February 18, 2010
Rating the Big Ten Classes: Offensive Line
SpartanMag.com goes around the Big Ten to see how teams did at respective positions. Successful recruiting is all about meeting a team's specific needs, not just recruiting rankings. We look at who brought in the best class and who needs to perform well.
Best Class: Penn State
Penn State not only signed a very good offensive line class, but they signed the largest class (5-players). How good is this OL class? The lowest ranked player, Khamrone Kolb form Virginia, had double-digit BCS offers including from in-state schools Virginia and Virginia Tech. Penn state's class is highly ranked and in our opinion there are some players that are not as good as the hype. The offensive line though should provide a solid foundation for years to come. Penn state lost games this year when they got "out-physicalled" up-front. That should not happen in 3 or 4 years from now if this class develops as expected.
Biggest Shoes: Ohio State
Ohio State uncharacteristically missed on several high-level prospect right at the end, Matt James and Sentreal Henderson. That means that Andrew Norwell is the only offensive lineman the Buckeyes signed for 2011. Ohio State is a deep and strong enough program that signing only 1 OL is not going to kill them, but it does put pressure on Norwell to be as good as some are predicting. Ohio varsity named Norwell the #1 prospect in Ohio despite him missing the majority of his senior season. If Norwell does not become the player many expect, Ohio State will have a big hole to fill.
You can almost pencil in Wisconsin for this spot every year. Wisconsin has the 8th rated offensive line class in the Big ten according to rivas.com, but we doubt it shakes out that way down the line. Wisconsin always seems to sign a couple of in-state 2 or 3 star prospects that end up being 3-year starters. More often than not these prospects commit to the Badgers long before signing day and they often do not get the recruiting hype they would get if they remained uncommitted until January. Robby Havenstein of Maryland is an interesting prospect in that at 6-foot-7, 345-pounds he is one of biggest prospects in the entire class of 2011. The Badgers beat out Penn State for Haverstein.
I think an argument could be made for the Spartan having the best offensive line class in the Big Ten. I am not sure the Spartan staff would trade a player like Skyler Schofner for anyone on the list. Schofner's upside is as good as anyone in the nation. Ohio State gambled on James and Henderson and missed out on Schofner. That gamble could be a costly one. Travis Jackson of St Francis DeSales High School has over 20 offers when he committee and all he did was become a finalist for Mr. Ohio in football, something unheard of for a lineman. Michael Dennis is only rated a 2-star recruit by Rivals.com, but his offer list is indicative of a high 3-star recruit. Not many 6-foot-8 275-pound prospects are as athletic as Dennis. He averages over 20-poiunts and 10-rebound a game in basketball. Dennis is raw, as he played TE and not OL in high school, but his upside potential is very high. This class is an excellent group, especially coming on the heels of last year's strong OL group.
Next Up: DE/DT
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