Vanderbilt bound Mikale Wilbon rushes for De La Salle at Providence, Friday, September 13, 2013, in New Lenox. | Gary Middendorf/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 7, 2014 1:45PM
1. Ohio State
The Buckeyes may have stubbed their toe in the Big Ten title game against Michigan State, but Urban Meyer hasn’t lost his recruiting touch. OSU has seven four-star players from Ohio in a 23-man class that also draws from the talent hotbeds of Florida and Texas. Locally, Meyer has commitments from four-star offensive lineman Jamarco Jones (De La Salle) and three-star defensive end Dylan Thompson (Montini).
2. Penn State
Bill O’Brien had a good class coming in before he left for the NFL, and new coach James Franklin kept the momentum going. Among those following Franklin to Happy Valley is three-star OL Brendan Brosnan of Maine South, who was one of several players in a 22-man class to switch his commitment from Vanderbilt.
3. Michigan State
A strong home-state group highlights the Spartans’ 22-man class and it could get better if five-star defensive end Malik McDowell honors his commitment. There’s also a solid Chicago presence with four-star offensive lineman Brian Allen (Hinsdale Central), four-star defensive tackle Enoch Smith (Mount Carmel), three-star OL Chase Gianacakos (St. Charles North) and three-star wide receiver/defensive back Matt Morrissey (Stevenson).
Five-star recruit Jabril Peppers of Paramus Catholic (N.J.), the nation’s top-ranked cornerback, leads a 16-man class that had some big early commitments. Hinsdale Central tight end Ian Bunting, a four-star prospect, represents the Chicago area.
The best player in Wisconsin, four-star defensive tackle Craig Evans, is going to Michigan State. But the Badgers have a big, talented class of 26 that includes three-star running back T.J. Edwards of Lakes.
Half of the Cornhuskers’ quartet of four-star recruits in a 24-man class are from Illinois: De La Salle running back Mikale Wilbon, who decommitted from Vanderbilt when coach James Franklin left, and offensive lineman Tanner Farmer from Downstate Highland.
Five-star offensive lineman Damian Prince of Bishop McNamara (Md.) leads a 17-man class that draws mainly from the Terrapins’ East Coast base. But three-star recruits from Iowa and Ohio show the program’s increasing interest in the Midwest.
Sun-Times Player of the Year Justin Jackson, a two-way star at Glenbard North; Wheaton North quarterback Clayton Thorson and Bolingbrook defensive back Parrker Westphal are among the big names in coach Pat Fitzgerald’s class. As usual, the Wildcats focused on quality rather than quantity in a 15-man group.
With one of the league’s most explosive offenses, the Hoosiers look to be a team on the rise, and they added a couple of local commitments late. St. Rita’s Tommy Mister, who will play running back in college, switched from Iowa State after a coaching shakeup at that school, while Oak Park-River Forest receiver Simmie Cobbs just flipped from Purdue. Raby multi-purpose star Chris Covington is also in the 26-man class.
What looked to be a top-20 class nationally took a hit with some key defections. The Scarlet Knights have moved into the heart of the Big Ten recruiting area, though, adding two-star De La Salle (Mich.) quarterback Giovanni Rescigno to a 25-man class.
Sycamore two-way standout Ben Niemann, a two-star recruit, is the area’s lone member of the 19-man group.
A pair of three-star Illinois players are heading to Minneapolis: Mount Carmel defensive tackle Steven Richardson and Edwardsville DB Craig James.
The best players in coach Tim Beckman’s second full class are a pair of local stars: Lincoln-Way East offensive lineman Nick Allegretti and Mount Carmel running back Matt Domer. Other locals in the 17-man group include Neuqua Valley speedster Mikey Dudek and multi-talented Julian Hylton of Lincoln-Way North.
It can only get better for the Boilermakers, who are coming off a 1-11 season. Four-star defensive end Gelen Robinson of Lake Central (Ind.), whose dad Glenn was a basketball star at Purdue, leads this 18-man class. Nazareth’s Will Colmery, a three-star DE, also is headed to West Lafayette.