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Inside the numbers: Elite Midwest talent on rise

Hunter Johnson
Hunter Johnson (

From Ohio to Oklahoma and nearly every state in-between, the Midwest is one of the largest recruiting territories in the country. This week we take a look at some of the more interesting numbers trending in the region for the class of 2017.

3 - Midwest prospects rated as five-stars


From a depth standpoint, 2017 looks like a pretty standard year. Some states like Iowa are a little deeper than normal, but the region as a whole is producing talent at a rate commensurate with previous classes.

When it comes to elite talent, however, 2017 is one of the strongest years in recent memory. Three prospects have already earned five-star status: Miamisburg, Ohio offensive tackle Josh Myers (an Ohio State commit), Brownsburg, Ind., quarterback Hunter Johnson (a Clemson commit), and Detroit Cass Tech wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones (undecided). Counting Iowa defensive end commit A.J. Epenesa, who ranks No. 28 in the Rivals100, the region has four players in the Top 30. If that numbers holds, it would be the highest number of Top 30 prospects out of the Midwest since the 2012 class.

41 - Midwest prospects already committed to Power Five schools

With earlier offers come earlier commitments, and 40 commitments out of the Midwest before the Spring Evaluation Period even starts is a large number. That number grows to 51 when you include all FBS commitments, as 10 additional prospects from the region have pledged to Mid-American Conference schools already.

Where the rate of early commitments is the highest is with top-ranked prospects in the region. Out of the 27 Midwest prospects rated in the Rivals250, 11 are already pledged to college programs. As the last few classes have taught us, de-commitments will surely come before the first Wednesday in February hits next year, but the rate of early commitments shows no signs of slowing.

6 - Highest number of Midwest prospects committed to one Power Five school

Ohio State has a ridiculous class going early in 2017, with 13 total commits, including two five-stars and another seven ranked in the Rivals250. Not surprisingly, the Buckeyes are locking down in-state talent early, with Myers the headliner. They also went into rival Michigan’s backyard earlier this month to land four-star Ann Arbor (Mich.) Pioneer linebacker Antjuan Simmons.

The Buckeyes are not the only Big Ten team cleaning up inside their own state early in 2017, however. Iowa has commits from four of the top seven in-state prospects and already has its headliner in the class – Rivals100 defensive end A.J. Epenesa from Edwardsville, Ill.

The team that actually has the most early Midwest commitments may be a bit of a surprise, though the recent recruiting efforts of head coach P.J. Fleck and his staff at Western Michigan should have us expecting the Broncos to keep pushing the MAC’s recruiting ceiling higher every year. Seven of Western Michigan’s 10 early commits are from the state of Illinois, including Chicago Phillips defensive tackle Chris Elmore who was one of three additions to Western Michigan's commitment list this past weekend.

1 - Prospects from Nebraska with an FBS offer

The state of Nebraska is always one of the later ones to see college coaches driving through their state, and because of their location, the prospects in the state tend to get under-recruited. Never has that been more evident than this 2017 class, where only three FBS offers have gone out to prospects in the state and they are all held by one individual –- Aurora tight end Austin Allen.

The 6-foot-8, 225-pound Allen landed his first offer just a month ago from the home-state Cornhuskers. Iowa State and Central Florida have since followed, making Allen the lone recipient of FBS offers in the state thus far. Others, like Bellevue West offensive lineman Tyler Ciurej and Ashland Greenwood defensive tackle Brett Kitrell are prospects to watch as the spring evaluation period approaches, but thus far they only have FCS offers.

10.55 - 100 meter time of Canadian ATH Chuba Hubbard

Since Canada is part of my coverage area, I’m going to give our friends to the north a little love. Canada has been producing college football talent consistently for many years, but tends to see their best prospects transfer to schools in the States, as is the case with Rivals250 2017 prospects Jonathan Sutherland and Luiji Vilain, who are from the country’s capital of Ottawa, but board at the Episcopal School in Virginia.

One 2017 prospect who has stayed in Canada and has seen his stock take off this winter is Sherwood Park (Alb.) Bev Facey athlete Chuba Hubbard. The No. 1 ranked Canadian youth sprinter in the 100 meters, Hubbard’s film shows he translates that speed to the field and he could project to running back, defensive back or maybe wide receiver in college. Colorado State extended the 6-foot-1, 190-pounder his first offer in February, and in less than a month, that offer list grew to 16 schools.