Counter Intel: Minnesota Remains On Fire, Michigan Goes Into St. Thomas Aquinas, Mel Tucker Gets Two More, Northwestern Gets Its Quarterback

By Mick Walker on April 26, 2020 at 11:05 am
Caleb Tiernan
Caleb Tiernan

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

Minnesota is burning hot

It's hard to ignore what P.J. Fleck is doing in Minnesota. Last week, Fleck landed the Golden Gophers' second highest-ranked commitment ever, according to 247Sports, in four-star cornerback Avante Dickerson. In addition to landing Dickerson, the Golden Gophers' staff showed its wide recruiting footprint by land a commitment from an Ohio- and Georgia-based player in addition to Dickerson being from Nebraska.

This week, Minnesota landed three more commitments, including one from four-star athlete Sam Jackson out of Naperville Central High School (Ill.). Jackson now becomes the highest-rated offensive skilled player for the Golden Gophers in 2021. 

Beyond Jackson, Fleck and Co. came back to the great state of Ohio to land three-star cornerback Tamarion Crumpley from Winton Woods High School in Cincinnati. Crumpley is a long, physical corner that should fit quite well in Minnesota's defense.

Minnesota also landed a commitment from three-star defensive end D'Marion Alexander from China Springs (Texas) High School. Standing at 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, Alexander could play a wide variety of positions for the Gophers' defense but will likely end up as a defensive end. Most importantly, it once again showed the national recruiting approach that Fleck is taking in Minnesota that has worked well for them in the 2021 cycle.

Michigan goes to St. Thomas Aquinas

On a day in which Ohio State had a three-star cornerback prospect from St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.) High School in Damon Arnette drafted in the first round, Michigan and Jim Harbaugh decided to get their own three-star cornerback prospect from the powerhouse high school in Florida.

Early Thursday afternoon Harbaugh secured his 10th commitment in the 2021 class with three-star cornerback Ja'Den McBurrows. He is an incoming senior at St. Thomas Aquinas and stands at 5-foot-10, 165 pounds. McBurrows is also Michigan's second commitment from a resident of the Sunshine State, and it is likely Michigan is hoping he develops like Arnette did.

Tucker is working to expand footprint

After landing two commitments from in-state players last week, Mell Tucker and his new staff at Michigan State have flipped that switch. Despite being a run-of-the-mill, bottom-of-the-barrel Big Ten recruiting class so far in 2021, Tucker's class is beginning to take shape.

Early last week, the Spartans landed a commitment from three-star defensive back Antoine Booth from another powerhouse high school in DeMatha Catholic (Md.) High School. Booth can bring size and athleticism to a Spartan defense that is still unsure what its identity will be come fall.

Possibly the bigger commitment of the two came from three-star Texas quarterback Hampton Fay. Quarterback is a crucial position for each and every recruiting class regardless of the year, and Tucker recognized that, then landed Fay. While there is quite some time until Fay can step onto the field in East Lansing, he provides leadership and talent to a class looking for it.

Purdue has a little bit of momentum growing

After landing a few solid commitments last week, Jeff Brohm and the Purdue Boilermakers are back at it again. Brohm landed two commitments this past week, and both players are from the trenches. 

Earlier in the week, Purdue landed three-star offensive guard Zach Richards from in-state Mooresville High School. The Boilermakers landed a commitment from his fellow three-star high school teammate Jaelin Alstott-VanDeVanter last January.

The second of Purdue's two commitments came from three-star defensive end Khordae Syndor from Iona Preparatory School (N.J.) Purdue is a team with loads of skill talent, and with trench depth like this, many coming down the pipe don't ever count the Boilermakers out. Brohm is building now.

Iowa lands two players that hit their mold

When people think of the Iowa Hawkeyes they think of the nasty trench players that go on to dominate as a pro. This past week, Iowa added two more very talented trench pieces to its very impressive 2021 class.

Three-star tight end Max Llewellyn out of Urbandale, Iowa was the first of two players to commit to Kirk Ferentz and crew this week. While he is listed as a tight end at the moment, his college position will be on the other side of the ball as a defensive end. Llewellyn is a lengthy player that could end up being a very good defensive end with proper coaching.

Frentz's second commitment this past week came from three-star offensive tackle Beau Stephens of Blue Springs (Mo.) High School. Much like the other talented offensive linemen that have gone into the program before, Stephens is a giant man with lots of ability. Give him some time in this Iowa system, and he may just be another first-round pick for them.

Pat Fitzgerald gets his quarterback in 2021

Among Big Ten programs, Northwestern is one school that is off to a sneaky good start so far in 2021. The Wildcats have two four-star in linebacker Mac Uihlein and offensive tackle Caleb Tiernan.

Now they have their future quarterback with three-star Brendan Sullivan from Davison, Michigan committing to Northwestern last week. He is a giant quarterback prospect with plus athleticism and a big arm. While Fitzgerald has never had many quarterbacks of note, Sullivan might a future starter in Chicago for the Wildcats.

Clemson has first decommitment in three cycles

It was bound to happen sooner or later but likely not to this magnitude as five-star defensive end Korey Foreman, out of Centennial (Calif.) High School, re-opened his recruitment.

The reason is fairly simple, as he wanted to take visits, but Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has a very strict no-visit policy for his commitments. This is the Tigers' first decommit since the 2017 class.

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