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Tag:Mark Smith
Posted on: January 24, 2012 3:33 pm
Edited on: January 26, 2012 1:12 pm
 

Big Ten Signing Day Overview



Posted by Bryan Fischer


National Signing Day is almost here and recruits across the country are gearing up for plenty of last-minute pitches and school visits as head coaches look to shape their program for years to come. The Big Ten used to be like the football on the field against SEC opponents, a step slow and a little behind. That's no longer the case thanks to recent hires Urban Meyer at Ohio State and Brady Hoke at Michigan. They say the rivalry between the two schools is everyday and based on how the two newcomers are hitting the recruiting trail, the Midwest is suddenly one of the top battlegrounds in the country.

MaxPreps.com Top 25 Team Rankings, Big Ten
College Commits Top 100 Moving
3. Michigan 24 4
5. Ohio State 23 5

Top storylines

1. Who else does Urban Meyer flip?

Big Ten meet Urban, he's a good recruiter. Some would call him relentless. In just a short time since his hiring, Meyer has taken the Buckeyes from middle of the back in the conference to one of the top five classes nationally. He's flipped several players and seems to have targeted what was Penn State's recruiting class in particular. Not everybody was spared, including Michigan State who lost Se'Von Pittman. Although scholarship reductions will put a crunch on the numbers, the current group isn't a finished product and the Buckeyes are still in the running for players like Armani Reeves so it's possible Meyer scores another big time player.

2. Does Michigan win the head-to-head battle with Ohio State?

At one point, Michigan was lapping the rest of the Big Ten when it came to recruiting but with Meyer in Columbus, the equation has changed slightly. The Wolverines have undergone some defections in the last month but the group of current commitments still adds depth at much needed positions and gives the program what might be the best incoming offensive line group in the country. It's possible to call the two schools' classes equal on the home stretch even if Michigan is ahead in the latest Maxpreps team rankings. The Buckeyes have more star power and are loaded along the defensive line, will that be enough to overtake a deep group of UM commits come Signing Day? Should be interesting to find out.

3. Does anyone else come close?

There's only two conference teams listed in the top 25 classes and that about sums up the situation in the Midwest. To be in an analogous mood, Ohio State is like a Ferrari and Michigan is a Lamborghini while the rest of the Big Ten is driving Yugos. It's not that there's bad players coming in, it's just that there's not enough of them. Indiana, Minnesota and others appear to be set in terms of recruiting but they are not filled with elite players. Michigan State, Wisconsin and others have gone for quality but haven't come close to getting any quantity. It should make for an interesting conference reset come February 2 to see if anybody can cobble together a top 25 class and even come close to what Michigan and Ohio State have done on the recruiting trail.

4. What does newcomer Nebraska's class look like?

It's not big, it's not spectacular and it's left many fans wondering what the heck is up. We're not talking about the latest menu addition at Jack-in-the-Box but Nebraska's recruiting class. Although the season fell short of expectations not many expected the Cornhuskers to struggle this much in terms of recruiting. There's some solid players among the commits, such as wide out Jordan Westerkamp and linebacker Michael Rose but there doesn't appear to be a huge name to be found among the bunch that can come in and leave an impression. The overall number of commits, 13 a week away from Signing Day, is also concerning. It's very possible that Bo Pelini ends up with a decent class of 2012 but, at the moment, it's going to take a lot of work to do so.

Most impressive class: Ohio State

Most underrated class: Wisconsin

Work left to do: Nebraska

Top Players to Watch
Name Pos Committed
3. Noah Spence DE Ohio State
14. Stefon Diggs WR Uncommitted
26. Josh Garnett OL Uncommitted
34. Vince Biegel LB Wisconsin
40. Phillip Nelson QB Minnesota
 47. Tommy Schutt DT Ohio State
49. Adolphus Washington DE Ohio State
52. Chris Wormley DL Michigan
54. Greg Garmon RB Iowa
55. Jordan Westerkamp WR Nebraska
 

Assistant recruiters of note:

Mike Ekeler, Indiana
Eric Johnson, Iowa
Fred Jackson, Greg Mattison and Mark Smith, Michigan
Pat Narduzzi, Michigan State
Matt Limegrover, Minnesota
John Papuchis, Nebraska
Matt MacPherson, Northwestern
Luke Fickell, Tom Herman and Everett Withers, Ohio State
Larry Johnson, Mac McWhorter and Ron Vanderlinden, Penn State
Gary Nord, Purdue
Mike Markuson and Matt Canada, Wisconsin

Head coach under pressure: Bill O'Brien, Penn State

Top Big Ten class prediction: Ohio State

Top Big Ten signee: Noah Spence

Big Ten school-by-school
Legends Division Commits Top Players Notes
- Team page
- Commitment list
19 DE Faith Ekakite
RB Greg Garmon
DT Jaleel Johnson
A solid class that is heavy along both lines, Ekakite and Johnson are two top pick ups for the Hawkeyes. Given depth issues and his talent, Garmon has a chance to start right away.
- Team page
- Commitment list
23 LB Royce Jenkins-Stone
OL Kyle Kalis
OL Erik Magnuson
DB Terry Richardson
The Wolverines held the top spot in the class rankings for most of the year and still have a chance to finish there on Signing Day. This is a great group, especially on the o-line, that fills most of the team's depth needs and should make defensive coordinator Greg Mattison very happy.
- Team page
- Commitment list
16 WR Aaron Burbridge
LB Jamal Lyles
QB Tyler O'Connor
A solid but not spectacular class, the Spartans have several diamonds in the rough (so to speak). O'Connor might need a few years but he's got the talent to develop into a very good Big Ten signal-caller.
- Team page
- Commitment list
28 QB Phillip Nelson
OL Jonah Pirsig
 It's not often the Gophers land one top 250 player so it's impressive that Jerry Kill was able to snag two of them. Nelson is a local kid who should adjust well after a redshirt year. There's plenty of Juco transfers to help provide an immediate boost.
- Team page
- Commitment list
13 DE Greg McMullen
OL Paul Thurston
WR Jordan Westerkamp
Needless to say, Bo Pelini still has a lot to work on with this class. The size stands out first and it remains to be seen if the Huskers close strong or just fill out spaces this year. Westerkamp is a good pick up who should play early.
- Team page
- Commitment list
20 RB Malin Jones
DE Ifeadi Odenigbo
OL Ian Park
It's always difficult to project where Northwestern's class ends up but there a lot of solid contributors in this group mixed with some impact players like Jones. Odenigbo is a huge boost and should be a situational pass rusher from the start.
Leaders Division Commits Top Players Notes
- Team page
- Commitment list
15 DB TaJarvis Fuller
DT Teko Powell
DT Vontrell Williams
Ron Zook didn't exactly get this class off to a flying start and once he was fired, it took a further nose dive. There's some solid players committed so far but it remains to be seen what becomes of this essentially lost class.
- Team page
- Commitment list
24 LB Jacarri Alexander
WR Kevin Davis
Kevin Wilson has gone after a few guys that fit his system and though they might not be as big or fast as others, might work out just fine in Bloomington.
- Team page
- Commitment list
23 RB Bri'onte Dunn
DT Tommy Shutt
DE Noah Spence
DE Adolphus Washington
This class was dead in the water for most of the year but has quickly gone from so-so to top five nationally thanks to Meyer. There's a few offensive contributors but the real star power in this group is along the front seven.
- Team page
- Commitment list
18 TE Jesse James
RB Akeel Lynch
DB Armani Reeves
It's amazing this class is as big as it is given all that has happened in State College and the fact that the new head coach hasn't done any in-home visits. James is the best of the bunch and has the potential to be an all-conference tight end.
- Team page
- Commitment list
25 QB Austin Appleby
QB Bilal Marshall
OL Jordan Roos
DE Ryan Watson
The Boilermakers got themselves a steal in the strong-armed Appleby. Watson and Roos will be two solid contributors along each line too.
- Team page
- Commitment list
11 LB Vince Biegel
QB Bart Houston
OL Dan Voltz
OL Walker Williams
Quality not quantity is the phrase used for the Badgers class. While there's not a breakaway skill position player in the group, the OL is one of the best in the conference and Houston is a perfect fit for the offense at quarterback.

Posted on: May 22, 2011 9:06 am
Edited on: May 22, 2011 9:19 am
 

Taft duo shines at Ohio State Nike Camp

Posted by Bryan Fischer

COLUMBUS, Ohio – After a talent-laden Elite 11 on the campus of Ohio State Friday, the Nike Football Camp on Saturday tried to match the talent level and may have ended up exceeding it overall based on the number of big names in attendance.

The latest stop in the camp circuit attracted several hundred of the nation's top athletes and one of the headliners was Cincinnati (Ohio) defensive end Adolphus Washington, who excelled during one-on-one drills once he got into the swing of things.

“I did pretty good,” Washington said. “I messed up in the one-on-ones the first time but overall I did pretty good. I came and bounced back.”

The 6-foot-3, 260 pound end had really good footwork outside of one rep and had a nice array of pass rush moves. He's compact but explosive and proved he was one of the top guys at his position.

“It's good competition to see who I have to go against in my class,” he said. “It's lets you know that other people are out there working. Just because you are one of the top (guys) in the country doesn't mean much, they're coming after you because you are one of the top guys.”

The Taft High product has the frame to add on weight and perhaps even the ability to move inside for some reps at defensive tackle. With almost too many scholarship offers to count, Washington has seen plenty of schools stop by during the evaluation period, including some big names in the past week.

Notre Dame on Monday, Alabama, Ohio State, Tennessee,” he rattled off. “It was a couple of them.”

As hectic as things have been for Washington, he's managed to trim his list of schools down as he starts to focus on the recruiting process and the journey to eventually making a commitment.

“I actually have a top five: Ohio State, Alabama, Kentucky, Michigan and Miami in Florida,” Washington said. “I'm not really crossing anybody out but that's my top five that I like right now.”

Washington hasn't taken any unofficial visits to see those five schools yet but he is about to put a check mark next to one of those schools pretty soon to indicate he's visited.

“Me and Dwayne (Stanford) are going to Michigan next week,” Washington said. “We're looking forward to looking at their roster, seeing how the social environment is, graduation rates, how do African-American students do at their school and things like that.”

The Wolverines are one of the programs that meet the criteria that Washington is looking for in a school. While he's still a few months away from pulling the trigger, the very confident defensive end knows what he is looking for and won't commit until he's comfortable that the school has all that he's looking for.

“I'm looking into academics first,” he said. “Do they have the major I'm trying to get my degree in? What's the social life there and see how the team works together and stuff like that.”

Washington has not really eliminated any schools but at this point in the process it will be hard for others outside his top five to jockey into position to land his signature on Signing Day. Even within his top five pretty much set, there are two schools who have been on Washington from the beginning and continue to recruit him as a top priority.

“Michigan is actually recruiting me the hardest,” he said. “Coach (Greg) Mattison and Coach (MarkSmith. Alabama too with Coach Sal (Sunseri).”

Though Washington didn't take home defensive end MVP Saturday, he was among the most polished pass rushers at the camp and you can easily tell why plenty of the nation's top programs are after the talented defender.

Stanford stands out too

While Washington was a stud on defense, his Cincinnati Taft High teammate Dwayne Stanford might have been even more impressive at wide receiver Saturday. With an outstanding frame and polished pass catching skills, it's easy to see why he is also among the country's best at the receiver position.

“I got to see where I was at today against some of the top DB's in the area and I think I showed I did pretty well,” Stanford said. “I didn't know any of them but I know from watching them that they were pretty good and knew what they were doing.”

Like many of the attendees, attending the Nike Camp was about more than just going through one-on-ones and catching passes.

“To get teaching, that's the main reason why I came here,” he said. “The first three hours I got teaching and I learned a lot about my footwork and route running. A lot of good stuff here. And also just to see where I'm at against the other top receivers out here. I'm always looking to get better against the best.”

The 6-foot-4, 200 pound wide out also listed a few of the schools to stop by Taft in the past few weeks and for Stanford, every school that does come by to evaluate him serves as motivation and part of the drive to be one of the best in the country at his position.

“This week we had Tennessee stop by, North Carolina, USC was here, some others,” Stanford said. “It's been busy. I'm working to get better and prove to these colleges that I am what they see.”

With a busy spring full of things to do, Stanford hasn't had a chance to see many of the schools who have extended him a verbal scholarship offer. With school about to be wrapped up, his schedule will be jam-packed with unofficial visits over the coming month or two this summer.

“Basically, I want to get around to all of these colleges on the East Coast,” he said. “Next weekend I'm going to try and make it up to Michigan and see them. I'm going to be on the road all of June.”

One of the things that he is looking to do is continue to play with his close friend and teammate Washington at the next level. While there's always talk of package deals in college football recruiting, it appears that it will be very hard to separate the two from signing with the same program.

“Definitely,” Stanford confirmed of the duo's playing together. “We're going to take most of our visits together. We'll sit down and see where's the best school for us individually and where the best school for us is together. Hopefully our individual schools are the same school that fits us best together. We definitely want to stay together and it's something we'll try and make happen.”

Unlike Washington however, Stanford hasn't narrowed down his list of over 20 offers and counting. It's clear that he wants to be able to do some research on a school and if possible see them for himself before naming a few top teams in the mix for his services.

“No, no really because I haven't taken any visits yet,” he said. “I took one to Cincinnati and Ohio State but those were during the season. Now I'm going to take these visits and really focus on seeing if it's a school that I can really see myself at.”

Academics are important to Stanford and his parents. While that is one of his top criteria in selecting a school, so too is how he fits into a program and the town that he'll live in for four or five years.

“I just want to see how the coaches use me and stuff like that,” he said. “I just want to feel like it's a good fit for me. The atmosphere and how it feels and that I like what's going on there.”

Mahone leaves lasting impression

Already one of the top running backs in the Midwest, Austintown (Ohio) athlete William Mahone didn't need to stop by Ohio State to show what he could do. But there he was at the Nike Camp, showing off a good burst, soft hands and many of the skills that get colleges from across the country excited just thinking about landing him.

“I felt like I did really good today, this is one of the best camps I've been to,” Mahone said. “There was some great competition out there today and I had a really good time.”

The 5-foot-10, 210 pounder was among the bigger running backs to show up and he tried to use that to his advantage during several of the drills. While he was best in the open field and taking on linebackers one-on-one, he did have to make a slight adjustment when it came to blocking individual defenders.

“I picked up on some more footwork drills and I need to work on my blocking,” he said. “I was surprised that we did some blocking today, I really wasn't ready for it. I kind of struggled with that a little bit so I know I need to work on it.

“It's different (without pads). You can't have that mentality where you want to take somebody out, you have to hold back a little.”

Already holding a double-digit offer list, Mahone continues to pick up scholarships weekly. The evaluation period has seen plenty of assistant coaches roll by Fitch High to get a look at him this spring and see how impressive he is in person.

“The most recent would be Minnesota about a week ago,” he said. “We've had Stanford stop by our high school. Pitt, Cincinnati, Michigan, Michigan State and a lot of other schools.”

Most of Mahone's offers come from schools in the Midwest or along the East Coast. While many are several hundred miles away from home, he's still on the fence as to what's an acceptable distance away from home he's comfortable going.

“It would be kind of nice to stay home but then again, if I need to go, I'm going to go,” he said. “I guess you could say I'm on the fence about distance away from home.”

There's plenty of other factors that will go into his decision however.

“I want a good relationship with the coaching staff, I want to feel like a family,” he said. “Coaching stability. I also want to be able to get on the field as soon as I can.”

Mahone has taken a few unofficial visits already this past year and has seen Michigan State, Pitt, Penn State and West Virginia already. He plans on visiting Notre Dame and Boston College in the near future but there already seems to be one school emerging as a leader for his commitment.

“The best relationship I have with coaches is at Pittsburgh,” Mahone said. “They're just warm and embracive. I went down there for my first visit with the new staff and they were real cool. I went back a month later, me and my mom went down there, and it was even better. I saw the campus and feel like I can have great success there.”

The plan is to narrow his list of schools down this summer and then take all five official visits before verbally committing sometime during the season.

Knapp stands out along the offensive line

One of the great things about the Nike Camps are the chance to see a player perform well that might be a little under the radar. Portage (Mich.) offensive tackle Kyle Knapp isn't heavily recruited but he has seen his stock rise as of late and he did nothing to slow it down Saturday, picking up the group's MVP award and shutting down some big time defensive linemen in one-on-ones.

“It's just a great feeling, I've been working at it for a long time, non-stop,” Knapp said. “I'm ready to continue it and keep working my butt off to keep it going.”

The 6-foot-4, 265 pound Knapp has a great frame and looks to be a natural left tackle. He could get a little stronger but is very athletic and moves well, stays balanced when pass blocking and has a very quick drop step. He needed all his skills during the competition given the talent he had to face.

“There were some really good defensive linemen,” he said. “They're quick and big but I feel like I handled myself well. I'm going to continue to work on my pass blocking and keep going. The coaches helped me with everything.”

Knapp is still a bit under the radar in the Midwest but is seeing his stock rise after performing well at several camps this spring. While he has yet to pick up his first BCS offer, he's got a solid group of schools who have extended a scholarship and will likely pick up a lot more once coaches get a hold of his film.

“I've got six right now, Western Michigan, Toledo, Ball State, Bowling Green, FIU and South Alabama,” he said. “There are some other schools talking with me but I'm not sure who's close to offering. Michigan has come by for a transcript visit. Iowa has come by for a transcript visit, Syracuse too.”

It will be a busy summer for Knapp with the trip to Columbus being just a pitstop along the way. He doesn't mind competing and will have plenty of chances to prove he's one of the better prospects in the region along the offensive line.

“I've got a lot of camps coming up,” he said. “I'm going to a one-day Wisconsin camp, Iowa's Elite camp. I'm going to go to Notre Dame... I've got them all, I've got a loaded schedule.”

Knapp said will wait until the fall to see how his recruiting plays out and likely commit halfway through the season.

Notes

- While plenty of parents were wearing Ohio State gear on the sidelines of the camp, there wasn't any being worn on the field. Ironically it was archival Michigan's maize and blue that littered the field. Quarterback Shane Morris, linebacker James Ross and cornerback Terry Richardson were among the top performers and represented their future school well on enemy territory. Richardson was the most recent to commit to going to Ann Arbor for college and discussed his verbal pledge last week.

“I committed to Michigan because I felt comfortable with them,” he said. “I did like Alabama and all the other schools but I felt the best at Michigan and that's why I picked them. I have a lot of friends going there and we'll make it happen up there.”

Richardson injured his hamstring at a track meet the night before running the 200 meters but still managed to lock down opposing receivers. He was one of several players whispering in a few recruits' ears about how good it was to be a Michigan man.

- In addition to Knapp taking home offensive line MVP honors, Morris took home quarterback MVP. Kansas City (Mo.) Ondre Pipkins was a terror during one-on-ones and was defensive line MVP while Ray Harris was running backs MVP, Tre Parmalee was wide receiver MVP, Jaylon Smith was linebackers MVP and Sebastian Smith was defensive back MVP.

- Others that impressed along the defensive line were Michigan commit Mario Ojemudia, who should be a very good outside linebacker at the next level, Se'Von Pittman, class of 2013 defensive end Jason Hatcher, tackle Sheldon Day, Pipkins, Alex Pace and Dayrl Goldsmith.

- The defensive backs had a very good day, with Cameron Burrows, Marcus Foster, Shaquille Davis and De'Van Bogard among those that impressed. The linebacker group was also deep and the aforementioned Ross was one of the top players in space. Class of 2013 prospect Mike McCray looked good and David Perkins also impressed with how well he moved.

- Stanford was easily the top guy at the receiver position, using his long arms to snag whatever was thrown his way. He's a good, polished route runner who gets into and out of breaks well and has deceptive speed for someone with his build. Corey Smith, Kevin Davis, Jeremy Graves, Gervon Simon and Urston Smith also performed well. Zeke Pike bounced back from a rough day at the Elite 11 to throw the ball much better. Pat Dill was another signal caller who looked good.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com