Ohio State Buckeyes: Stephen Collier

The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: Ohio State has made quarterback recruiting a major priority under Urban Meyer and it’s a trend that doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon; and it’s a good year for talent in the Pacific Northwest, especially in Washington. Will that translate to good classes for Washington and Washington State?


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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- There's no shortage of talent in the bunch, and Ohio State has several holes on the roster where it might be able to use the influx of talent.

But no spot matches up a pressing need with an elite newcomer quite the way five-star linebacker Raekwon McMillan does, and his official confirmation as a member of the program looms largest out of a group of seven unveiled by the Buckeyes on Friday.

Raekwon McMillan
Courtesy of IntersportRaekwon McMillan is ranked No. 13 in the ESPN 300 and is the No. 1 inside linebacker.
Ohio State has two starters returning at the position in Curtis Grant and Joshua Perry, and both were solid in their first seasons in full-time gigs. But there was little depth behind the first unit, and with Ryan Shazier skipping his senior season to declare for the NFL draft, there will be a noticeable sense of urgency to identify both a new starter and to fill out the second unit when spring practice rolls around.

Having the No. 1 inside linebacker in the ESPN 300 on campus in time for that competition should be a benefit, particularly if it allows McMillan to get a jump on a transition that can be difficult at his position as the coaches try to find a way to tap into a combination of size and speed that made him so coveted as a recruit.

He's not alone in bringing impressive measurable athleticism to Urban Meyer's third recruiting class, and McMillan isn't the only one of the early enrollees who the Buckeyes could find a use for quickly. Offensive linemen Marcelys Jones and Kyle Trout might find their way into the two-deep chart quickly. Wide receiver Johnnie Dixon and hybrid Curtis Samuel don't have many veteran players to try to hurdle for playing time. Kicker Sean Nuernberger could leave camp with the starting job. Quarterback Stephen Collier has generated excitement from the staff as well, but Braxton Miller is back along with two other quarterbacks, and that depth will allow him some time to develop.

McMillan probably won't have that same luxury, though Mike Mitchell and Trey Johnson both were brought along slowly by the Buckeyes after their heralded signings a year ago. Now that McMillan has officially arrived, the Buckeyes can judge for themselves how long it will take to get him and the rest of the newcomers on the field.

But at least for the moment, McMillan's reputation and Ohio State's needs appear to match up perfectly.

Midyear signings: Ohio State

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According to ESPN's Tom VanHaaren, the following players have enrolled at Ohio State:

Raekwon McMillan, ILB, Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County
HT: 6-foot-2 WT: 249 pounds
Position rank: No. 1
Stars: 5
ESPN 300: No. 13

Johnnie Dixon, WR, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla./Dwyer
HT: 5-11 WT: 197
Position rank: No. 5
Stars: 4
ESPN 300: No. 34

Curtis Samuel, ATH, Brooklyn, N.Y./Erasmus
HT: 5-11 WT: 186
Position rank: No. 20
Stars: 4
ESPN 300: No. 153

Kyle Trout , OT, Lancaster, Ohio/Lancaster
HT: 6-6 WT: 301
Position rank: No. 26
Stars: 3

Marcelys Jones, OT, Cleveland/Glenville
HT: 6-4 WT: 325
Position rank: No. 49
Stars: 3

Sean Nuernberger, K, Buckner, Ky./Oldham County
HT: 6-2 WT: 220
Position rank: No. 9
Stars: 3

Stephen Collier, QB-PP, Leesburg, Ga./Lee County
HT: 6-3 WT: 205
Position rank: No. 41
Stars: 3

Big Ten Christmas Eve mailbag

December, 24, 2013
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Since Christmas is tomorrow, the normal Big Ten Wednesday mailbag comes at you a day early. Consider this your letters to Santa blog:

Matt from Tucson, Ariz., writes: I'll send my question to you since you chose Nebraska as your most improved bowl team. I'm curious why (as a whole) Nebraska is perceived as a bad team that didn't meet expectations? I was watching ESPN's bowl preview show and was disappointed that Mike Belotti called Nebraska "a bad team" while Georgia was declared a team that persevered through injuries. Didn't Nebraska persevere through enough O-Line, WR, and QB injuries to make it to an 8-4 record? The O-line was so beat up that Vincent Valentine was needed on the FG team by the end of the season. Why is there no love for the Huskers?

Brian Bennett: "Bad" is a very subjective word, Matt, and not one I'd use to describe this Nebraska team. It's true that the Cornhuskers did get a whole lot of crummy luck when it came to injuries, including losing senior quarterback Taylor Martinez and much of the offensive line. Nebraska did a great job of persevering and pulling out victories in tough games against Northwestern, Penn State and Michigan, the latter two of which came on the road. If there's a difference between Nebraska and Georgia, it's that the Bulldogs have marquee victories over South Carolina and LSU and came within a miracle play of beating Auburn on the road. The Huskers didn't accomplish anything close to that and suffered three blowout losses at home -- to UCLA, Michigan State and Iowa.

Tim from Raleigh, N.C., writes: Will the Capital One Bowl be the last game Joel Stave starts for Wisconsin? I want Bart Houston (#BartHouston2014 which I try to get trending on Twitter) to start next year. I've been excited about this kid since he committed. I thought Gary Andersen might not be as thrilled since he is a pocket passer, but I looked at Houston's stats and he had 338 rushing yards and 19 rushing TDs in his senior HS season. He's supposed to have the better arm and can probably run better than Stave. I respect Stave a lot being an in-state walk on, but I don't think he's the answer for the next 2 years. I'm also scared Houston could then transfer. I don't want us to be in a Nebraska type situation where get stuck with a QB that you started as a freshman. Also, Houston has to start, HE'S NAMED AFTER BART STARR!!

Brian Bennett: Well, he's got a good name and some nice high school stats. There's an airtight case that he should start. Ahem.

There's nothing quite like the love for backup quarterbacks among fans. A player is almost never as popular as he is before he plays a significant down. Hey, Bart Houston might wind up as a great player. We have no idea. I'll tell you who does, though: Andersen, offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig and the rest of the Badgers staff. They've seen Houston practice every day since they've come to Madison. If they thought Houston was better than Stave, he would have played more by now.

Maybe Houston progresses in the offseason and overtakes Stave, who simply missed too many throws in 2013. Or maybe Tanner McEvoy makes a move at quarterback, though his future may well lie on defense after he played well at safety. It's no secret that Andersen likes mobile quarterbacks. Right now, though, Stave still has a huge experience edge. It will be up to someone else to outplay him in practice.

[+] EnlargePat Narduzzi
AP Photo/Al GoldisCould Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi get a head coaching job soon?
Matt from SoCal writes: Do you see Pat Narduzzi as a real option to be the head coach at Texas?

Brian Bennett: I don't, Matt. It's not that I think Narduzzi couldn't do a good job at Texas. It's just that I don't believe the Longhorns will hire a coordinator. They've got more money than Scrooge McDuck and are going to shoot for the moon with this job. Narduzzi might, however, benefit from a possible coaching carousel resulting from the Texas hire.

Kevin from Rock Island, Ill., writes: Illinois has really been going after the Juco players. What are your thoughts on the strategy and some of the signees so far? It has worked for Groce and the basketball program, but when there are so many holes, it seems like a short term fix to a bigger problem.

Brian Bennett: No doubt there are some issues with signing a lot of junior college guys. Not all pan out, and you risk getting in the cycle of needing more and more to fill gaps. But Tim Beckman really needs more depth and experience on the roster, and I think he sees this mostly as a short-term fix. The guys Illinois signed last year weren't exactly superstars, but players like Zane Petty and Martize Barr contributed, and Eric Finney might have done more than that had he stayed healthy. I can't pretend to know how good these incoming 2014 jucos will be, but I do like that the Stone-Davis brothers both fill needs at receiver and defensive backs and have three years left to play.

Connor M. from Lima, Ohio, writes: Love the work you guys do for the Big Ten! Looking ahead to next year, let's say Braxton and Shazier both play well in the Orange Bowl, raise their stock and turn pro. How much will the offense and defense be affected and who do you see replacing those two in their respective positions, most specifically, the QB spot?

Brian Bennett: Thanks, Connor. I think Ryan Shazier is the more likely of the two to go pro, and Ohio State could more easily absorb that loss, even though it would be a huge one. The defensive line should continue to improve, and there's a ton of young talent at linebacker and in the secondary on the way. Losing Braxton Miller, however, would change the whole outlook for the 2014 Buckeyes, especially since most of the offensive line and Carlos Hyde also are seniors. The only experience at all on the roster at quarterback is Cardale Jones, and he's a freshman who has thrown four passes. Freshman J.T. Barrett and incoming recruit Stephen Collier would battle Jones for the starting job, but Ohio State would basically be starting from scratch. In a much more difficult division.

BUCKIHATER from Future Home of the BigTen, NYC, writes: If you look back starting from the modern era of college football (1960's- present), the school who loves to put the word 'THE' in front of its name only has two claimed national titles -- you can even argue they should only have one if it wasn't for a really bad call, while the other happened before Woodstock. If you compare the 'THE' to other traditional football powerhouses like 'Bama, Miami, even Nebraska who all have 5 or more since the 60's, its not even close. Why does 'THE' get so much love on being the savior for the Big Ten? I was shocked to see the lack of championships over the last 50 years and Michigan State just did what every team in the Big Ten wanted to do for 2 years: Beat the bullies from Columbus.

Brian Bennett: So I take it you're not an Ohio State fan, then? Listen, if you want to start talking about national championships won by the Big Ten since the 1960s, this is not going to turn out well for anyone. Since 1970, we've got Michigan's split national title in 1997, Ohio State's in 2002 and ... hey, look, at that squirrel over there! The Buckeyes have been the only Big Ten team to even play for a national championship in the BCS era as a league member, and they've done it three times. So if you want to hate on Ohio State, that's fine. But that makes the rest of the conference look even worse by comparison.

Doug from KC, MO, writes: I have a Hawkeye question stemming from some recent conversations I've had with Nebraska fans. They always talk about whether to get another coach or not because they want to be contending for National Titles like the old (90's) days. I tell them for most teams in the country, and especially the BIG, this is pretty unrealistic. CFB is at a point where a lot of the odds/rules/recruiting are stacked against northern teams and outside of programs with lots of tradition (Mich, OSU and even ND) it is going to be very tough for you to have a regular NCG contender. I hope for a BCS game or Rose Bowl for Iowa every 4-5 years but it is just too much of a stretch for me to think Iowa (and other mid-tier BIG teams) will make a NCG appearance. Do you think some BIG teams have expectations that are too high or am I on the Debbie Downer side of the argument?

Brian Bennett: Doug, can you talk to BUCKIHATER for me? Anyway, I'm not sure enough Big Ten programs are ambitious enough. The Rose Bowl is great, but too many league teams talk like the Big Ten title is the ultimate goal, and I believe that becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. How many times did you hear Urban Meyer talk about how much the Buckeyes just wanted to get to the Rose Bowl?

Anyway, as I just wrote a moment ago, the Big Ten hasn't exactly been reeling in the national titles. Here's the good news for the league, and for a team like Iowa: the forthcoming Playoff opens things up. Have a great year, win the Big Ten, and there's a chance you'll be in the four-team playoff. From there, who knows? Getting to that playoff, not the Rose Bowl, has to be the goal for every serious league team from 2014 on.

Chris from Northern Michigan writes: Happy holidays, Brian, and merry bowl season. I would like to get your thoughts on the MSU QB situation. Obviously it looks like Connor Cook has the job wrapped up for the next two years, barring injury or a huge year next year leading to NFL early entry. Would you expect Damion Terry or Tyler O'Connor to transfer? MSU just lost a QB recruit, and while it would be understandable that either current QB would want to play, a Cook injury could be catastrophic if either transfers.

Brian Bennett: Catastrophic? Well, you'd still have Cook and at least one backup. Not a whole lot of teams had to play three quarterbacks major minutes this season, outside of Nebraska. Cook will be hard to unseat after going 9-0 in the Big Ten and winning a title. I do think there will be some sort of role for Terry, because he's just too talented not to get on the field. Wouldn't surprise me one bit if O'Connor moved on.

And to your first point, Chris, Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all.

The Big Ten Conference never rests. The proof is in another week full of headlines as Illinois and Wisconsin prepare for big official visit weekends.

Iowa is all over the recruiting trail on its bye week and Ohio State -- as it usually does -- is bringing news on almost a daily basis.


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Here are this week's top high school performances from Big Ten commits and targets.


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#AskLoogs: Rating Kizer over Collier

October, 24, 2013
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Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation senior analyst Tom Luginbill a question about your team? Tweet it to @TomLuginbill using the hashtag #AskLoogs.



Simply put, Ohio State had both at camp and liked Collier better. Some programs liked DeShone Kizer (Toledo, Ohio/Central Catholic) better; so do we. Stephen Collier (Leesburg, Ga./Lee County) is a bit of a sleeper, a late-bloomer if you will. He has nice measurables and tools to work with, but needs to be groomed long term.

Also, keep in mind that we aren’t basing our rankings on what Ohio State or any other team solely thinks about one particular player. If 10 programs were looking at one prospect, you could get five to seven differing opinions on that same player based on a variety of traits or factors. While it is always important to do everything you can to keep the top players in your state at home, when it comes to QBs, you do what you think is best for the program, and that sometimes trumps taking a prospect just because they are in-state. In this case, Ohio State felt like it was best to go in another direction.

Conversely, Notre Dame felt like Kizer was the right fit for them. I actually applaud Ohio State for taking Collier, as he was not widely recruited by many BCS schools, so they are doing what is best for them, not being influenced by what others say.
With so many different styles of offense within the Big Ten, each school has needed to find the right fit at quarterback. Here is a look at the Big Ten quarterback commits for the 2014 class and how they fit in with their future offense -- in their own words.

Illinois:
Chayce Crouch (Newark, Ohio/Newark Catholic)
Vitals: 6-3, 207

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Eric Glover-Williams (Canton, Ohio/McKinley) knows all about the fact Ohio State has a chance to notch win No. 850 this season. He knows the Buckeyes are the favorite to win their 35th Big Ten title and, if the cards fall right, he knows an eighth national championship isn’t out of the question.

The ESPN Junior 300 athlete took pause after an improbable 13-10 win where his squad converted a fake field goal to win on the last play of the game, to look at Ohio State past, present and future.

Named the face of the 2015 recruiting class, the 29th-ranked junior in the nation pointed to the big numbers Ohio State has put up in the last 100 years and alluded to the fact it has had 78 consensus All-Americans and 369 first-team All-Big Ten picks as a big draw to become a Buckeye.

“You know you’re going to a place that always has a winning tradition and one that is known for winning championships and being in the big game,” Glover-Williams said. “They’re almost always great.”

But the 5-foot-10, 170-pound Glover-Williams wasn’t just talking about the teams of the past. Since he has been on the Buckeyes' radar the last 14 months, he has paid extra close attention to the school.

He saw a team bounce back from a 6-7 record in 2011 to become the only BCS team without a loss last season.

He knows the Buckeyes have won 18 games in a row and hold the nation’s longest winning streak among BCS teams with Alabama (10) its next closest threat.

He has also seen Ohio State hold on for wins against Wisconsin and Northwestern this season when both teams were nationally ranked.

“They can be great,” Eric Glover-Williams said. “I think they have a chance and I would like to see them play Alabama in the national championship. That’s something I hope I can see them do.

“Their success is all about the personnel on the field. They have to find whoever is clicking and keep doing what they do to win the game. I still think the same about Ohio State win or lose, but those games, they’re finding ways to win.”

While the Bulldogs standout loves to talk about Ohio State past and present, it only makes sense to talk about the future as he’s set to be a Buckeye in 2015.

Barring something strange happening, Glover-Williams knows players like Devin Smith and Braxton Miller will be out of the lineup at Ohio State when he gets there. That doesn’t mean the stable will be empty with J.T. Barrett, Cardale Jones or Stephen Collier at quarterback.


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Urban Meyer said Ohio State has to seize momentum when it has it in when it comes to recruiting during a bye week.

Coming off two big wins over then-nationally ranked Wisconsin at home and currently ranked Northwestern on the road certainly doesn’t hurt. Then again, neither does having the nation’s longest winning streak at 18 games.

[+] EnlargeStephen Collier
Tom Hauck for Student SportsLeesburg, Ga., quarterback commit Stephen Collier was drawn to the winning ways of Urban Meyer and Ohio State.
While the computers haven’t taken notice and writers are skeptical of a weak conference and not-too-strong nonconference schedule, the future is buying in and it’s buying in big time.

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Urban Meyer doesn’t miss an opportunity to impress.


The two-time national champion did it last year when Nebraska played Ohio State in The Horseshoe under the lights and he’s not missing the opportunity this year.

Here’s a look at some of the bigger names scheduled to make the trek to the banks of the Olentangy River for the Buckeyes-Badgers game Saturday evening.

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Stephen Collier Tom Hauck for Student SportsStephen Collier is salivating about being put in the helm of the Ohio State offense someday.
Stephen Collier (Leesburg, Ga./Lee County) sat at a restaurant on Saturday and started drooling, but it wasn’t over a dozen wings or a Screamin’ Nacho Burger.

The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Collier was seeing just how good Ohio State’s offense can be under Urban Meyer in a 52-34 win over California. That got the 2014 Buckeyes pledge thinking about a few years from now, when he could be leading the offense.

“Oh man, it’s going to be like a kid in a candy shop, and I’ll be that kid,” the quarterback said. “I’m so excited to play with that level of talent. It’s not every day you’ll be able to play with those kind of guys.


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B1G high school performers 

September, 9, 2013
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Big Ten commits and targets were all over the field making plays this weekend for their teams. Here is a look at some of the top high school performances from Big Ten prospects.

Illinois
Mike Dudek: The Neuqua Valley (Ill.) receiver had 12 receptions for 244 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 49 yards and a touchdown touchdown in a 58-35 loss to Naperville Central.

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B1G high school performers 

September, 2, 2013
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With the start of high school football this past weekend, there were plenty of big performances on the field. Big Ten recruiting writers Tom VanHaaren and Brad Bournival outline a few top performers from Big Ten commitments over the weekend.

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Recruiting is about momentum, and right now Ohio State has a a lot rolling its way.

The Buckeyes have received two big pledges on consecutive days -- from ESPN 300 offensive lineman Demetrius Knox (Fort Worth, Texas/All Saints Episcopal) and four-star athlete Malik Hooker (New Castle, Pa./New Castle) -- and a few other OSU pledges made some big moves in the latest release of the ESPN 300.

Ohio State also surged up three spots in the class rankings to No. 11, which is second in the Big Ten behind No. 6 Michigan.


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In a conversation with ESPN's Antonietta Collins, national recruiting reporter Gerry Hamilton breaks down the recruiting momentum building at Auburn and offers predictions for where the top 10 recruits will commit.Tags: Trenton Thompson, Kerryon Johnson, Jeffery Holland, Martez Ivey, Torrance Gibson, Cece Jefferson, ESPN 300, RecruitingNation, high school football recruiting, Gerry Hamilton
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