Big Ten: Kenny Hayes

Big Ten lunch links

August, 31, 2012
Happy Friday. Boise State-Michigan State tonight. Who's excited?
In the not so distant past, when a Big Ten player decided to transfer, it almost always signaled the end of his Big Ten career.

The Big Ten's old policy stipulated that a player who transferred from one Big Ten school to another couldn't receive athletics aid at his new destination. While some players still made the moves and paid their own way -- Wisconsin-turned-Minnesota safety Kim Royston comes to mind -- the rules typically steered transfers to other leagues.

The league since has loosened its restrictions, and several players seem to be capitalizing. Four players transferred within the conference this summer.

Kenny Hayes, a former Ohio State defensive lineman who reportedly is transferring to Michigan State, is the latest player to make a move within the league. Illinois last week added Nebraska transfer Ryan Klachko, an offensive lineman who redshirted in 2011. The Illini also recently picked up offensive lineman Ryan Nowicki, one of nine Penn State players to transfer from the program after the NCAA leveled heavy sanctions July 23. Another offensive lineman, Brian Bobek, transferred from Ohio State to Minnesota in June.

Nowicki is eligible to play immediately, according to the relaxed rules the NCAA devised for players interested in transferring from Penn State. Klachko, Hayes and Bobek both must sit out a season before becoming eligible in 2013.

But all four can receive immediate scholarships at their new schools, thanks to a recent change in the Big Ten's transfer policy.

Beginning with the 2011-12 academic year, athletes transferring within the Big Ten can receive scholarships from their new schools as long as they receive their full release.

Bobek won't be on scholarship until January only because Minnesota is at its limit for the season. But if Minnesota had room for him right now, he could receive aid.

The highly publicized case of former Wisconsin basketball player Jarrod Uthoff this spring had more to do with Wisconsin restricting Uthoff's options than the Big Ten making it difficult for Uthoff financially. Uthoff transferred to Iowa in June and will pay his own way for a year before being put on scholarship.

It'll be interesting to see if the revised policy on intraleague transfers leads to more moves within the Big Ten. While the Big Ten doesn't want to see this become a major trend, the league made the right call in allowing immediate scholarships to kick in. It's one thing for schools to be childish and hypocritical about granting releases, but league should be looking out for the players.
Jordan Hicks' decision to leave the state of Ohio and play his college ball at Texas didn't come as a major surprise.

Though Hicks attended high school in the Cincinnati suburbs, he only moved to Ohio in the sixth grade from South Carolina and had family connections to the Texas coaching staff. As he told reporters Friday after announcing his choice, "I don't feel like I turned my back on Ohio State. ... I wasn't born here. ... Ohio State is an Ohio school. I'm not from Ohio. I really don't have that connection there from growing up liking them."

Sounds reasonable enough. But any time an elite high school prospect leaves a Big Ten state to play elsewhere, it creates anxiety among fans. And this year, Ohio State has struggled a bit to seal off its borders.

Of ESPN Scouts Inc.'s top 15 ranked players from Ohio, only four are heading to Ohio State. Prospects like Hicks (Texas), running back Spencer Ware (LSU), quarterback Andrew Hendrix (Notre Dame), safety Latwan Anderson (West Virginia) and offensive lineman Christian Pace (Michigan) will play for other teams.

It's important to remember Ohio produces a ton of great high school players, and not all of them will end up in Columbus. Ohio State has landed highly-rated local products like Darryl Baldwin, an ESPNU 150 player, as well as Andrew Norwell and Tyrone Williams. The Buckeyes also are in the mix for offensive lineman Matt James from Cincinnati.

But on the whole, Ohio State likely will sign fewer in-state players than most years.

The Buckeyes currently have eight in-state commitments from a class of 18. Last year, Ohio State signed 14 Ohio products in a class of 25. In 2005, Ohio State signed 11 Ohio products out of 18. Ohio State signed a small class of 15 in 2003, but all but three players came from the state. In 2002, Ohio State's 24-man class featured a whopping 18 players from the state.

So is this year an anomaly or a cause for concern? To get a better perspective, I checked in with Scouts Inc.'s Midwest recruiting expert Bill Kurelic Insider, whose blog is a must read.

Here's what Kurelic had to say: "They have done OK in Ohio this year, but they certainly haven't dominated like in most years. But I don't see it as a trend. They lost out on Welch and Hendrix, but those two are from Catholic high schools and it was going to be a tough sell for OSU to keep them away from Notre Dame. They lost out on Ware, but he just never seemed overly interested.

"On the good side of things for OSU fans is that [Jim] Tressel may be set to dominate Ohio again next year like he has in most years. He has two of the top 5 Ohio juniors committed and he seems in good position to get the top six or seven guys in Ohio on his list. So I think this year is just one of those years."

Kurelic is referring to defensive ends Kenny Hayes and Steve Miller, both of whom are on the ESPNU 150 watch list Insider.

Bottom line: Ohio State's in-state recruiting should be fine in the long term, though the Buckeyes must beware of intruders after this year.