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Big Ten: A Sleeper A Team
Last year, our biggest hit was Mason Monheim, who started the entire season for Illinois and lead the team in several defensive categories. Dan Vitale started as a true freshman for the Wildcats and Ben Cotton played a significant role for Nebraska.
Other guys around the conference who were once on this list making impacts include Jake Ryan, Allen Robinson, Tre Roberson, Desmond Morgan, Akeem Hunt, Donovonn and Young. Here are this year's choices.
Austin Schmidt, OT, Lewis Center Olentangy (Ohio)
There are some good guys in this class that I don't think get enough attention, but Schmidt gets the choice because I think out of all of them, he's probably gotten the least pub. He has a good frame on him at 6'6. He will have to add some weight, but do not be surprised if you see him out there for the Illini in a couple years.
Anthony Young, WR, Lakewood St. Edward (Ohio)
He gets lost in the shuffle a little bit because St. Eds isn't a pass heavy team, but what Young does have is pure speed. For a lankier kid, he breaks his share of arm tackles and also brings return ability to the table. He should thrive in Kevin Wilson's wide open offense.
LeShun Daniels, RB, Warren Harding (Ohio)
Daniels only had one other BCS offer - Boston College, the school he decommitted from when he chose the Hawkeyes. In total, he only had four offers, but we think a lot of schools will regret not giving the powerful 6'0, 215-lb back a harder look. Pure speed was a concern, but Mark Weisman, who didn't have many offers and was seen as a fullback had a great year last year. Daniels may do the same for the Hawkeyes.
Da'Mario Jones, WR, Westland John Glenn (Mich.)
Jones did not have a single other BCS offer to his name when the Wolverines offered and he accepted. Before that, he was committed to Central Michigan. At 6'2, 185-lbs he has good size to go along with ball skills and open field ability which he showed as a return man and running back as a senior. Since he didn't play on a great team, he got slept on a little. The opportunity for a wide receiver to emerge is there at Michigan and we think Jones is a good bet to do it.
Gerald Holmes, RB, Flint Carman-Ainsworth (Mich.)
Holmes was injured as a junior, only playing in five games. Hence, his only offers were from Toledo and Michigan State. As a senior, he showed why more schools should have looked his way. At 6'1, and nearly 200-lbs, he has a good frame. He's a tough runner who doesn't go down easily on first contact, and the Spartans are in the market for a power back.
Chris Wipson, LB, Plymouth Wayzata (Minn.)
It doesn't take a whole lot of tape to see what makes Wipson special. He's fast, aggressive and plays at full speed all the time. He only had one other Division-1 offer (Air Force) at the time of his commitment to the Gophers. He's likely to be a very good special teamer early on and once he adds some pounds, we think he'll be a Gopher stalwart.
Nathan Gerry, S, Sioux Falls (SD)
Tough to pick a sleeper in this class as most guys had good offer lists. Gerry, despite having a couple of Big Ten offers, is still a guy who doesn't get a ton of ink. He's a good athlete. I think he can do a lot of things for a defense, but see him as a future WILL that you can put over the slot. He has the tools to be able to cover, but will also come forward and hit.
Tommy Fuessel, WR, Lincoln-Way East (Ill.)
A one time Northern Illinois commit, Fuessel has legitimate sub 4.4 speed. He has split time between receiver and quarterback though, and his inexperience at receiver is partly why he did not have any other BCS offers. However, once he learns and puts it all together, he has gamebreaking open field speed.
Tim Gardner, OG, Lawrence Central (Ind.)
It's hard to even find a sleeper in this class, but Gardner didn't have any other BCS offers and had to earn his Ohio State offer at camp. You have to like a kid who did that though. He put in the work and he got it. As a senior, he had a great season. He dropped some pounds and the increase in mobility and agility was noticable. He's a strong kid with a good punch, and although he was a high school tackle, I see him as a guard and a good one for the Buckeyes.
Neiko Robinson, S, Century Northview (Fla.)
The first Florida product the Nittany Lions have gotten in some time is a good one. He had a couple of other Big Ten offers, but none from the SEC or ACC. A fine athlete, he does a nice job of playing centerfield as he has good instincts and ball skills. What stood out as well was that he wasn't just making interceptions, he was running them back for scores.
Johnny Daniels, DT, Chicago Foreman (Ill.)
Daniels did not have any other BCS offers, but we've seen him in person and on tape and like his frame (6'5, 241) and motor. The Boilers have had good luck with defensive linemen from the Chicago area like Kawann Short and Bruce Gaston and we believe Daniels may be the next in that line.
Leon Jacobs, OLB, Santa Clarita Golden Valley (Ca.)
This was a late add for new head coach Gary Andersen, and Jacobs has the size (6'4, 220-lbs) and athleticism to outplay his offer list and ranking. With the Badgers going to a 3-4, his length and ability to run (he also played tailback in high school) makes him a good fit as an outside linebacker/edge rusher.
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