The latest version of the ESPN class rankings is out, and there are seven Big Ten teams within the top 40 classes.
With movement happening across the board, there are trends and stories developing, so Big Ten recruiting writers Tom VanHaaren and Brad Bournival give you a look at what to watch within the conference:
Brad Bournival: Ohio State. The Buckeyes are pushing their way toward a top 10 spot after leapfrogging Clemson and Notre Dame. It’s the first movement up by a Big Ten team in the last three weeks of the class rankings and happened after four-star athlete Curtis Samuel gave his pledge to the Buckeyes over the weekend. Ohio State is in it for ESPN 300 stars Raekwon McMillan, Damian Prince, Thomas Holley, Alex Bookser, Marshon Lattimore, Erick Smith and four-star wide receiver Noah Brown, so that trend could continue. The 11th spot is the highest Ohio State has been in the rankings.
Tom VanHaaren: Defensive line recruiting in the Big Ten. There are 15 commitments ranked three-stars and six ranked as four-stars within the Big Ten. That number is sure to go up as well with some big names still on the board for a lot of teams. Defensive end Da’Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge), a five-star, has Michigan in his top three and would boost the numbers as he is the No. 1 ranked defensive end. Michigan also could land four-star defensive tackle Malik McDowell (Southfield, Mich./Southfield) adding to the overall numbers. Nebraska is in the top group for three-star Peyton Newell (Hiawatha, Kan./Hiawatha), who decides on Aug. 30. Thomas Holley (Brooklyn, N.Y./Lincoln), a four-star, is also high on Ohio State, so he could keep this trend going for the conference.
Bournival: Nebraska’s spot at No. 35 if the Cornhuskers don’t do something soon. While it will undoubtedly increase its class size in the coming months, Nebraska hasn’t had much happen in the way of a pledge in awhile. When the rankings expanded to 40 teams on July 30, the Cornhuskers debuted at 35th and have stayed there. They haven’t had a commitment since running back Larenzo Stewart gave his pledge on July 5. All it will likely take for a freefall is a commitment to Wisconsin, Michigan State, Arizona State or Arkansas to set the dominoes in motion.
VanHaaren: Purdue has eight commitments, but that number could be going down soon. Linebacker commit Drue Tranquill (Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll) recently took a visit to Notre Dame and is now weighing his options. The Irish offered the three-star prospect and could very well end up with the 6-3, 207-pounder.
One to watch
Bournival: Brown’s teammate Ryan Izzo is a hot commodity as of late. The tight end has a final four of Florida State, Rutgers, Virginia Tech and Wisconsin. The Badgers received good news as they -- along with the Seminoles -- are already scheduled for official visits from the 6-2, 205-pound senior. He’ll be in Madison on Aug. 31 and travel to Florida State on Sept. 13. Izzo isn’t the only tight end high on Wisconsin as Mike Gesicki holds the Badgers among his favorites along with Florida State, Miami (Fla.), Ohio State, Penn State and Rutgers.
VanHaaren: Offensive lineman Brian Wallace (St. Louis/Christian Brothers) is already a wanted prospect, but his recruitment will likely see a spike. As other offensive linemen come off the board, he will be more coveted the longer he waits to make a decision. Iowa lost top commit Ross Pierschbacher (Cedar Falls, Iowa/Cedar Falls), and Ohio State is still looking for another offensive lineman. Wallace doesn’t reveal much with his recruitment, but he could end up in the Big Ten depending on how things shake out.
Bournival: Iowa will get a big commitment in the junior college ranks when Torey Hendrick picks the Hawkeyes later this year. The defensive end hasn’t lined up any official visits just yet, but said Iowa will get one of them. Last season, the Brooklyn, N.Y., standout registered 78 tackles, 15 sacks, six pass deflections and forced a fumble for ASA College.
VanHaaren: Northwestern ends up landing another ESPN 300 commitment in the 2014 class. Defensive back Parrker Westphal (Bolingbrook, Ill./Bolingbrook), linebacker Brandon Lee (Indianapolis/Warren Central) and tight end Garrett Dickerson (Oradell, N.J./Bergen Catholic) are all still listing the Wildcats in their top group. It is looking as though Westphal will be making a decision in the very near future, so he should be the first to decide. There is a real chance Westphal could choose Northwestern, but he has kept everything very close to the vest up to this point.