This year's Big Ten All-Conference team was populated with guys who were two and three star kids coming out of high school. This year, the conference only signed three five-star prospects, so we expect that in years to come, there will be more of these under the radar signees making impacts. Here's one a team who are good bets.
Donovonn Young - Running Back - ILLINOIS
A Texas kid, I had not seen Young on tape. While preparing for Signing Day, I watched him and was very impressed with the tape. Then I talk to people close to the program and Scout's Illinois insiders and this is the name that keeps coming up. He's listed at 5-10, 200-lbs, but if you watch him run, you'd think he was 230. He's powerful, has great balance, and should take up the slack left by Mikel LeShoure's departure for the NFL Draft. This is a kid who should get some carries early in his career if not next year.
Honorable Mention: OT Scott McDowell
Roger Williamson - Defensive Back - MICHIGAN STATE
I watched Williamson at MSU's summer camp and I felt that he took scholarships away from several receivers looking for offers. The majority of would-be pass catchers there struggled to get off the line against him and then I watch him on tape and saw how he hit and it made sense. He's very physical. He can play cornerback or safety, something the Spartans have looked for in their defensive back recruiting, and I believe he has a good chance to play early in his career.
Honorable Mention: S Arjen Colquhoun
Jake Reed - Defensive End - INDIANA
After seeing him at a combine and on tape, I thought Reed was more of a tight end. He told me during the year that he wanted to play defense. After seeing his senior film, I can understand why. He's aggressive, quick off the ball and seems to always be in the opposing backfield. He needs to add some weight, but he will not be pressed into action right away in my opinion. I can see why schools like Stanford, Iowa and others made late runs at him during his senior year. In four years, more schools may be wondering why they did not do the same.
Honorable Mention: WR Tre Roberson
Akeem Hunt - Running Back - PURDUE
Speed. That's what Hunt brings to the table, and he reminds me of recent backs like Ralph Bolden who have had success for the Boilermakers. Hunt can catch the ball out of the backfield and once he's in the open field, he runs away from people. It will have to be seen if he's an every down, 20 carry type back, but he looks like he will, at the least, be a great change of pace guy and should have a shot as a return man as well.
Honorable Mention: WR Shane Mikesky
Thomas Rawls - Running Back - MICHIGAN
Had Rawls qualified in June rather than January, I believe he would have had offers from most of the Big Ten. He's a bowling ball at 5-9, 210-lbs, but he can catch the ball and play in space better than he's usually given credit for. He's a tough runner who does not go down on contact and he does have some breakaway speed. He's not real tall, but he's a very good back and the one guy in the Wolverines' class who I think is not getting enough attention nationally.
Honorable Mention: MLB Desmond Morgan
Jake Duzey - Tight End - IOWA
The Hawkeyes have higher rated players and they even have higher rated tight ends coming in than Duzey, but there’s something about this kid that makes me think he’ll be the one teams learn to fear. A high school wide receiver, he’s straight line fast for a 6’4 kid and has good hands. He’s more of a flex type, receiving tight end, but I think the Hawkeyes will find multiple ways to use his talents.
Honorable Mention: WR Marcus Grant
Grayson Levine - Safety - MINNESOTA
Levine was a late add to the class, and seemed destined for the 1-AA ranks, but we think he’ll work his tail off and get on the field. He’s a tough, smart kid who understands the game and will study game film and be in the right position. He’s a sound tackler and a good sized kid at 6’0, 190-lbs. Will he be a superstar? Probably not, but he’ll out work higher ranked guys.
Honorable Mention: WR Devin Crawford-Tufts
Christian Jones - Wide Receiver - NORTHWESTERN
The Cats went down to Texas and plucked Jones, a big, 6-3, 200-lb receiver who is smooth, runs good routes and has good ball skills. An injury may have caused other schools to back off, but the Cats stood by him and we think it could pay off big. He’s not blazing fast, but he does a lot of little things well and his frame along with his hands give him a chance to be a big contributor for Pat Fitzgerald and company.
Honorable Mention: OG Matt Frazier
Antonio Underwood - Guard - OHIO STATE
The Buckeyes signed a few offensive linemen this year, but they also missed Aundrey Walker at the last second and Chris Carter may not be in the class. Underwood, to me, was the guy that stood out on tape anyway. He's not the big body some of the other signees are, but he's powerful and has shown that he can move and pull. He's a high school tackle, so he'll have to learn a new position and I think he'll need some strength and conditioning work, but this is a kid who could end up starting in a couple years.
Honorable Mention: S Jeremy Cash
Allen Robinson - Wide Receiver - PENN STATE
Let me preface this by saying that I really like Bill Belton and Matt Zanellato on tape, but I think Robinson is under appreciated because those two four-star pass catchers are also in this class. Robinson's big at 6-3, 185-lbs and he has a big time vertical and excellent ball skills. I've seen him at several camps and in three games and I don't believe I've seen him drop a ball. Is he a 4.4 guy? No he's not, but do a lot of receivers who aren't 4.4 guys succeed? Absolutely. His size and ability to go up and get it will make him a big time red zone weapon and do not count him out as a downfield threat either.
Honorable Mention: LB Ben Kline
Austin Maly - Tight End - WISCONSIN
Maly is one of three tight ends the Badgers are bringing in, and someone is almost certainly getting moved from the position, but after seeing him on film, I don’t think it will be him. Maly is a great athlete and he has room to fill out at 6’5, 200-lbs, but he’s a fine pass receiver who should create matchup problems for Badger opponents.
Honorable Mention: WR Frederick Willis
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