Football at any level is a quarterback-driven game. When breaking down the ESPN Watch List for the 2014 class in the Midwest region and Big Ten states, the quarterback class immediately stands out.
The Big 33 game, which pits Ohio all stars against Pennsylvania all stars, might regain some of its luster in a few summers as both states boast strong quarterback classes. DeShone Kizer (Toledo, Ohio/Central Catholic) is closing in on double-digit offers and leads the class of Ohio quarterbacks. Fellow Ohio Watch List quarterbacks Adam Bertke (Maria Stein, Ohio/Marion Local) and Chris Durkin (Youngstown, Ohio/Ursuline) have offers already, too.
Pittsburgh commit Chandler Kincade (Beaver Falls, Pa./Blackhawk) headlines the Pennsylvania class of quarterbacks. Dual-threat quarterback A.J. Long (Bangor, Pa./Pius X) has a few offers already, and Andrew Ford (Camp Hill, Pa./Cedar Cliff) has arguably been the state's top quarterback through the first few games, and he has done it without the nation's top tight end, Adam Breneman.
Overall, it is no surprise Ohio has the most Watch List prospects of any state with 17. St. Clairsville (Ohio) linebacker Michael Ferns is an early commitment to Michigan, but it might not be long before Ohio State strikes back with a linebacker commit of its own. Dante Booker (Akron, Ohio/St. Vincent-St. Mary) is high on the Buckeyes.
As always, Ohio is strong on the lines with the likes of Jimmy Byrne (Cleveland, Ohio/St. Ignatius), Kyle Trout (Lancaster, Ohio/Lancaster), Verondtae Wilkinson (Trotwood, Ohio/Trotwood-Madison) and more, but Ohio boasts some quality skill players as well. Thaddeus Snodgrass (Springfield, Ohio/Springfield) is one of the top receivers in the Midwest, and fellow receiver Travon Hudson (Cincinnati/Colerain) would be a well-known name if he did not play in an option-based offense. Darius West (Lima, Ohio/Lima Central Catholic) already has offers at cornerback and is on the radar of every Big Ten team.
The Chicago area continues to improve its football talent, as all six players on the Watch List from Illinois are from the city or its suburbs. Jamarco Jones (Chicago/De La Salle) will be one of the top offensive linemen in the region.
The same can be said for Ross Pierschbacher of Cedar Falls (Iowa). The state of Iowa has not had a recruit in the ESPN 150 since 2009, but that could change with Pierschbacher.
In fact, the Watch List has a few prospects from states not known for producing much talent. Iowa has both Pierschbacher and Jay Scheel (La Porte City, Iowa/Union). Minnesota has a representative in running back Jeff Jones (Minneapolis/Washburn), and Wisconsin has two in Sun Prairie (Wis.) defensive tackle Craig Evans and Monona (Wis.) Grove offensive tackle Jaden Gault. Both are committed to the Badgers.