Power Ranking the Headliners of Each 2014 Big Ten Recruiting Class

Edwin WeathersbyAnalyst ISeptember 26, 2013

Power Ranking the Headliners of Each 2014 Big Ten Recruiting Class

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    Each Big Ten program signs a recruiting class they are proud of in February, and at least one prospect can be viewed as a headliner. 

    This February will be no different, as each Big Ten coach will hold a press conference on the first Wednesday in February, brag about their class and specifically the group's top player. However, some headliners are better prospects than others.

    Ohio State has a couple of recruits who could be considered headliners, but only one can be named for this list. Wisconsin's headliner will surprise many people by how high he is ranked, plus the top player in Michigan State's class is a throwback prospect.

    Player evaluations are based on review of tape at Scout.comRivals247Sports and ESPNU.

12. Michael Barwick, DT—Indiana

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    The Hoosiers have 10 commitments, and the class is led by Michael Barwick, a sleeper 3-star defensive tackle. His build and skill set stirs up memories of former USC defensive tackle Mike Patterson.

    Barwick, who is from Ohio, is 6'1" and 297 pounds. He has solid quickness at the snap, can come off the ball violently and does a great job of shooting inside gaps. Barwick can be lazy with his mitts at times, but he has the potential to develop into a squatty, stout and deceptively quick defensive tackle in Bloomington.

11. Tyrin Stone-Davis, WR—Illinois

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    A JUCO prospect, 3-star receiver Tyrin Stone-Davis is the headliner for the Illini. He has the talent, size and skills to make an immediate impact in Champaign.

    At 6'3" and 195 pounds, the Philadelphia native displays above-average quickness off the line. He can build into his top speed, and is dangerous at the top of his routes. Stone-Davis, who attends Pierce College in Los Angeles, has the ability to separate from defenders and make big plays.

    He could become Illinois' No. 1 receiver by the middle of the 2014 season. 

10. Peyton Newell, DT—Nebraska

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    Although he has played a 3-4 outside linebacker type of role for his high school team, Peyton Newell has the makings of a solid defensive tackle for Nebraska.

    Much of Newell's tape shows him working from a 2-point stance, but his heavy hands and excellent strength will allow him to hold his own inside. He's a 6'2", 285-pound ball of toughness who leaves everything out on the field.

    Newell, a 3-star prospect, can play big at the point of attack, has the ability to anchor and re-anchor versus running plays and can pursue the ball in a flash in short areas. 

9. David Blough, QB—Purdue

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    Watching 3-star quarterback David Blough on tape leads one to compare him to one-time Purdue passer Brandon Hance.

    Blough, a 6'1", 180-pound Texan, has adequate arm strength and anticipation skills. He doesn't seem fazed by the rush, or defenders around his launch point in the pocket. He has disciplined eyes, plays with poise and will put the football in right spots.

    Blough makes good decisions, has good athleticism to make plays with his legs and is great at making throws on the run. Purdue will love this guy. 

8. Jay Scheel, ATH—Iowa

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    Jay Scheel is a 3-star athlete who will force some dilemmas at Iowa. Scheel has spent a lot of time at quarterback, but he flashes the ability to play running back, receiver, safety or cornerback.

    Scheel, who is 6'1" and 170 pounds, is an in-state prospect who exhibits quicker-than-fast athleticism. He can dart away as a runner, burst upfield and has some suddenness to his movement skills. Scheel has solid toughness, as he can take a hit and even get an extra yard or two after contact.

    Iowa's coaches can liken him to a poor man's Jabrill Peppers, the 5-star versatile Michigan commit.

7. Gerald Owens, FB—Michigan State

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    A 3-star recruit, Gerald Owens can play running back, fullback, H-back or tight end on offense. Most of his reps in high school have been as a downhill, attack-style runner while he punishes front-seven alignments with strength.

    Owens, a 6'1", 245-pound New Jersey native, has adequate vision with the ball. He can exploit over-pursuing linebackers, has deceptive short-area quickness to and through holes and is a one-cut runner.

    He has the power to be a lead-blocker as a fullback for Michigan State, but his value will come during short-yardage and goal line plays. 

6. Jeff Jones, RB—Minnesota

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    Listed as a "soft commit," Jeff Jones is still the top player in Minnesota's recruiting class, and it's not close. He is a 4-star in-state running back who has the talent to make an immediate impact for the Gophers.

    Jones, who is 5'11" and nearly 200 pounds, has great vision, instincts, power and quickness. He does a great job of reading second-level defenders, can dart through alleys and has the balance and strength to stay on his feet after getting hit.

    Jones is not afraid to finish runs by delivering a punishing blow to tacklers. If Minnesota can keep him committed through February, he should start next year.


5. Justin Jackson, RB—Northwestern

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    A 4-star running back, Justin Jackson is as dangerous in a straight line as any running back in the country. He has a slashing running style, flashes adequate elusiveness and good quickness.

    He could be a running back/receiver in Northwestern's offense, as getting him the ball in space with a clear path to get upfield should be an emphasis. Jackson, who is 5'11" and 180 pounds, has adequate instincts, vision and awareness.

    Do not be surprised if he becomes one of the better kickoff returners in the Big Ten. 

4. Dante Booker, LB—Ohio State

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    The Buckeyes want to play more base personnel defensively going forward, as adding better talent at the linebacker position has been an emphasis of the past two recruiting classes.

    Dante Booker, a 4-star 'backer from Ohio, will help Ohio State reach its goal. Booker is an athletic defender at 6'3" and 212 pounds who can play the run and pass. He shows good read-and-react skills, will scrape to fill gaps and has the speed to patrol on the flanks.

    Booker also can buzz back into coverage, keep his head on a swivel, lock on an incoming pass-catcher, flip his hips and carry through his zone. He should become one of the better players on the Buckeyes' defense in a few seasons. 

3. DeAndre Thompkins, WR—Penn State

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    DeAndre Thompkins is a 4-star receiver who current quarterback Christian Hackenberg will like throwing to. The North Carolina product has the tools to become one of Penn State's best receivers early in his career.

    At 6'0" and 170 pounds, Thompkins can launch upfield into his routes, immediately threaten safeties and dart away from cornerbacks at junctions. He displays fantastic hands, as he can pluck passes with his mitts all around his frame.

    After the catch, Thompkins quickly transfers up field, has solid speed and deceptive power. He also has potential as a returner on special teams. 

2. Jaden Gault, OT—Wisconsin

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    Jaden Gault is a 6'7", 285-pound offensive tackle who will continue the tradition of great offensive linemen at Wisconsin. He has excellent growth potential, but he already displays outstanding strength.

    Gault, a 4-star recruit, has good quickness out of his stance, adequate knee-bend and solid foot-quickness. He can fire back, set up deep and uses a powerful punch to stymie rushers. He moves well when engaged with his opponent, plays nasty in the running game and can finish blocks.

    Gault has the ability to develop into an impressive left tackle for the Badgers. 


1. Jabrill Peppers, ATH—Michigan

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    Easy pick here, as Michigan has the best headliner in the Big Ten in 5-star athlete Jabrill Peppers. From New Jersey, the 6'1", 205-pounder is a dynamic all-around football player.

    He is an incredible athlete with an impressive frame who also displays great instincts and awareness. Peppers can play cornerback, running back, receiver, safety and even outside linebacker at an elite level. He will start off as a cornerback, but he could end up anywhere on the field at Michigan.

    Peppers has a great work ethic, a rare drive to be the best and is the best player head coach Brady Hoke has brought to Ann Arbor.

2014 Bleacher Report College Football Recruiting Heat Map

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    Many of the top incoming Big Ten recruits can be located by using the 2014 Bleacher Report College Football Recruiting Heat Map!

    This interactive tool is a fun way to track the nation's best recruits all in one setting!

    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 and Cleveland Browns.