NCF On The Trail: Mike Mitchell

In the coming days, I'll take a closer look at whether the Big Ten would benefit from having prospects take official visits earlier, such as at the end of their junior years in high school. It's an idea Big Ten Network analyst Gerry DiNardo has championed, and one that makes since because of the accelerated recruiting cycle and the far-flung locations of some Big Ten schools.

Some Big Ten teams might not benefit from earlier official visits. They have no trouble getting recruits to campus and piling up early commits. Others must play the waiting game and make strong pushes before national signing day. Coaching changes can make an impact when teams get verbal commits, as Penn State has learned in recent weeks. Recruits also have been more likely to flip pledges leading up to signing day, forcing some teams to scramble to fill spots.

We're a day away from the big day, and while there are a few key undecided recruits who will make their choices Wednesday, most of the hay is in the barn, so to speak.

When did Big Ten teams get their 2014 recruits to verbally commit? Here's a closer look (as of Monday night):

ILLINOIS

Total commits: 18 (four already have signed)

March-May 2013: 4
June-July: 8
August-September: 0
October: 1
November: 0
December: 4
January: 1
February: 0

INDIANA

Total commits: 25 (six have signed)

March-May 2013: 0
June: 5
July: 4
August: 0
September: 1
October: 3
November: 0
December: 2
January: 6
February: 4

IOWA

Total commits: 21

January-April 2013: 2
June: 5
July: 3
August: 2
September: 1
October: 1
November: 2
December: 1
January: 4

MICHIGAN

Total commits: 16 (seven have signed)

August 2012: 1
February 2013: 3
April-May: 7
June: 3
July: 1
August: 1
September-February: 0

MICHIGAN STATE

Total commits: 21 (two have signed)

August 2012: 1
September 2012: 1
April-May 2013: 5
June: 4
July: 1
August: 1
September: 2
October: 0
November: 1
December: 3
January: 1
February: 1

MINNESOTA

Total commits: 19 (two have signed)

February-April 2013: 3
May: 0
June-July: 3
August: 0
September: 1
October: 1
November: 2
December: 1
January: 6
February: 2

NEBRASKA

Total commits: 26 (two have signed)

March 2013: 1
April-May: 0
June: 7
July: 3
August: 1
September: 0
October: 1
November: 2
December: 2
January: 6
February: 3

NORTHWESTERN

Total commits: 16 (one has enrolled)

March-April 2013: 4
May: 5
June: 1
July-November: 0
December: 3
January: 1
February: 2

OHIO STATE

Total commits: 22 (seven have signed)

December 2012: 1
January-February 2013: 3
March-May: 4
June: 5
July: 2
August: 1
September: 1
October-November: 0
December: 2
January: 3
February: 0

PENN STATE

Total commits: 25 (five have enrolled)

October 2012: 1
February-April 2013: 5
May: 2
June-July: 3
August-September: 0
October: 3
November: 1
December: 1
January: 8
February: 1

PURDUE

Total commits: 20 (two have signed)

May 2013: 2
June: 3
July: 1
August-September: 0
October: 1
November: 1
December: 8
January: 3
February: 1

WISCONSIN

Total commits: 27 (four have signed)

April 2012: 1
August 2012: 1
September 2012: 1
May 2013: 2
June-July: 5
August: 0
September: 2
October: 3
November: 5
December: 3
January: 2
February: 2

Notes/comments
  • The James Franklin effect certainly can be seen in Penn State's class, as all nine recruits who committed in January or February did so after Franklin's hiring on Jan. 11. Franklin flipped several prospects from his former team, Vanderbilt, and also brought in some surprises during a furious push down the stretch.
  • Early recruiting has been a hallmark for Brady Hoke at Michigan, and it's no surprise to see the Wolverines basically done with their 2014 class before the season. Michigan had 21 of its 27 recruits in the 2013 class verbally commit before the 2012 season.
  • Iowa's commit pattern was the steadiest in the league, as the Hawkeyes received at least one pledge every month between June 2013 and January 2014.
  • Nebraska has accelerated its recruiting pace in each of the last two years. The Huskers had just five verbal commits before the season in the 2012 class but doubled that total in the 2013 class and have 12 in the 2014 crop. Nebraska is one of the Big Ten schools that seemingly could benefit from earlier official visits because of its location in relation to recruiting hotbeds.
  • Gary Andersen's first full recruiting class at Wisconsin is a huge one, and Andersen and his staff did much of their work both during and after the 2013 season. Seventeen of Wisconsin's 27 pledges came after the games began.
  • Northwestern stockpiled commits early on and would have been done in mid-December after Parrker Westphal's pledge, but two prospects (Noah Westerfield and Jordan Thomas) decommited last month, forcing the Wildcats to make some late additions.
  • Ohio State's recruiting is following a somewhat familiar pattern under Urban Meyer: strong winter and spring, a few summer pickups, relatively quiet during the season and then a nice push from mid-December to early January. The Buckeyes have landed some of their best prospects late in the process, from 2013 recruits Mike Mitchell and Vonn Bell to 2014 standout Raekwon McMillan.
  • Purdue and Minnesota tend to add the bulk of their commits later in the process. The Boilers added 12 commits in the 2013 class following Darrell Hazell's hiring in early December, and 12 of their 20 commits in this year's class came after Dec. 1. Minnesota picked up nine of its 19 commits in the current class after Dec. 1 -- a similar ratio as it had in the 2013 class.
When reached via text message, Malik Jefferson (Mesquite, Texas/Poteet) didn’t have much to say about his offer from Ohio State.

Then again, the exclamation point said plenty.

Five stories to watch: Dallas NFTC 

April, 5, 2013
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The Nike Football Training Camp series will continue outside of Dallas on Sunday. Athletes will trek to Allen, Texas, the home of one of the most impressive high school stadiums in the country. Allen Eagles Stadium, a $60-million facility, opened last year and featured nearly 22,000 fans watching Texas powers Allen and Southlake Carroll clash.

Here are five storylines to watch on Sunday.

Talented DBs aplenty

It’s been said on multiple occasions that the 2014 class may be one of the strongest in years at producing big-time defensive backs in the region. The battle for defensive back MVP has the potential of being extremely competitive with players such as Laurence Jones (Monroe, La./Neville), Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron), Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen), Steven Parker (Jenks, Okla./Jenks) and Arrion Springs (San Antonio/Roosevelt) expected to be in attendance. Chris Hardeman (Houston/Alief Taylor) has committed to LSU, while Dylan Sumner-Gardner (Mesquite, Texas/West Mesquite) and Armani Watts (Forney, Texas/North Forney) have pledged to Texas A&M. Deionte Thompson (Orange, Texas/West Orange-Stark), a 2015 prospect, has verbally committed to Alabama. All of the DBs will have their shots in one-on-one drills against equally talented ESPN Watch List receivers such as Malachi Dupre (River Ridge, La./John Curtis), K.D. Cannon (Mount Pleasant, Texas/Mount Pleasant) and Texas commit Lorenzo Joe (Abilene, Texas/Cooper).


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Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County) has been to Ohio State on several occasions. Next time, the ESPN Watch List junior has an agenda.


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Ohio State: Luke Fickell top recruiter 

February, 7, 2013
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Recruits and colleges can be fickle friends. At Ohio State, Fickell friends are the best friends to have.

If there is anyone in Ohio who understands what scarlet-and-gray fever is about, it is Luke Fickell.

[+] EnlargeOhio State's Luke Fickell
Greg Bartram/US PRESSWIRELuke Fickell is a crucial part of Ohio State's recruiting prowess.
He played nose guard for Ohio State in the 1990s. He was the interim coach for the Buckeyes in 2011 and has been with the team in some facet since 2002.

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Weekly Commitment Update 

January, 11, 2013
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ACC
Clemson
Ebenezer Ogundeko DE Brooklyn, N.Y./Thomas Jefferson
HT: 6-3 WT: 229
Position Rank: #10 DE

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OSU-bound Mitchell ready for Big Ten 

January, 6, 2013
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SAN ANTONIO -- ESPN 150 outside linebacker Mike Mitchell (Plano, Texas/Prestonwood Christian) will be the first to admit there’s prestige for being a Big Ten Conference linebacker. It was one of several reasons why he chose Ohio State during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Saturday.

Mitchell, No. 121 in the ESPN, chose the Buckeyes over Texas A&M and Oregon. Along with building a great relationship with his recruiting contact, offensive coordinator Tom Herman, Mitchell said he did his homework on the resume of the prototype Big Ten linebackers.

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Scouts: Meyer bolsters LB corps 

January, 6, 2013
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The Buckeyes struck big on Friday with the commitment of ESPN 150 prospect Trey Johnson (Lawrenceville, Ga./Central Gwinnett), who fills a huge need at the linebacker position for Ohio State in this 2013 class. This is key out-of-state verbal as the Under Armour All-American was being courted by several SEC schools and has SEC caliber speed and athleticism that Meyer may need to call upon early.

In terms of ability, the Buckeyes are getting a versatile linebacker who can play inside or out in Columbus with his well-rounded skill-set and high football intelligence and instincts. Despite being somewhat light, Johnson is able stack and shed inside and he also has the length, range and speed to turn and run and make plays outside the hashes. He is athletic, strong at the point and a solid tackler but also has coveted intangibles at the position like smarts and toughness that should allow him to challenge for early playing time in what will be a young linebacker corps.


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OSU adds another stud LB in Mitchell 

January, 5, 2013
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After going more than seven months without a linebacker in the 2013 recruiting class, Ohio State now has two ESPN 150 prospects at the position.


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SAN ANTONIO -- ESPN 150 outside linebacker Mike Mitchell (Plano, Texas/Prestonwood Christian) has been a hot topic of discussion for months. On Saturday, he became even more of a topic for the followers of BuckeyeNation.

Mitchell verbally committed to Ohio State and became the Buckeyes’ 21st commitment. The 6-foot-5, 222-pound linebacker chose Ohio State over Texas A&M and Oregon.

“I love the coaches, and it’s a really good opportunity for me to play early and play for a starting job,” Mitchell said. “I really feel good going to that school. I felt like I fit in really well.”

Ranked No. 121 in the ESPN 150, Mitchell was recruited by offensive coordinator Tom Herman.

LB Trey Johnson chooses Ohio State

January, 4, 2013
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- For months, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer and his staff have made the No. 2 inside linebacker prospect in the country a recruiting priority.

Their patience paid off tonight when Trey Johnson (Lawrenceville, Ga./Central Gwinnett) committed to Ohio State during the Under Armour All-America Game, live on ESPN.

Johnson chose Ohio State over Florida and Tennessee.

A longtime Auburn Tigers commitment, Johnson happened to be returning from his official visit to Ohio State on Nov. 25 when Auburn fired coach Gene Chizik. That time on the Columbus, Ohio, campus helped the No. 2 inside linebacker get a better feel for the Buckeyes.

“When I took a visit up there it was different,” said Johnson, a starter in the UA Game. “I kind of like the feel up there, the depth chart. And there are many factors that make it a good fit there.”

The addition of Johnson gives Ohio State 20 commitments, nine of those being members of the ESPN 150, and boosts what is already the No. 4 recruiting class in the ESPN rankings.

Johnson, who made 140 tackles, three sacks, and one interception as a senior, is the first linebacker commitment for the Buckeyes in the 2013 class. They are still working to add linebacker and ESPN 150 prospect Mike Mitchell (Plano, Texas/Prestonwood Christian Academy), and are in the mix for another standout in the Peach State, Under Armour All-American safety Vonn Bell (Rossville, Ga./Ridgeland).
SAN ANTONIO -- Wednesday was a day off for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl teams. Instead of working out and participating in drills, the players took in visits around the city -- including a stop at the Alamodome for photo opportunities and to see their game apparel -- and used the day to recover from two days of practice.

The teams will return to the fields on Thursday in arguably the most important practice of the week. Here are five things to keep an eye on for Thursday’s practice:

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U.S. Army Bowl: Monday notebook 

December, 31, 2012
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SAN ANTONIO -- ESPN 150 outside linebacker Mike Mitchell (Plano, Texas/Prestonwood Christian) isn’t big on speaking publicly. He’d rather let his game do the talking -- and it speaks volumes.

On Monday, the 6-foot-5, 222-pound linebacker officially confirmed that he will announce his college plans during Saturday’s U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Oregon, Texas A&M and Ohio State are his three finalists.


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OSU Recruiting: A look back at the week 

December, 24, 2012
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Ohio State didn’t get another commit out of the class of 2013, but that didn’t mean the Buckeyes went into the dead period without continuing to amp up efforts to land some big names.

From recruits scheduling visits to others setting announcement dates, here’s a look at how things shook out last week.

Ohio State began the week just hours after hearing Mike Mitchell (Plano, Texas/Prestonwood Christian) and Trey Johnson (Lawrenceville, Ga./Central Gwinnett) were set to announce their college choices at their respective all-star games. The Buckeyes also found out Orlando Brown Jr. (Duluth, Ga./Peachtree Ridge) put them in his top eight.

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Guide: OSU recruiting during dead period 

December, 23, 2012
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As of this moment, we sit smack dab in the middle of a dead period that lasts through Jan. 3, 2013. While it’s considered “dead,” it really isn’t at all.

It’s a time when coaches aren’t allowed to meet recruits in-person whether on campus or off. Prospects can still visit bowl practices, but only if those practices are open to the public. They still can receive calls from coaches once a week.

While Ohio State really never stops the recruiting process -- the Buckeyes have amped up efforts with no bowl game -- it does slow down a bit during the holiday season.

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