Ohio State Buckeyes: Damien Mama

Top position classes: OL 

February, 20, 2014
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With national signing day in the books, RecruitingNation is looking at the top position classes. For the full series, click here.

Nationally (and SEC)
Not only did Alabama put together the best offensive line class in the 2014 cycle, but it's also one of the best in recent memory. The Crimson Tide inked early enrollee and five-star offensive tackle Cameron Robinson (Monroe, La./West Monroe) and also got top-ranked junior college offensive tackle Dominick Jackson (San Mateo, Calif./College of San Mateo). On the interior, the nation's top two centers, No. 168 overall Josh Casher (Mobile, Ala./Saint Paul’s Episcopal) and No. 190 J.C. Hassenauer (Woodbury, Minn./East Ridge) signed, as did No. 3 guard Ross Pierschbacher (Cedar Falls, Iowa/Cedar Falls). A second guard in the class is three-star Montel McBride (Plant City, Fla./Plant City), who could also play nose tackle at the next level.

The Crimson Tide had the nation’s best offensive line class; here’s which schools had the best in each of the remaining power conferences:

Early Offer: Auburn closes gap with WR 

November, 20, 2013
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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: Four-star receiver Travis Rudolph got an opportunity to see one of the best endings in college football this past weekend when he visited Auburn, and it looks like the Tigers are poised to make a move; USC is going to have to look hard at Ed Orgeron as a serious candidate for his recruiting abilities alone; and we’re entering the home stretch for when the nation’s best player will make his decision.

Auburn makes move with Rudolph

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Weekend recruiting wrap: Big Ten 

October, 14, 2013
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There was plenty of recruiting action over the weekend for the Big Ten, which means there were some standouts, big offers, new questions and new answers within the conference.

Here is a look at the latest.

Biggest commitment

Tom VanHaaren: Purdue and Illinois both picked up commitments in areas of need this past week. The Boilermakers flipped Western Michigan defensive back commit Tim Cason (Clarkston, Mich./Clarkston), and the Illini landed prep-school offensive lineman Peter Cvijanovic (Great Barrington, Mass./East Coast Prep).

Brad Bournival: Wisconsin picked up what might be one of the biggest sleepers in the 2014 class in wide receiver Krenwick Sanders (Jesup, Ga./Wayne County).

The former Georgia pledge has 17 touchdowns in 29 touches this season and joins a Badgers class that already has three-star wideout Chris Jones (Hyattsville, Md./DeMatha Catholic).

Biggest offer

VanHaaren: Nebraska offered 2014 offensive lineman Lukayus McNeil (Indianapolis/Decatur Central). The 6-foot-6, 260-pound lineman has been racking up offers as of late, so it’s going to be tough to reel him in. Michigan also offered an up-and-coming prospect in 2015 linebacker Tanner Muse (Belmont, N.C./South Point), who also recently picked up an offer from Northwestern. Both programs see him as an outside linebacker at the next level.

Bournival: ESPN Junior 300 defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie (Concord, Calif./De La Salle) got a chance to go back home when he took an unofficial visit to Wisconsin over the weekend and it came complete with an offer from the Badgers. His father, Reggie, took over as the general manager of the Oakland Raiders in January 2012, forcing the move.

Best performance by a commit/target

VanHaaren: Minnesota commit Dimonic McKinzy (Kansas City, Mo./Wyandotte) was 20 of 38 passing for 369 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He also had two rushing touchdowns.

Bournival: Chris James (Niles, Ill./Notre Dame), who is being recruited by many Big Ten teams, had a game to remember. The three-star running back rushed for 253 yards and five touchdowns on 30 carries in a 45-35 win over Marist (Ill.).

Most important visit


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From commitments to big official visit weekends, it's been a busy week of recruiting in the Big Ten.

Conference recruiting writers Brad Bournival and Tom VanHaaren take a look back at the week that was and look ahead as teams build toward the future.

Boilermakers flip a commitment

Purdue picked up a pledge from safety Timothy Cason II (Clarkston, Mich./Clarkston) this week. Though unranked and a former Western Michigan commit, the Boilermakers were able to flip the switch on the 6-foot, 179-pound Cason and make him the ninth commitment of the 2014 class.


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Big Ten class rankings analysis 

October, 9, 2013
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Each Wednesday, ESPN RecruitingNation updates its national class rankings. For an in-depth look at the Big Ten conference, check out our conference rankings:

1. Michigan, 15 commits: The Wolverines are No. 6 in the RecruitingNation class rankings, which includes nine ESPN300 prospects -- among them headliner and No. 2 overall Jabrill Peppers (Paramus, N.J./Paramus Catholic High). Michigan could make a move into the top-5 by winning the race for No. 4 Da’Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge High). Defensive tackle and No. 67 Malik McDowell (Southfield, Mi./Southfield High) is another top target still in play. No. 41 overall John Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Polytechnic High) will visit Nov. 29, and is another top target remaining.

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There are still a ton of prospects on the board for Big Ten teams, so conference recruiting reporters Tom VanHaaren and Brad Bournival take a look at the best and worst case scenarios remaining for each team.

Illinois
Best-case scenario: Illinois picked up an offensive line commit on Monday with Peter Cvijanovic (Great Barrington, Mass./East Coast Prep), which gives the Illini two offensive line commits. Despite having four wide receiver commits on board, it looks like the staff would take another receiver in this class.

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B1G high school performers 

September, 16, 2013
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There was plenty of action on the high school circuit, including among Big Ten commits and targets. Here is a look at some of the bigger performances from the weekend.

Illinois
Matt Domer: The Illini commit took the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown. He had 11 rushes for 84 yards in a 42-0 win over Bishop McNamara.

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There are still big holes to fill in recruiting for the 2014 class and top targets still on the board. A lot of position groups are being addressed in recruiting, but not many have been completely filled.

Big Ten recruiting writers Tom VanHaaren and Brad Bournival take a look at the most important position for each Big Ten team in the 2014 class.


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Big Ten class rankings analysis 

August, 28, 2013
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The latest version of the ESPN class rankings is out, and there are seven Big Ten teams within the top-40 classes.

With movement happening across the board, there are trends and stories developing, so Big Ten recruiting writers Tom VanHaaren and Brad Bournival give you a look at what to watch within the conference:

Trending up

Brad Bournival: Interest in Ohio State after Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer created his own Twitter account. At the urging of Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, @OSUCoachMeyer was created. In 12 hours, the account has three tweets -- one an introductory tweet and the other two a bible verse. In those 12 hours, the two-time national champion picked up over 24,000 followers. Incidentally, it looks like the first person Meyer followed drives the keys to the Buckeyes’ Mercedes (@BraxtonMiller5).


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Big Ten recruiting storylines: Aug. 22 

August, 22, 2013
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Big Ten fodder is never hard to find, especially in recruiting. Here’s a look at a few programs that highlighted a busy recruiting week:

Cotton getting close

Linebacker Micquell Cotton (O’Fallon, Ill./O’Fallon) has narrowed his list down to Indiana and Iowa State. The three-star back holds offers from both schools as well as Syracuse and Michigan State.

Cotton has visited both already and will take official visits this fall before making a pick.
The Cyclones have some appeal with a solid 2014 class that includes ESPN 300 wide receiver Allen Lazard (Urbandale, Iowa/Urbandale), running back Tommy Mister (Chicago/St. Rita) and a few other good looking commitments.

We’ll see where things stand after he takes his trips.

Iowa adds cornerback

Cornerback Josh Jackson (Corinth, Texas/Lake Dallas) committed to Iowa on Thursday. He confirmed his commitment in a text message.

The 5-foot-11, 175-pound senior becomes Iowa's 13th commit and the unranked defensive back becomes the third player to be taken in the secondary in the Hawkeyes’ 2014 recruiting class. He joins cornerback Omar Truitt (Washington, D.C./St. John’s College) and safety Jyaz Jones (Dallas/South Oak). Jackson’s commitment continues the youth movement at Iowa, as six underclassmen will return next season from Iowa’s two-deep chart.

"I think it's going to be great," Jackson said. "With the guys coming in, we'll definitely make a big impact in the Big Ten and for the team."

Defensive end Torey Hendrick (Brooklyn, N.Y./ASA College) hasn’t broken down his top five yet, but the junior college sensation already knows one he’ll take a visit to Iowa.

The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Hendrick hasn’t set a date, but Iowa City be a destination. Expect Kansas to maybe earn a visit as well.

Hendrick currently has offers from Arizona State, Florida State, Kansas State, North Carolina State and Rutgers to go with Iowa and Kansas.

Lacrosse commit getting looks
Jason Alessi (Birmingham, Mich./Brother Rice) is committed to Michigan for lacrosse, but that might not be the sport he ends up playing in college as he is starting to get noticed for football as well.

Alessi is a 2014 defensive back who already holds football offers from Cornell and Air Force. He has heard from Yale, Harvard and most recently Michigan State.

The 6-foot, 170-pound safety took a visit to East Lansing last week and is now waiting for the Spartans to make a move. The coaching staff told him they want to watch film on his first few games this coming season and then make a decision.

If he has a good start to the season the Spartans might not be the only team to come calling.

Linebacker U looking again
Penn State has opened up its search to replace outside linebacker Jared Wangler (Warren, Mich./De La Salle), who decommitted from the Nittany Lions before pledging to Michigan.

With Syracuse commit Jason Cabinda (Flemington, N.J./Hunterdon Central) already in the mix of candidates, Penn State has offered outside backer Brandon Lee (Indianapolis/Lawrence Central). That means Northwestern has some company in landing the standout as Lee will travel to California on an official visit when the Golden Bears play the Wildcats on Aug. 31. Lee currently has a top five of Cal, Louisville, Northwestern, Oregon and Virginia Tech.

London a wanted man

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Big Ten recruiting mailbag

August, 9, 2013
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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. Feel free to email us as well at brad.bournival.espn@gmail.com or TomVHESPN@gmail.com.

@BeerTheDeer: What are Wisconsin’s chances with Joe Mixon and Damien Mama? If the Badgers can pull them both, does that do anything to raise Wisconsin’s recruiting pull?

Brad Bournival: Absolutely. You have to consider that seniors only get five official visits, so the Badgers are already way ahead of the game when it comes to landing the duo. Wisconsin’s offensive line legacy and strong education isn’t lost on Mama. The Badgers’ ability to turn running backs into stars isn’t lost on Mixon either. As far as what it would do to help Wisconsin in the recruiting scene, history shows that teams on a roll stay on a roll, especially on a year-to-year basis. Once a team gets hot with top recruits, others start taking a look.

@McArthurMatt: Will Michigan State start putting the pinch on Michigan’s Detroit Cass Tech pipeline with the commitment of Jayru Campbell?

Tom VanHaaren: It depends on what you mean by pinch. Campbell didn’t have a Michigan offer, so I don’t know if you can consider that in your question. I think Michigan will still land players from Cass Tech, but Michigan State hiring Curtis Blackwell will certainly make for more competition.

Blackwell was involved with a lot of prospects in Detroit, so his relationship with the prospects and their families is a big bonus. I do think Michigan State has a shot with Cass Tech defensive end Joshua Alabi, who does have an offer from the Wolverines.

If Michigan State lands Alabi, then this is an argument that can be talked about. That would be a big win for the Spartans if they were to land him, but that’s yet to be seen.

Michigan State will be a player for a lot of the local prospects now, but I don’t think it will have a huge impact overall on Michigan’s recruiting efforts.

@roberthendricks: What do you think about Damian Prince? Where is he headed?

Bournival: The three teams that look to be separating themselves are Florida State, Maryland and Ohio State, but I think this is a two-team battle between the Terrapins and Buckeyes. Maryland might be selling the in-state angle, but it’s more than that as the Terrapins wouldn’t mind having him be the face of the program. With 13 offensive linemen under scholarship next season and four starters leaving after this season, the Buckeyes can sell playing time and depth chart to the ESPN 300 offensive tackle. In the end, I think Prince stays home and becomes a part of Maryland’s 2014 class.

@Paul_Zinn24: Overall, how is the Big Ten stacking up in recruiting to other major conferences?

VanHaaren: Not great. Michigan and Ohio State are holding the fort down with the No. 6 and 12 ranked classes, respectively and Penn State (20) and Northwestern (24) are in the top 25.

Outside of those four teams it doesn’t look good. The Big Ten has 25 commitments in the ESPN 300 and 20 of those come from Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State and Northwestern. If you don’t feel like doing the math, that means that the other eight teams have five ESPN 300 commitments combined.

The SEC has 77 ESPN 300 commits and the ACC has 35, so the Big Ten is behind significantly.

With that being said, there is still plenty of time left and there are a lot of ESPN 300 prospects that could pick Big Ten schools. Northwestern, Michigan, Penn State and Ohio State are all in on some top targets, so that number could still go up.

@dcarey71: Is it true because of early enrollments that Penn State will be allowed to offer 17 scholarships instead of 15 this year?

Bournival: That is correct with a couple of stipulations. The Nittany Lions need to stay at 15 scholarships a year, but it can also count early enrollees toward the class before it. So, since there’s some wiggle room in the 2013 class, Penn State can sign 17 prospects in the 2014 class -- as long as two enroll early. Those numbers would meet the NCAA requirements under the sanctions, including the 65-maximum scholarship stipulation as well.

Incidentally, quarterback Michael O’Connor and defensive tackle Antoine White have both stated they want to enroll in January.

The latest version of the ESPN class rankings are out, and there are seven Big Ten teams within the top 40 classes.

With movement happening across the board, there are trends and stories developing, so Big Ten recruiting writers Brad Bournival and Tom VanHaaren give you a look at what to watch within the conference:

Trending up:

Tom VanHaaren: The number of ESPN 300 prospects committing to Big Ten schools. The number hasn’t started to increase yet, but there is a good chance it will. As it currently stands the Big Ten has 25 ESPN 300 commitments within its teams. That number is low compared to the 77 committed to SEC schools and 35 to ACC programs. However, there are roughly 18 ESPN 300 prospects still listing Big Ten programs, including No. 4 ranked Da’Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge) with Michigan, No. 1 inside linebacker Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County), Malik McDowell (Southfield, Mich./Southfield), Montae Nicholson (Monroeville, Pa./Gateway) and more.


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The spotlight rarely shines on the big guys in the heart of the offensive trenches, but guards and centers play a key role in the success of an offense. The 2014 class offers a talentedand fairly deep group of interior offensive linemen and the most recent release of the updated ESPN 300 saw several move up in the rankings.

Offensive guard prospects like USC commit Toa Lobendahn and Florida State commit Corey Martinez were among those who made sizeable moves up in the latest rankings release. Center and Alabama commit J.C. Hassenauer moved into the 300.

Four of the top five OG prospects are already off the board, as well as nine of the top 10 centers. But if your team is still looking for talent, here are five to keep an eye on:


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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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BEAVERTON, Ore. -- The Opening has concluded and it did not disappoint. The top prospects in the nation were invited to Nike headquarters to display their ability and compete against the best of the best.

RecruitingNation was on hand for every event to take in the happenings throughout the week. Here are a few storylines:

Who committed

Florida State landed two in-state prospects during the final day of The Opening on Wednesday: four-star offensive tackle Corey Martinez (Tampa, Fla./Tampa Catholic) and three-star safety Trey Marshall (Lake City, Fla./Columbia). Marshall was a finalist for the SPARQ national championships where he posted a 40-yard-dash time of 4.34 seconds. ESPN 300 linebacker Dillon Bates (Ponte Vedra, Fla./Ponte Vedra), son of former Tennessee Volunteers and Dallas Cowboys safety Bill Bates, verbally committed to the Vols. Four-star linebacker D.J. Calhoun (El Cerrito, Calif./El Cerrito) verbally committed to USC over UCLA.


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SPONSORED HEADLINES

No. 7 OLB Jerome Baker Flips To Ohio St.
Jerome Baker, the No. 70 overall player in the ESPN 300, changed his commitment Tuesday from Florida to Ohio State. National recruiting analyst Gerry Hamilton explains what prompted the move.
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