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Big Ten spotlight: Top position needs as NSD approaches

Just before the Spring Evaluation Period last April, we took a look at the positions that most needed to be addressed with each Big Ten program through this 2018 class. Some schools have since addressed those needs, while others are still trying to add prospects to those positions. Here is an updated look at the top position needs for each class with less than two months before the early signing period.

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Chris Olave
Nick Lucero/Rivals.com

Position: Wide Receiver

Targets: Quarterback was the clear position of need for Illinois when this class started, but Lovie Smith met that with three commitments. Although one has since decommitted, the Illini are sitting secure at the quarterback position in 2018. The biggest need remaining in this 2018 class is now wide receiver. New offers continue to go out to the position, with three-star Chris Olave a recent recipient. California prospects Nikko Hall and Khalil Shakir are likely to take visits to Champaign in the coming months.


Carter Bradley

Position: Quarterback

Targets: For the second class in a row Indiana is sitting here in October without a quarterback commitment. This is the most important position on the field, and in a recruiting class, and the Hoosiers have missed out on their “A” targets at the position again, which is likely to come back and bite them on the field in future years. Offers are out to a pair of prospects in Florida – three-star Carter Bradley and two-star Devin Black – but the Hoosiers are going to have to cast a wider net soon, or hope they get a second shot at one of their Tier 1 guys.


Dillon Doyle

Position: Linebacker

Targets: This was the position we identified as the biggest need for Iowa back in the spring, and the need has actually increased since the program parted ways with three-star linebacker Mike Bruner, who was the first commit in this 2018 class. Iowa faces attrition at the position through graduation following the 2017 season and needs bodies to restock the cupboard. In-state three-star Dillon Doyle remains committed, while hybrid guys like Ben VanSumeren and Paul Moala are recent offers. It appears likely additional offers will go out soon.


Joseph Boletepeli
Nick Lucero/Rivals.com

Position: Defensive Line

Targets: The loss of Jesse Aniebonam to injury has highlighted Maryland’s need for a better pass rush, and the Terrapins' defense ranking toward the bottom of the conference this season. Head coach D.J. Durkin has started to address those needs with commitments from a pair of defensive tackles and a pair of defensive ends in this class. The pursuit of defensive linemen in 2018 still continues, however, despite limited numbers to work with. They recently hosted three-star defensive end Joseph Boletepeli for an official visit and remain a player for top, local product Eyabi Anoma.


Ronnie Perkins

Position: Defensive Tackle

Targets: Star interior defensive lineman Maurice Hurst graduates after this season, and Michigan has not landed a defensive tackle to replace him in this class. Their lone defensive line commit is four-star Aidan Hutchinson, who has the size to play several positions on the line, but is probably best suited for the five-technique role. Rivals250 St. Louis defensive linemen Ronnie Perkins is set to come in for an official visit in December, and he could play several positions. Michael Thompson, Rick Sandidge, Jordan Davis and Tyler Friday are other candidates Michigan is still pursuing.


Parks Gissinger
Three Step

Position: Defensive end

Targets: Running back and defensive tackle were the two biggest needs for Michigan State when we examined this question last spring, but the program's needs have evolved in the last six months and defensive end has emerged as a more serious issue. Three-stars Zachary Slade and Parks Gissinger are committed, but the Spartans just hosted North Carolina native Joseph Boletepeli for an official visit this past weekend. Watch for more names to emerge here, possibly even some committed to other schools, although the Spartans are limited in their remaining 2018 spots.


Grant Norton
Nick Lucero/Rivals.com

Position: Offensive Tackle

Targets: The 23 commits in this class are already more than Minnesota has spots for at this time, and the Gophers are primarily targeting best-available as opposed to specific positions with any further commitments. They addressed their offensive line needs pretty well in 2018, with three-stars Grant Norton and Jack York having the ability to play tackle. What P.J. Fleck needs, though, is more immediate help and that would likely come in the form of a JUCO candidate. Iowa Western’s Noah Banks perfectly fits that bill, and he just received a Minnesota offer.


Brian Hightower
Nick Lucero/Rivals.com

Position: Wide Receiver

Targets: A quick look down Nebraska’s official visitor list for the 2017 season tells you what you need to know about where the Cornhuskers' heaviest focus is right now in this 2018 class. Five wide receiver targets have already been in for official visits, including Miami commit Brian Hightower and Texas four-star Tommy Bush who attended the big Oct. 6 official visit weekend in Lincoln. Four-star Joshua Moore and three-star Cameron Brown are already committed in 2018, but there remains a need for more bodies at the position.


Alec Pierce

Position: Wide Receiver

Targets: The 2018 class is pretty much wrapped up in Evanston. They could go after one, maybe two more guys at the most in this class, but the 15 commits currently on the board are about all they have room for in this cycle. Northwestern got its last commitment in June, and since then the coaches have only kept their eyes open for any opportunities that emerge or prospects who make strides as seniors. If there is a position that could still be addressed it is wide receiver/athlete, and in-state prospect Alec Pierce could possibly get a late look from the Wildcats.


Jackson Carman

Position: Offensive Tackle

Targets: Back in the spring we noted the long term depth at offensive tackle is a concern for the Buckeyes. In the interim they received a commitment from four-star Max Wray and are still in on most of their top targets, including five-star Jackson Carman who officially visits this weekend. Other top targets include four-stars Nick Petit-Frere and Rasheed Walker along with five-star Tennessee commit Cade Mays, who now says an Ohio State visit is possible.


Micah Parsons
Nick Lucero / Rivals.com

Position: Defensive Line

Targets: Back in the spring it was wide receiver that provided the Nittany Lions' biggest need, but with three commitments at the position James Franklin’s focus has turned elsewhere. Based on where their efforts have been placed recently, the defensive line is now front and center. Rivals100 defensive end Tyreke Smith was in Happy Valley this past weekend and four-star Jayson Oweh is scheduled to take an official visit in November. Five-star Micah Parsons was once a commit, and could still end up in this class as well.


Michael Parker

Position: Tight End

Targets: With this first, full class in West Lafayette, Jeff Brohm probably wishes he had 50 scholarship offers to give. Although they have several commits from defensive ends and wide receivers already among their 22 total commitments, they could use more instant impact guys at both positions. Tight end is the one spot where they have nothing yet in 2018, and although the need may not be as immediate for next season, it is for future depth. Alabama native Michael Parker is the guy they want, but they’re battling the home-state Auburn Tigers for him.


Kaymar Mimes

Position: Defensive Tackle

Targets: As we noted back in the spring, Rutgers caught a lot of tough breaks at the defensive tackle position in the 2017 class, and 2018 is shaping up much the same way. The program's Tier 1 targets at the position have all committed elsewhere, but several of their outstanding scholarship offers are to prospects the Scarlet Knights project to defensive tackle. In-state two-star Khristopher Banks is listed as an offensive guard, but Rutgers is recruiting him for defensive tackle. Similarly, Kaymar Mimes is listed at defensive end but has the frame to grow into a tackle.


Tyler Bentley

Position: Defensive Tackle

Targets: This was the biggest position of need we identified for the Badgers back at the start of this class, and it remains a focus even though they have landed three-star Bryson Williams in the interim. The Badgers do not have many spots remaining in 2018, and acted as if they were full over the summer. However, the fall has brought renewed interest in several prospects on the defensive line, including Kentucky commit Tyler Bentley, Idaho native Tommy Togiai and recent Temple decommit Christian Barmore.