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 email@example.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.