Big Ten East Recruiting Preview

Kyle Pollock

harbaughOn January 14th, the recruit dead period (no contact with recruits) ended and the final sprint towards National Signing Day began. Teams all across the country are making one last desperate push to convince promising high school seniors to come play for their school for the next four years. Most coaches have in home visits with prospects, visit their high school, and maybe attend a basketball game that a prospect is playing in. Some coaches go the extra mile, such as Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh who recently camped outside a recruit’s house until the dead period ended, and then proceeded to spend the next 24 hours with him in an attempt to decommit from Penn State and commit to the Maize and Blue. Teams are still targeting many players, and I’ll go conference by conference to give an overview of each team’s skill position targets entering the final few weeks of the recruiting season.


Two of Indiana’s top recruits are both quarterbacks: three star JUCO prospect Richard Lagow and three star Peyton Ramsey. Lagow is 6’6”, 240 pounds and physically looks the part. However Lagow will have to beat out current backup Zander Diamont, who has gotten some starts in the past few seasons. Diamont is a capable runner but has struggled with accuracy. This will be a battle to watch during the offseason, as it will give us a good indication on which direction the offense will be moving in. If Diamont starts, the offense will likely be more run heavy which will help running back Devine Redding. If Lagow starts, the offense will likely be more balanced or pass heavy, helping wide receiver Simmie Cobb. The other quarterback in the class, Ramsey, won’t see the field until Diamont and Lagow graduate. This means the earliest time he could start would be his junior year, or the 2018 season.


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Maryland recently suffered some huge losses to their class, as Ohio State poached away two of the Terrapins top prospects. This included quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who was seen as their quarterback of the future. Maryland is down to ten commits for this class, but four of them are skill position players. The best of the bunch is four star receiver Tino Ellis, who hails from local power Dematha Catholic. While Ellis had decent size (6’1”) and speed (reported 4.5 forty time) it’s meaningless if he doesn’t have a quarterback to throw him the ball. His teammate from Dematha, running back Lorenzo Harrison, will also be joining him at Maryland. He’s on the smaller side, and I don’t think he’ll ever be on the devy radar. The Terps are pursuing dual-threat quarterback Lindsay Scott hard, but it’ll be difficult to pry him away from LSU as he hails from Louisiana. Maryland looks like another program I’ll be avoiding as a devy owner.


As mentioned in the opening, Jim Harbaugh is a tenacious recruiter, who will seemingly do anything to get a player to commit to come play for Michigan. This has helped him assemble the number three class in the country, and skill players make up a good portion of the class. Harbaugh will look to add to the class by locking up a few more wide receivers. The first priority seems to be wide receiver Nate Johnson, who is currently committed to the Wolverines but has started visiting schools in the past few weeks, including Miami. He is set to visit Notre Dame and Penn State in the next few weeks, and those three schools, along with Tennessee, are expected to go to battle with Michigan for Johnson. As a backup plan, Harbaugh is also targeting receivers Keyshawn Young and Donald Stewart. Young is expected to sign with Michigan, but has not formally committed. Stewart will be harder to land, as Stanford is the favorite to land him.

If they land at least one of these receivers, they will add to an extremely talented crop of receivers who are firmly committed to Michigan. They currently have three four star receivers committed in Amir Mitchell, Dylan Crawford, and Brad Hawkins, and adding a fourth will solidify the group for the next few seasons. The Wolverines are also deep at running back in this year’s recruiting class. The group is lead by Kareem Walker, who is considered one of the top players at the position. I’m not a huge fan of Walker, and feel he is overrated because he lacks a truly special trait and is just average or slightly above average in most areas. Chris Evans is also a four star back, but is on the smaller side and is considered an all-purpose back. The last back in the class is three star Kiante Enis. Enis has good size at 6’1” and 210 pounds, and I could see him spelling Walker later in his career. We all know that Harbaugh is great with quarterbacks, and four star Brandon Peters is lucky enough to be the next one to learn from Harbaugh. Peters looked great in the Army All American bowl, and looks to have superstar potential for Michigan.

Michigan State

All of Michigan State’s remaining targets are on the defensive side of the ball, but they are more than set when it comes to skill position players. The skill positions are lead by Donnie Corley, a four star wide receiver. Corley is 6’3”, 185 pounds. Corley has displayed great body control and excels in jump balls and contested catch situations. His concentration is simply amazing in these situations and is elite for a high school player. Corley also uses his frame very well in these situations. He’s not the fastest player and isn’t the best athlete, but if he can improve his route running at Michigan State then he can be the next in line of great Michigan State receivers. Corley reminds me of TCU wide receiver Josh Doctson because of his elite body control and jump ball skills.

However, Corley is not without competition for playing time in this class, as the Spartans also have three other four star receivers: early enrollee Cameron Chambers, and commits Justin Lane and Trishton Jackson. Lane and Jackson have very similar builds to Corley, while Chambers is slightly shorter but is also heavier than the other three. One or two of these players will likely see playing time this season after three receivers graduated, including Big Ten Wide Receiver of the Year Aaron Burbridge. These receivers will have early enrollee Messiah deWeaver playing quarterback for them at some point in their career. deWeaver showed great ball placement and touch in high school, along with a big arm and the ability to throw his receivers open. He’ll need to work on his footwork and pocket presence, as he has a tendency to take off running if the play breaks down. His play style should mesh perfectly with a player like Corley, and should leave Spartan fans excited about their future potential.

Ohio State

The Buckeyes had themselves quite the day on January 18th, as they landed three four star prospects and laid claim to the number one class in the nation. Two of the three are on the offensive side of the ball, and are players devy owners should take note of: quarterback Dwayne Haskins (who decommitted from Maryland) and wide receiver Binjimen Victor. With that, they seem to have wrapped up all of their targets on the offensive side of the ball, and they have plenty of talent. Wide receiver Austin Mack and running back Antonio Williams both enrolled early and could contribute next year. Williams is a great running back and is currently my number seven running back in the class. Right behind him at number eight is fellow Ohio State commit Demario McCall. This combo should help to ease the loss of Ezekiel Elliott to the pros.

In my eyes, Mack looks to be the best recruit they landed. Mack is currently my top ranked receiver in the class, and he can truly do it all. In high school he played running back and wide receiver, and also returned kicks and punts. He has the best hands in the class, and his concentration on contested catches and jump balls is unmatched. Mack is an advanced route runner for a player his age, and this will allow him to see the field early. In the open field Mack is hard to contain because of his superb agility and explosiveness. He’s an excellent athlete who has great burst and vertical ability. And at 6’2”, 205 pounds, he already has the size to play for the Buckeyes. I view Mack as a true chess piece for an offense, and someone who can develop into not only their top receiver but their top playmaker.

Victor is the only other receiver committed to Ohio State in the class, and he has a ton of potential. Victor is a pretty raw prospect right now and needs to add weight to his 6’4” frame as he is only 177 pounds. He displays good route running and body control. He lacks speed and physicality, and isn’t the most explosive player in the world. He has a ton of potential, but also needs a ton of work before he can reach that potential. Lastly, Haskins may be the heir to JT Barrett’s throne at the quarterback position. Haskins has a good arm and is very accurate, and is also a good scrambler. He has similar traits to Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, but I don’t think he’ll ever be as good as Watson. Overall, Urban Meyer once again had a great class and helped Ohio State add to what was already one of the most talented rosters in the country.

Penn State

Penn State has a few key targets left, mainly on the defensive side of the ball. They appear to be looking to add a wide receiver as James Franklin and his staff have visited four star Dredrick Snelson at his house over the past few days, and have the last campus official visit lined up with three star Michigan commit Nate Johnson (Snelson will visit on the same weekend). They are also considered the favorite for four star receiver Tre Nixon, but will have to beat out Georgia for his services. Other than the receivers, Penn State’s only other skill players in the class are running back Miles Sanders, quarterback Jake Zembiec, and tight end Danny Dalton. Sanders is a player who should be drafted in most devy leagues, as he is one of the top running backs in the country. In fact, I have him ranked as my top running back in the class. He has elite speed, and is amazing in the open field. His repertoire of spins, jukes, and cutbacks makes it appear as though defenders are playing on ice. Sanders is also a great receiver out of the backfield, and even played quarterback some in high school. Sanders could be a Christian McCaffrey type player for Penn State, someone who carries and elevates the entire offense. The combination of Sanders and Saquan Barkley could be one of the nation’s very best, and could have Penn State threatening in the Big Ten in a year or two.


Apparently people actually want to play football at Rutgers. Yes, I was just as surprised as you were to learn this. Currently, only 12 players have committed to play for the Scarlet Knights and four are skill position players. There top commit is running back Trey Sneed who is ranked as the number 33 back in the country. The other three skill position players are all receivers: Isaiah Wright (6’2”, 207 pounds), Taysir Mack (6’3”, 175 pounds) and Mohammed Jabbie (5’11”, 165 pounds). It appears that they may be in danger of losing Mack, as he picked up an offer from Boston College on the 18th and another from Penn State on the 19th, and will visit Indiana on the 22nd. Coaches from both BC and PSU visited with Mack, including new PSU offensive coordinator Joe Moorehead. If Mack commits to Penn State, it would be Moorehead’s first commitment as a member of the staff so he is definitely motivated and will be pushing hard for Mack. This is yet another program that I would avoid as a devy owner until new head coach Chris Ash can rebuild the program to a competitive state.