Recruiting Q&A: A Look at the Midwest with Josh Helmholdt
With National Signing Day less than a month away, SI exchanged emails with the seven Rivals.com regional recruiting analysts to get their perspectives on the major storylines between now and February. First up is Midwest analyst Josh Helmholdt.
SI: Name your top three "sleepers," either committed or uncommitted, and explain why you think they will impact the next level.
Josh Helmholdt: When Chelsea, Mich., running back Berkley Edwards (5-foot-9, 189 pounds) committed to Minnesota in December, the Golden Gophers were the only BCS team to offer him a scholarship. He is the younger brother of former NFL first-round draft pick Braylon Edwards and the son of former Houston Oiler Stan Edwards, so Berkley understands what it takes to reach the top tier of the sport. Another possible sleeper is Cincinnati (Ohio) La Salle cornerback Jaleel Hytchye (5-foot-11, 165) became Mark Stoops' first commitment after Stoops took over at Kentucky. Like Edwards, Hytchye consistently runs in the 4.4 range for the 40-yard dash. My third and final prospect is Hamilton, Ohio, linebacker Marcus Oliver (6-foot-1, 225) recorded 135 tackles in just eight games as a senior. Indiana was the only BCS school to offer him, and he could help the Hoosiers immediately.
SI: Which recent coaching departure (or new hire) will have the most influence on your region's recruiting landscape?
JH: Bret Bielema's departure from Wisconsin was so sudden and unexpected that it halted a developing 2013 class and the Big Ten's top 2014 class. Wisconsin was hoping for a strong late push before National Signing Day after another Big Ten championship and Rose Bowl appearance, but that won't be the case. Now, the Badgers are simply trying to hold on to the prospects that previously committed. A few departures have occurred already, most notably class of 2014 defensive tackle Craig Evans (6-foot-3, 325 pounds) from Sun Prairie, Wis., but Gary Andersen enters with the chance to save a majority of the 2013 prospects who committed before the transition occurred.
SI: Name three teams whose stock is rising and three others whose is falling.
JH: Notre Dame's undefeated regular season and national championship runner-up finish have it recruiting as well as any team in the country. Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson has reeled in four four-star commitments in the 2013 class after the Hoosiers had signed just one in the previous 10 classes combined. While Tim Beckman had a lackluster first season at Illinois, his staff has put together the Big Ten's third-best recruiting class with a month left until National Signing Day.
Iowa's stock has dropped noticeably in recent years. The Hawkeyes do not have a single four- or five-star prospect committed in the 2013 class. Tommy Tuberville is having troubles in his first few weeks at Cincinnati, and close to half of the Bearcats' commitments (who pledged when Butch Jones was coach) are looking elsewhere. Darrell Hazell has his hands full reclaiming the Purdue brand. The Boilermakers had the nation's No. 75 recruiting class heading into the final month of the 2013 class.
SI: Who is the best remaining uncommitted player in the region?
JH: Five-star wide receiver Laquon Treadwell is the big prize left in the Midwest. The No. 1-ranked wide receiver nationally and No. 10 player overall in the 2013 class, Treadwell has Ole Miss leading Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
SI: Which player in your region will have the best opportunity to contribute immediately?
JH: With Manti Te'o departing for the NFL, Notre Dame will be looking for playmakers for its defense, and linebacker Jaylon Smith out of Fort Wayne (Ind.) Bishop Luers is one of the best playmaking linebackers to come out of the prep ranks in the last five years. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Smith can put his hand on the ground and rush the passer or line up over a receiver and use his 4.4 speed in pass coverage. He should be utilized well in the Irish defense from day one.
SI: Which player in your region impresses you so much that you'd be willing to guarantee success on the next level?
JH: Treadwell, the 6-foot-3, 198-pound wide receiver out of Crete-Monee High School in Illinois, was so advanced as a senior he could have stepped onto a college field and helped several BCS programs last fall. His size, speed and technical understanding of the position are extremely rare and should allow him to step into the starting lineup at the school of his choice as a true freshman.