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Midwest Spotlight: The 12 biggest commitments this spring

Jaylen Reed
Jaylen Reed (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

This spring has brought a very unique recruiting landscape, forcing coaches to adjust their recruiting approaches. Some staffs are doing that better than others, and being rewarded with new additions to their 2021 recruiting classes. Here is a look at the 12 biggest commitments in the Midwest region through the first four weeks of the spring season.

MORE: Cincinnati keeps three-star OL Mao Glynn home

CLASS OF 2021 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

CLASS OF 2022: Top 100

1. AVANTE DICKERSON, Minnesota

P.J. Fleck has been bulldozing recruiting obstacles and setting new expectations since his time at Western Michigan. He went into Florida and signed a pair of four-star linemen in his first, full recruiting class, and now he goes into the backyard of his Big Ten West rival and lands a Rivals250 defensive back who had never visited Minnesota’s campus. That type of recruiting feat gives the Gophers' the nod for the biggest Midwest commitment this spring.

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2. JAYLEN ANDERSON, West Virginia

The state of Ohio has been key to some of the best West Virginia recruiting classes of the past, but it took Neal Brown a little while to break into the Buckeye State. His first commitment from Ohio did not come until this past January, but the second-year head coach has quickly found his stride. The addition of Anderson on Thursday was a huge get, not only because of the talent the four-star back possesses, but also because of the programs the Mountaineers beat to secure his services.

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3. MAC UIHLEIN, Northwestern

This is the highest-ranked Midwest prospect to commit this spring. It was not a surprise that the private Uihlein decided to stay at home and play for Pat Fitzgerald, but this was a big get nonetheless for a Northwestern program that is coming off its worst season in almost 20 years. In Uihlein, Fitzgerald has a linebacker who plays the game not too unlike he did during an All-American career for the Wildcats.

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4. MAO GLYNN, Cincinnati

Cincinnati has been one of the best Group of Five recruiting teams under Luke Fickell. If you want to compete with Power Five programs on the field, you have to beat them out for recruits off the field and the Bearcats are able to do that consistently. They were the only non-Power Five program in Mao Glynn’s top five, and they were the team that walked away with his commitment this past Saturday. Cincinnati gets the state of Ohio’s top interior line prospect in 2021, and also continues their hometown recruiting momentum.

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5. TYSON WATSON, Michigan State

There are other prospects rated higher than Watson on this list, but few who are as important for the team they committed to. Michigan State’s Mel Tucker came into East Lansing when most programs were already well into their class of 2021 recruiting plans, and has had less than two weeks during which he can host prospects. Yet, he’s been able to land commitments from five prospects, four of whom reside in-state. The highest rated is Watson, a big and athletic defensive end.

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6. JAYLEN REED, Penn State

It was expected that the recruiting shut down would hurt Penn State more than most Big Ten programs because the Nittany Lions had gotten off to an uncharacteristically slow start to the 2021 class. Not having spring visits to work with, James Franklin and his staff had to find other ways to generate recruiting momentum and were able to build some buzz by dipping into the state of Michigan and pulling commitments from three of state’s top 10. The first to commit was Reed, a Rivals250 safety with a national offer list.

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7. CALEB TIERNAN, Northwestern

While Uihlein is the highest-ranked Midwest commitment this spring, Tiernan was another big get for Northwestern. He committed when the Wildcats had only two other prospects on board in 2021 – both two-stars – and chose Northwestern over a final four that consisted of the top three Big Ten recruiting programs in recent years – Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State. Tiernan has the size/athleticism combination to lock down that all-important left tackle position for several years.

8. PAT COOGAN, Notre Dame

We may look back at Coogan as being the unsung hero of this Notre Dame 2021 class, despite the class already featuring four Rivals100 prospects. There is an argument to be made that Coogan’s value within a class exceeds his individual rating because of his versatility. The Chicagoland product could legitimately play all five offensive line positions, from center to tackle. That type of versatility can enhance your entire offensive line unit.

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9. KALEN KING, Penn State

The second Detroit four-star defensive back to commit to Penn State this spring, King and his twin brother Kobe announced their decisions the day after Reed pledged to the Nittany Lions. He is the third four-star defensive back Penn State has pulled out of the Detroit area in the last two classes, creating a little pipeline Franklin may be able to cultivate for continued success. A true lockdown cornerback, King perfectly complements the Reed addition.

10. COOPER JONES, Indiana

Another very private recruit, the full extent of Jones’ offer list is not exactly known. Michigan, Ohio State and Purdue were three reported members of that list, and it is big for Indiana to beat out each of those Big Ten foes for a top in-state target. Jones brings great size and athleticism to the defensive end position, now giving the Hoosiers two prospects in that mold for 2021. The northwest Indiana native has a ton of upside.

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11. DEVIN NEAL

After several strong, recent classes, the 2021 group in Kansas is not particularly deep, especially at the top. That means it is important for the Jayhawks, with Les Miles now recruiting his second, full class, to lock up their top in-state targets early. That is exactly what they did by landing three-star running back Devin Neal, currently the No. 3 ranked prospect in-state, right at the beginning of spring.

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12. DEVON WILLIAMS, Minnesota

Securing commitments during this time has not been particularly difficult, but flipping commitments without the benefit of hosting prospects on campus is a whole different matter. Minnesota was able to flip Williams from his nearly three-month Kentucky commitment without getting him on campus and despite the fact that he was going from a school he can easily drive to to one he almost certainly has to fly to. That was an impressive feat.

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