Counter Intel: Michigan Ends Drought, Rutgers Continues to Build Fence Around New Jersey, and Two Top 50 Players Pick Big Ten Schools

By Mick Walker on March 29, 2020 at 11:05 am
Khayri Banton
Khayri Banton

Counter Intel is the smart Ohio State fan's look at recruiting action taking place at Big Ten and top national programs.

Michigan Ends Commitment Drought

While it is hard to believe right now, since Ohio State has 15 commitments and has the top class in the country, there was a point last May when Michigan had the better class. However, once the calendar hit June, the two classes went in two very different directions.

Ohio State picked up Jayden Ballard and Ben Christman in the month of June while Michigan began a 10-month commitment drought with its 2021 class that ended just last week to the relief of Wolverine fans.

On Wednesday, Michigan landed its first commitment in the 2021 class in nearly 300 days with the pledge of four-star offensive guard Greg Crippen. The IMG (Fla.) Academy product visited Ohio State last fall for the Buckeyes' game against Penn State. At that time, Crippen was committed to Notre Dame but on March 4 he decommitted from the Fighting Irish and began looking at his options.

Immediately following his decommittment, Michigan looked like the team to beat for Crippen while Ohio State kept its attention on four-star prospects Jager Burton and Rocco Spindler. The Crippen commitment gives Michigan its perceived top target at the center position and a much-needed commitment to end its drought. 

Crippen was not the Wolverines' only commitment that day as they landed three-star defensive end Dominick Guidice out of Mater Dei High School in Middletown, New Jersey. The Wolverines offered Guidice at lunch time and took his commitment sight unseen eight hours later.

That's right. Guidice, the nation's 1,171st-ranked prospect in the 247Sports composite, had never worked out in front of a Michigan staff member, let alone visited Ann Arbor.

Rutgers Starts Fence Around New Jersey

Greg Schiano and Rutgers scored a big one, landing four-star outside linebacker Khayri Banton out of Westside High School in Newark, New Jersey onThursday. This is no small feat for the Scarlet Knights seeing as Banton got a very extensive one-on-one workout with Ohio State linebackers coach Al Washington last June when he ventured to Columbus for a camp. 

The Scarlet Knights then followed up Banton's commitment with the addition of three-star defensive end Keshon Griffin out of Hammonton, New Jersey on Friday. Griffin and Banton give Rutgers two of the top eight players from the Garden State, bringing its total to seven of the top 25 players in New Jersey. Rebuilding Rutgers will be no small feat for Schiano,  but keeping top talent at home is a great start.

Penn State and Maryland Land Top 50 Players

This week, Penn State and Maryland both picked up their first top 100 prospects in the 2021 cycle, with four-star offensive tackle Landon Tengwall choosing the Nittany Lions and four-star defensive end Demeioun Robinson pledging for the Terrapins. Both players were one-time Ohio State targets.

Tengwall had an Ohio State offer and was considering the Buckeyes at one point but released a top three of Michigan, Notre Dame and Penn State last September. Last week, he cut his list to two, Penn State and Notre Dame, before settling on the Nittany Lions on Thursday. He is a mountain of a man at 6-foot-6, 300 pounds, and he becomes Penn State's first commitment this calendar year. The Jack Sawyer vs. Landon Tengwall matchups should be excited to watch for years to come.

As for Robinson, this one does sting a bit for Ohio State on two fronts: He was someone they wanted along the defensive line and landing him would have helped with his four-star high school teammate, defensive tackle Marcus Bradley. This is a huge get for Maryland as it looks to keep its best in-state players home.

Northwestern Swipes Wolverine Target out of Michigan

On March 19, three-star offensive tackle Caleb Tiernan, out of Detroit, released a top four that included Penn State, Michigan, Northwestern and Ohio State. He was a high-priority target for his home state Wolverines, but on Saturday morning Tiernan's recruitment shifted from a Michigan lock to Northwestern lean. Later that day, he gave his commitment to Pat Fitzgerald and the Wildcats.

Five-Star QB Caleb Williams Releases Top Five

The top-ranked quarterback in the country, Caleb Williams, released his top five this week. If you're a fan of Maryland, Penn State, Clemson,  LSU or Oklahoma, you're in luck.

Williams is the top-ranked player in Washington D.C. – an area that Big Ten teams have successfully recruited for years now – but he's thought to be an Oklahoma lean. Lincoln Riley's quarterback development skills and an opportunity to play after redshirting for a year seem to be the driving forces in Williams' recruitment. Penn State and Maryland each have their own compelling recruiting pitches, but Williams seems to be headed west.

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