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Midwest Breakdown: Current five-stars in college football

Malik McDowell (Getty Images)

While former top five-ranked prospects Dorial Green-Beckham, Laquon Treadwell and Jaylon Smith have jumped early for the NFL, several more former five-stars from the Midwest are still playing at the collegiate level. This week we take a look at each in our Five-Star Tracker.

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Breakdown: Pipkins appeared in 18 games over his first two seasons at Michigan before tearing an ACL five games into his sophomore season. His career in Ann Arbor never got back on track, and he announced intentions to transfer to Texas Tech prior to the 2015 season after claiming Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh encouraged him to medically retire. Pipkins sat out the 2015 season due to NCAA transfer rules, and is now a starter at defensive tackle for the Red Raiders in his final collegiate season. Through three games Pipkins has tallied eight tackles, including one for loss.

Breakdown: Kiel has one of the all-time strangest five-star recruitment and post-recruitment sagas in the Rivals era. After originally committing to Indiana as a junior, Kiel flipped his commitment to LSU and enrolled early with the Tigers. He did not make it to a single class in Baton Rouge, though, returning home to Indiana and enrolling at Notre Dame. After redshirting his freshman season, Kiel then transferred to Cincinnati where he threw for 6,031 yards and 50 touchdowns in two seasons as the starter. Prior to his final year with the Bearcats, however, Kiel was demoted to third string. He has seen action in just one game this season and attempted zero passes.

Breakdown: An offensive tackle prospect coming out of the Cleveland area, Kalis has made his mark as an offensive guard for the Wolverines, appearing in 40 games and starting 32 of those contests at right guard over the last four seasons. Kalis redshirted his freshman year at Michigan. Following the 2015 season he was named all-Big Ten third team by the media and all-Big Ten Honorable Mention by the coaches. He was projected pre-season as a top five offensive guard prospect for the 2017 NFL Draft by draft scout Matt Miller.

Breakdown: Isaac appeared in 10 games as a true freshman for USC, tallying 236 yards and two touchdowns on 40 carries. Due to his mother’s health problems, Isaac decided to transfer back to the Midwest, choosing Michigan. After sitting the 2014 season due to NCAA transfer rules, Isaac played a back-up role to starting tailback De’Veon Smith and finished with 205 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries. He made his first career start for the Wolverines against Maryland. This season, Isaac is part of a rotation of tailbacks. Through three games he has tallied 76 yards and one touchdown on 22 carries.

Breakdown: McDowell arrived at Michigan State after a drawn-out recruiting process that saw him and his parents sign a letter of intent just hours before the signing period closed. McDowell made an immediate impact for the Spartans, playing in all 13 games and being named to multiple all-Freshman teams despite Mark Dantonio’s track record of playing few first-year players. As a sophomore, McDowell became a full-time starter and ended the season with 41 tackles, including 13 for loss and 4.5 sacks. He was named second team all-Big Ten by both the coaches and media following the 2015 season. This year McDowell has tallied seven tackles, including 1.5 for loss and a quarterback pressure through two games. He is widely projected as a first-round pick in the NFL Draft if he leaves school this winter.

Breakdown: Hayes committed to USC and even moved to California for his junior year of high school. Within a month he was back in Michigan. The commitment to the Trojans eventually fell through and Hayes committed to Notre Dame as a senior, enrolling in South Bend mid-year. After impressing during spring football, Hayes came into his freshman season with expectations that he may be able to bolster the Fighting Irish’s pass rush. The 6-foot-3, 250-pound prospect has gotten work at both linebacker and defensive end during his short career at Notre Dame, but is primarily playing with his hand in the ground. He has seen action in all three of the Irish’s games this season, totaling two tackles in spot duty. He deflected a pass that led to an interception against Michigan State.