Counter Intel: Rutgers Has Huge Week, Illinois Picking Up Steam Fast, Iowa Lands Another Big Man In The Trenches, Indiana Lands Its Own Aussie Punter

By Mick Walker on May 24, 2020 at 11:05 am
Brody Wisecarver
Brody Wisecarver (247Sports)

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

Rutgers grabs three out-of-state players, one Jersey native

As soon as Greg Schiano took over the job at Rutgers for his second stint, he began to work on building a fence around the talent-rich state of New Jersey. Schiano knows that if he wants to succeed at Rutgers, the Scarlet Knights will need to keep New Jersey's best home.

However, since it will be hard to land the upper echelon of Garden State talent until they have more on-field success, that plan is still in the early stages. Nonetheless, in his first full class at Rutgers, Schiano already has 18 commitments and half are New Jersey natives.

He added to that number this past week by landing three-star safety Desmond Igbinosun from Union High School. Standing at 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, Igbinosun should be an interesting player in Schiano's secondary. 

Despite half of the Knights' class being from their home state, that did not stop them from landing three out-of-state players this past week. On Tuesday, Rutgers got its first commitment of the week from three-star inside linebacker Austin Dean from Berkley Prep (Fla.) and landed Igbinosun the next day.

On Thursday, Cherry Creek (Co.) High School three-star center Gus Zilinskas pledged his services, and the program landed its final commitment of the week on the next day in Venice (Fla.) High School three-star cornerback Steffan Johnson for four commits in as many days.

Following that four-day stretch of grabbing a quartet of three-stars, Rutgers moved up to the 16th-ranked class in the country and seventh in the Big Ten. Whether or not Schiano can restore Rutgers' on-field product remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure – he knows how to recruit. And not just in New Jersey.

Smith finds success south of the Mason-Dixon Line

Entering May, Illinois had just one commitment, and that came all the way back in December. But the Fighting Illini have quickly picked up steam on the recruiting trail.

The first week of May saw Illinois secure a commitment from three-star wide receiver Prince Green from Griffin (Ga.) High School. Less than two weeks ago, it landed its third commitment in 2021 from three-star outside linebacker Trevor Moffitt from South Sumter (Fla.).

From there, things continued to trend up for the Illini. 

Sedarius McConnell, a three-star defensive lineman from Westlake (Atlanta) High School, got the Illini's party started this past week when he committed Wednesday afternoon. A little more than 24 hours later, the Illini got their second commitment in as many days when they landed three-star cornerback Daniel Edwards from Winter Park (Fla.) High School. Edwards marked their first top-1,000 nationally ranked recruit in the 2021 class.

On Saturday, Smith landed a commit from Missouri as he went into powerhouse DeSmet High School in St. Louis to get three-star offensive guard Brody Wisecarver. As soon as he committed, Wisecarver became the highest-rated member of Illinois' 2021 class and a top 40 commit to the program all-time.

On-field and recruiting success have come sparingly to Smith during his time at Illinois. Despite starting slowly in 2021, however, the Illini are beginning to show life on the trail, even though still they have the lowest-ranked class in the Big Ten and have no commits from the state of Illinois.

Iowa lands Big Man

Iowa's recruiting success has always stemmed from stocking up on talent in the trenches, and the 2021 cycle is no different.

This week, the Hawkeyes added to that defensive line group when three-star defensive tackle Jeremiah Pittman committed to Iowa on Monday. The 6-foot-2, 255-pound defensive standout from St. Viator (Ill.) High School should provide key size and depth for Iowa in the coming years. 

Kirk Ferentz and Co. currently have the ninth-best recruiting class in the country and third in the Big Ten with 15 commitments. Nine of those 15 are projected to play either offensive or defensive line.

Indiana gets its own Aussie punter

ProKick Australia has been hard at work during this pandemic, placing their stud punting prospects with college programs in need.

In the past few weeks, it has had kickers commit to Ohio State (with Jesse Mirco), Michigan State, Georgia Tech and Cincinnati, among others. This week, it set up New Zealand-based punter James Evans with the Indiana Hoosiers.

Standing at 6-foot-1 and 207 pounds, Evans is exactly the type of punter that ProKick constantly produces – big kid with a big leg. Evans' impact in the 2021 recruiting class for the Hoosiers may not be very big, but his future impact in Bloomington could be huge.

Tennessee adds three more

Tennessee has been as hot on the recruiting trail as any team during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Vols' recruiting success has them ranked No. 2 nationally behind Ohio State.

They added to that class this week by landing four-star athlete Kaemen Marley, who can play all over the field in Knoxville, in addition to three-stars Trinity Bell (a jumbo athlete who could also play anywhere) and tight end Miles Campbell from the Atlanta area.

With 24 players now committed in the 2021 class, it looks as though Tennessee will have to kill its own momentum at the risk of taking too many players. 

Carter To Clemson

Four-star outside linebacker Barrett Carter is a well-known name to Buckeye fans, as he was one of Ohio State's top targets for the position in 2021. However, Carter was unable to visit the Buckeyes before the NCAA shut down visits.

As summer visits became less and less likely, he decided to shut his recruitment down by committing to Clemson, joining his North Gwinnett (Ga.) High School teammate – cornerback Jordan Hancock, who committed to Clemson before the shutdown and had been one of the Buckeyes' top-two targets at the position prior to his commitment. 

Ever since Hancock's decision, Carter had been a Tiger lean, and he pulled the trigger on it this week.

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