Buckeyes, Wolverines battle for recruits

Originally Published: August 8, 2008
By Bill Kurelic | Special to ESPN.com

Some call it the greatest rivalry in sports. When Ohio State and Michigan get together in late November it often is for the Big Ten championship, or the matchup at least has a major impact on who wins the conference. The game is played like no other on either team's schedule.

When Lloyd Carr went against John Cooper the rivalry was dominated by the Wolverines. Since Jim Tressel has been at Ohio State, The Game has been dominated by the Buckeyes.

The rivalry, however, extends beyond the field. The Wolverines and Buckeyes go head-to-head for many of the same recruits. Carr did a very good job of recruiting the state of Ohio, particularly against Cooper.

It starts all over again with Rich Rodriguez at the helm in Ann Arbor.

[+] EnlargeTerrelle Pryor
AP Photo/Keith SrakocicTerrelle Pryor's decision to attend Ohio State was a major recruiting victory for Jim Tressel.
The Wolverines and Buckeyes meet for the first time with Rodriguez as part of the rivalry on Nov. 22 in Columbus. But the recruiting battles have already begun.

As soon as Rodriguez was hired at Michigan the first major battle between the new Wolverine coach and Tressel was on. Terrelle Pryor, the No. 1 quarterback prospect in the prep class of 2008, immediately announced he was considering the Maize and Blue.

Pryor narrowed things down to Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Oregon before going with the Buckeyes. Round 1 went to Tressel.

Subsequent battles have been dominated by Tressel as well.

Eight Class of 2009 prospects who held scholarship offers from both Ohio State and Michigan have selected one of the two schools. Seven have committed to Ohio State. Running back Jordan Hall (Jeannette, Pa.), wide receiver James Jackson (Grand Ledge, Mich.), offensive lineman Corey Linsley (Youngstown, Ohio/Boardman), defensive end Melvin Fellows (Garfield Heights, Ohio), defensive tackle Adam Bellamy (Aurora, Ohio), linebacker Dorian Bell and defensive back Corey Brown (Monroeville, Pa./Gateway) all decided to play their college football in Columbus. Only defensive back Justin Turner (Massillon, Ohio/Washington) decided to play for the Maize and Blue rather than the Buckeyes.

[+] EnlargeDorian Bell
Tom Hauck/EspnDorian Bell selected Ohio State over the Wolverines.
There are still a couple Class of 2009 battles left. Star running back Jaamal Berry (Miami, Fla./Palmetto), the No. 11 prospect on the ESPNU 150, has an official visit to Ohio State scheduled for the weekend of Nov. 22, when Michigan makes its way to Columbus. Berry says he also plans to schedule an official visit to Michigan.

Like Berry, tight end Dion Sims (Orchard Lake, Mich./St. Mary's) has scholarship offers on the table from Michigan and Ohio State. Sims is considering official visits to both schools.

So far a big edge goes to Tressel in head-to-head recruiting battles with Rodriguez. But Rodriguez had a late start in those battles. The real test begins with the prep Class of 2010. The two coaching foes will be on even ground for that class and subsequent classes. Those battles will be worth watching.

Midwest Notes

• After missing out on Pryor last recruiting season, Rodriguez didn't waste any time in filling the void he has at quarterback for his spread offense. Rodriguez has commitments from two Class of 2009 quarterbacks that fit his offense. Kevin Newsome (Chesapeake, Va./Western Branch) is the No. 147 prospect on the ESPNU 150 and has Michigan recruiting buffs excited. Shavodrick Beaver (Wichita Falls, Texas/Rider) is a talented athlete that also fits Rodriguez' system.
• One of the country's top class of 2010 prospects, offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson (St. Paul, Minn./Cretin-Derham), already has close to a dozen scholarship offers. The 6-foot-8, 310-pound Henderson, who is a strong candidate for the No. 1 class of 2010 prospect in the Big Ten region, names Minnesota, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Florida, Iowa, Wisconsin, UCLA, Boston College and North Carolina among his very early verbal offers.

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