Top 10 Committed Big Ten Football Recruits in Class of 2014
The Big Ten football recruiting race is in full swing, and it has not been short of surprises.
Nebraska started remarkably slow, but quickly made up ground in June. Meanwhile, Northwestern and Penn State have impressively made their home at the top of the Big Ten recruiting rankings. But everyone is chasing Michigan, who is quickly assembling an enviable 2014 class.
Signing quality players is one thing, though. Signing the right players for a program is entirely different.
Let's take a look at the top 10 committed Big Ten recruits of the class of 2014 who are both the most talented and best fits for their prospective football programs.
Minnesota Commit Jeff Jones, via 247sports.com
Listed as a "soft commit" by 247sports.com, Jones could add needed play-making ability to a team looking for an offensive spark after MarQueis Gray's departure for the NFL.
As the 10th-best cornerback in the 2014 class, Webb's good hands and quick feet will provide another play-maker in the Buckeye secondary.
Godwin's combination of size (6'1", 193 pounds) and speed (4.48 40-yard dash) will provide quarterback Christian Hackenberg with another weapon in the passing game.
10. OT Ross Pierschbacher, Iowa
Iowa’s biggest commit of the 2014 class came from in-state prospect Ross Pierschbacher. Ranked 9th among offensive tackle recruits nationally by 247sports.com, Pierschbacher’s quick feet and athleticism make up for his relatively small size.
The Hawkeyes are in desperate need of revamping an offense that ranked 104th in the nation in 2012 in rushing yards. The addition of an offensive tackle with particular proficiency in run blocking will be a great help.
9. RB Gerald Owens, Michigan State
Gerald Owens is not your average running back recruit. At 6’1” and 245 pounds, he is not a back for offenses looking to spread the field with speed and agility. No, Owens is much better between tackles, more likely to run through a defender than around him.
And that is why he is a perfect fit for the Michigan State Spartans.
Michigan State's offense has lived the past few seasons on the production of work-horse running back Le'Veon Bell. Following his departure for the NFL, the Spartans have found a back cut from the same fabric in Owens, the 8th-ranked running back in the 2014 class who will transition seamlessly into Mark Dantonio's offense.
8. DT Bryan Mone, Michigan
Few offensive and defensive line recruits can make immediate impacts upon entering a program. Most require physical development before they are able to compete at the Big Ten level.
Four-star defensive tackle Bryan Mone is one of the exceptions.
Listed at 6'4" and 338 pounds, Mone already has the frame of a seasoned defensive tackle. There will certainly be a learning curve as he adjusts to Michigan's system and the overall speed of college football. But Mone definitely has the physical attributes to add instant depth to the Wolverines' corps of defensive tackles.
7. OT Jaden Gault, Wisconsin
The Wisconsin Badgers love to boast that, above even the Green Bay Packers, they own the largest offensive line in the state. Well, they are on their way to retaining that claim with the commitment of offensive tackle Jaden Gault.
A native of Madison, Wisconsin, Gault is rated the 10th-best offensive tackle prospect in the nation and appears to be the second coming of Ricky Wagner. Standing at a monstrous 6'7" and weighing 285 pounds, he has all the physical tools and the local pedigree like Wagner.
Badger fans just hope he can put provide Wagner-like production for seasons to come.
6. OG Marcelys Jones, Ohio State
Rated the 5th-best offensive guard in the nation by 247sports.com, Marcelys Jones will be a welcome addition to an already dominant Buckeye offensive line.
Ohio State already boasts perhaps the deepest stable of running backs in the country. The addition of Jones' size and run blocking proficiency will only add to the success of the Buckeye's run-focused offense.
5. ATH Dareian Watkins, Northwestern
Listed as the country's 20th-ranked "athlete", Northwestern commit Dareian Watkins has the potential to play as a wide receiver or dual-threat quarterback for the Wildcats. But he will have no trouble finding his way in Evanston because Kain Colter has already paved the road.
Colter has functioned as a rusher, passer and receiver since joining Northwestern and coach Pat Fitzgerald is quickly learning how best to utilize his talents on the field. There could be no better place for a do-everything sort of player like Watkins than at a program that is already accommodating a multi-functional player.
4. ATH DeAndre Thompkins, Penn State
Squib Kicks Clearly Do Not Faze DeAndre Thompkins
Despite Penn State's crippling NCAA sanctions following the Jerry Sandusky scandal, the Nittany Lions' recruiting has hardly skipped a beat. After landing five-star quarterback Christian Hackenberg in the 2013 recruiting class, coach Bill O'Brien has now set out to surround his star signal-caller with offensive weapons.
And he has done just that with DeAndre Thompkins. Rated the 12th best "athlete" in the nation by 247sports.com, Thompkins has the ability to play a number of positions, including wide receiver and cornerback. If he does go the offensive route, watch out. His 4.41 speed combined with Hackenberg's arm could be a scary duo for opposing defenses.
3. WR Drake Harris, Michigan
Michigan's biggest loss from its 2012 receiving corps was undoubtedly Roy Roundtree, who provided consistent production for the Wolverines for the better part of four years. Although Michigan will still have the services of their leading receiver, 5'8" Jeremy Gallon, they will likely be searching for a larger target on the perimeter.
This is where Drake Harris fits in. Standing at 6'4", he could provide the perfect balance for a team looking for big bodies at wide receiver. Still probably needing to bulk up from his slender 180 pounds, Harris has the frame to compete with other target receivers the Wolverines have already signed.
2. DE Jalyn Holmes, Ohio State
Ohio State is facing some uncertainty this fall after the huge turnover on their defensive line from last year. So it is with even more glee that Buckeye fans welcome to the 2014 recruiting class Jalyn Holmes, who will give extra depth in the future to a position already concerning Ohio State.
Holmes will provide the Buckeyes with another imposing force to harass quarterbacks in the passing game and clog holes in opponents' rushing attacks. Rated the 41st overall prospect nationally, the 6'5", 225-pound weak-side end was pursued by schools from the Big Ten, ACC, SEC and Big 12. His decision to choose Ohio State has elated the Buckeyes and struck fear in the Big Ten's rising quarterbacks.
1. ATH Jabrill Peppers, Michigan
Many of the top recruits on this list earned their spots due to the specific program they were joining, which would suit their individual abilities. Such is not the case for Michigan's Jabrill Peppers.
Peppers is an outstanding talent who would have topped the list no matter the school he chose.
He is listed as a running back or safety by 247sports.com, but standing at 6'1", weighing 205 pounds and running a 4.40 40-yard dash (4.38 according to his highlight tape), there are a number of positions he could play. However the Wolverines decide to use him, they will benefit greatly from the electrifying play of the Big Ten's top recruit in the 2014 class.