The nation's top prospect in DE Da'Shawn Hand is a top target for several schools including Michigan in 2014.
One recruiting cycle is in the books. Another one is well under way.
We take a look at the Big Ten Conference, and identify what each of its teams' top needs are for the 2014 class.
Biggest Need – Linebacker. The Illini say good bye to All-American caliber linebacker Jonathan Brown following the upcoming season and they didn’t sign one in the 2013 recruiting class. Good thing it’s a deep year at the position in the Lincoln State with four prospects from home already holding an offer from Illinois.
Top Target – Nyles Morgan, LB, Crete (Ill.) Monee
Biggest Need – Quarterback. Not a lot of needs on this young football team that will be returning a lot of players the next two seasons. However at quarterback, the Hoosiers only have three scholarship players in red-shirt sophomore Tre Roberson, sophomore Nate Sudfield and junior Cameron Coffman. They’ll look to add a signal-caller capable of keeping this prolific offense humming.
Top Target – David Cornwell, QB, Norman (Okla.) North
Biggest Need – Defensive end. For a program that’s been so successful across the defensive line in the past, it’s surprising that by far the biggest question mark on the Hawkeyes roster is currently at the defensive end position and with the pass rush. Iowa lacks both talent and depth at defensive end and making matters worse, Iowa didn’t sign an end in 2013.
Top Target – Dewayne Hendrix, DE, O’Fallon (Ill.) High
Biggest Need – Defensive end. As Michigan continues to take steps toward being one of the nation’s elite programs, the Wolverines will need more difference makers at the defensive end position. Michigan struggled at times last year to get to the quarterback and the team doesn’t have a proven consistent pass rusher heading into 2013. Maybe a guy or two will emerge but for now that appears to be the biggest need on a roster that has upgraded significantly since the hiring of Brady Hoke.
Top Target – Da’Shawn Hand, DE, Woodbridge (Va.) High
Biggest Need – Offensive line. The Spartans will graduate five offensive linemen in tackles Henry Conway, Dan France, Fou Fonoti and guards Nate Klatt and Blake Treadwell. Michigan State only signed one offensive lineman in 2013 in tackle Dennis Finley. Look for Mark Dantonio and his staff to try and sign up to five offensive linemen in this class.
Top Target – Jamarco Jones, OT, Chicago (Ill.) De La Salle
Biggest Need – Cornerback. By the time the Gophers sign this 2014 class, they will have lost valuable players at the position over the last two seasons. Minnesota will also look to keep the top in-state targets at home and have already been able to do that in landing a verbal from Top100 running back/cornerback Jeff Jones.
Top Target – Jeff Jones, RB, Minneapolis (Minn.) Washburn.
Offensive line is a need for several schools in the Big Ten, and Michigan State and Ohio State are two schools in good position to land Top50 offensive tackle Jamarco Jones.
Biggest Need: – Cornerback. The Cornhuskers graduate their top five cornerbacks, which includes personnel in their nickel and dime packages led by Ciante Evans. Nebraska inked just one cornerback in 2013 in Boaz Joseph and Jonathan Rose transferred in from Auburn, but Coach Bo Pelini and company will be looking for instant impact guys and depth at this position in 2014.
Top Target:— Naijiel Hale, CB, Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco
Biggest Need: – None. It’s going to be a small class for Northwestern in 2014 with the projected total to be between 12 to 14 come National Signing Day. Perhaps some needs will develop after Coach Pat Fitzgerald and his staff get a better look at the team following spring ball, but for now, Northwestern will look to ink a group of difference makers and not really focus on one position group.
Top Target: – Nic Weishar, TE, Chicago (Ill.) Marist
Biggest Need: – Offensive line. Not a lot of needs when you sign two-straight Top-10 classes including the nation’s No. 2 haul in 2013. Ohio State continues to target offensive linemen and Urban Meyer and his staff already have two in the fold in Top247 in-state prospects Marcelys Jones and Kyle Trout. Look for the Buckeyes to try and add two more.
Top Target: – Jamarco Jones, OT, Chicago (Ill.) De La Salle
Biggest Need: – Cornerback. The Nittany Lions have a lot of athletes in the secondary but not a lot of true corners that can lock receivers down. The prospects Penn State signed last year are better suited for safety. A couple cornerbacks joining the fold this year would even out the defensive backfield.
Top Target: – Dravon Henry, ATH, Aliquippa (Pa.) Senior
Biggest Need – Offensive line. As Purdue looks to improve its football team at the point of attack, addressing the front-seven was a necessity and was addressed defensively in 2013. The Boilermakers turn their attention to the offensive line in 2014 after taking just one offensive tackle in last year’s class.
Top Target – Denzel Ward, OT, Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy
Biggest Need – Receiver. With really just one proven receiver on the roster in All-Big Ten player Jared Abbrederis, who exhausts his eligibility after this season, the Badgers will target this position in 2014.
Top Target – Saeed Blacknall, WR, Englishtown (N.J.) Manalapan