NCAA Football

Can Ohio State, Urban Meyer Continue Raid of Michigan's Top Recruiting Pipeline?

Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes have made a habit of beating Michigan.

The Buckeyes have dominated on the field, coming out with victories in 12 of their last 14 meetings with the Wolverines. On the recruiting trail, Ohio State has signed the higher-rated class in each of the last eight years.

And over the course of the last two recruiting cycles, the Buckeyes have found a new way of besting their chief rivals—by invading their backyard and raiding their top in-state recruiting pipeline. 

Detroit's Cass Technical High School—which is to Michigan what Glenville High School is to Ohio State—routinely produces some of the state's top football prospects. For years, those recruits were sending their letters of intent 42 miles west to Ann Arbor, pledging to play for the home-state Wolverines.

But that hasn't been the case since Meyer got involved.

It started in January of 2013, when Cass Tech's top prospect—4-star cornerback Damon Webb—spurned Michigan in favor of Ohio State. It was a surprising move, as most expected the ball-hawking defensive back to wind up at Michigan, but Webb told Miles Joseph of Eleven Warriors that the Wolverines were never at the forefront.

"Michigan was never my leader," Webb said, via Joseph. "I think people thought they were because I live near the school and a lot of my Cass teammates have gone to Michigan."

At that point, those assumptions were fair. It would have been easier for Webb's family to make it to games with The Big House less than an hour's drive away. And the familiarity Michigan offered—six of Webb's former high school teammates were suiting up for the Wolverines—would have made his transition to college much easier.

On top of that comes the pressure Cass Tech blue-chippers feel from their friends and the surrounding community to stay home and play for the team they cheered for growing up. Those ties to the Wolverines run deep in Detroit-area high schools, and that's especially true at Cass Tech. Just ask the head coach of the football team—Thomas Wilcher—who was a running back at Michigan from 1982 to 1986.

But the Buckeyes found a way to overcome those obstacles to land Webb, in part because their program was trending up while Michigan was struggling with Hoke at the helm.

"The chance to win championships," Webb said of why he chose Ohio State, via Joseph. "I think the Buckeyes are going to start winning national championships."

That thought turned to reality for Ohio State in 2014. And while the Buckeyes were marching toward their eighth national title, Meyer was continuing his assault on Michigan's biggest in-state resource. 

Webb's commitment opened the door for Ohio State to gain a July commitment from 3-star defensive end Joshua Alabi, Cass Tech's second-best prep prospect for 2015. Five months later, the Buckeyes snagged 4-star running back and Cass standout Michael Weber, who had decommitted from the Wolverines after Brady Hoke's termination. 

Scout recruiting analyst Allen Trieu told David Briggs of The Toledo Blade that Ohio State's assault on Michigan's bloodline was both practical and personal.

"[The Buckeyes] realize that's not only a place that they can get good talent, but they're also taking it to their top rival," Trieu said, via Briggs.

But now that Jim Harbaugh has taken over at Michigan, will Ohio State be able continue its Cass Tech success?

That run almost came to a halt on Wednesday when Harbaugh nearly flipped Weber back to the Wolverines. The bulldozing ball-carrier was on the receiving end of Michigan's most intense recruiting pitch, but the last-minute signing of running back Karan Higdon soiled those efforts.

Meyer knows that Harbaugh's presence will make things more difficult.

"We felt it," Meyer said of Harbaugh's recruiting impact, according to Austin Ward of ESPN.com. "They contacted all of our players. They really went after Mike Weber and Josh Alabi."

The Cass Tech studs.

How long will it take Harbaugh to loosen Ohio State's hold over his top in-state pipeline? According to 247Sports' Crystal Ball predictions, the Buckeyes are favored to land 4-star lineman Michael Onwenu and 4-star wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones—Cass Tech's top prospects in 2016 and 2017. 

Stealing those recruits away from Michigan is something Meyer would relish, something he made very clear after Weber reaffirmed his commitment to Ohio State over the Wolverines on national signing day.

“We do keep score against our rivals in everything we do," Meyer said, according to Ben Axelrod of Bleacher Report.

And if Harbaugh can't change the momentum, that score will continue to swing drastically in Ohio State's favor.

 

All recruiting rankings and information via 247Sports.

David Regimbal covers Ohio State football for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Nebraska Football Class: Super 6 of Cornhuskers' 2015 Class

While it sounds far more like the name of a B-list superhero team, the “Super Six” is the cliche for laying out the best six recruits in a team’s class. Nebraska’s 2015 class signed 20 players, ending up No. 31 nationally and No. 4 in the Big Ten, according to 247Sports.

So who is Nebraska’s Super Six out of the 2015 class? Here’s the view (along with a bonus sleeper) from one smart and particularly handsome analyst.

 

No. 6: Dedrick Young (ATH/LB, 3-star, .8609 composite)

Given Nebraska’s desperate need to build depth at linebacker, it’s almost impossible to fill out a Super Six without including one. Young looks to be the most promising of Nebraska’s three linebackers in the 2015 class (four if you count Adrienne Talan). He’s also an early-enrollee, meaning Young will get to participate in spring practice. Don’t be surprised to see him competing for playing time as a true freshman in 2015.

 

No. 5: Matt Snyder (TE, 3-star, .8523 composite)

Under Bo Pelini, the tight end position was maddeningly under-utilized. While being blessed with a number of offensive threats at the position (Mike McNeil, Kyler Reed and Cethan Carter), Nebraska’s offense never found a way to really utilize the kind of matchup problems a pass-catching tight end can cause.

So to see Nebraska land another threat in Snyder, to compliment what will hopefully be an expanded role for Carter going forward, is a promising sign of things to come.

 

Nos. 4: Carlos Davis (DE, 3-star, .8891 composite) and Khalil Davis (DT, 3-star, .8730 composite)

Yeah, I know it’s cheating (and kind of trite) to list them both in one spot. But honestly, they’re both incredibly talented. Both will be playing on the defensive line, and landing the twins was very much a package deal for Nebraska.

So while they may not see the field at the same time (given the depth issues, Carlos has a better shot at freshman playing time), listing them both at the same time feels about right.

 

No. 3: Daishon Neal (DE, 3-star, .8588 composite)

While raw, Neil looks to have the potential to be a dominant defensive end. Enough potential to draw interest from a number of big-time programs around the country, particularly a late push by Michigan once Jim Harbaugh arrived, as Neal explained on 1620 The Zone (h/t Corn Nation's Brian Towle).

Given the position of need he is filling, the potential he is showing and the ability of Nebraska to protect a home-state kid (Neal is a graduate of Omaha Central) from being poached by a conference rival, Neal’s signature is a big deal.

 

No. 2: Eric Lee (CB, 4-star, .9414 composite)

Cornerback is one of the most difficult positions on defense to play, combining the need for speed, aggression, ball skills and the knowledge to read both an offensive play and the receiver being covered. Lee possesses all those skills and has the potential to make an immediate impact for the Blackshirts.

While not getting the top overall nod, Lee’s retention in the class after the coaching change was one of new head coach Mike Riley’s biggest successes in his young tenure at Nebraska.

 

No. 1: Jalin Barnett (OG, 4-star, .9207 composite)

You could make a pretty good argument that Lee is a better overall player than Barnett, or at the very least a better NFL prospect. But during his national signing day press conference, Riley repeatedly referred to his offensive linemen as “gold,” per Huskers.com.

And for good reason, given the importance of the offensive line to everything a football team is trying to do. Barnett looks to be the best of the bunch, even at a position of depth for Nebraska at the moment. While he may not make the field in 2015, Barnett’s potential still makes him the top pick of the class.

 

Sleeper: Lavan Alston (WR, 3-star, .8832 composite)

I have somewhat of the same propensity as Al Davis, the late owner of the Oakland Raiders, in that I think you can never have too much speed on the field. (I also like white jumpsuits and little chains to hold my glasses, but that’s another story for another day.)

One thing that will improve a running game immensely is a wide receiver who is a threat to stretch the field. When Kenny Bell was injured last year, Nebraska’s ability to take the top off opposing defenses was limited, and the running game suffered as a result.

Alston is the kind of deep-threat receiver who can make a difference not only in the plays he makes, but in the way he forces defenses to adapt to his presence on the field. Don’t be surprised to see him in the mix this season.

 

All rankings from 247Sports.

For a different look at Nebraska football, check out The Double Extra Point.

You can also use the Twitter machine to follow @DblExtraPoint.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Ranking College Football Conferences Based on 2015 Playoff Potential

There may not be unanimous agreement on the level of success the College Football Playoff had in Year 1, but it's safe to say that the formula worked and the best team in the country took home the trophy.

One thing we shouldn't do, however, is assume that the 2015 season will play out in similar fashion with regard to the committee, because college football can look completely different year to year. We have a good idea of what criteria are valued, but with new teams at the top and different games to judge, the route to the Final Four won't look the same.

What we have here is a twist on power ranking the college football conferences. While the Power Five will be ranked, the depth of each conference won't matter as much because the subject is how likely each conference is to be represented in the playoff. Even if you think the SEC is the deepest conference, the teams that finish 11th and 12th cannot make the playoff, so it doesn't matter how good they are.

The Group of Five conferences are not taken into consideration because from what we've seen out of the selection committee, it almost seems impossible that a team from that level will make it into the Final Four. The schedules just aren't tough enough unless a conference happens to have an all-time great year led by a dominating team that wins several out-of-conference matchups against top competition.

Outside of BYU, Notre Dame and potentially Boise State, teams that don't belong to a Power Five conference have little to no shot of making the playoff in the current format.

Here are the conferences rankings for 2015 based on playoff potential.

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Illinois Assistant Mike Bellamy Suspended 1 Game for Improperly Helping Recruit

Illinois Fighting Illini receivers coach Mike Bellamy has been suspended one game for a violation of NCAA rules related to helping a student-athlete receive an associate's degree.

Bellamy will serve his suspension during Illinois' season-opening game against Kent State, per an Associated Press report (h/t Fox Sports).

''It was disappointing to learn the NCAA chose to classify this as a violation,'' Fighting Illini head coach Tim Beckman said.

The NCAA ruled Bellamy committed a violation by helping an unnamed student-athlete complete his associate's degree after the school uncovered he had not done so. A report from Sean Hammond of The Daily Illini indicates Bellamy visited the college and convinced administrators to allow the student-athlete to complete a placement exam in exchange for his missed credits.

The player, who had withdrawn from the university, completed the exam and was awarded his associate's degree. He has since re-enrolled at Illinois, but the university cited a privacy policy in not disclosing the student-athlete's name.

“I want to be very clear that no member of the University of Illinois football staff may be involved with arranging academic credits, questioning or influencing grades or otherwise intervening in the academic affairs of prospective student-athletes," Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas said in a letter to Beckman and Bellamy.

Bellamy, who played five NFL seasons after starring at Illinois as a receiver, has been the team's receivers coach since 2012. He is expected to return to his position for the Fighting Illini's Sept. 12 game against Western Illinois. The NCAA has not said whether it plans any further action.

 

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

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