It’s time to dip into the Big Ten recruiting mailbag and answer some of your questions. We’ll try to give everyone a chance to get their questions answered. We encourage you to send your questions by Twitter to @bbournival or @TomVH.
@Blue_gC_Blood: How close in size are Michigan commit Shaun Crawford and Ohio State pledge Eric Glover-Williams? I heard they are pretty much a carbon copy of each other, true?
Brad Bournival: Having seen both individuals multiple times in pads, that is a very fair assessment. Crawford (Lakewood, Ohio/Saint Edward) is 5-foot-9 and 175 pounds and EGW is 5-10, 170 pounds. But it goes well beyond that as both are very athletic kids who aren’t afraid to mix it up at times. Speed, obviously, is their biggest common denominator. It would be great to see Glover-Williams play the slot or split out wide to see just how close in game they actually are, but unfortunately for Canton (Ohio) McKinley, the Bulldogs put their junior star behind center because he is the best athlete on the field. That said Crawford is the better defender, though it should be noted Glover-Williams is better offensively. Seeing the two in camps, however, their game really is almost the same.
@joshuas430: Do you think the recruiting success for Rutgers has been more with the move to the Big Ten or their new head coach?
Tom VanHaaren: That’s a good question. I think there is some cache for recruits to play for Rutgers now that they are a part of the Big Ten. But if you look at their top prospects, they are all guys from New Jersey.
In the 2014 class, Rutgers has four ESPN 300 commitments and they are all from New Jersey. Rutgers has always done well with local prospects and that hasn’t changed with this class.
From 2011 to 2013, Rutgers actually signed 10 prospects ranked as four-stars from New Jersey and New York. That is a key for the Scarlet Knights’ success in recruiting, and it’s continued in 2014.
It’s interesting to look at the Big Ten aspect of this, because if Rutgers was already in the conference, it would have the No. 3 ranked class in the Big Ten.
@GRSportsBlog: What is your opinion of Montae Nicholson being able to play a hybrid safety/outside linebacker at the next level and the fact Penn State is trying to recruit guys to be versatile in its defensive packages?
Bournival: Penn State has never brought that up to Nicholson (Monroeville, Pa./Gateway) as it wants him to play safety and not linebacker, as the Nittany Lions will take a linebacker in this class. However, with the NCAA sanctions, the limited number of 65 scholarships really does alter how Penn State approaches the type of players they pursue. The Nittany Lions don’t have the luxury to miss on a player, so you’ll see more athletic players who can play multiple roles on the team. For example, if it can grab a player who helps in the offense and special teams, Penn State won’t hesitate.
The other reason the Nittany Lions need to have fast, athletic type players is to be able to matchup in an ever-changing Big Ten Conference that isn’t all ground and pound anymore.
@dydd911: Do you think we will see any commits from visitors at the Under the Lights game?
VanHaaren: Michigan’s night game against Notre Dame in Week 2 is going to be one of the bigger recruiting events of the season. The Wolverines really only have three big home games, so it’s also an important event in general.
The last time these two teams faced off at night at Michigan Stadium, safety Dymonte Thomas ended up committing right after the game.
This answer all depends on who ends up making it in for the game, but as of now it doesn’t look like there will be that type of situation. It looks like this game will be something that sets the tone for a prospect and could eventually lead to a commitment down the road.
Some of the bigger names that are visiting include 2014 defensive end Da'Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge) and the No. 1 ranked player in the 2015 class Jashon Cornell (St. Paul, Minn./Cretin-Derham Hall).
Hand has his announcement date set for Nov. 14 and still has official visits to Florida and then Alabama, so he doesn’t seem likely. Cornell, while he does have Michigan very high on his list, still plans on waiting to make a decision.
Since Michigan’s 2014 class is nearly full there will be a lot more underclassmen than seniors. That’s not a bad thing, especially if the environment is anything like it was two seasons ago in the first night game.
@buckeyefan686: It seems like Urban Meyer went hard after defensive backs and wide receivers in 2013 and linebackers/offensive tackles in 2014. What position groups do you see being the focus in 2015?
Bournival: First and foremost, I think Meyer looks at the quarterback position more than any other. With Braxton Miller possibly gone after this season and Kenny Guiton definitely, gone he’ll need to bolster that position and give it some depth. There could be no one with any meaningful in-game experience coming back in 2014 and he’ll need to address that in 2015.
With four defensive linemen gone after the 2014 season, don’t be surprised if he dips into the trenches yet again.
Mark, Chicago, Ill.: Do you see Northwestern landing any of the remaining big targets they have left in 2014?
VanHaaren: Short answer, yes. The bigger targets left on the board are all ESPN 300 prospects. Linebacker Brandon Lee (Indianapolis/Lawrence Central), defensive back Parrker Westphal (Bolingbrook, Ill./Bolingbrook) and tight end Garrett Dickerson (Oradell, N.J./Bergen Catholic).
Lee is visiting Cal this weekend when they take on Northwestern and will likely then take an official out to see the Wildcats at home.
I do think there is a good chance that at least one of these prospects chooses Northwestern. The question is how many? That is yet to be seen.