Big Ten: Sleeper a Team

Mark Meyers - Michigan State

A look at which Big Ten commits are flying under the radar and a recap of who we've chosen the past three years for each team.

The rules for this are, the players chosen have to be two or three stars and with an offer count in the single digits. Over the years, looking back on it, we've hit some and missed some. Last year's selections seem to be well on their way as several, Tre Roberson, Desmond Morgan, Akeem Hunt, Donovonn Young and others, saw the field as true freshmen.



INDIANA
2009: Nick Zachery
2010:
Matt Zakrzewski
2011:
Jake Reed / Tre Roberson
2012 Selection: Shawn Heffern - DE - Carmel
I saw Heffern at a few camps over the summer and he had really good showings as a defensive end, then he continued to show that on tape. He keeps filling out his 6'6, 240-lb frame and he showed pass rush ability at that size. There is some thought that he could switch to offense, but either way, given his ability, once he fills out, I think he plays a significant role for the Hoosiers.

Honorable Mention: David Cooper - JUCO middle linebacker who is compact and strong, and has a chance to play quite a bit next year if he comes in and adjusts quickly .

ILLINOIS
2009: Tommie Hopkins
2010:
Michael Heitz
2011:
Donovonn Young / Scott McDowell
2012 Selection: Mason Monheim - LB - Orrville
Got overlooked by some schools because of his size, but the kid has a nose for the football as well as good feet and quickness. He's going to, at the least, be a special teams demon and I think he'll also end up being a factor at WILL linebacker.

Honorable Mention: Jevaris Little - There is an opportunity at cornerback and this Florida sleeper has the foot speed to take advantage of that.

IOWA
2009: Dakota Getz
2010:
Don Shumpert
2011:
Jake Duzey / Marcus Grant
2012 Selection: Cameron Wilson - WR - Dublin Jerome
Wilson is a nice sized kid that can really make things happen after the catch. He also shows that he can make grabs in traffic. I really believe that his ability in the open field will make him dangerous though and I see him as a good fit for the offense and a kid that could play early.

Honorable Mention: Mitch Keppy - A tough Midwestern kid, legacy recruit and a great high school wrestler, sounds like a recipe for success at Iowa.

MICHIGAN
2009: Thomas Gordon
2010:
Jake Ryan
2011:
Thomas Rawls / Desmond Morgan
2012 Selection: Ben Braden - OT - Rockford
Braden doesn't always get talked about because he was the first commitment of the year, had about three or four offers, he's tucked away on the west side of the state and he's an offensive lineman. That said, he's a very talented one with a college ready body and big game experience as part of one of the state's top programs. Don't let the 6'7, 319-lbs fool you though, he's a good athlete that moves that big body around very well. He's only played two years at offensive tackle, so he may need a year or two to adjust, but I could see him turning into a real find for the Wolverines.

Honorable Mention: Matt Godin - Turned up his game as a senior and has a nice, big frame. Doesn't always get the mention he deserves when talking about this class.

MICHIGAN STATE
2009: Bennie Fowler
2010:
Nick Hill
2011:
R.J. Williamson / Arjen Colquhoun
2012 Selection: Mark Meyers - S - Toledo Whitmer
Meyers was a late add, but we've been impressed with him since last summer's MSU camp. He has legitimate track speed, good ball skills, and fits the Spartan system very well. True, he did not have a single other Big Ten offer, but that is also true of Kirk Cousins, Leveon Bell and several other key Spartan players. Don't let the offer list fool you, Meyers is a player.

Honorable Mention: Riley Bullough - Easy to forget because he was the first commit and then got injured, but he has all the intangible qualities and good speed to the football.

MINNESOTA
2009: Kenny Watkins
2010:
Dwayne Mitchell
2011:
Grayson Levine / Devin Crawford-Tufts
2012 Selection: Ben Lauer - OT - Plymouth Wayzata
I saw Lauer on film earlier this year and could not believe he did not have more offers. I then learned of an injury that was affecting his recruitment, but was happy to see him earn a late offer from the Gophers. Provided he returns to full strength, I love his ability and his growth potential, as he has a nice 6'6, 270-lb frame and shows good balance, coordination and a little bit of a mean streak on film.

Honorable Mention: Dinero Moss - Didn't have a ton of offers or hype, but can play on an island at 6'0, 190-lbs, and those kinds of kids are rare.

NEBRASKA
2009: N/A
2010:
N/A
2011:
N/A
2012 Selection: Sam Cotton - TE - Lincoln Southeast
On film, Cotton's a good athlete at 6'4, 235-lbs and has football in his roots. He can play both sides of the ball, but we see him as an all around tight end who can block and contribute in the short to intermediate passing game.

Honorable Mention: Leroy Alexander - The ultimate sleeper, he had only a couple of other offers, but is a good sized kid that projects as a rangy, athletic safety.

NORTHWESTERN
2009: Evan Watkins
2010:
Jimmy Hall
2011:
Christian Jones / Matt Frazier
2012 Selection: Dan Vitale - S - Wheaton Warrenville South
He's a multi-talented guy who, I think, got lost in the shuffle a little bit because he was seen as not having a true position. He's a pure football player though with solid size, strength and smarts. I could see him even growing into a linebacker potentially, but you have to like a kid with his versatility that played against good competition and for one of the state's best schools.

Honorable Mention: Jaylen Prater - Coach Fitzgerald knows his linebackers and this Ohio product has good film and may be a diamond in the rough.

OHIO STATE
2009: Jack Mewhort
2010:
Chad Hagan
2011:
Antonio Underwood / Jeremy Cash
2012 Selection: Roger Lewis - WR - Pickerington Central
If we hadn't already bumped Najee Murray up to 4-stars, he'd be my pick, because I think he's still undervalued, but Lewis has been impressive to me since last Winter's early combine season and carried that through to the summer where he earned the Buckeye offer. Then he went out and had a really strong senior season. I recently had a chance to look at his senior tape and he impressed me with his ability to separate and get down the field along with what he did as a return man.

Honorable Mention: Patrick Elflein - Mobile, tough, and able to play either side of the ball, although I think he'll be a guard.

PENN STATE
2009: Adam Gress
2010:
Khamrone Kolb
2011:
Allen Robinson / Ben Kline
2012 Selection: Jake Kiley - CB - New Hampton, NH
A virtual unknown until he had a strong Penn State camp and accepted a Nittany Lion offer, Kiley runs well on tape for a kid that's 6'1. He has to fill out some, but I like his athleticism in that frame and could see him playing either corner or safety at the next level.

Honorable Mention: Jesse James - If he embraces a move to tackle and adds some pounds, he could be a force on the offensive line.

PURDUE
2009: Ishmael Aristide
2010:
Jeremy Cornelius
2011:
Akeem Hunt / Shane Mikesky
2012 Selection: Jordan Woods - WR - Ann Arbor Skyline
He's from a new school and was one of the first kids recruited at the program, so he fell under the radar some, but Woods is talented. He has sneaky speed, good hands, is smooth and has a knack for making big plays. He has to add weight, but he should thrive in the Boilers' open offense.

Honorable Mention: Jordan Shine - On a talented Warren Central defense, he sometimes didn't get attention, but had a great senior year and safety is a position where there's an opening.

WISCONSIN
2009: Jeff Duckworth
2010:
Dallas Lewallen
2011:
Austin Maly / Frederick Willis
2012 Selection: Reggie Mitchell - CB - Pittsburgh Shady Side
Mitchell played at a smaller school, so he fits perfectly into the sleeper category. He is a multi-talented guy who played quarterback and other positions for his school. He has good speed and athleticism and a frame that can hold some more weight and muscle. He'll have to adjust to the level of competition and playing full time corner, but there's upside there and schools may end up regretting passing this guy over.

Honorable Mention: Reggie Love - The Badgers seem to have good luck with bigger receivers and this Florida product has a college ready body.

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