As usual, Michigan and Ohio State are leading the way on the recruiting trail in the Big Ten in 2014.
Top100 OL Marcelys Jones got the ball rolling for Ohio State in 2014, committing to the Buckeyes on Christmas Day.
247Sports takes a look at what’s gone on thus far.
What Has Happened
Fresh off inking the nation’s No. 2 class, Ohio State is in position to land another top-five class and push for the No. 1 spot again. The big need for the Buckeyes is offensive line and Urban Meyer and his staff already have the state’s top two prospects in the fold, landing a commitment from Cleveland (Ohio) Glenville Top100 offensive guard Marcelys Jones on Christmas Day and Lancaster (Ohio) High Top247 offensive tackle Kyle Trout in early February. Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech Top100 cornerback Damon Webb chose Ohio State over rival Michigan back in January and speedy athlete Parris Campbell of Akron (Ohio) St. Vincent-St. Mary committed on Feb. 10. Campbell ran a recent 4.47 electronic at a Nike Sparq event. Ohio State did have a fifth four-star committed in Lawrence Marshall, but the Southfield (Mich.) High Top247 defensive end reopened the recruiting process just days after committing in early-February.
The Wolverines signed arguably the nation’s top offensive line class in 2013, and Brady Hoke and his staff are off to a great start in the trenches in 2014 after Tarpon Springs (Mich.) East Lake Top100 offensive lineman Mason Cole committed to Michigan two days after his Feb. 23 visit to campus. On the other side of the ball, Salt Lake City (Utah) Highland Top247 defensive lineman Bryan Mone, at 6-foot-4, 338-pounds, will give the Wolverines a massive individual in the middle. Saint Clairesville (Ohio) High Top247 linebacker commit Michael Ferns is one of the most athletic players at his position in the country, as schools such as Alabama and Penn State offered him as a tight end. Richmond (Va.) Collegiate School quarterback Wilton Speight is a big, strong-armed signal-caller that was offered on National Signing Day and committed on the spot. He was the only quarterback offered by Michigan in the 2014 class.
At one point, Wisconsin had a top-five class in 2014, but when Bret Bielema left his post with the Badgers for the head coach job at Arkansas, two of the five four-star commits eventually decommitted in touted in-state defensive lineman Craig Evans and Top247 quarterback Chance Stewart of Sturgis (Mich.) High. With that being said, new coach Gary Andersen still has three 247Composite four-stars still on board, and all hail from Wisconsin in offensive tackle Jaden Gault, offensive guard George Panos and defensive end Conor Sheehy. Evans is still strongly considering the Badgers.
Michigan State has two of the better in-state players committed in Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech Top247 linebacker Deon Drake and 247Composite four-star athlete Byron Bullough, however the decommitment of blue-chip receiver Drake Harris stings as the Grand Rapids (Mich.) Christian standout will most likely sign with another Big Ten school.
In 2013, Iowa failed to sign one four-star player. This year, Kirk Ferentz and his staff already have two on board in highly-sought after offensive tackle Ross Pierschbacher and fellow in-state pledge, athlete Jay Scheel. …Northwestern also has two four-stars committed. For the second-straight year, the Wildcats will sign a four-star quarterback as Chicago-area passer Clayton Thorson committed earlier this week. Another Chicago-area talent in Matt Alviti inked last year. Texas safety Jordan Thomas pledged to Northwestern back in December. …March 11 was a good day for Illinois on the recruiting trail as they landed in-state center Nick Allegretti and Ohio defensive tackle Tito Odenigbo. …Kudos to Minnesota for grabbing an early commitment from the state’s top player in Top100 running back Jeff Jones. …Athlete Nick Scott and linebacker Troy Reeder gave their word to Penn State in late-February, joining running back Mark Allen who tore up the Nittany Lions camp during the summer. …In-state athlete Luke Gifford is the first commit for Nebraska in 2014 and Texas safety Brandon Garner was commit No. 1 for Purdue back in early January. …Indiana does not have a pledge yet in 2014. The Hoosiers also got off to a slow start in 2013 but finished with the program’s best class in recent memory, ranking 38th nationally.
What’s Coming Up
The nation's top prospect Da'Shawn Hand has Michigan at the top of his list following his recent visit to Ann Arbor.
Fresh off hosting five-star offensive lineman Braden Smith to begin this week, Ohio State will have highly-ranked quarterback Caleb Henderson and touted prospects in defensive lineman Dylan Thompson and linebacker Kyle Berger on campus this weekend. Moving forward, Ohio State has also put itself in position to land several blue-chippers including 247Composite five-stars Raekwon McMillan, Jabrill Peppers, Marshon Lattimore and Clifton Garrett. Top100 linebacker Dante Booker could be the Buckeyes next commit, and Drake Harris, Malik McDowell, Derek Kief and Jamarco Jones are a few of the Midwest’s best keeping Ohio State among their early leaders. The Buckeyes also lead for the nation’s top JUCO prospect in offensive tackle Jermaine Eluemunor.
It’s a five-star party at Michigan this spring. The nation’s top prospect Da’Shawn Hand got the ball rolling with his visit to Ann Arbor last weekend and the Wolverines have solidified themselves as one of the leaders for the Woodbridge (Va.) High standout. Five-star offensive lineman Braden Smith is currently on Michigan’s campus, leaving on Thursday morning. Top cornerback target Jabrill Peppers will visit in early April with his Paramus (N.J.) Catholic four-star offensive tackle teammate Juwann Bushell-Beatty. After signing the nation’s No. 5 class in 2013, Michigan is on pace for another great haul this year. Besides the names mentioned, the Wolverines are the presumed leader for Drake Harris and Top247 cornerback Parrker Westphal. Touted targets Malik McDowell, Artavis Scott, Kyle Berger, Nic Weishar, Ian Bunting and Alex Bars are a several others looking strongly at Michigan.
Galion (Ohio) High Top247 athlete Dareian Watkins is likely Big Ten bound, recently narrowing his list of offers down to Illinois, Indiana, Michigan State, Northwestern, Wisconsin and Louisville. The Spartans appear to be the team to beat and Watkins plans on visiting East Lansing a couple times before deciding before the start of summer. The Spartans have also had Top247 defensive end Lawrence Marshall on campus a number of times since his decommitment from Ohio State and are in great shape to score a signature from the Southfield (Mich.) High defensive end.
Purdue hosted one of it’s top in-state targets in Indianapolis (Ind.) Cathedral receiver Terry McLaurin for spring practice on Monday and will also have another key Hoosier State prospect on campus again in the near future in outside linebacker/defensive end Gelen Robinson. …Wisconsin will host a big junior day on April 6. Lombard (Ill.) Montini Catholic defensive lineman Dylan Thompson headlines the list thus far. …Fast-rising four-star defensive end Jeremiah Clarke visits Penn State on Wednesday.