First, tell us about that one recruit that you are just psyched out of your mind about. You know, the guy who's definitely going to win 4 nattys and 4 Heismans while also somehow leaving early for the draft. If you listen to the coach pressers, every class is full of them, but narrow it down for us a bit?
MNWildcat: I don't think you understand Northwestern, sir. I didn't even know playerscould leave school early for the draft. Seriously. Is that true, that players can be so good that they'll leave school before finishing their degree? Because this is Northwestern. Why the hell would you want to leave without a goddamn degree?
Oh, your question. Jordan Thompson, DT out of Cincinnati. He's 6'3", 250#, and with some time at the training table and in the weight room, he could evolve into a pretty good run-stuffer. Excited to see him develop.
Jesse Collins: I'm cheating and listing two guys because you can't tell me what to do. Anyhow, the first guy I'm really excited for is a Pelini recruit who stayed on board with Riley. 4* Eric Lee is a DB who was an absolute baller during the All-American game. He's right around 6' and he has really good speed. He has the potential to be a shutdown corner for the Huskers, and I'm happy to have picked him up. The other guy is a late commit that Riley and Co. went after and picked right out of Oklahoma. 4* OG Jalin Barnett is a big bad man. Not only is he one of the best players in Oklahoma, he's generally considered a Top 200 player nationally. He has surprising speed for a guy his size, and I think he can be an anchor on the Nebraska line for years to come.
Aaron Yorke: I don't think there's one guy that stands apart in Penn State's 2015 class, but most fans are thrilled that two of the highest rated players are offensive tackles Sterling Jenkins and Ryan Bates. Although next season's line should be better than the inexperienced group that struggled in 2014, there is still a lot of work to be done, especially considering that Donovan Smith is leaving early for the NFL. Jenkins and Bates will hopefully be big parts of the next great Penn State offensive line. When this team has had success in recent years, it's because of talented lineman like A.Q. Shipley and Levi Brown.
DJ Carver: I'm not sure that there is one recruit out of this class that I'm psyched out of my mind about. That's not to say that this isn't a decent recruiting class, because it is, and it's one that addresses need, but doesn't really have the star power that you'd want to see at the top.That being said, I think Adam McLean has the chance to be that star out of this class on the DL once he heals up from his ACL surgery. (SEE THAT?! WE RECRUIT THEM ALREADY TORN SO IT DOESN'T HAPPEN AGAIN). He has the measurable to contribute very early on and can create that pass rush that Maryland needs from its line. Oh, it helps that it also fills a need since we just graduated our entire starting DL.
One's a Blue Chip 4 star Defensive End with rare athleticism. One's the NJ defensive player of the year for 2013 with a score to settle after a year at prep school. Together, they fight crime. Ford is slated for the strong side DE in Rutgers' defense, sliding inside on passing downs, which means you might not hear much about him until draft day, but he's got NFL measurables, great character, and the size-speed combination to play all 4 spots along the D-Line. Gopre is on the other end of the spectrum. "The Hitman" is going to take over the Weakside Linebacker spot when Steve Longa graduates, which is the playmaking spot in the Rutgers defense (see Longa, Steve; Green, Khaseem). Considering he had 170 tackles and 14 sacks his senior year, he should have some eye-popping numbers. The only question is if he can hang with Rutgers' stiff academic requirements.
GoForThree: For me, the obvious choice is 5-star recruit Justin Hilliard out of Cincinnati. For a team that has been maligned for weakness on defense in the past few seasons and finally came on strong at the end, the addition of another 5-star linebacker is almost too good to be true. Hilliard is a 6'0 225 lbs beast, and was rated as the #2 linebacker prospect in the country. The pot gets even sweeter as he was part of a package deal with 4-star weakside DE Jashon Cornell out of the Twin Cities.
Andrew Kraszewski: It's tough to not say L.J. Scott, the nationally elite prospect who resisted OSU's allure and is one of the first two (with Noah Listermann) Ohio prospects with OSU offers to come to MSU. Scott is probably the most talented guy in the class, but since I can talk about him later, I'll say Raequan Williams, a big-time DL prospect out of Illinois. He's got college-ready size, but probably won't play this year due to the 8 or 9 seasoned guys in front of him. Still, remember the name.
Who's the criminally underrated stud-to-be who just proves that recruiting rankings are biased against your team but will totes turn into an All-Pro once your coaches get their hands on him?
MNWildcat: I don't think you understand Northwestern, sir. Our coaches are supposed to develop talent? What in the hell you get out of my office with your crazy talk and progressive ideas and shenanigans and hootin'annies before I call security.
Also, I didn't know recruiting rankings were biased against Northwestern. This year's class at Northwestern, while good enough, apparently, for 6th in the Big Ten and 48th nationally, according to 24/7, has exactly zero 4-star recruits. That's right: zero. Eighteen 3* recruits and two 2-3* recruits. Did we send fucking Bill Carmody back out on the recruiting trail? To be honest again, I don't really care, but this is a 'crootin article, so damn it all, I'm outraged! If we're going all real-talk here, I'll take late flip Flynn Nagel (literally, "Flynn NAIL"), a WR out of Chicagoland who had committed to Duke but changed to Northwestern once a WR commit here departed for Michigan. SUCK IT, DAVID CUTCLIFFE.
JC: THE LONGSNAPPER JUST NEEDS HIS CHANCE!
But seriously, 3* WR Lavon Alston looks like a kid who could be a star. He has speed (hudl video here)
AY: Two guys I think are underrated are dual threat quarterback Tommy Stevens and wide receiver Brandon Polk. Stevens is underrated because he was recruited by James Franklin's staff and is less likely to transfer like Michael O'Connor and the other Bill O'Brien leftovers. Polk is interesting because he's really small (155 pounds), but also really fast. Speed tends to trump size in college football, so I think he's someone who can step in and make an impact right away.
RR: TE Nakia Griffin, though not for sheer on-the-field achievement. The guy was one of the first to commit to Rutgers amidst 2014's decomit-gate and has been a vocal leader of the class since. He played for a small school that went through a terrible few years, so he made onto nobody's radar. In Rutgers' pro-style offense, Griffin should excel as a blocker and a receiver and may contribute early with Tyler Kroft declaring early for the NFL.
GF3: Not that I think anything is biased against OSU at the moment, nor is anyone in this excellent class criminally underrated, but I think 3-star Athlete Aramis Alexander out of the fruitful Burke, VA area has some fantastic upside potential. Like many of Urban's best players, he's a multi-sport standout who threatens as a receiver, a runner, and a returner. His outstanding stats from multiple sports and overall size (6'2 205) gives the staff some great material to build on.
AK: Khari Willis had a monstrous season running the ball at Jackson Lumen Christi, but went largely unnoticed due to the low level of competition he played at. MSU intends to play him as a safety, where he'll enter a crowded field of candidates for playing time. MSU also has a grayshirt prospect, Cole Chewins, who was a late addition and will need at least a year in the weight room but has the frame to be an excellent offensive tackle.
And, as is tradition, who's the instant-impact guy you just snagged? Whether it's because the kid is that good or your other options are that bad, which guys will be shedding their protective redshirt coatings and mixing it up immediately?
MNWildcat: I don't think you understand Northwestern, sir. Freshmen not named Justin Jackson can play? Again, I don't know. I really don't care all that much, either. This class looks like a minimal-impact one where a sure-handed receiver could see some time, but that generally needs a year to bulk up and prepare for Big Ten play. But hey, maybe I'm wrong! More importantly, though, my MNWildcat Recruiting Class Superlatives:
- Best Name: Simba Short
- Best Hair: Steven Reese
- Best Flow (yes, they're different, ask a hockey or lacrosse player): Flynn Nagel
- Best Family Tie: Do we go with Nagel (two brothers have played for NU)? Do we go with Tommy Vitale (younger brother to superback-extraordinaire Dan)? Or how about Lloyd Yates (son of an NU grad, brother to a former NUMB drumline captain)? There's no need to decide!
JC: Any LBs we sign? Seriously, we're pretty thin at linebacker and it is a position of need right now. Mohamed Barry looks good as a flip from K-State and gives us a body at the position. Same goes for Tyrin Ferguson who flipped to go with Mike Riley. I think both guys get looks early based on need.
AY: The instant impact guy is the No. 2 junior college player in the country, Paris Palmer. He's a 6'8", 300-pound mass who should be able to start at offensive tackle this autumn. As stated above, there's lots of offensive line talent in this Penn State class, but most of it is too young to contribute right away. Palmer isn't, and that makes him a very exciting recruit for Lions fans who blamed Christian Hackenberg's struggles on the offensive line last season.
DJ: Instant impact guy? If EJ Donahue played any position other than OL, I'd go with him. He's just bred to be an OL in the B1G. The man is 6'4, 330lb. I don't care who you are, you'll have time moving that off the line. Anyways, my instant impact guy is Ty Johnson. He was electrifying in high school in Maryland, but played in a lower division where he didn't get all the press. There is no way he did not shred every single rushing record to bits this season, where it seemed every time he touched the ball he scored. He's technically listed as an athlete, but I see Maryland putting him to use at RB/slot receiver where they can get him in space so he can shred defenses.
RR: While he's a transfer, it's gotta be Kaiwan Lewis. Any time you bring in an SEC linebacker after your 3-year starter graduates, you're filling a hell of a need. Lewis brings tons of speed to the position and brings a pop at the point of attack. The former 4-star recruit is penciled in as the starter from day 1 and could be one of the top linebackers in the Big Ten in 2015.
GF3: With the depth of talent on both sides of the ball, plus those coming off redshirt, it's hard to pinpoint one position-if any-where Urban would be forced to burn a redshirt. My suspicion is that we might see WR K.J. Hill or the aforementioned Alexander make an early appearance to bolster the receiving corps, but even that seems like an outside possibility to me.
AK: Here, LJ Scott is the obvious answer. Jeremy Langford and Nick Hill graduating means there are hundreds of carries available, and Scott will probably be too talented to not take some of them. The only early enrollee in the class, Tyriq Thompson, also sounds like a decent bet to play on special teams and as a reserve linebacker, somewhat like Chris Frey did last year.
Finally, feel free to add your general thoughts on your class, the state of your program, the ultimate meaninglessness of human achievement when viewed through the context of the inevitable heat death of the universe (thoughts and prayers to MNWildcat in these, the final throes of grad school).
MNWildcat: You heard him, boys! Back the truck up to the house and start unloading those cases! [re: sorrow gin at the end of football until spring practice]
JC: I think this was a really good class. Mike Riley and Co. are hitting the trail hard, using social media to build buzz, and are targeting high 3* and 4* kids. One of the things people complained about under Bo Pelini's regime was that he didn't even try to go after the kids who would obviously go elsewhere. Riley's team has embraced the advantages Nebraska does have - mainly an insane budget - and has put together a nice class. It will probably only be good for fourth or fifth in conference when this is all said and done, but I think you're going to see some fireworks from this crew over the next year. Also, I'm going to plug Brian Towle (@BrianRTowle) and the team at Corn Nation
AY: I like this class a lot. It's great that there's so much offensive line talent, because that's been where Penn State has struggled lately. Equally as cool is the pair of highly-rated defensive backs that Franklin has recruited. Quality defensive backs are hard to find, and you need a lot of them to contend for championships against dynamic offenses. That's why Garrett Taylor and John Reid are going to be very important for the future of Bob Stoop's defense.
DJ: General thoughts: screw Urban Meyer.
RR: After a harrowing year of ttfp eating our freakin' lunch (seriously, you guys wonder why we hate you), it's good to see a solid class come together with a number of decommits well within the standard range for college athletics. While this class lacks star power, it feels like the coaching staff was able to get the guys they wanted, and supplement with a few high profile transfers. If this trend continues, look for Rutgers to have a big year in 2016, especially given the insane plethora of talent in the New Jersey 2016 recruiting class.
GF3: It's good to be king. Again.
AK: MSU fans should probably stop referring to Dantonio's underrated and disregarded prospects in the current tense. That's certainly how he built the program, but these kids are not studs everyone missed; they're studs lots of teams wanted, and that was the case with most of last year's class, too. Dantonio has also expanded his reach into places MSU wouldn't have been able to go before, pulling guys from Virginia, Texas, Arizona, and Utah. I know there's never an unhappy program on Signing Day, but seeing this type of class really makes me think MSU hasn't hit its ceiling yet.