Michigan Wolverines: Armani Reeves

We're taking snapshots of each position group with every Big Ten team entering the spring. Up next: the defensive backs.

Illinois: The secondary returns mostly intact from 2013, as Illinois returns starters at both cornerback spots (V'Angelo Bentley and Eaton Spence), as well as Zane Petty, who started the final seven games at free safety. Taylor Barton, who opened last season as a starting free safety, also is back. Building safety depth is important this spring as Illinois must replace Earnest Thomas III. Barton will compete with Jevaris Little and others for playing time. The depth is much better at corner as Darius Mosely and Jaylen Dunlap both saw significant action as freshmen last fall.

Indiana: Like Illinois, Indiana returns a lot in the defensive backfield but must improve after struggling to stop opponents in 2013. The Hoosiers also lose only one starter in safety Greg Heban, a mainstay during the past four seasons. There's a lot of experience at cornerback with returning starters Tim Bennett (senior) and Michael Hunter (junior), along with reserve Kenny Mullen (senior). Decorated recruit Rashard Fant, who redshirted in 2013, will compete for significant playing time. Senior safety Mark Murphy will lead the secondary, and sophomore Antonio Allen could fill the other safety spot when he returns from an ACL tear. Building depth here always is a priority at IU.

Iowa: The situation isn't as dramatic as the linebacker spot, but Iowa still must replace two productive players in cornerback B.J. Lowery and safety Tanner Miller, who combined for six interceptions in 2013. Lowery is the more significant loss, as he had 19 passes defended and three forced fumbles. The good news is Desmond King looks like a budding star and he will move into the featured role Lowery occupied. Jordan Lomax, Sean Draper and others will compete to start opposite King. Strong safety John Lowdermilk returns after a solid junior season. Lomax also could play free safety and will compete there with Anthony Gair and Nico Law, who both appeared in all 13 games last fall as reserves.

Maryland: The back four aims for better results on the injury front and on the field in 2013. Maryland returns both starters at safety in Sean Davis, the team's leading tackler with 102 last fall, and Anthony Nixon, but there should be competition behind them with A.J. Hendy and Zach Dancel. The cornerback position is worth watching this spring as Dexter McDougle departs and Jeremiah Johnson remains limited by a toe injury. Will Likely has opened the spring as a starter, and Alvin Hill could rise up after recording 24 tackles last season.

Michigan: The secondary took a step back in 2013 and all jobs are open even though Michigan returns two veteran cornerbacks -- Blake Countess and Raymon Taylor -- and some experience at safety. Jabrill Peppers, the nation's No. 2 overall recruit according to ESPN Recruiting Nation, will play a major role for the Wolverines this fall, whether it's at corner, safety or nickel. Junior Jarrod Wilson started the first seven games of last season at free safety, and Dymonte Thomas is a good candidate to start at one of the safety spots. Michigan should expect more from this group in 2014.

Michigan State: Will opposing offenses invade the No Fly Zone in 2014? Not if Michigan State can fill several spots, none bigger than Darqueze Dennard's at cornerback. Dennard, a unanimous All-American and the Jim Thorpe Award winner, departs to the NFL, and junior Trae Waynes slides into the featured corner role after a promising sophomore season. The competition opposite Waynes heats up this spring as Ezra Robinson, Darian Hicks, Jermaine Edmondson and Arjen Colquhoun compete. Free safety Kurtis Drummond boasts 21 career starts and enters 2014 as one of the league's top safeties. RJ Williamson likely will fill Isaiah Lewis' spot at strong safety, and Demetrious Cox provides depth.

Minnesota: Like the Gophers' defensive line, the secondary loses a huge piece in Brock Vereen, who played both safety and cornerback last season. But there might be enough returning pieces to fill the void. Cornerback Eric Murray had a very solid first season as a starter, and Minnesota also brings back Derrick Wells and Briean Boddy-Calhoun, both of whom have starting experience. Leading tackler Cedric Thompson and Antonio Johnson finished last season as the starting safeties, and both are back. Senior Grayson Levine provides some experience in a reserve safety role.

Nebraska: An important spring awaits new defensive backs coach Charlton Warren, who must identify new starters at cornerback, safety and nickel. The Huskers are replacing Ciante Evans and Stanley Jean-Baptiste, who combined for eight interceptions, 18 passes defended and 15 tackles for loss in 2013. Safety Andrew Green, who made 10 starts in 2013, also leaves. The good news is cornerback Josh Mitchell had an excellent bowl game and will fill a starting spot. Leading tackler Corey Cooper also returns at safety. There's not much experience at corner other than Mitchell, and Daniel Davie, Auburn transfer Jonathan Rose and others will compete. Nebraska brings back more at safety with Harvey Jackson, who made three starts in 2013, and junior Charles Jackson.

Northwestern: That the Wildcats' secondary could be one of the team's biggest strengths seemed laughable three years ago, but it could be true this fall. All four starters return, led by safety Ibraheim Campbell, one of the Big Ten's most productive defenders (262 career tackles). The depth at cornerback looks strong as starters Nick VanHoose and Matt Harris return, along with Dwight White and Daniel Jones, who opened 2013 as a starter and is coming back from an ACL tear. Traveon Henry should start alongside Campbell, and there are some promising young safeties like Godwin Igwebuike.

Ohio State: Pass defense proved to be Ohio State's downfall in 2013, and the Buckeyes' secondary will be under the microscope this spring as new assistant Chris Ash steps in. Ohio State loses All-Big Ten cornerback Bradley Roby and will lean more on Doran Grant, who started opposite Roby in 2013. Ash also expects big things from Tyvis Powell, who will start at one of the safety spots. Safety Vonn Bell finally logged significant playing time in the Orange Bowl and could become a permanent starter as a sophomore. Veteran Ron Tanner and Cam Burrows also are in the mix at safety. There should be good competition to start opposite Grant, as Armani Reeves tries to hold off redshirt freshmen Gareon Conley and Eli Apple.

Penn State: After a season of moving parts and inconsistent plays, Penn State hopes for a more settled secondary. Adrian Amos, who alternated between cornerback and safety last season, will lead the group and brings plenty of experience. Jordan Lucas likely will start opposite Amos at cornerback after making strides toward the end of his sophomore season. PSU loses some leadership at safety with Malcolm Willis and Stephen Obeng-Agyapong departing and will lean on Ryan Keiser and Jesse Della Valle, both of whom have starting experience. Converted wideouts Trevor Williams and Malik Golden provide depth at cornerback and safety, respectively.

Purdue: The rotation from 2013 returns almost completely intact, but Purdue loses a very big piece in cornerback Ricardo Allen, a four-year starter. Cornerback Frankie Williams enters his third year as a starter and will slide into Allen's featured role, while the competition for the other top corner spot will feature Antoine Lewis and Leroy Clark, among others. Purdue has plenty of experience at safety with Taylor Richards, who started every game in 2013, and Anthony Brown, who replaced the injured Landon Feichter and had 69 tackles. Feichter also is back from a broken leg.

Rutgers: This group is anxious to turn the page after a season filled with personnel issues and poor performance (Rutgers finished 120th nationally in pass defense). Senior safety Lorenzo Waters leads the group after recording 62 tackles and two forced fumbles in 2013. Johnathan Aiken will try to start opposite Waters at free safety, although he'll be pushed by Delon Stephenson and Tejay Johnson, who started three games last fall. Gareef Glashen started six games last season and seems likely to retain one of the top cornerback spots. There will be competition at the other between Anthony Cioffi and Nadir Barnwell, both of whom started games as true freshmen in 2013. The most intriguing player to watch is cornerback Ian Thomas, who returns to the team after quitting midway through last season, one that he began as a starter.

Wisconsin: The Badgers are relatively young at both secondary positions but boast far more experience at cornerback than safety. Junior Darius Hillary and sophomore Sojourn Shelton started all 13 games at cornerback last season. Peniel Jean adds even more experience at the position. Safety is much less settled as Dezmen Southward graduates, Michael Caputo shifts to linebacker and Tanner McEvoy returns to quarterback. Nate Hammon and Leo Musso both played in all 13 games last fall as reserves. Newcomers like Serge Trezy and Austin Hudson could compete for time when they arrive this summer.
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Maryland Terrapins, Michigan Wolverines, Big Ten Conference, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Northwestern Wildcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Penn State Nittany Lions, Purdue Boilermakers, Wisconsin Badgers, Michigan State Spartans, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, Blake Countess, Armani Reeves, Adrian Amos, Ibraheim Campbell, Mark Murphy, Dymonte Thomas, Jarrod Wilson, Cam Burrows, Raymon Taylor, Gareon Conley, Doran Grant, sojourn shelton, Jabrill Peppers, Daniel Jones, Nick VanHoose, Rashard Fant, Godwin Igwebuike, V'Angelo Bentley, Zane Petty, Dezmen Southward, Kurtis Drummond, Dwight White, Corey Cooper, Josh Mitchell, Briean Boddy-Calhoun, Landon Feichter, Tim Bennett, Michael Caputo, Matt Harris, Taylor Richards, Antonio Allen, B.J. Lowery, Ryan Keiser, Derrick Wells, Austin Hudson, Jesse Della Valle, Michael Hunter, Trae Waynes, Eaton Spence, Jaylen Dunlap, Darius Mosely, Tyvis Powell, Cedric Thompson, John Lowdermilk, Charlton Warren, B1G spring positions 14, A.J. Hendy, Alvin Hill, Andrew Green, Anthony Cioffi, Anthony Gair, Anthony Nixon, Antoine Lewis, Antonio Johnson, Arjen Colquhoun, Charles Jackson, Daniel Davie, Darian Hicks, Darius Hillary, Delon Stephenson, Demetrious Cox, Dexter McDougle, Eric Murray, Ezra Robinson, Frankie Williams, Gareef Glashen, Grayson Levine, Harvey Jackson, Ian Thomas, Jeremiah Johnson, Jermaine Edmonson, Jevaris Little, Johnathan Aiken, Jonathan Rose, Jordan Lomax, Kenny Mullen, Leroy Clark, Lorenzo Waters, Malik Golden, Nadir Barnwell, Nate Hammon, Peniel Jean, RJ Williamson, Ron Tanner, Sean Davis, Sean Draper, Serge Trezy, Tanner Miller, Taylor Barton, Tejay Johnson, Traveon Henry, Trevor Williams, Will Likely, Zach Dancel


With any conference there will always be battles on the recruiting trail within the Big Ten. Coaching changes, different philosophies and geographic location all factor in to who battles who.

Here is a look at the top five Big Ten recruiting rivalries.

WolverineNation Roundtable 

February, 9, 2012
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1. Which special teams player do you think will help the most in the Wolverines' return game?

Michael Rothstein: Someone who isn't even on campus yet -- Dennis Norfleet (Detroit/Martin Luther King). Michigan really started to show interest in him once Darryl Stonum was dismissed from the team -- and Stonum was slated to be the Wolverines' top returner next season. So if Norfleet can come on campus and show the same speed and elusiveness he did in high school, he could end up being Michigan's quickest, most unexpected, contributor on special teams in 2012.

Tom VanHaaren: I think Jeremy Gallon probably helps out the most, but it really seems like new signee Norfleet can bring a lot of speed on special teams. If he can bulk up a little bit and keep that speed then I think he has a chance to be electric back there.

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Recruiting: Where U-M stands 

January, 29, 2012
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Signing day is fast approaching, and true to form it has already been a hectic few weeks leading up to Wednesday. The Michigan coaching staff has limited remaining scholarships, but specific targets to fill those spots.

Missing out on offensive lineman Josh Garnett (Puyallup, Wash./Puyallup) to Stanford was a big deal, but there are still a few top level prospects Michigan is after.

Jordan Diamond (Chicago/Simeon) will be announcing his decision on Friday and is down to Michigan, Arkansas, Auburn and Wisconsin after he officially cut Ohio State from his list. Diamond just took his final official visit to Wisconsin and should be sitting down with his mother to figure out his choice in the next few days.

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The Weekly Update at WolverineNation is a sneak peak inside Michigan recruiting.

As with everything we do here, we ask that this information stays on The Den Forum.

This information is for WolverineNation subscribers only.

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DB Reeves has a final two 

January, 23, 2012
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Defensive back Armani Reeves (West Roxbury, Mass./Catholic Memorial) confirmed that he's no longer committed to Penn State and that he has reopened his recruitment to Michigan and Ohio State.

Reeves said his in-home visit with Michigan coach Brady Hoke went well and that Hoke got a chance to talk with his mom and that she was impressed with him. He also said Ohio State coach Urban Meyer will be visiting on Monday and that Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison will be visiting on Tuesday.

"What has really impressed me is Coach Hoke, he's a great coach," Reeves said. "They had a great season this last year and it's a good school academically. I like that a lot, academics mean a lot to me. I get along with the players really well."

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

The Weekly Update at WolverineNation is a sneak peak inside Michigan recruiting.

As with everything we do here, we ask that this information stays on The Den Forum.

This information is for WolverineNation subscribers only.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

The latest team recruiting rankings from ESPNU have arrived, and the Wolverines find themselves moving down one spot to No. 7 overall. The drop in rankings isn't the product of Michigan doing anything wrong in the past few weeks, but rather what other programs have recently accomplished.

Georgia leapfrogged both Michigan and Clemson into the No. 5 spot after landing four-star Jordan Jenkins.

The Bulldogs now have one prospect ranked as a five-star, seven ranked as four-stars, and six three-stars on board. Compare that to Michigan's 10 four-stars and 12 three-star commitments, the rankings really aren't that far off.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

The Weekly Update at WolverineNation is a sneak peak inside Michigan recruiting.

As with everything we do here, we ask that this information stays on The Den Forum.

This information is for WolverineNation subscribers only.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

The Weekly Update: Recruiting news and notes 

December, 29, 2011
12/29/11
10:24
AM ET
The Weekly Update at WolverineNation is a sneak peak inside Michigan recruiting.

As with everything we do here, we ask that this information stays on The Den Forum.

This information is for WolverineNation subscribers only.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

The Weekly Update at WolverineNation is a sneak peak inside Michigan recruiting.

As with everything we do here, we ask that this information stays on The Den Forum.

This information is for WolverineNation subscribers only.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

The Weekly Update at WolverineNation is a sneak peak inside Michigan recruiting.

As with everything we do here, we ask that this information stays on The Den Forum.

This information is for WolverineNation subscribers only.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Michigan's options post Dunn 

December, 14, 2011
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Tuesday night we learned that Ohio State commit Bri'onte Dunn (Canton, Ohio/Glenoak) will remain committed to the Buckeyes. The Wolverines had been pursuing Dunn hard, and at one point looked like they had a good shot at flipping their second Buckeye commitment, along with offensive lineman Kyle Kalis.

Now that Dunn has made his decision known, the Michigan coaching staff will have some options as to how it fills that spot.

The 2012 class already has running back Drake Johnson (Ann Arbor, Mich./Pioneer) and fullback Sione Houma (Salt Lake City/Highland). Both prospects weigh more than 200 pounds, and both are around the 6-foot mark. That's just how the Michigan coaches want their running backs -- big and strong.

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Weekly Update: Recruiting news and notes 

November, 17, 2011
11/17/11
10:05
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It's time for the WolverineNation Weekly Update, which is a look inside Michigan football recruiting for WolverineNation subscribers only.

As it will be every week, everything reported in the Weekly Update stays on The Den forum. We are providing this information for our subscribers and hope that you help keep this information here.

A few things discussed in this week's update:

  • Is Michigan interested in Penn State commits?
  • Where is wide receiver Jordan Payton (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian) at with his decision?
  • Where does running back Bri'onte Dunn (Canton, Ohio/Glenoak) fit into the puzzle?

Check out the Weekly Update here.

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BIG TEN SCOREBOARD

Monday, 12/22
Saturday, 12/20
Tuesday, 12/23
Wednesday, 12/24
Friday, 12/26
Saturday, 12/27
Monday, 12/29
Tuesday, 12/30
Wednesday, 12/31
Thursday, 1/1
Friday, 1/2
Saturday, 1/3
Sunday, 1/4
Monday, 1/12