With around two months left until national signing day, it's time to take a look at the status of the recruiting classes in the Big Ten.
What's happened: While the Illini have only received a verbal from one of the top 10 players in Illinois, they are doing a good overall job of in-state recruiting with eight of their 18 verbals from Illinois.
What's next: It looked like Illinois would continue snagging in-state talent with the recruitment of running back Calvin Phillips (Kankakee, Ill./Kankakee), but now the 5-foot-11, 210-pound running back believes he'll have to go the juco route. The staff at Illinois has also been in on athlete J.J. Gaines (Irving, Texas/Nimith), but Gaines is leaning towards Texas Tech right now. Defensive end Robert Mincey (Fairfield, Ohio/Fairfield) has made the Illini one of his top three schools and will take an official on Dec. 10. The following week, another Texas prospect, linebacker Quincy Aldridge (Whitehouse, Texas/Whitehouse), will make his way to campus.
What's happened: The program will be looking for a new head coach, as Bill Lynch was fired after the completion of his fourth season. Indiana has nearly a full class with 20 verbal commitment, including four of the top 15 players in the state, highlighted by running back D'Angelo Roberts (Bloomington, Ind./North) and tight end Jake Reed (Columbus, Ind./North).
What's next: The list of names for the vacancy include former Minnesota coach Glen Mason, UConn's Randy Edsall, Southern Miss' Larry Fedora and San Diego State's Brady Hoke. With 17 of the 20 verbals from Indiana, Michigan and Ohio, whoever the next coach is will probably be familiar with the recruiting talent in the Midwest. Assuming they can keep them all on board, seven of the commitments are projected to play in a secondary that had its troubles in 2011.
What's happened: It's been another strong, balanced class for coach Kirk Ferentz. The Hawkeyes have commits from a couple of solid prospects on the offensive side, led by four-star guard Jordan Walsh (Glen Ellyn, Ill./Glenbard West) and quarterback Jake Rudock (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas).
What's next: The big name at the top of the board for Iowa is five-star offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio (Hyattsville, Md./DeMatha). Even though Kouandjio's brother, Arie, is at Alabama and that's where Cyrus will take his first visit, the 6-6, 325-pound blocker's interest in the Hawkeyes seems legitimate. Of course Southern Cal, Miami, New Mexico and UCLA are also in the hunt, but it would seem that Iowa is closer to the top of Kouandjio's board next to Alabama. Another offensive line prospect, Anthony Zettel (West Branch, Mich./Ogemaw Heights), went on an official visit two weeks ago and remains a possibility. The Hawkeyes will have to pull Zettel from his home state of Michigan, however, with the Wolverines and Spartans heavily involved with the 6-4, 260-pounder, and that could be a tall order. Linebacker Ejuan Price (Pittsburgh, Pa./Woodland Hills) is down to two schools -- Iowa and Ohio State.
What's happened: Even with a shaky job status, Rich Rodriguez continues to pull in impressive athletes and will be approaching a Top 25 class when signing day rolls around. His biggest need on offense was met with the commitment of four-star running back Demetrius Hart (Orlando, Fla./Dr. Phillips)
What's next: Eight of the 14 recruits committed to Michigan are projected to play on the defensive side of the ball, and it's clear that Rodriguez needs more impact players on that side of the field. Four-star linebacker Lamar Dawson (Danville, Ky./Boyle County) will be taking an official to Michigan on January 21. The 6-2, 230-pounder will also be visiting Florida, USC and Tennessee. Michigan is also in the hunt for defensive tackle Tim Jernigan (Lake City, Fla./Columbia), after he went to the campus on an official visit last month. One name to keep an eye on is 2010 Florida signee Jonathan Dowling. The former Under Armour All-American was considering an official visit to Michigan last season before deciding to end his recruitment and stick to Florida. Now that Dowling and the Gators have split, Michigan could be in play.
What's happened: Although it appears that the 11-1 Spartans will be left out of the BCS, it hasn't stopped coach Mark Dantonio from putting together another strong class with ESPNU 150 linebacker Lawrence Thomas (Detroit, Mich./Renaissance) leading the way.
What's next: For much of the year the Spartans have been trailing Ohio State in the hunt for four-star defensive back Doran Grant (Akron, Ohio/St. Vincent St. Mary), but the Under Armour All-American is ready to take his official and will be joined by his father --- a former Spartans football player. Grant, however, doesn't plan on making a decision until he takes all five officials and that might not be until mid-January. Zettel has seemingly spent every weekend at either Michigan or Michigan State, and it should be a fierce in-state battle until the end. With safety Darien Harris (Hyattsville, Md./Dematha) already in the fold, the Spartans are actively recruiting his teammate, defensive tackle Darian Cooper.
What's happened: Tim Brewster was fired last month and the future of Minnesota's class and the 15 verbals in house will hinge greatly on who is hired next.
What's next: It appears that Minnesota is looking for somewhat of a splash with its next hire and has mentioned UConn's Randy Edsall, former Oregon coach Mike Bellotti and Temple coach Al Golden as potential replacements for Brewster. The most recent name to pop up is recently fired Miami coach Randy Shannon. If Shannon or Edsall take the job, expect him to quickly work his Florida connections to put together a class. If Belotti takes the job, he might be inclined to fill slots with talent from the West Coast. Most of the commitments at Minnesota have opened up their recruiting and are taking a wait-and-see approach.
What's happened: In a fairly small class of just 11 verbals, Northwestern has plenty of quality recruits, including ESPNU 150 wide receiver Christian Jones (Spring, Texas/Westfield)
What's next: This weekend Northwestern will be hosting linebacker Desmond Morgan (Holland, Mich./West Ottawa) in hopes of a 12th commitment. Morgan, who also has an offer from Michigan, has been swimming under the radar for a few months now. With the recent loss of former commitment Derek Watt (Pewaukee, Wis./Pewaukee) to Wisconsin, the Wildcats are going to try to leave a strong impression on Morgan. Speedy wide receiver Miles Shuler (Long Branch, N.J./Long Branch) is down to four schools, and Northwestern will fight it out with Rutgers, Stanford and Notre Dame. Shuler has said that Northwestern and Rutgers are out front, but he recently visited Stanford.
What's happened: The Buckeyes are well in line for a top-10 class, led by Under Armour All-Americans Steve Miller (Canton, Ohio/McKinley) and Braxton Miller (Huber Heights, Ohio/Wayne). Miller is the quarterback of the future in Columbus, but with Terrelle Pryor returning for his senior season, Miller could see the field in a variety of ways in 2011.
What's next: Coach Jim Tressel and staff focused heavily on both sides of the line and depth in the secondary. One of the names Buckeyes fans expected to add into this class was defensive back Jabari Gorman (Miami/Monsignor Pace). For months it appeared Gorman was heading to Columbus, but in recent weeks Florida has made a major charge for the four-star prospect, and he will be visiting Gainesville in early December. The Buckeyes are the team to beat for ESPN 150 cornerback Grant, but Michigan State is creeping closer. The biggest name left on Ohio State's wish list is Jadeveon Clowney (Rock Hill, S.C./South Pointe), and the top player in the nation had mentioned the Buckeyes as a program that he was intrigued by. Whether or not the 6-7, 250-pound defensive end makes it up to the campus on an official visit is another story. With only big names left on the board for Ohio State this year, expect a quick shift to the future and a couple of early commits in the 2012 class.
What's happened: Not much so far, as the Lions have seven verbals, with Under Armour All-American offensive lineman Angelo Mangiro (Succasunna, N.J./Roxbury) leading the way.
What's next: There's no need to panic yet for the Penn State faithful, as half of the top-10 prospects in Pennsylvania have yet to commit anywhere and many have Penn State among their top schools. Defensive end Deion Barnes (Philadelphia/Northeast) will be taking his official this upcoming weekend. Looking outside of the Keystone State, it appears that the Nittany Lions are in good standing for defensive standout Ishaq Williams (Brooklyn, N.Y./Lincoln), as he has been no stranger on the campus at Happy Valley. Also four-star safety Albert Louis-Jean (Brockton, Mass./Brockton) was committed to Miami, but the firing of Randy Shannon has him looking at Penn State and Boston College again. One name to keep an eye on is defensive tackle Quinton Pompey (Bradenton, Fla./Manatee), and he will probably take an official visit after the season.
What's happened: With 10 verbal commitment so far, Purdue will be looking to add several names in the final months before national signing day.
What's next: Purdue hasn't been much of a player in the state of Indiana since coach Danny Hope took over. This appears to be by choice, as Hope has focused heavily on Florida and landed over 20 prospects from the Sunshine State in his first two classes. The Boilermakers have recently entertained defensive back Corian Hamilton (Orlando/Olympia) and defensive end Tevin Underwood (Coconut Creek, Fla./North Broward Prep) on official visits. For a while it appeared that Purdue was in great standing for Tampa (Fla.) Robinson teammates Frankie Williams and Ruben Gonzalez, but they have appeared to be slipping for Gonzalez. Another major Tampa-area prospect, linebacker Ramik Wilson (Tampa/Jefferson), will take an official visit once his season ends. With Hope expected to sign a fairly-small class, getting players that can make an immediate impact will be important.
What's happened: With one of the nation's top teams on the field, Wisconsin continues to recruit players who might not get the national publicity but are the best fit for the program. A third of the class is from Wisconsin, and it's a balanced group with solid upgrades at receiver and in the secondary.
What's next: The Badgers have commits from five of the top-10 players in Wisconsin, but the one still missing is four-star athlete Melvin Gordon (Kenosha, Wisc./Bradford). Gordon had originally committed to Iowa but has since backed off that commitment and could commit to the Badgers as soon as this weekend. If Gordon commits, that would give Wisconsin 22 verbals and leave them with a near-full class. Wisconsin is looking for an arm, and the top quarterback on their board is Jacoby Brissett (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla./Dwyer). Brissett and highly-touted teammates Nick O'Leary and Curt Maggitt were on hand to watch the Badgers upset then-No. 1 Ohio State in October. If Brissett decides to stay in the Southeast and chose either LSU or Florida State, Wisconsin could go back to Adam Pittser (Richmond, Ill./Burton).
Corey Long has been covering high school football and recruiting in the Sunshine State since 1995. He can be reached at email@example.com.