The Big Ten Conference landed some elite talent during the 2013 cycle. However, there are always those recruits that don’t necessarily get the fanfare that end up being top-level players at the college level and beyond.
Illini CB signee Jaylen Dunlap matched up with five-star WR Laquon Treadwell every day in practice during the fall.
The “sleepers” if you will.
Here’s a look at one potential sleeper in each Big Ten class for the 2013 cycle.
Jaylen Dunlap, Cornerback, Crete (Ill.) Monee – Showed in the summer on the 7-on-7 circuit prior to his senior season he had the goods to play against top competition, yet the 6-foot-2, 170-pound Dunlap waited until December of his senior year to land his first offer. He eventually chose the Illini over opportunities from Eastern Michigan, UAB and Western Michigan. Dunlap had 10 interceptions in his prep career including a state championship run in his final season. Matched up with five-star receiver Laquon Treadwell every day in practice.
Chase Dutra, Safety, Brownsburg (Ind.) High – Landed an early offer from Western Michigan in March but didn’t see anything else come his way till the Hoosiers pulled the trigger in August. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Dutra didn’t wait long to join the fold, committing four days later. As one of the top players in the Indianapolis area, Dutra didn’t get the respect on the recruiting trail he deserved. He could play a number of positions on the next level including special teams but will begin his career in the Indiana secondary. Dutra filled up the Brownsburg stat book while helping his team win two conference championships as a junior and senior. He rushed for 1,827 yards and 22 touchdowns on just 183 carries. He caught 54 passes for 1,033 yards and eight scores. He scored on three punt returns and also registered 72 tackles, one interceptions, one forced fumble and 15 pass breakups.
Akrum Wadley, Running Back, Newark (N.J.) Weequahic – The 5-foot-10, 175-pound Wadley didn’t pop up on the Hawkeyes radar until December. A one-time Temple commit, Wadley took an official visit to Iowa City the weekend before National Signing Day and pulled the trigger for the Hawkeyes. The unheralded back was electric with the ball in his hands as a senior, carring just 105 times for 1,548 yards and 25 touchdowns. Wadley also scored four special teams touchdowns and played in the secondary as well.
Channing Stribling, Cornerback, Matthews (N.C.) Butler – In inking the nation’s No. 5 ranked recruiting class, Michigan signed four other defensive backs that were tabbed as four-star recruits, however Stribling has the size at 6-foot-2, 170-pounds, and athleticism, 4.5 in the 40-yard dash, to be the best of the bunch. Stribling earned his Wolverines offer in camp and chose Michigan over scholarships from mid-major schools and smaller programs. In helping state power Butler win a state championship as a senior, he registered 37 tackles, 14 pass breakups and six interceptions while also being a playmaker on offense with 37 catches for 636 yards and eight touchdowns.
Justin Williams, Cornerback, Port Saint Lucie (Fla.) Treasure Coast – One of the hidden gems in the very talented Sunshine State, the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Williams is a tremendous athlete with times of 10.88 in the 100-meter dash and 21.76 in the 200-meter dash. The Spartans got Williams on campus for his official visit in mid-January and he chose Michigan State over offers from Cincinnati, Purdue and Marshall. Could play both corner or safety while in East Lansing, bringing versatility to the Spartans secondary. Michigan State is deep at cornerback next fall giving Williams an opportunity to red-shirt and develop.
Eric Carter, Receiver, Lakeland (Fla.) Lake Gibson – Chose the Gophers over his other finalist Toledo, the nation’s No. 204 receiver according to the 247Composite was very productive in helping lead his team to the school’s first-ever undefeated regular season in program history. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Carter caught 54 passes for 801 yards and nine touchdowns in his final prep season.
Timothy Gardner has all the tools to develop into an NFL offensive guard at Ohio State.
Kevin Gladney, Receiver, Akron (Ohio) Firestone – Ranked outside the Top-100 receivers in the country by the 247Composite, the 6-foot-1, 185-pound Gladney is a complete pass catcher and Midwest steal for the Huskers. As a senior, Gladney caught 32 passes for 536 yards and seven touchdowns, and chose Nebraska over offers from the likes of Cincinnati, Iowa, Michigan State, Purdue and Vanderbilt.
Warren Miles-Long, Running Back, Union City (Calif.) James Logan – Ranked as the nation’s No. 125 running back by 247Sports, the 6-foot, 195-pound Miles Long had as productive a senior season as any running back on the West Coast. He rushed for 1,700 yards and 24 touchdowns including a 400-yard performance in the second round of the state playoffs. Miles-Long is the type of player that goes to Northwestern and thrives in the Wildcats offense.
Timothy Gardner, Offensive Guard, Indianapolis (Ind.) Lawrence Central – Tough to find a sleeper when signing the nation’s No. 2 class, however with the four-star Gardner, he was one of the Buckeyes least touted signs. The 6-foot-5 Gardner was asked to drop 30 pounds by the Ohio State staff before the Buckeyes summer Friday Night Lights camp and he did that, getting down to 300 and then turning in a great performance to land his scholarship. Indiana, Louisville and Purdue were the other schools to offer Gardner, who as a senior helped lead Lawrence Central to a state championship.
Parker Cothren, Defensive Tackle, Hazel Green (Ala.) High – For most of the recruiting process, the 6-foot-5, 265-pound Cothren had just one BCS offer from Purdue and he was an early commit to the Boilermakers. However an offer and November visit to Penn State flipped the script on its Big Ten rival. In January, Cothren saw offers come in from Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech and Auburn as more major programs realized the versatility Cothren has to play all across the defensive front. He’ll provide immediate depth for the Nittany Lions in 2013.
Dalyn Dawkins, Running Back, Louisville (Ky.) Trinity – Chose the Boilermakers over Colorado State and Western Kentucky two days before National Signing Day. The 5-foot-9, 180-pound Dawkins was a key part in three Louisville (Ky.) Trinity state championships, and played against one of the toughest schedules in the nation every year. As a senior he rushed for 1,479 yards and 18 touchdowns, and will be a threat both as a runner and receiver in West Lafayette. Purdue signed four running backs in 2013 with Dawkins being the most versatile of the bunch.
Leon Jacobs. Outside Linebacker/Defensive End, Santa Clarita (Calif.) Golden Valley – After Gary Andersen was hired as head coach in December, the 6-foot-4, 220-pound Jacobs was specifically targeted to play the hybrid position in the new Badgers defense. Wisconsin currently doesn’t have any true hybrids on the roster, giving touted prospect Alec James and Jacobs a chance to make an impact right away. Jacobs played running back as a senior and rushed for 847 yards and six touchdowns. He chose Wisconsin over offers from Fresno State and San Diego State.