Five things I learned this weekend


Ohio State has to like its position with Spence

This time a month ago, all indications were Noah Spence (Harrisburg, Pa./Bishop McDevitt), the No. 4 player in the country, would be staying close to home and picking Penn State. With the child sex-abuse scandal at Penn State, though, Spence’s recruitment became wide open.

And Urban Meyer and Ohio State are taking full advantage.

I was hesitant to put much stock in Spence’s tweet last week about Ohio State being No. 1 because you can rarely take a prospect’s social media postings seriously. However, Spence’s first official visit will now be to Ohio State, and Spence always liked Florida, Meyer’s old stomping grounds.

At the moment, it definitely appears as if the Buckeyes are the team to beat for Spence, who is scheduled to announce his college decision Jan. 5 at the Under Armour All-America Game.

Top junior defensive prospects abound in Ohio championships

In the state championship, there is obviously going to be a lot of talent on each of the 12 teams. But much of the talent was made up of juniors and on the defensive side of the ball.

Trotwood-Madison led the group with its two outstanding juniors, Cam Burrows and Mike McCray II. Both are on the ESPNU 150 Watch List, and Burrows is being hotly pursued by the two BCS national champion finalists, Alabama and LSU. McCray has a handful offers, including one from Tennessee.

Trotwood-Madison outdueled Avon, which boasts Ross Douglas at cornerback.

In the Division III final, Youngstown Cardinal Mooney’s defense is led by juniors Courtney Love and Marcus McWilson. Love has offers from Michigan State and Nebraska, and McWilson visited Michigan for the Ohio State game.

Division I finalist Pickerington Central has Watch List linebacker Taco Charlton.

Missouri getting football player, not just QB in Mauk

Everybody knew Kenton (Ohio) quarterback Maty Mauk is a great passer. He holds the national record for passing yards and is a four-star prospect committed to Missouri.

Mauk showed he is more football player than quarterback this weekend as he was hit and knocked down dozens of times in Saturday’s championship game but got up every time and was even in there playing linebacker, too.

Mauk wasn’t just taking hits -- he was delivering them. Even on plays he was sacked, which was often, he made sure to deliver the blow. He broke through a number of tackles, one of which led to a Hail Mary touchdown as time expired in the first half.

Of course, Mauk was also very good throwing the ball. After a sluggish start, he showed great touch on a number of passes and gave Kenton its first lead late in the fourth quarter before Norwayne scored the game-winning touchdown with less than a minute left.

Big commitment for Michigan

It remains to be seen what kind of three-star receiver Amara Darboh (West Des Moines, Iowa/Dowling) will become at Michigan, but it is a big commitment for the Wolverines at least in terms of timing.

The last week, all Michigan – and the country, really – has heard is how it is in trouble with Urban Meyer going to Ohio State. The Wolverines reign over the Buckeyes will end at one. Meyer will shut down the Ohio borders. Michigan will be left with the scraps. Michigan is already hearing it from the Buckeyes faithful.

However, Michigan fans were able to silence Ohio State fans a little bit on Sunday by showing them they will be just fine on the field and in recruiting with a commitment and a bid to a BCS bowl. Though Ohio State wasn’t in the running for Darboh, the commitment at the least allows Michigan to give an answer for Meyer and Ohio State.

Now if the Wolverines can just pull Chicago offensive lineman Jordan Simeon, who is one of both the Buckeyes’ and Wolverines’ final targets.

Wisconsin, MSU among best at developing recruits

Doug Lesmerises of the Cleveland Plain Dealer had an interesting article on Saturday about what the Big Ten championship games would have looked like the past 10 years if there was one.

Interestingly enough, last year would have showcased Michigan State and Wisconsin as well. In fact, Michigan State would have been in three of the last four championship games if you include the inaugural game. Since 2004, Wisconsin and Ohio State would have each made the title game three times while Penn State would have made it only twice.

More than anything, it shows the Michigan State and Wisconsin staffs have been among the best staffs at doing more with less in the country. ESPN.com’s recruiting rankings go back to 2006, and you won’t find Michigan State or Wisconsin’s name in any class rankings from 2006 to the current 2012 classes.