Top 2014 College Football Recruit Each Big Ten Coach Covets the Most
Ah yes, the Big Ten Conference, or the "B1G" as we've come to call it these days. This conference has a ton of tradition, and the coaches all work very hard to bring in good recruiting classes year after year. With Michigan and Ohio State both being nationally dominant recruiting programs, things can be tough on the trail around these parts.
However, each coach and their staff formulate their recruiting plans each February and go after many of the same prospects as their league foes. Some coaches can start to desire certain prospects more than others due to needs or potential program impact.
For this read, we're going to go around the B1G and talk a little recruiting. The conversation won't be broad, but a bit more direct. For this read, we're going to name the one 2014 recruit that each Big Ten coach covets this most right now.
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Coveted Recruit: Dewayne Hendrix, DE
The Fighting Illini are not the most sexy team in the B1G, especially on the recruiting trail. Tim Beckman simply can't be too picky in recruiting, as his program needs talent upgrades all over the roster.
Adding a 6'2", 251-pound DE like Hendrix would help. Hendrix can put his hand down and play the right or left side, stand up and play a little OLB and could also even grow into a quick DT.
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Coveted Recruit: Dareian Watkins, ATH
Kevin Wilson hauled in a pretty good class last year, especially by the Hoosiers' standards. Wilson is really trying to change the culture in Bloomington, and clearly an aim of his recruiting efforts is to get more athletic and versatile.
Watkins is from Ohio, and the 6'2", 192-pounder can do an array of different things. He can play WR, RB, S, CB, QB and even some LB, so Watkins adds a ton of athleticism and versatility to a team.
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Coveted Recruit: Mikale Wilbon, RB
When you think of Kirk Ferentz's offenses, speed and quickness don't really come to mind. Wilbon would definitely add those dimensions to the Hawkeyes' offensive attack.
He's a 5'9", 190-pound scatback with electric wiggle and elusiveness. Iowa could be a serious player for the Illinois native.
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Coveted Recruit: Da'Shawn Hand, DE
Easy pick here; Hand is clearly Brady Hoke's No. 1 target for 2014 recruiting. The nation's best player has a good amount of interest in Big Blue and will probably make a few more trips from Virginia to Ann Arbor before he decides.
Hand is a 6'5", 247-pound menace of a DE who has excellent strength, quickness, speed, hand usage and versatility.
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Coveted Recruit: Malik McDowell, DL
I think Mark Dantonio would love to have Drake Harris, even after all that has been said, but in my opinion, that ship has sailed. So I'm going with McDowell here, as the 6'7", 290-pound DL could become great in the B1G.
McDowell is a solid athlete and has great size; I feel he's going to grow into an interior DL in college. Dantonio is a defensive guy, and to win the B1G, we all all know you need run-stoppers, so landing the Michigan-raised McDowell would be huge.
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Coveted Recruit: Jeff Jones, RB (Committed)
Jerry Kill was brought to the Minny to install some offensive magic into the Golden Gophers' program. Well, that has gone so-so thus far, but help is on the way in Jones.
One of the top RB prospects in this year's national class, the 6'0", 195-pounder has a skill set and talent level that will let him make an immediate impact in 2014. Landing him early gives Kill and his staff a big recruiting boost.
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Coveted Recruit: Andrew Brown, DT
The nation's best DT prospect is from Virginia, but he appears to have some interest in the Blackshirt defense. Brown would be a good fit for Bo Pelini, as landing an interior difference maker would really add a surge to Pelini's scheme.
Brown, at 6'4" and more than 285 pounds, is a very quick, explosive and strong player who uses his hands well and has a bright future.
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Coveted Recruit: Justin Jackson, RB
The Wildcats seem to get players who fit their spread-option offense, and Jackson does to a T. He's a 5'11", 180-pound RB with quick feet and great speed, who also hails from Illinois. Pat Fitzgerald has to be drooling over the thought of getting Jackson the ball in space on the edges.
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Coveted Recruit: Raekwon McMillan, LB
Urban Meyer wants some linebackers in this class, and the best one he can get is McMillan, who just happens to be one of the best players overall in the country.
Form Georgia, the 6'3", 236-pound 'backer is fresh off of a 152-tackle junior campaign. With his size, athleticism and instincts, McMillan could come to Columbus and make a quicker impact than Curtis Grant did.
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Coveted Recruit: Dravon Henry, ATH
Henry is from a place in Pennsylvania called Aliquippa, and that just so happens to be where Darrelle Revis is from. Henry has a 5'11", 185-pound frame, and with Bill O'Brien's scholarship limit being such a big damper on this cycle, adding a quality in-state talent like Henry is critical for Penn State.
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Coveted Recruit: Brandon Garner, S (committed)
Garner is already committed, but the Texan safety is still the player Darrell Hazell covets the most. Garner can play the SS/Rover/OLB role and be a real enforcer around the box. At 5'11", 200 pounds, Garner should come to Purdue and leave as a defensive captain.
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Coveted Recruit: Craig Evans, DT
I like Evans as Gary Andersen's most coveted prospect. The Badgers are trying to move toward a more 3-4 defense, and the key for that scheme is the NT position.
Evans, who is also from inside the state, is a huge 6'3" and 305 pounds, so obviously he has NT written all over him. With this size, strength and ability to eat blocks, the Badgers seem to have a good need for him.
Edwin Weathersby is the College Football Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. He has worked in scouting/player personnel departments for three professional football teams, including the New York Giants, Cleveland Browns and the Las Vegas Gladiators of the Arena League. He spent a year evaluating prep prospects and writing specific recruiting and scouting content articles for Student Sports Football (formerly ESPN Rise-HS). A syndicated scout and writer, he's also contributed to WeAreSC.com, GatorBait.net and Diamonds in the Rough Inc., a College Football and NFL Draft magazine.