The Big Ten is a classic college football conference that is full of tradition. Ohio State and Michigan are its flagship schools, but programs such as Nebraska, Penn State, Michigan State and Wisconsin all have had great success.
Although many B1G schools can recruit nationally, recruiting in the conference requires great effort. Big Ten programs tussle over prospects on the recruiting trail, and several great players are locks to join the conference.
A school with an established pipeline to a prominent Big Ten program has a pair of prospects who will follow suit. A big defensive lineman is a lock to stay in Big Ten country, and a speedy running back from New York is also on this list.
Montae Nicholson is a big safety prospect from Pennsylvania. He has great ball skills, solid speed and smooth athleticism. Although Florida State has its hand in his recruiting pot, Nicholson is expected to sign with Michigan, according to the staff at 247Sports.
Nicholson, who is 6'3" and 200 pounds, can also play receiver. The Pennsylvania prospect can release off the line in a hurry, separate quickly out of his breaks and has a large catch radius. He is a big skill-position prospect who can fit as a free safety, or break down a secondary on the perimeter on offense.
Nicholson's athleticism, versatility and good speed make him a solid fit for the Big Ten.
Cornerbacks in the Big Ten must be tough, physical and have great awareness. Parrker Westphal displays these attributes on the field, which is why he is an ideal B1G perimeter-defender.
Westphal, who is 6'0" and 186 pounds, is expected to sign with Michigan, according to 247Sports. Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison runs a scheme that can rotate between man and zone coverages.
Westphal can press receivers at the line, and shows great field vision. He can also play with cushion, carry receivers deep and adjust to routes underneath.
The Illinois cornerback has good hip flexibility, solid short-area quickness and can make plays due to his terrific anticipation skills. Even when Westphal is in trail-position during a play, he does not panic. He has a good feel for routes, as he also exhibits good athleticism for the position.
NFL players such as Troy Smith and Tedd Ginn Jr. are just two of several great players produced by Glenville Academy in Ohio.
The Tarblooders are a great program, as this year's team includes safety Erick Smith, who is expected to follow the school's pipeline to Ohio State, per the experts at 247Sports.
Smith, who is 6'1" and 185 pounds, is a solid defensive back who excels at roaming in zone coverage. He displays excellent range, as Smith can explode out of transition and closes on the ball in a flash.
With his ability to play on all levels of a defense, Smith could be a starter by the end of his sophomore season.
Curtis Samuel is a speedy running back from Brooklyn, N.Y. He has excellent agility, loose hips and quick feet. He is an elite play-maker, as Samuel can make an impact as a runner, receiver and returner.
Samuel, who is 6'0" and 185 pounds, is a lock to join the Big Ten as an Ohio State Buckeye, says the analysts at 247Sports. He will be an outstanding fit in Urban Meyer's spread-option offense. Samuel is dangerous in space, but he also has the ability to elude defenders anywhere on the field.
He has the ability to burst through holes, challenge linebackers on the second level before they're ready and dodge defenders on his way to the end zone. Do not be surprised to see Samuel become one of the Big Ten's leaders in total yards.
Malik McDowell is a 6'7", 290-pound defensive lineman who can play in a 4-3 scheme, as well as a 3-4 defense. He flashes explosiveness at the snap, strength at the point of attack and deceptive athleticism to pursue running backs.
McDowell has the size and power to play as a defensive end in a 3-man front. The Michigan prospect can anchor versus double teams, as he will weigh more than 310 pounds before he leaves college. He is a solid pass-rusher, and flashes an adequate burst to close on quarterbacks.
McDowell—who is from Detroit—is expected to stay close to home, as Michigan and Michigan State are his top suitors, says 247Sports.
Lattimore attends Cleveland Glenville Academy in Ohio, and Tarblooders are essentially raised to be Buckeyes. His teammate, offensive lineman Marcelys Jones, is already committed to Ohio State (Scout.com).
Lattimore, who is 6'0" and 175 pounds, can play as a dual-threat quarterback, receiver, cornerback or safety. He is a fantastic athlete with good speed and agility. Lattimore has deceptive strength, as he can break a tackle with the ball, but he is at his best when can elude defenders.
He could be a great defensive back, but a redshirt year would be best for his development. Wherever Lattimore plays, expect him to be considered one of the better athletes in the Big Ten at the start of his junior season.
Raekwon McMillan is the top inside linebacker in the country due to his strength, instincts and ability to defend the run. He is from Georgia, but is expected to sign with Ohio State, according to the majority of the experts at 247Sports.
Alabama, Clemson, USC and Georgia could all be threats, but McMillan will likely be playing college football in the Big Ten.
Although he must improve his coverage skills, McMillan is a nightmare for running backs. He has the power to shed a blocker, shoot a gap and punish a runner. The 'backer anticipates the snap, has great instincts and is rarely late to find the ball.
McMillan, who is 6'2" and 242 pounds, is ready to contribute as a run-defender on a college defense.