It’s time to dip into the Big Ten recruiting mailbag and answer some of your questions. We’ll try to give everyone a chance to get their questions answered. We encourage you to send your questions by Twitter to @bbournival or @TomVH. Feel free to email us as well at firstname.lastname@example.org or TomVHESPN@gmail.com.
@UMKirwin12: Which teams are in place to pull in the best group of recruits at each position?
Tom VanHaaren: If I can use my own criteria, then I’ll give you a few answers. Right now Michigan has the No. 1-ranked cornerback in Jabrill Peppers (Paramus, N.J./Paramus Catholic) and is still in the conversation with three ESPN 300 defensive backs, so I would give the secondary narrowly to Michigan because of Peppers.
Ohio State is right there with the commitment of Damon Webb (Detroit/Cass Tech) and the potential to add Cleveland Glenville teammates Marshon Lattimore and Erick Smith.
I think Ohio State takes the cake for offensive linemen, but I’m going to throw a few curveballs for a few other groups. I like Northwestern’s running back haul with the 31st- 36th- and 51st-ranked backs already in the class. That’s two four-star running backs and one who's close.
I also like Penn State’s wide receiver haul led by No. 6 ranked athlete De'andre Thompkins (Swansboro, N.C./Swansboro) and Chris Godwin (Middletown, De./Middletown), the No. 21-ranked receiver.
Michigan’s wide receiver class is also very good, so I’d include the Wolverines on the list.
There is a reason Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State and Northwestern are all ranked higher than the other Big Ten teams, though. They have the best classes in the conference, which means they have the best players.
@buckeyfan686: If a highly rated offensive tackle commits to Ohio State, do you think they still go after Chad Mavety since he is more likely ready to play next year?
Brad Bournival: That is an excellent question and one that really depends on the numbers. If the Buckeyes can grab ESPN 300 tackles Damian Prince (Forestville, Md./Bishop McNamara) or Alex Bookser (Pittsburgh/Mt. Lebanon), that would give them a force up front for the next four years with ESPN 300 guard Demetrius Knox (Ft. Worth, Texas/All Saints Episcopal) and ESPN 300 tackle Jamarco Jones (Chicago/De La Salle) in the mix already.
Add Marcelys Jones (Cleveland/Glenville) and Kyle Trout (Lancaster, Ohio/Lancaster) and the 2014 class is versatile as well. That said, if Ohio State can massage the numbers and still stay under the NCAA sanctions, getting an attractive piece like Mavety might be too good to pass up. He’d essentially have three seasons to play two, so yes if the piece is there and the Buckeyes can work some magic, they could still take six offensive linemen in this class.
@MeechignAdbug1: Who is winning the recruiting battle right now (for 2014), Urban Meyer or Brady Hoke?
VanHaaren: If you are judging strictly by which team gained a commitment from a prospect that held an offer from the opposing school, then it’s a tie. Both teams have seven commitments from prospects that held offers from the other team.
If you look at the rankings of those players, then it’s Michigan. Peppers is the biggest at No. 2 overall.
Ohio State has seven ESPN 300 commitments, but five of them held Michigan offers. Michigan has nine ESPN 300 commitments and six held Ohio State offers. There are still some prospects out there who have yet to make commitments, which could swing it in either direction. Defensive end Da'Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge) still has Michigan in it, and could very well end up a Wolverine. We’ll have to wait until signing day for the final answer, but right now I would say Michigan is leading the race.
email@example.com: Who rounds out Ohio State’s recruiting class?
Bournival: First let’s go through the locks, who I believe to be four-star athletes Curtis Samuel (Brooklyn, N.Y./Erasmus) and Lattimore. After that, I really think inside linebacker Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County) is part of this class, as is Erick Smith. Then you have to start looking at the numbers crunch. I think they miss on Prince and Bookser and nab Mavety. That leaves room for maybe two more, though I don’t know if the Buckeyes will use them. I still think defensive tackle Thomas Holley (Brooklyn, N.Y./Abraham Lincoln) picks Ohio State, and the Buckeyes could take either tight end Mike Gesicki (Manahawkin, N.J./Southern Regional) or wide receiver Noah Brown (Sparta, N.J./Pope John XXIII) to round it out, though don’t be surprised if either comes to Ohio State.
@bmartinez51: Peyton Newell is deciding Aug. 30. Does he seem Nebraska bound?
VanHaaren: As you mentioned, the defensive tackle is announcing his decision on Aug. 30 and will be deciding at his high school at 2:30 p.m. local time.
The finalists on his list are Kansas, Kansas State, Nebraska and South Carolina. Nebraska fans think they have a good chance, but a few other schools have put up a good fight.
South Carolina would be a tough school to say no to, but Nebraska would be a good fit for Newell.