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Tuesday Morning Brews: Dwayne Haskins Joins The Rivalry

Today's links are heavy on recruiting, with Ohio State scoring big against Maryland, Chris Ash getting his first recruit, and James Franklin making a stand with Lavert Hill.

Evan Habeeb/Getty Images

Hitting the Links Is Rusty

Jim Harbaugh Is In The Hunt For Nebraska's Top Target

Isaiah Simmons, a 6'3", 205-pound receiver/safety out of Olathe, Kansas, is both a track star and a baller. He'd be great at either position.

Michigan Still Alive For Mecole Hardman, Jr.

Bud Elliott had a good article this week on how Alabama can keep recruiting guys even without being able to promise early playing time. Hardman is favoring Alabama, and I don't think he minds the competition that he'd face in Tuscaloosa. In fact, I think having Jourdan Lewis and Jabrill Peppers holding down the fort in Ann Arbor is a plus in his recruitment.

To put Hardman's top seven another way, Mecole wants to join either Nick Saban and Jeremy Pruitt, Jim Harbaugh, Urban Meyer and Greg Schiano, Brent Venables at Clemson, Kirby Smart and Mel Tucker, Bob Shoop and Willie Martinez, or Geoff Collins. For the most part, this is a list of intense people. It's also a group of brilliant coaches who have developed NFL-ready players. I think Mecole wants to embrace and win those battles.

Dwayne Haskins To Ohio State | What Now For The Terps?

Urban Meyer also flipped a four-star linebacker from Maryland, Keandre Jones. Durkin has a bit of a hill to climb.

The competition for Ohio State's next QB will be an interesting one, but it's a little early to project who is in the best shape to take over the offense. Still:

Taking Stock of Ohio State's Recruiting Class

Urban Meyer also added a four-star receiver he had been coveting, Florida prospect Binjimen Victor. Let me throw in a #hottake here for you: sometime around 2020, Victor will be starting for an NFL team. He's a quick-twitch guy with great speed and the kind of height (6'4") that will stand out at any level. Yeah, he needs to add some muscle. Shouldn't be a problem.

Penn State Adds Tim Banks | Matt Limegrover, Too

James Franklin adds a couple old Big Ten West assistants. I'll hand out grades for every assistant coaching change on Thursday, but both these guys are Grade-A choices, especially since Banks is sharing coordinator duties with Brent Pry. Banks will also serve as safeties coach, and Illinois' strong suit the last couple seasons has been their DB's.

Recent film of Epenesa - a 2017 defensive end and five-star player - is hard to come by, but his 2013 tape would grade out at around a mid-three-star level, and that was as a high school freshman. Players obviously grow a lot in high school, so the fact that he looked like a solid college prospect at 14 or 15 says a lot.

Rutgers Steals Jafar Williams From Purdue

Fun fact: parrots can be really annoying to cats. They're like cats to cats.

So Just Who Was Lawrence Phillips?

Phillips, a Nebraska running back in the mid-'90s, died this week. This was an interesting read about his life and legacy, and Phillips' full Wikipedia page was an absorbing read, as well. For the click-lazy, here was an excerpt on his time at Nebraska:

When the 1995 season finally arrived, Phillips became an early front-runner for the Heisman Trophy. In Nebraska's second game of the season, against Michigan State - playing its first game under new coach Nick Saban - Phillips had 206 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 22 carries. After only two games, he was averaging more than 11 yards per carry and had scored six touchdowns.

Hours after the team returned from East Lansing, Phillips was arrested for assaulting his ex-girlfriend, Kate McEwen, a basketball player for the Nebraska women's team, and was subsequently suspended by head coach Tom Osborne. The case became a source of controversy and media attention, with the perception arising that Osborne was coddling a star player by not kicking Phillips off the team permanently. Osborne walked out on a press conference when asked "If one of your players had roughed up a member of your family and had dragged her down a flight of steps, would you have reinstated that player to the team?" Outraged Nebraska faculty proposed that any student convicted of a violent crime be prohibited from representing the university on the football field. Osborne defended the decision, saying that abandoning Phillips might do more harm than good, stating the best way to help Phillips was within the structured environment of the football program. ...

Despite pressure from the national media, Osborne named Phillips the starter for the Fiesta Bowl, which pitted No. 1 Nebraska against No. 2 Florida for the national championship. In the game, Phillips rushed for 165 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries and scored a touchdown on a 16-yard reception in the Cornhuskers' 62-24 victory. The performance boosted Phillips' draft stock. With Osborne's encouragement, he decided to turn pro a year early.

Top 5 Nebraska Players To Replace

Valentine was occasionally dominant, and the loss of him and Collins (a combined 620 pounds in the middle) will shine the spotlight on Mike Riley's ability to develop linemen and guard the run.

Franklin is pulling out all the stops on Hill. Penn State's coach has had a terrible off-season so far, with the latest news being Akeel Lynch is leaving, in addition to Geno Lewis, Gary Wooten, Troy Reeder, and Daquan Worley, and Jim Haslett has moved on as well. Hill has decommitted amidst stiff competition from Michigan and MSU, Harbaugh is fighting tooth and nail for Penn State commit Quinn Nordin, and other programs are smelling blood in the water.

This is Franklin's time to shine, as he's hung his hat on recruiting great players to join the program. But the bread and butter of those classes - the DMV region - is seeing increased attention from schools like Ohio State and Michigan, while Rutgers and Maryland have both hired guys who are committed to winning more of those battles.

This is also where I'll pat myself on the back for this piece I wrote in September, which talked about Lavert Hill's role in the power struggle for the Midwest. It's held up pretty well.

Indiana Loses S&C Coach Mark Hill To Kentucky

This is indeed a big loss. Kevin Wilson will turn to Keith Caton, who has been rising up the ranks at Baylor.

Indiana's New DC: Tom Allen | Dan Feeney Will Not Declare

Let's start by summarizing Indiana's defensive roster: some really great linemen, even with Darius Latham departing, a couple very athletic linebackers and some more giant liabilities who allow big plays, and a young and largely green secondary.

Tom Allen will probably be switching Indiana from its 3-4 of the last few years to a 4-2-5 look, which will probably help stifle some of the big gains that it's been allowing around the line of scrimmage. If - and it's a big if - IU can develop some of those DBs, it's very possible that a 4-2-5 defense would help prevent some big gains through the simple addition of extra speed and bodies around the backfield. That puts pressure on DB coaches Noah Joseph and Brandon Shelby, the latter of whom has done some underrated work with Tim Bennett and Michael Hunter in 2013, and Rashard Fant more recently.

Illinois Adds Former Texas A&M Commit

After a silent month on the recruiting trail, Bill Cubit got four pledges over this past weekend - with Zarrian Holcombe leading the way. Holcombe is a great pick-up - a 6'5", 220-pound receiver/tight end with very smooth athleticism. He's listed as a mid-three-star out of Humble, Texas.

If you were curious about the others: Doug Kramer, Jr. (6'3", 274) is a much better offensive lineman than his two-star ranking; finally, Illinois is recruiting linemen with real mobility, and a mean streak and hustle to boot. Jake Hansen (6'1", 215) is a two-star linebacker from Florida. His game is as simple as reading and reacting, following the ball and tackling the ball. But he's fast and goes all-out; the aggressiveness is fun to watch. Then, there's Drake Spears (6'1", 202) out of Aurora, Ill. Spears is a very nice safety prospect. Overall, all these moves get a big thumbs up from me to Bill Cubit.

Chris Ash's first commit. I've already used up my winter allotment of Chris Ash criticism, so I'll just leave this point about the 6'3", 213-pound unranked defensive end: he's extremely raw from a technique perspective. His highlight film is a lot of rushing the passer without even being in a three-point stance many times. So, there's a hill to climb to become a Big Ten starter. Also, good luck to him.

Memphis LB Decommits From Tennessee, Bashes The Coaches

Tim Hart decommitted yesterday. Kevin Wilson and William Inge will be traveling to see him today. Hart is also getting pursued by LSU, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State.

Predicting Every Big Ten Quarterback In 2016

For Penn State, Tommy Stevens has a higher ceiling. But Trace McSorley looked very solid in back-up action against Georgia. Penn State will be fine here as long as the position battle is decided by who wins, and not who gets injured.

Dantonio Reflects On Opportunities, Looks For Closure

I don't think the way this season ended will kill Michigan State. I think it's another motivational tool, another reason to keep working over whatever success they've managed, and something that will keep MSU fighting in 2016. They have a tough schedule next year - mirroring the Wolverines, in that sense - including two out-of-conference games with BYU and Notre Dame. But it's hard to bet against them.

And finally, Wisconsin may be announcing their new DC soon. We'll see what happens.