Classes are filling up quickly in the Big Ten with eight conference programs already holding at least 10 verbal commitments in 2014.
Illinois would love to see Chicago area OLB/DE Nile Sykes in its 2014 class.
This week’s Big Ten Notebook takes a look at the top remaining target on the board for each team.
Illinois: Lombard (Ill.) Montini Catholic outside linebacker/defensive end Nile Sykes has the in-state Illini in his top four along with Indiana, Iowa State and Syracuse. As Tim Beckman and his staff are pushing to keep the top players home, the versatile Sykes would be a key get from the Chicago area. Illinois currently has nine commits, with Ohio quarterback Chayce Crouch checking in as the highest-rated commit.
Indiana: The Hoosiers would love to reel in Indianapolis (Ind.) Lawrence Central four-star linebacker Brandon Lee. Kevin Wilson and his staff are battling the likes of Louisville, Kentucky, Northwestern, California, Oregon and Virginia Tech for Lee’s services. Indiana currently has eight commits in 2014, led by Cincinnati (Ohio) Summit Country Day defensive lineman Michael Barwick.
Iowa: As the Hawkeyes continue to look at stacking offensive linemen in 2014, Saint Louis (Mo.) Christian Brothers four-star offensive tackle Brian Wallace would be another great addition. Iowa is among the early leaders along with Arkansas, Nebraska, Ohio State and Oklahoma. Kirk Ferentz’s current 10-player class is led by Top247 offensive tackle Ross Pierschbacher ranks No. 43 nationally.
Michigan: The Wolverines are in the top three for five-star defensive end Da'Shawn Hand, along with Alabama and Florida. Ranked by the 247Composite as the nation’s No. 2 prospect overall, the Woodbridge (Va.) High standout is slated to take an official to Ann Arbor for the Notre Dame game in September. The 247Sports Crystal Ball currently favors Michigan. With 15 commits, led by five-star cornerback Jabrill Peppers, the Wolverines recruiting class is tops in the Big Ten and No. 7 nationally according to 247Sports.
Minnesota aims to keep in-state OT Frank Ragnow at home.
Michigan State: Would be a major coup for Michigan State if they could beat out Michigan for Top50 defensive lineman Malik McDowell. The Detroit-area standout is also considering Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Ohio State and USC. The Spartans have had McDowell on campus several times and with him looking to commit late in the process, will have ample more opportunities to get him back to East Lansing. Six of Michigan State’s 13 pledges hold a four-star rating by 247Sports, led by Top125 running back Gerald Owens. The Spartans class ranks 24th nationally, No. 4 in the Big Ten.
Minnesota: The Gophers are in a great position to keep Chanhassen (Minn.) High offensive tackle Frank Ragnow in-state. The nation’s No. 38 offensive tackle according to the 247Composite is also looking at offers from Arkansas, Florida State and Pittsburgh. Led by the top player in the state in Top247 running back Jeff Jones, the Gophers are sitting on five commits in 2014.
Nebraska: Hiawatha (Kan.) Senior defensive tackle Peyton Newell has been considered a Huskers lean for most of the recruiting process, and Nebraska continued to impress the four-star prospect during his June visit for Big Red Weekend. Aiming to decide in late-August, South Carolina is the main competition. Receiver Monte Harrison highlights an 11-player class that currently ranks No. 42 in the country.
Northwestern: Pat Fitzgerald and his staff are nearly done recruiting in 2014 with 13 commits in the boat and room for roughly 15. Bolingbrook (Ill.) High Top247 cornerback Parrker Westphal would be a nice addition to finish things off. Keeping one of the Windy City’s best home for Chicago’s team is a priority for the Wildcats. They’re battling Arizona State, Michigan and Vanderbilt among others for his signature. Another local standout, Top247 running back Justin Jackson is the current class jewel.
Five-star DT Thomas Holley is a top prospect for several schools and the No. 1 target for Penn State.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes are in on so many blue-chippers it’s hard to tab just one top target as the process moves forward. A case could be made for five-stars in linebacker Raekwon McMillan, offensive tackle Damian Prince, defensive tackle Thomas Holley and athlete Curtis Samuel. While Urban Meyer is aiming to ink all four, Samuel brings the speed and playmaker dimension that is coveted. Ohio State is also the clear leader for the Brooklyn (N.Y.) Erasmus Hall talent and are recruiting him to play that Percy Harvin role. Another five-star in linebacker Dante Booker is the top-rated player in the Buckeyes class that comes in at No. 2 in the conference and No. 9 nationally.
Penn State: Brooklyn (N.Y.) Lincoln five-star defensive tackle Thomas Holley hasn’t narrowed his list of offers, but when he does the Nittany Lions are expected to make the cut. Bill O’Brien and his staff will face stiff competition from schools like Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Syracuse. Like Northwestern, Penn State is nearly done recruiting in 2014, and are looking to add one more defensive lineman, one more defensive back and perhaps tight end Mike Gesicki. The current 13-player class ranks No. 21 nationally, which is good for No. 3 in the Big Ten.
Purdue: One of the fastest rising prospects in the state of Indiana has been Fort Wayne (Ind.) Carroll’s Drue Tranquill, and the Boilermakers are the current leader for the athletic safety/linebacker prospect. Expected to make a decision before the end of the month, Tranquill likely ends up at Purdue unless an offer from Notre Dame comes in to cloudy the picture. Top247 quarterback David Blough headlines the Boilermakers current seven-player class.
Wisconsin: The Badgers will get the last crack to impress Portland (Ore.) Central Catholic four-star defensive end Connor Humphreys, who recently visited Tennessee and will hit Arizona and Arizona State next week before arriving in Madison on July 30. A decision is expected shortly after. Top247 offensive tackle Jaden Gault is the top player in a current 11-player class that ranks No. 32 in the country and No. 6 in the conference.
Five-star CB Marshon Lattimore is one of the major talents expected at Ohio State's upcoming Friday Night Lights.
News & Notes Around The Conference
-Lincolnshire (Ill.) Stevenson defensive back Matt Morrissey committed to Michigan State on Monday during a visit to the East Lansing campus. The Spartans legacy gave his pledge over his other finalists Boston College and Syracuse. Morrissey wasn’t the only prospect Mark Dantonio and his staff hosted, as class-of-2015 athlete Cassius Peat made the trek from Tempe, Ariz. and left with an offer. The 6-foot-4, 235-pound Peat also visited Michigan on Monday.
-Ohio State is scheduled to host Top247 athlete Noah Brown next Wednesday before bringing in top talent from all over the country two days later for Friday Night Lights. Many of the Buckeyes commits will be on campus along with sought-after prospects like Raekwon McMillan and Marshon Lattimore in 2014 and Jashon Cornell, Jerome Baker and Eric Glover-Williams in 2015. For a tentative list of who is expected at Friday Night Lights, click here.
-Not to be outdone, Michigan’s Barbecue at the Big House on July 28 will have big-time players enjoying an afternoon in Ann Arbor. Along with several commits, Montae Nicholson, Malik McDowell, and Hand could be on campus, along with touted 2015s like Michael Weber, Brian Cole, Justin Hilliard, Shaun Crawford, Sterling Jenkins and Cornell. For a tentative list of who is expected at the Barbecue at the Big House, click here.
-Minnesota is expecting plenty of prospects on campus on Friday and Sunday for camps. A list of who’s expected can be seen here.
-Purdue played host to Cincinnati (Ohio) St. Xavier defensive end Nick Carovillano on Monday. He got to spend a lot of time with Boilermakers defensive coordinator Greg Hudson. Besides Purdue, Carovillano is considering offers from the likes of Boston College and Indiana.
-Chicago (Ill.) De La Salle offensive tackle Aaron Roberts made his way to Illinois on Monday. The Illini are in his top two with Syracuse, and he’s looking to make a summer decision. “Illinois really proved to me something,” Roberts tweeted. “I loved the visit.”