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Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Big Ten class rankings analysis

By Tom VanHaaren

Commitments and decommitments within the Big Ten mean there has been movement in the updated class rankings. Here is a look at some trends and what might happen in the future from Big Ten teams.

Trending up:

Wisconsin is on its way up, in the class rankings and potentially with a few recruits. The Badgers realistically should be 9-1 at this point in the season, and the success on the field under new coach Gary Andersen is being noticed by prospects. Northwestern recently parted ways with former commit Dareian Watkins (Galion, Ohio/Galion), and it looks as though he will consider Wisconsin in a final decision. ESPN 300 running back Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom) is also still on the board along with a few other big targets, so there's a chance for Wisconsin, which is currently No. 33 in the class rankings, to make a big move in the near future.

Ohio State is also sitting pretty for quite a few big prospects on its board. With juco offensive lineman Chad Mavety (Garden City, N.Y./Nassau Community College) and several ESPN 300 prospects still very high on the Buckeyes, this class could still move up in the rankings despite already being No. 9.

Trending down:

Purdue just lost linebacker commit Drue Tranquill (Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll) to Notre Dame, and offensive line commit Denzel Ward (Chicago/Simeon) is still looking around. The Boilermakers are now down to 10 commitments, with the potential to lose more.

Michigan losing out on five-star defensive end Da'Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge) was a big deal as well and has the Wolverines trending down instead of up. Missing on Hand limits the big names left on Michigan’s board and its chances at making a big move in the class rankings. ESPN 300 defensive lineman Malik McDowell (Southfield, Mich./Southfield) is one of the few remaining big prospects still seriously considering the Wolverines. If Michigan were to miss on him, it would be a significant hit to the class, which is currently ranked No. 7.

One to watch:

Frank Ragnow (Victoria, Minn./Chanhassen) has become one of the hotter prospects not only in the Big Tenn but across the country. Several big programs covet him, and he has his top group narrowed down to Arkansas, Florida State, Miami, Minnesota, Ohio State and Wisconsin. With three Big Ten teams in the mix, it could end up being a big battle to see who wins out for the four-star offensive lineman. There is a chance he visits Minnesota this weekend, and the in-state team has made a big push for him lately with the Gophers' success on the field.

ESPN 300 defensive back Parrker Westphal (Bolingbrook, Ill./Bolingbrook) is taking an unofficial visit to Northwestern for the Michigan State game and then returning in the first week of December for an official visit. Westphal could help Northwestern’s skid if he ends up choosing the Wildcats. He is also considering Michigan State and Vanderbilt, so it would be a huge get for coach Pat Fitzgerald and his staff.

Bold prediction:

Penn State will close the 2014 class out strong. The Nittany Lions have been somewhat quiet recently in recruiting, but there are still some big names on the board with this class. ESPN 300 defensive tackle Thomas Holley (Brooklyn, N.Y./Lincoln) is probably the biggest, and it looks as though Penn State is in good position with the No. 87-ranked prospect in the country. Adding Holley could help push Penn State, currently ranked No. 25, even further up the class rankings.