN

Commits: 1
Comment: The Wildcats' defensive back recruiting has improved in recent years, and the coaches hope they've made another good addition in safety Jordan Thomas, an ESPN Watch List prospect from Klein, Texas.

OHIO STATE

Commits: 4
Comment: Although Ohio State continues to recruit aggressively in the Southern states, its first four commits for 2014 come from the Midwest (3 Ohio, 1 Michigan). The Buckeyes went to Detroit's Cass Tech High School, a traditional Michigan hotbed, for cornerback Damon Webb. They recently lost a commitment from defensive end Lawrence Marshall, who is still considering the Buckeyes but also Michigan and Michigan State.

PENN STATE

Commits: 1
Comment: Running back is and will be a major need for Penn State, especially after the 2012 season. The addition of Maryland native Mark Allen, who committed back in October, should help.

PURDUE

Commits: 0
Comment: New Boilers coach Darrell Hazell took his time putting together a staff and had to focus on finishing the 2013 recruiting cycle, so the lack of commits isn't a huge surprise. It will be interesting to see Hazell's vision/strategy for his first full class at Purdue and how successful he'll be on the trail.

WISCONSIN

Commits: 4
Comment: All four Wisconsin commits made their pledges last year, before the coaching change. New coach Gary Andersen did a good job of keeping Wisconsin's 2013 recruits on board and will need to do the same with this group, which includes ESPN Watch List selections in quarterback Chance Stewart and offensive lineman Jaden Gault.

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