Here’s a look at some things to watch within the conference recruiting landscape:
Trending up: Brad Bournival: This one is easy. It has to be Penn State. With the NCAA reducing its sanctions regarding recruiting and the Nittany Lions, a breath of fresh air and overwhelming feeling of optimism surrounds Happy Valley once again. Instead of a cap of 65 scholarships starting in 2014, PSU will now have 75 scholarships, 80 in 2015 and will return to the full allotment of 85 in 2016. It has big-name recruits once again looking at Penn State as a destination.
Tom VanHaaren: I agree with Brad that it’s Penn State, but I’ll also say 2015 prospects. It is very likely that more and more 2015 recruits are going to start to see offers come through. With a few games worth of highlights from their junior season, a few Big Ten coaches are starting to dole out offers to the 2015 standouts. Since the 2014 classes are well under way, it’s safe to say the juniors will be getting more and more attention going forward.
Trending down Bournival: Conference play this weekend isn’t exactly booming. Wisconsin heads to Ohio State, Iowa heads to Minnesota and Purdue and Illinois have nonconference tilts. Other than that, the rest of the Big Ten is off. That doesn’t mean recruiting has slowed down as schools are out in force this week to possibly grab a recruit without a campus visit.
VanHaaren: Commitments. Where is the action? Iowa and Wisconsin are the only Big Ten teams to get a commitment in quite a while now, which means there are still holes to be filled. As you can see by the class rankings, there hasn’t been a lot of movement for the conference in some time. Some of that will change as more prospects take official visits, but this lull is noticeable compared to other conferences.
One to watch Bournival: The Buckeyes are playing under the lights and are bringing in a slew of 2014 and 2015 stars. In an ever fluid list, as of right now ESPN 300 wide receivers Johnnie Dixon (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla./Dwyer), Travis Randolph (West Palm Beach, Fla./Cardinal Newman), athlete John “JuJu” Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) and offensive guard pledge Demetrius Knox (Fort Worth, Texas/All Saints Episcopal) are expected to take official visits. Three-star tight ends Mike Gesicki (Manahawkin, N.J./Southern Regional) and DeAndre Goolsby (Derby, Kan./Derby) will be taking official visits as well and three-star safety Shawn Boone (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla./Dwyer) might be there as well.
VanHaaren: Outside linebacker Nile Sykes (Lombard, Ill./Montini Catholic) has some good offers, but as other programs continue to look for linebackers, Sykes is going to be a prospect that gets some attention. He just recently picked up an offer from Missouri and there could be more on the way.
Bold prediction Bournival: Athlete Zavior Hoxie (Buford, Ga./Buford) will add to Wisconsin’s class sooner rather than later. The 5-foot-10, 180-pound Hoxie took his official visit to Madison last weekend and really enjoyed his time there. Wisconsin runs a similar offensive style as Buford. If the Badgers can survive a visit to Indiana on Oct. 5 -- if it even gets to that point -- expect Hoxie to be part of the future for the Badgers.
VanHaaren: Penn State parlays the good news from Tuesday into more good news on the recruiting trail. With five more spots in the 2014 class, the coaches can take a few more risks and try to go after some recruits they wouldn’t have been able to before. With that new opportunity, I believe they will land a few prospects they didn’t initially expect to get before the NCAA announcement.