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Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Big Ten class rankings analysis

By Brad Bournival & Tom VanHaaren



Week 4 of the regular season is here and the Big Ten is licking its wounds after a less-than-stellar Week 3 on the field.

Here’s a look at the latest class rankings and some of the trends and things to watch within the conference recruiting landscape:

Trending up

Brad Bournival: Purdue isn’t in the top 40 class rankings. In fact, the Boilermakers are 1-2 heading into this weekend’s game at Wisconsin. But the gold and black did itself a huge favor last weekend. In losing 31-24 to nationally ranked Notre Dame, Purdue proved it was headed in the right direction. And the Boilermakers did it in front of every one of their commitments except one -- wide receiver Gregory Phillips (Lithonia, Ga./Arabia Mountain) -- as all were on either official or unofficial visits. That’s especially true with outside linebacker Drue Tranquill (Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll), who is committed to the Boilermakers, but eyeing the Fighting Irish.

Tom VanHaaren: Potentially Michigan. Defensive end Da’Shawn Hand (Woodbridge,Va./Woodbridge) recently had to reschedule his final two official visits because of the SAT. He is taking the test on Oct. 5, which is when he was supposed to officially visit Florida. Hand is still going to make his announcement on Nov. 14, but is rescheduling the Alabama and Florida trips. Nothing has been set yet, but Hand could visit Alabama on Oct. 26 and Florida Nov. 9. That’s not much time for Hand to really get to know those programs like he has had with Michigan.

Trending down

Bournival: Penn State. Recruits can say Saturday’s 34-31 loss to UCF didn’t affect them moving forward, and maybe it’s true, but the Nittany Lions’ loss can’t be good in the short term., That said, Bill O’Brien and Penn State, which fell one spot in the class rankings, have done an excellent job in recruiting, so don’t expect the hiccup to last that long.

VanHaaren: Play on the field. There were some good games in the Big Ten, but once again the storyline has been that the conference as a whole is down. Nebraska losing to UCLA, Penn State falling to UCF, Michigan struggling against Akron, and Wisconsin’s weird loss to Arizona State have people talking negatively about the product on the field. That needs to change if the entire conference wants to recruit better as a whole.

One to watch

Bournival: The recruitment of Craig Evans (Sun Prairie, Wis./Sun Prairie) could get interesting. The defensive tackle committed to Wisconsin under the Bret Bielema regime, but was in Arkansas last weekend to see the old Badgers coach on an official visit.

Evans is set to be in Madison this weekend when Wisconsin takes on Purdue.

It’s important for Camp Randall to show Evans love and make him forget all about his trip down south.

VanHaaren: Running back Jeff Jones (Minneapolis/Washburn) has been getting interest from other Big Ten schools despite his Minnesota commitment. It will be interesting to see if he listens to other suitors, including Michigan State, or if he sticks with the Golden Gophers.

Bold prediction

Bournival: A win by Indiana could go a long way for the Hoosiers. Indiana is set to play host to a gaggle of official visitors in its game with Missouri this weekend.

With safety Tony Fields (Tallahassee, Fla./Godby), cornerback Craig James (Edwardsville, Ill./Edwardsville), wide receiver Coray Keel (Snellville, Ga./South Gwinnett), inside linebacker Greg Miclisse (Palm Bay, Fla./Bayside) and Kenric Young (Gainesville, Fla./Gainesville) slated to join Hoosiers pledge Alexander Diamont (Los Angeles/Venice) on official visits, it’s a big weekend.

Indiana only has 10 commitments in the 2014 class and hasn’t picked up a pledge since July 19. A Hoosiers win over the Tigers could change that number soon.

VanHaaren: As long as Bo Pelini remains as Nebraska’s head coach, the Cornhuskers’ recruiting efforts won’t be affected. There has been a lot of talk about Pelini and the released audio cussing out fans, but the recruits haven’t taken notice. It won’t be an issue in recruiting if there isn’t a change at the top.