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Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Big Ten ESPN 300 analysis

By Tom VanHaaren and Brad Bournival


The ESPN 300 list has been updated and with 24 ESPN 300 commitments in the Big Ten, it's no surprise that there are some changes to the conference.

Here is a look at how the Big Ten was impacted by the recent changes.

Who is rising:

Tom VanHaaren: Running back Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom) moved up from No. 100 to 72. The Wisconsin target has been moving up a lot of boards and has had a ton of offers for quite some time. It looks as though he is a realistic option for the Badgers, but it might take a lot to pull him from the West Coast.

Brad Bournival: The rise of Ohio State commit Parris Campbell Jr. (Akron, Ohio/St. Vincent-St. Mary) from No. 291 to No. 174 isn't a huge surprise, as the athlete is continuing an incredible senior season. Campbell has been held out of the end zone in only one game this season, and his 813 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns prove he's worthy of the jump. With three punt returns for scores, he has shown to be a threat any time he touches the ball.

Who is falling:

VanHaaren: There are some normal, minimal drops, due to other players rising and gaining entry into the ESPN 300. That impacted quite a few of the Big Ten commits and targets, so the fans likely are going to see some small drops with a lot of the players. The first question that always comes up with that is what those prospects did wrong. Nothing, per se. It's just that other prospects have moved up and pushed guys out of their spots.

Bournival: It's wide receiver Drake Harris (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids), but that comes with a huge asterisk. Harris hasn't played yet this season after tweaking his hamstring in late August. That said, he's still a playmaker, as his eye-popping 2,015 yards receiving and 25 touchdowns last season prove. He fell only 13 spots, from 72 to 85, and probably would be a top-50 standout had it not been for the injury.

New Entrant:

VanHaaren: Jeff Jones (Minneapolis/Washburn) went from being listed as a three-star prospect to being the No. 181-ranked prospect in the country. Jones is having an outstanding season, with more than 40 touchdowns on the ground. He currently is committed to Minnesota but still has been hearing from plenty of other teams.

Bournival: Athlete Curtis Samuel (Brooklyn, N.Y./Erasmus) picked up a four-star rating the last time the rankings were updated. Now, the Ohio State pledge has gone from unranked to the 148th spot in the nation. It's the second-biggest jump in this cycle and is further proof of just how strong the Buckeyes' class is becoming in 2014.

Biggest game:

VanHaaren: The biggest games left that could have an impact on ESPN 300 prospects are probably between Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State. The Wolverines take on the Spartans on Saturday and then Ohio State in November. The Michigan-Michigan State game could make an impact Malik McDowell (Southfield, Mich./Southfield), whom both programs are after. The Michigan and Ohio State game always has big implications, but this season likely will have a bigger impact on 2015 prospects.

Bournival: Pretty much every game the rest of the way will be big for Wisconsin. With one official visit left to take, 72nd-ranked running back Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom) has a top two right now of Oklahoma and the Badgers, with the Sooners slightly ahead. That could change real fast with a big bowl appearance by Wisconsin in the tight race for the senior.

Biggest question:

VanHaaren: No. 6 ranked Da'Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge) now has taken his official visits to Michigan and Alabama. The only trip left is Florida on Nov. 9, and then Hand will announce his decision on Nov. 14. He keeps everything close to the vest, so this recruitment could get interesting. It does look like the Wolverines are still in good shape, but both Alabama and Florida could sneak up on Michigan in the end.

Bournival: Last season, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer wasted no time in jumping into the Oregon class to snare ESPN 300 athlete Dontre Wilson (DeSoto, Texas/DeSoto), while also trying (unsuccessfully) to nab Tyree Robinson (San Diego/Abraham Lincoln) and his twin brother Tyrell. With seven ESPN 300 standouts in Texas' class, will he raid the Longhorns if Mack Brown loses his job? Brown might have saved things with a win over Oklahoma, but stranger things have happened, and Meyer already has taken Demetrius Knox (Ft. Worth, Texas/All Saints Episcopal) from Brown in this class.