National Signing Day 2014: Every Big 10 Team’s Top Unsigned Target
National Signing Day 2014: Big 10's Top Unsigned Targets
National Signing Day 2014 is quickly approaching, and each Big 10 team has at least one unsigned target who could potentially make or break the recruiting class. That's how it works every year. Many are already signed and enrolled in their respective schools, but a few pieces of gold officially remain unclaimed.
Some targets, like Craig Evans, who's committed to Wisconsin, has some fans sweating with anticipation because he recently took an unofficial visit to Ohio State. It's all leading up to a very exciting Feb. 5.
Uncertainty is part of what makes National Signing Day so exciting, though. And in a day and age when being "committed" to a school seemingly doesn't mean a whole lot, it's just a healthy way to stir the pot all the way up through the final days of anticipation. It's a wonder how some fans aren't admitted to the hospital during this time.
There is a critical rule for fans on Signing Day: Never, under any circumstances, tweet at a player who doesn't sign with your school. You make yourself look pretty disgusting by doing so.
This list in no particular order.
Jihad Ward - Illinois
Unfortunately for Jihad Ward, he resides in the Big 10's weakest recruiting class in Illinois. He committed in late October of 2013 after spending his Junior College days at Globe Institute of Technology. As a defensive end, he's incredibly explosive and disruptive in the backfield. Illini fans should be eagerly awaiting this kid's arrival on campus.
Tegray Scales - Indiana
Kevin Wilson and the Indiana Hoosiers actually put together a decent recruiting class, and Tegray Scales is definitely a headliner. There's plenty of room for growth in Scales' game. That's a wonderful thing if you're a fan of the Hoosiers, but his play at outside linebacker may frustrate you early in his career. He's going to develop nicely, though.
Jay Scheel - Iowa
I don't think anyone is quite sure what to make of a kid like Jay Scheel. It seems as though he's capable of playing at every position on the football field, including the kicker and holder -- at the same time. The bottom line here: Jay Scheel is going to be an athletic monster at Iowa, realistically at either quarterback or wide receiver.
Jabrill Peppers - Michigan
Jabrill Peppers will probably be one of the more fascinating players to go through the Michigan program when it's all said and done. He's that good. Herm Edwards, who coached Peppers at the Under Armour All-American Game, mentioned how he is one of the best prep cornerbacks he'd ever been around. Those are mighty praises from Mr. Edwards. Michigan would be doing itself a world of favors by finding ways to utilize Peppers wherever possible.
Jesse Aniebonam - Maryland
Jesse Aniebonam made a surprise commitment to Maryland in August of last year, choosing the Terrapins over schools like Alabama and Auburn. He's stuck to the commitment, and it's looking like Maryland will be receiving a wonderful addition on its defensive line. He's athletic enough and strong enough to make just about any play he wants.
Connor Mayes - Minnesota
As of right now, Connor Mayes' commitment to Minnesota isn't the most stable. Some other schools like Texas A&M and TCU are still on the trail. It'll be interesting to see how this all plays out in the coming days. If Minnesota does land him, they'll be getting a good, physical blocking center to compliment the offensive line. Some of the tangibles could use some work, but he'd be a great addition to Minnesota's class.
Parrker Westphal - Northwestern
Cornerback Parrker Westphal chose Northwestern over Michigan State in December of last year, and it's looking like it will remain that way. Westphal is one of the cornerbacks who won't excel if he just relies on his speed. Simply put: He doesn't have enough speed for that. He'll need to be fundamentally sound and rely on his football brain. He'll be great in coverage if he continues to play within himself.
Damon Webb - Ohio State
Ohio State easily has the best recruiting class in the Big 10 (second in the NCAA). Damon Webb isn't the sole headline, but he'll most definitely be a strong piece for the Buckeyes. Out of Cass Technical in Detroit, Webb holds an offer from just about every major program in the country. He's going to be a huge play-maker at the college level with his speed and instincts, but scouts are also in love with skill in coverage. He's going to be a joy for Buckeye fans to watch.
Gelen Robinson - Purdue
Gelen Robinson is a defensive end on the strong side of the line, but he still has some growing up to do before he can really excel at that position. He shows potential in the tangibles, but he needs to fill out that frame of his. It may take him a few years to come around fully, but when that happens, I think Purdue fans will be genuinely pleased with his development and production.
Justin Nelson - Rutgers
Justin Nelson is one of those classic, hard-nosed linebackers. He won't be quick laterally or getting to the boundary, but he'll be a pure stuffer of the run when he's at his best. Rutgers football could probably use something like that. He hasn't been very highly recruited because of that lack of quickness, but I don't think he'll be needing it to be a success at this level.
Tanner Farmer - Nebraska
First of all, I'd like to point out that Tanner Farmer is going to Nebraska. That story is writing itself. As a guard, Farmer doesn't necessarily excel at one aspect of his game. His run blocking is about equal with his pass protection, and his physicality only goes so far. But he's consistent, and that's the name of the game. He's going to get the job done; it just won't be so flashy.
Montae Nicholson - Michigan State
Montae Nicholson is a freak of nature at wide receiver. Think about the lack of electricity at Michigan State the last couple years, and you'll begin to realize just how huge a kid like Nicholson could be for this program. He's a head taller than any cornerback, has tremendous hands and is incredibly dangerous in space. It's all going to lead up to one of the most exciting receivers in this Big 10 this year.
Craig Evans - Wisconsin
Craig Evans is causing quite the roar amongst Wisconsin fans for his unofficial visit to Michigan State on Jan. 25, but many sources are saying Evans will be signing with the Badgers in a few days. He's one of the bigger defensive tackles you'll see in this 2014 draft, and all that size means his explosiveness off the line will be lethal. With good coaching, his frame and skill set will allow him to make just about any play he desires.
Saeed Blacknall - Penn State
Wide receiver Saeed Blacknall was just recently gifted to the Penn State Nittany Lions after he decommitted from Rutgers, already solidifying James Franklin as one of the elite recruiters in the Big 10. Blacknall will have his share of drops, especially early, but his ability to go up and get the ball in traffic will probably make up for that. Plus, if he can get the ball in space, he's incredibly shifty and tough to bring down.