It’s time to dip into the Big Ten recruiting mailbag and answer some of your questions. We’ll try to give everyone a chance to get their questions answered. We encourage you to send your questions by Twitter to @bbournival or @TomVH.
@JUSTINSMITH78: With the scholarships coming back to Penn State. Where do you think they stand this year with some kids?
Brad Bournival: Targets like three-star Mike Gesicki (Manahawkin, N.J./Southern Regional) said it best following the announcement of the reduction of the scholarships when he talked about being happy for Penn State, but stated he always considered the Nittany Lions a destination. The feeling here is it won’t affect the 2014 class that much as it will next year. The father of ESPN Junior 300 wide receiver David Dowell (Lakewood, Ohio/St. Edward) and his twin Andrew has said the fact scholarships will be up 20 percent will only help moving forward.
@PSUlions1121 How much does the reduction in sanctions for Penn State help them with recruiting?
Tom VanHaaren: There are two sides of this, the short term and the long term.
In the short term it’s great because it allows the Nittany Lions to potentially add five more prospects to the 2014 class. They can offer and pursue kids they might not have gone after with the scholarship reductions and it gives them a little more wiggle room.
In the long run it’s outstanding because the potential hit to the depth chart is lowered drastically. Having a limit in scholarships doesn’t necessarily affect the team right away, but once they get a few recruiting classes deep with limited numbers it starts to show its impact. Avoiding that is the biggest advantage.
@dannograef: How big is the gap in recruiting between the Big Ten and SEC right now?
Bournival: It’s still pretty large. One look at the top 25 in this year’s class rankings shows seven SEC teams with Alabama (No. 1), Tennessee (3) and Georgia (5) in the top five. The Big Ten only has Michigan (No. 6), Ohio State (9) and Penn State (25) in the top 25.
The quality of athlete is still stronger in the SEC. Alabama (14), Tennessee (10), Georgia (9), Florida (9), Texas A&M (9), LSU (9) and Auburn (7) account for 67 ESPN 300 commitments. While Michigan (9), Ohio State (7) and Penn State (3) are doing well, the entire Big Ten Conference only has 24 in the top 300 and that doesn’t even count the number of four-star athletes both conferences boast, which again weighs heavily in the SEC’s favor.
@UofMKirwin12 What happens first, Michigan moves up in class rankings with a commit or moves down with commits elsewhere. The Wolverines have been at No. 6 for a while now.
VanHaaren: Good question. I think they will move up before moving down. Da’Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge) is announcing his decision on Nov. 14. Michigan is in his top three with Alabama and Florida and there is a realistic shot that the Wolverines land him.
If he does end up picking Michigan, it will be the only team with two top-five commits in the 2014 class. Hand, at No. 4 overall, would make two five-star commits along with Jabrill Peppers (Paramus, N.J./Paramus Catholic) and that would give them a boost.
@buckeyefan686: You’ve been right on the money with predicting the last Ohio State commits, so who and when do you predict is the next one?
Bournival: For me all signs point to Gesicki, but with some underlying factors. First, the Buckeyes’ commitments have to make him feel welcome this weekend -- they’re very good at that, by the way -- and really make him feel like family. After that, Ohio State will have to survive a visit to Penn State on Oct. 12 when the Nittany Lions play Michigan. Both atmospheres will be lively, but I think the Buckeyes can sell the three-star tight end on coming to Columbus.
@MikeBelik1: Any jucos that can make a splash next year in the Big Ten?
VanHaaren: Illinois is losing four wide receivers after this season, so it was highly important that the coaching staff filled that need. They landed some good looking receiver prospects including juco receiver Tyrin Stone-Davis (Philadelphia/Pierce College). He has good size and should be able to help right away.
Indiana landed a good looking offensive line prospect in DeAndre Herron (Avon, Ind./Iowa Western Community College), who was a big recruit out of high school. He might not play right away since the Hoosiers have a relatively young line, but he should eventually see the field.
A few uncommitted prospects who could end up in the Big Ten include offensive lineman Luke Hayes (El Dorado, Kan./Butler County Community College) and defensive linemen Terrell Clinkscales (Dodge City, Kan./Dodge City Community College) and Joe Keels (Highland, Kan./Highland Community College).