Instant Impact: Mid-Atlantic's best will make presence felt in Big Ten
National Signing Day is seemingly light years away and some schools have already picked up commitments from cornerstone players. Here are the Mid-Atlantic players that figure to see meaningful time early in their college football careers.
Paris Ford: Pittsburgh
Recruiting overview: The motto “Pitt Is It” has applied to Ford for some time now. His recruitment was pretty much over before it began. Ford has been committed to Pittsburgh since mid-October and remains a solid commit despite pulling in offers from schools like Florida, Florida State, Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame and many others.
Impact potential: He’s a different player than ACC Rookie of the Year Jordan Whitehead but the combination of Ford, Whitehead and 2016 Rivals250 signee Damar Hamlin in the secondary will be formidable. Ford is an excellent ball hawk in the deep middle of the defensive and, despite his lean frame, isn’t afraid to go for the big hit. He has great range and can anticipate throws with ease.
Ryan Jones: North Carolina
Recruiting overview: Clemson, Tennessee, Georgia and Virginia Tech fought hard for Jones but the life-long Tar Heel fan decided that he couldn’t pass up a chance to play for North Carolina.
Impact potential: North Carolina is thin at wide receiver and the Tar Heels already hold commitments from three in the 2017 class. Jones is the highest rated of the three and he may not be done moving up the rankings. He has the size and speed to take the top off of defenses but he has the quickness to make a short catch, juke a few defenders, and score from anywhere on the field. Jones also has room to fill out his frame while keeping his athleticism.
Jack Coan: Wisconsin
Recruiting overview: Coan’s recruitment essentially came down to Wisconsin and Nebraska but it wasn’t even all that close. His relationship with Paul Chryst and his frequent visits to Madison didn’t make his decision much of a surprise.
Impact potential: Usually quarterbacks don’t see the field very early in their career but the Wisconsin quarterback depth chart features a redshirt senior, a redshirt freshman, and one incoming freshman so, as an early enrollee, Coan has a chance to be the starter in the first game of his freshman year. There is a lot to like about Coan’s game but his quick release, ability to read defenses, and mobility will help flatten out the learning curve once he gets on campus. The quicker Coan can start learning and practicing Wisconsin’s playbook, the better the chances are he starts.
AJ Dillon: Michigan
Recruiting overview: Dillon was originally thought to be a Notre Dame lean because of his bloodlines but Michigan beat the Irish, Florida State, Virginia and Wisconsin for Dillon’s commitment.
Impact potential: Coach Jim Harbaugh loves big, athletic running backs and Dillon certainly fits that mold. At 6-foot, 228 pounds, Dillon has the power to grind out yards between the tackles but is athletic enough to make defenders miss on the outside. Michigan doesn’t have many super talented underclassmen at running back so he will be able to compete with guys like Kareem Walker for playing time early in his career.
Dylan Rivers: Penn State
Recruiting overview: Penn State got on Rivers early and hosted him many times before pulling in his commitment.
Impact potential: Rivers has a chance to get into the rotation almost immediately at Penn State. The Nittany Lions have a shortage of talented inside linebackers and Rivers could step right in and receive some playing time. Rivers brings an element of toughness to the interior of the defense and excels at stopping the run. His athleticism has surprised some of his opponents and he will be an asset in pass coverage in the middle of the field.