NCF On The Trail: Nile Sykes

Notre Dame adds two more linebackers 

December, 16, 2013
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Notre Dame hasn’t lost any momentum on the recruiting trail despite losing both its offensive and defensive coordinator in recent weeks.

The Irish picked up two linebacker commits on Sunday with Nile Sykes (Lombard, Ill./Montini Catholic) and Kolin Hill (Schertz, Texas/Samuel Clemens).

Most important targets: Big Ten 

December, 10, 2013
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The 2014 recruiting cycle is winding down toward signing day, which means teams will pick up the heat on their top remaining targets.

Here is a look at the most important prospects left for each team in the Big Ten.

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Most important targets: ACC 

December, 10, 2013
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A look at the most important recruiting targets remaining for each school in the ACC:

Boston College
DE Harold Landry (Fayetteville, N.C./Pine Forest)
6-foot-3, 230 pounds
Four stars

Boston College is close to done for 2014, and coach Steve Addazio is looking toward taking the next big recruiting jump with the 2015 class. However, the Eagles' 2014 class would be dealt a devastating blow if he cannot hold on to Landry, No. 30 among defensive ends nationally and the second-highest-rated commit in BC's class. Reports in mid-October had Landry decommitting from the Eagles, but it was only for a short while. He made amends with the staff quickly and rejoined BC. But now coaches are coming through schools and homes, so BC will have its work cut out once again.


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The Big Ten has seen plenty of action recently with commits, decommitments and offers being sent out. Here is a look at the latest story lines within the conference.

MOVING ON FROM HAND

Michigan missed out on five-star defensive end Da'Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge) on Thursday. Hand told the coaches Wednesday night, which gave them time to consider an offer to fill his spot.

The staff then promptly offered in-state prospect Jhonny Williams (Berrien Springs, Mich./Berrien Springs), who is currently committed to Missouri. Williams has now said he will visit Notre Dame, who also recently offered, and will most likely take a trip to Ann Arbor as well.

This could be interesting, as Williams only lives 30 minutes from South Bend and his father is a Michigan fan.

The Wolverines also offered three-star Cal running back commit Vic Enwere (Sugar Land, Texas/Fort Bend Austin), who has said he will likely take a visit as well.

[+] EnlargeTyler Wiegers
Tom Hauck for ESPNFour-star QB Tyler Wiegers decommitted to Rutgers and might take a trip to Iowa this weekend.
HAWKEYES UP

Quarterback Tyler Wiegers (Beverly Hills, Mich./Country Day) decommitted from Rutgers this week, something that’s starting to be a trend with its class.

The four-star quarterback is now considering Iowa, and could take a visit to see the Hawkeyes this weekend. If Wiegers does make the trip, a decision could come shortly after.

If he picks Iowa, Wiegers would be the second four-star commit for the Hawkeyes.

TRANQUILL FLIPS FOR IRISH

Linebacker Drue Tranquill (Ft. Wayne, Ind./Carroll) had been mulling a Notre Dame offer for quite some time, despite being committed to Purdue.

In a text message sent on Monday night, Tranquill made the decision to flip his commitment to Notre Dame.

“I’ve decided to play my next four years at the University of Notre Dame,” the text message said. “I have so much respect for Coach (Darrell) Hazell. I’ve never met someone with such high character. However, I’m ecstatic to go play for Coach (Brian) Kelly at the University of Notre Dame.”

RECRUITING OUT FRONT FOR WESTPHAL

Now that his season is over, ESPN 300 defensive back Parrker Westphal (Bolingbrook, Ill./Bolingbrook) is once again focused on his recruitment.

After much deliberation, the No. 96-ranked prospect is down to Michigan State, Northwestern and Vanderbilt.

He will be taking an unofficial visit to Northwestern on Saturday for its game against Michigan State and will then return again for an official visit in the first week of December.

That’s a huge opportunity for the Wildcats to seal the deal on one of the top remaining targets in this class.

SYKES SET TO RELEASE TOP LIST

Four-star linebacker Nile Sykes (Lombard, Ill./Montini Catholic) has been receiving major interest as of late. His most recent offer comes from Notre Dame, which has sparked interest.

Sykes has been focusing on his season, but tweeted this week that he will release a top-five list next week. He is a major target for Illinois and he also holds a Purdue offer.

With the loss of Tranquill, the Boilermakers could really use some help at linebacker.

MINNESOTA ROLLING

The Minnesota coaching staff has seen a spark in interest from prospects they have been in contact with in recent weeks. Winning typically cures all, and that’s the case with the Golden Gophers right now.

In-state target Frank Ragnow (Victoria, Minn./Chanhassen) says that Minnesota’s play on the field has definitely been something he’s taken into consideration.

“It’s huge, because I came into this fall, the one thing that Minnesota was lacking was winning,” Ragnow said. “I would’ve ruled them out if they weren’t winning. They always talked about winning and actually seeing it happen is huge.”

The Gophers are facing off against Wisconsin this weekend and will have running back target J'Vonte Herrod (Kennesaw, Ga./North Cobb) on campus for the game.

Herrod isn’t quite sure when he will make a decision just yet, but the Gophers are likely his current leader.


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Recruits watching: Illinois 

November, 15, 2013
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While Nebraska playing Michigan State might have the most implications for the Big Ten on the field, Illinois will likely have the bigger recruits in attendance at its game on Saturday.

The Illini take on Ohio State at home and will have a chance to entertain some top targets. Here is a look at a few prospects who will be watching.

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SEC recruiting storylines: Oct. 24 

October, 24, 2013
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Taking a look back at the week that was in the SEC recruiting and looking ahead as teams build toward signing day, here is a peek at some of the top SEC recruiting storylines.

Nation's No. 4 to see Tuscaloosa

The nation's No. 4 prospect overall, Da'Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge High), will make his official visit to Alabama this weekend after tripping to favorite Michigan in September. The 6-foor-4, 262-pound five-star will also officially visit Florida on Nov. 8 before announcing his decision on Nov. 14 at his high school.

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Most important targets: ACC 

October, 22, 2013
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video

A look at the most important recruiting targets remaining for each school in the ACC:

Boston College

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Big 12 recruiting mailbag

October, 11, 2013
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This week’s Big 12 recruiting mailbag focuses on Baylor’s offensive success, Kansas’ progress in recruiting, the status of an ESPN Junior 300 player and more. We encourage all to send questions each week, either via Twitter to @DamonSayles or @ESPNWilkerson or by email at dsaylesespn@gmail.com or wilkerson.espn@gmail.com.

From @InTheNameOfBU: Do you see Baylor sustaining their success in offense for quite a while? If so, why? #AskBig12

As long as head coach Art Briles, offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery and passing game coordinator/offensive recruiting coordinator Kendal Briles stick around, Baylor shouldn’t have any problems offensively. It’s really scary to think that Wofford -- and not a school like West Virginia -- has held Baylor to its lowest point total -- 69. The Bears have all kinds of offensive weapons now with quarterback Bryce Petty, running backs Lache Seastrunk and Shock Linwood and receivers Antwan Goodley and Tevin Reese, and if they sign committed ESPN 300 players in receiver K.D. Cannon (Mount Pleasant, Texas/Mount Pleasant) and athlete Davion Hall (Texarkana, Texas/Liberty-Eylau), expect more of the same in the next couple of years.

From @Roberrttthom: How much do you think the early offer for 2015 DT Marquise Overton helps OK State's chances to land him?

In speaking with Overton, I know that he’s very appreciative of the Oklahoma State offer. However, I can’t say that it’s his absolute favorite right now. Reason being, he truly doesn’t has a favorite right now. The ESPN Junior 300 defensive tackle has additional offers from Baylor, Ole Miss, Texas Tech, Oregon State and others, and all schools are in the running. Overton did say that he really likes Oklahoma State. The team is playing well right now, and it’s close to his home in Jenks, Okla. Keep an eye on how the 6-foot-1, 301-pound tackle gauges his schools of interest.

From @cr93ia: Any update on the buzz post Rhoads’ postgame press conference and just in general? #AskBig12

If you’re the Texas Longhorns, you’re not listening; you’re celebrating a win. If you’re pro-Paul Rhoads, you’re probably still a little upset about what happened last week. There’s nothing that can be done now, but Rhoads will have his Cyclones amped up for Saturday’s game against Texas Tech. Recruiting-wise, a few players are still eyeing every move Iowa State makes. The Cyclones have offered players like ESPN 300 defensive end Dewayne Hendrix (O’Fallon, Ill./O’Fallon), ESPN 300 outside linebacker Brandon Lee (Indianapolis/Lawrence Central), four-star outside linebacker Nile Sykes (Lombard, Ill./Montini Catholic) and four-star running back Corey Avery (Dallas/Carter), and they’re hoping to land at least one of these targets.

From @ttoulouse94: Any word on #KU making progress with WR or O-line prospects?

Recruiting with Kansas can be seen in two ways: Either a recruit will give the program the side eye for its subpar play, or a recruit will look at the subpar play as an opportunity to see immediate playing time. The Jayhawks are hoping to land three-star athlete Darious Crawley (Houston/Cypress Ridge), who can play receiver at the next level. As for the offensive line, Kansas will be looking in the junior college ranks for right-now type of players. Juco linemen Avery Gennesy (Southaven, Miss./East Mississippi Community College), Luke Hayes (El Dorado, Kan./Butler Community College) and David Hedelin (San Francisco/City College of San Francisco) all have Kansas offers.

From @KookanHere: #askbig12 Will Dana Holgorsen be the head coach of WVU next season?

West Virginia is 3-3 on the season. Just because the Mountaineers were rolled by Baylor doesn’t mean Holgorsen’s job is in jeopardy. Baylor has put up huge points against everybody. Holgorsen will be back next season to coach his new recruits in receivers Lamar Parker (Miami/Booker T. Washington), Jake McCrary (Miami/Coral Reef) and outside linebacker Davonte James (Springfield, Ohio/Springfield) -- all ESPN 300 prospects. If Holgorsen is lucky, he also will be coaching ESPN 300 athlete Dravon Henry (Aliquippa, Pa./Aliquippa), who is strongly considering the Mountaineers.

Big Ten class rankings analysis 

October, 9, 2013
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Each Wednesday, ESPN RecruitingNation updates its national class rankings. For an in-depth look at the Big Ten conference, check out our conference rankings:

1. Michigan, 15 commits: The Wolverines are No. 6 in the RecruitingNation class rankings, which includes nine ESPN300 prospects -- among them headliner and No. 2 overall Jabrill Peppers (Paramus, N.J./Paramus Catholic High). Michigan could make a move into the top-5 by winning the race for No. 4 Da’Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge High). Defensive tackle and No. 67 Malik McDowell (Southfield, Mi./Southfield High) is another top target still in play. No. 41 overall John Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Polytechnic High) will visit Nov. 29, and is another top target remaining.

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There are still a ton of prospects on the board for Big Ten teams, so conference recruiting reporters Tom VanHaaren and Brad Bournival take a look at the best and worst case scenarios remaining for each team.

Illinois
Best-case scenario: Illinois picked up an offensive line commit on Monday with Peter Cvijanovic (Great Barrington, Mass./East Coast Prep), which gives the Illini two offensive line commits. Despite having four wide receiver commits on board, it looks like the staff would take another receiver in this class.

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Big Ten recruiting mailbag

October, 4, 2013
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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.

@HoosierHolmes: What positions are Indiana most focused on to finish up its class?

Brad Bournival: A look at who the Hoosiers are targeting shows it’s still very much on defense -- at linebacker and in the secondary more specifically. Indiana picked up a tremendous hybrid outside linebacker/safety in Dameon Willis Jr. (Cleveland/St. Ignatius) on Wednesday. With defensive backs Micquell Cotton (O'Fallon, Ill./O'Fallon) and Craig James (Edwardsville, Ill./Edwardsville) out there, as well as linebackers Tegray Scales (Cincinnati/Summit Country Day) and Nile Sykes (Lombard, Ill./Montini Catholic), expect the Hoosiers to turn up the heat defensively on the recruiting front.


@GabeJasinski: What big time recruit do you think Michigan State has a chance at getting?

Tom VanHaaren: The Spartans are in on some big prospects still and have put themselves in the top group of a few ESPN 300 targets. Defensive backs Montae Nicholson (Monroeville, Pa./Gateway) and Parrker Westphal (Bolingbrook, Ill./Bolingbrook) both have Michigan State in their top group.

I think it might be difficult to pull both, but it seems as though there is a shot.

Nicholson took an unofficial visit to East Lansing, and there is a chance that Westphal will take a visit soon, as well. It’s probably a long shot, as Virginia and Pitt appear to be the leader, but wide receiver Jamil Kamara (Virginia Beach, Va./Bishop Sullivan) might be an option, as well.

Kamara visits Michigan State on Nov. 3, so who knows what can happen once he's on campus.


@buckeyefan686: After Raekwon McMillan and Marshon Lattimore, which uncommitted recruit do you think is the most important for Ohio State to land?

Bournival: It's not one specific player as much it is a position. Ohio State swung and missed last year along the line and needs to fix that this year. Now, they’re doing fantastic with four already in the fold. That said, it is imperative for the Buckeyes to land either Damian Prince (Forestville, Md./Bishop McNamara), Alex Bookser (Pittsburgh/Mt. Lebanon) or top junior college tackle Chad Mavety (Garden City, N.J./Nassau Community College).


PSUlions1121: Any chance Penn State could get back in on Dravon Henry now that the sanctions are reduced?

Bournival: Henry's father Roland was reached the day the sanctions were reduced, but his son's stance didn't change. "It's more the postseason ban than the scholarship restrictions," Roland told ESPN.com recruiting writer Jared Shanker. Some have said that Henry just didn't get the feeling at Happy Valley like he did at West Virginia. While Henry remains uncommitted, the favorite seems to be the Mountaineers, but Pitt looks like it will be in it until the end, as well.


@pinkelman9876: Where do you think Nebraska will end up in Big Ten recruiting rankings? Is the perception of Nebraska hurting their chances at projected top talent?

VanHaaren: Nebraska currently has the No. 37 overall recruiting class in the country, which is good for No. 6 in the conference. The problem for the Cornhuskers is that there aren’t many big name targets still on the board that would move the dial too much.

Michigan, Ohio State, Northwestern, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Penn State are all currently ahead of Nebraska and have targets still on the board that would keep them ahead of the Cornhuskers.

Something that I see as a problem has to do with the location relative to the rest of the Big Ten. Once Nebraska joined the Big Ten, they left their footprint in the Big 12 behind. Trying to land Midwest prospects from 12 hours away is very difficult, and it has proven to be hard for this coaching staff. The coaches try to recruit nationally, but there isn’t one area where they have a home base to secure top prospects year in and year out.


@kholmes147: Regarding 2015 Michigan quarterback recruiting ... since it's clear [Josh] Rosen has no interest, who do you think is most likely to get the second offer?

VanHaaren: Rosen is currently the only 2015 quarterback with a Michigan offer, and as you mentioned likely will stay on the West Coast.

The coaching staff has been in contact with plenty of other prospects, though, including Kyle Kearns (Pleasanton, Calif./Foothill), Kevin Dillman (LaMirada, Calif./LaMirada), Alex Malzone (Birmingham, Mich./Brother Rice), Sheriron Jones (Moreno Valley, Calif./Rancho Verde), Riley Neal (Yorktown, Ind./Yorktown).

It's tough to say who will get the first offer, but much like the 2014 class, the coaches can stand to be a little picky for now. They can take some time to evaluate the right prospect, gauge interest levels and see who is the right fit.

With any conference there will always be battles on the recruiting trail within the Big Ten. Coaching changes, different philosophies and geographic location all factor in to who battles who.

Here is a look at the top five Big Ten recruiting rivalries.

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Big Ten class rankings analysis 

September, 25, 2013
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There wasn’t any movement in the class rankings this week, but there are some trends developing.

Here’s a look at some things to watch within the conference recruiting landscape:

Trending up:

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It was another weekend with minimal actual news out of the Big Ten on the recruiting trail, but there is always something to watch. Here is a look at what happened this past weekend and what might happen in the future.

Biggest commitment

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As the season is getting into full swing, teams are recognizing needs and holes that need to be filled. Every team in the Big Ten still has some areas of improvement that can be fixed with recruiting.

Here is a look at some important targets remaining for each Big Ten team.


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