Big Ten Football: Who Are the Top Targets B1G Teams Are After?
Recruiting season is hitting overdrive and in Big Ten country that means teams scrambling to secure their committed players, find hidden gems and put the full-court press on uncommitted prospects.
So far Ohio State and Michigan are putting together some very highly thought of classes, with both ranking in the top 15 of the 247sports.com national rankings.
However, things are about to get even wilder with just a few weeks left to fill up the remaining spots in classes. That means a lot of plane rides for coaches, in-home visits for players and of course the crazy fan tweets.
This is the time where we also remind you that, you, the fan that pays for season tickets or donates money to the athletic department—you cannot have any contact with recruits. No tweeting at them, no Facebook stalking and no other social media contact.
It is an NCAA recruiting violation and do you really want to get your school in trouble or make them have to file even more paperwork than is already necessary. Not to mention the creep factor.
PSA out of the way, let us take a look at some of the top uncommitted prospects with chances of heading to Big Ten country as part of the 2014 class.
*All recruiting information courtesy 247sports.com.
Malik McDowell, DE
Malik McDowell is one of the hottest uncommitted players in Big Ten country. He's currently the No. 1-ranked player in the state of Michigan and is a 5-star prospect according to the 247sports.com composite rankings.
Not only is he all of those things, but it appears the prospects of him staying inside the Big Ten are pretty good. 247Sports.com's Crystal Ball predictions are split between Michigan State, Michigan and Ohio State. Given McDowell's 4.7 40-yard dash time and size (6'7", 290lbs.), you can see why teams from all over the country are after this prospect.
Ohio State will have the last visit for McDowell at the end of the month and after that we should have a very good indication of where he is heading. However, if the Crystal Ball is right on him, it could be the Spartans who land the huge commitment.
No matter what, McDowell is the biggest name and the one with the most likely chance of staying in Big Ten country come national signing day.
Derrick Nnadi, DT
We stay on the defensive side of the ball, but unlike McDowell, Derrick Nnadi could be a hard get for Big Ten teams. That he and his family live in Virginia Beach, Va. could keep him closer to home when it's all said and done.
The 4-star defensive tackle is one of the most highly coveted defensive tackles in the country, ranking as a top-10 DT and the No. 5 player in the state of Virginia, according to 247Sports.com.
As we speak, Nnadi is on the Ohio State campus for an official visit. Those types of on-site connections can really sway a kid, and considering he will only see two other schools after this, OSU has one of the final chances to make a good impression.
Still in play for Nnadi within the Big Ten is Penn State. With James Franklin in the mix the Nittany Lions could be a really appealing team for the prospect as narrows his choices.
Nnadi has stated he won't be making his decision until around or on national signing day, Feb. 5.
If there is one recruit whose chances of landing in the Big 10 is tenuous, it's Nnadi. The competition is fierce, and a lot of people believe he will be staying home in Virginia, according to the 247 Crystal Ball rankings.
Big Ten teams could be on the outside looking in right now, but recruiting changes quickly these days.
Mikale Wilbon, RB
Mikale Wilbon should be a familiar name to sports fans, because he is the son of famed sportswriter Michael Wilbon.
Amazingly, he's not following in the footsteps of his father and considering Northwestern. Instead, Wilbon, a 3-star recruit by the 247sports.com, was a verbal commitment to Vanderbilt.
Key word is "was," as he opened his recruitment back up after James Franklin left town. That's not to say the Commodores are completely out of this one and with the hire of Derek Mason, chances are Vanderbilt is going to be running the pro-style offense in which Wilbon prefers to play.
Wilbon is no slouch, with 247Sports.com ranking him as the No. 20 running back.
Nebraska getting a visit so fast after his decommitment says a lot. Besides, Nebraska and running backs are pretty synonymous with success.
Wilbon is on campus for a visit this weekend and will go back to Vanderbilt the following, so look for this recruitment to play out until around national signing day.
The most interesting factor is what Nebraska does before national signing day with running backs like Kalen Ballage and Corey Avery coming up for visits in the next few weeks as well.
However, out of those three, the tape on Wilbon is the most impressive and Ballage is a commit to Arizona State as an athlete, who could, maybe, possibly be a running back in college.
Watch for Wilbon after this visit, as it could be the Huskers that gain from Franklin's departure from Vanderbilt.
Chris Lammons, CB
It's not often that Wisconsin is a serious contender for a 4-star cornerback out of the state of Florida, but that's exactly what is happening after Chris Lammons, the former commit to the University of Florida, decommitted from the Gators.
Now it appears to be a race between the Badgers and South Carolina. As we speak Lammons is visiting South Carolina. He already visited the Badgers in November and was impressed enough to consider them a favorite when he decommitted from Florida.
Lammons is getting the full-court press from Wisconsin, who has an ace up its sleeve in the form of former teammate Sojourn Shelton.
The Badgers had an in-home visit with him this week and Shelton was part of that visit. Head coach Gary Andersen is also on the docket for an in-home visit next week.
Wisconsin may not be the favorite in this recruitment, but if there is one thing we've seen with the Badgers in this recruiting cycle, it's that they won't go away without a fight for any prospect at any level. That is different than the last staff, and landing a recruit like this could be a game-changer for Wisconsin's ability to attract future prospects.
After missing on Joe Mixon and Jamil Kamara a few weeks ago, getting Lammons' commitment would be a huge boost for the Badgers program heading into national signing day.
Sharieff Rhaheed, LB
Seeing a theme emerging as we head towards national signing day?
The Big Ten could be waiting on some really good news on the defensive side of the ball over the next few weeks.
There has been a lot of change surrounding the recruitment of 3-star linebacker Sharieff Rhaheed, who recommitted from LSU this summer and is thought to be looking towards Arkansas and Louisville.
However, the defensive staff at Arkansas isn't there anymore, with Charlie Partridge getting the head coaching job at Florida Atlantic and Chris Ash off to Ohio State. The other favorite, Louisville, lost Charlie Strong, who is in Austin taking over for Mack Brown.
Enter Michigan State with a late visit, the final one currently scheduled for the linebacker. He is scheduled a visit to East Lansing on Jan. 25, and after that we'll know more about where this prospect heads.
We all know how the Spartans love themselves some speedy and hard-hitting outside linebackers, and that's exactly what they would get with Rhaheed. Don't sleep on his 3-star ranking at this point, though, he holds over 30 BCS offers and getting a linebacker out of Florida would be huge for the Spartans.
George Rushing, WR
As bad as Wisconsin needs help in its secondary, it also has a massive hole at wide receiver with the loss of Jared Abbrederis. The Badgers have two commitments in the 2014 class already, but the more the merrier for a team in need of not one but two explosive receivers.
Enter George Rushing, a 3-star wide receiver who comes from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Rushing was a Louisville commit up until word of Charlie Strong leaving for Texas. Now it's on to other schools and what is Louisville's loss could be Wisconsin's gain.
At 6'1" and 180 pounds, Rushing is on the smaller side, but he's an excellent route-runner and possess great hands.
The Badgers are hosting Rushing this weekend, with a trip to LSU and TCU still in the mix. Wisconsin has a lot to sell a guy whom it has had on its radar for a long time, and it will be interesting to see where the Badgers stand after the visit ends.
Wisconsin has been great at being very quiet with committed players and coming out of the woodwork with a number of flips already this season. So, despite the programs involved in his recruitment, don't count the Badgers out of this one in the least.
Rushing may not be a sexy name or anything, but make no mistake about it, he's very important to the Badgers' recruiting class and this one could wrap up after this weekend.