Midwest Spotlight: Storylines to watch in October
Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Clint Cosgrove takes a look at some of the most intriguing storylines in the Midwest as the calendar flips to October. That includes contested recruiting battles, additional five-star prospects, potential elite receiver movement and a chance for the Big Ten to win its first recruiting title of the Rivals era.
THIS SERIES: Mid-South storylines
CLASS OF 2026 RANKINGS: Rivals100
WHICH PROGRAM WILL WIN OUT FOR RYAN WINGO?
The St. Louis (Mo.) University High standout is currently the highest-ranked 2024 prospect left on the board and the only five-star that has yet to announce a college decision. Wingo's recruitment has taken a number of twists and turns with Tennessee once considered the destination prior to a group of new programs stealing the momentum. Tennessee could likely be out of the picture with Texas emerging as the new media darling pick for Wingo.
While Texas could very well land what many could argue as the freakiest athlete left on the board, Missouri is not out of the mix and despite what has been reported, Wingo maintains that he is not a silent commit to Texas. This will be a fun recruitment to follow down the stretch and even though Texas and Missouri look to be the programs with the best chance to land the elite pass catcher, the longer his recruitment goes, the more likely we are to see new programs come in with a strong pitch – especially with the lack of elite receiver talent left on the board.
WILL MISSOURI KEEP WILLIAMS NWANERI IN THE FOLD?
Nwaneri shocked many when he announced his pledge to the Missouri over longtime favorites Oklahoma and Georgia on Aug. 14. Just a few days after his announcement, the five-star defensive lineman was spotted wearing Oklahoma gloves during his team's pre-season scrimmage in turn leading to speculation that Nwaneri was far from a lock to remain with the Tigers.
The facts are this, Nwaneri is the highest-ranked defensive prospect in the 2024 class, he could make a push for the top overall spot in 2024 and Oklahoma, Georgia and others aren't likely to end their pursuit of the dynamic defensive lineman anytime soon. Missouri's red hot start along with Luther Burden's emergence as one of college football's best receivers – after shunning national powers to play at Missouri – will only help the cause of Eliah Drinkwitz and staff, but this recruitment won't be over until Nwaneri signs on the dotted line come Dec. 20.
The Midwest has an unusual amount of wide receiver talent in the 2024 class with eight of the 26 Rivals250 receivers calling the region home. Wingo remains the lone receiver from the elite group yet to announce his pledge with Mylan Graham and Jeremiah McClellan committed to Ohio State, Cam Williams to Notre Dame, NiTareon Tuggle to Georgia, Nicholas Marsh to Michigan State, I'Marion Stewart to Michigan and Kyan Berry-Johnson to Wisconsin. One would assume things were pretty cut and dry with seven of the eight locked in to a program, but this is where it gets interesting.
Graham is heavily connected to Ohio State wide receiver coach Brian Hartline and should Hartline receive a head coaching opportunity prior to signing day, Graham could follow him or re-open his recruitment. McClellan, while solid with his pledge to the Buckeyes, is being heavily pursued by Oregon and his home state Missouri Tigers which potentially leaves an opening for a change of plans. Schools are continuing to pursue Tuggle, and with the recent decommitment of Ny Carr, one begins to wonder if Tuggle could follow suit. Then you have Marsh who is currently committed to a Michigan State program that is going through a coaching change and is fresh off of a game day visit to Colorado which appeared to go as good as coach Prime and staff could have hoped for.
Williams seems to be a lock to Notre Dame and same can be said about Berry-Johnson to Wisconsin and Stewart to Michigan. But, all three are having phenomenal seasons and with few elite uncommitted receivers across the nation, we could see a whole lot of moving and shaking among the Midwest receiver group.
NEW FIVE-STARS EMERGING
The region currently has three of the nation's 21 five-star recruits in Nwaneri, Wingo and Justin Scott. With 32 five-stars being the goal come our final rankings release, that leaves a minimum of 11 five-star slots remaining at the minimum as we could see more open if any of the current group lose their coveted fifth star.
CJ Carr at No. 22 is the highest-ranked four-star in the nation and Mylan Graham at No. 27 is the highest-ranked four-star receiver. If nothing were to change, both fall with in the 32 player five-star threshold and each could very well earn the extra star come our final rankings release. Additionally, Ohio State offensive line commit Ian Moore, Michigan running back commit Jordan Marshall and Notre Dame wide receiver commit Cam Williams are all within the top 50 as things stand today which puts them well within striking distance of an extra star.
Then you have another group of recruits from the region in Bryce West, Brauntae Johnson, Brian Robinson, Marquise Lightfoot, NiTareon Tuggle, Brandon Davis-Swain, Jeremiah McClellan and Grant Brix who all sit inside the top 100, play positions of value and could make moves with continued high end performances. I see two as being the very minimum when it comes to Midwest prospects getting the five-star bump, but we could potentially see as many as four or five when all is said and done.
COULD OHIO STATE WIN THE NATIONAL RECRUITING TITLE?
An SEC program has won the national recruiting title every year dating back to 2016. In fact, since the Rivals team recruiting rankings debuted in 2002, Texas and USC are the only non-SEC programs to have finished at the top of the Rivals Team Recruiting Rankings. Ohio State has finished No. 2 overall on multiple occasions throughout the years, but has yet to win it all. This could finally be the year.
The Buckeyes recently overtook Georgia for the top spot in the 2024 team rankings, and with signing day still a few months away, a recruiting crown that is well within reach is far from a foregone conclusion.
Ohio State will likely need to hold on to all of its five-star commits in Jeremiah Smith, Air Noland, Justin Scott and Eddrick Houston to keep the top spot. Should the Buckeyes lose any of those elite commits it would likely require five-star bumps from one or more of its current four-star pledges in Ian Moore, Mylan Graham and Bryce West.
The best case scenario for Ohio State to become the first Big Ten recruiting champion of the Rivals era would be to hold onto all of the current five-star commits and then get a bump from one of the four-stars.