Looking back at B1G’s top intra-conference recruiting flips of last five years

Some flips hurt more than others.

Watching a blue-chip recruit flip his commitment within the conference can sting programs for years after a recruit graduates. It’s different than being a finalist to land a top recruit and not getting him. Having a recruit verbally committed and locked in for the following season isn’t official, but it’s often treated that way.

With early commitments aplenty in the summer months, I thought it’d be interesting to look back at some of the B1G’s top intra-conference recruiting flips of the last five years (2013-17).

There are sure to be some painful memories here:

Mike Weber, Ohio State RB

Class: 2015

Originally committed to: Michigan

What happened: The Cass Tech (Mich.) star had a wild recruitment that began with him committed to Michigan. With Brady Hoke’s days numbered, Weber flipped to Ohio State two months before National Signing Day. Jim Harbaugh took over at Michigan and still recruited Weber like he was uncommitted. Many believed Weber would go back to the Wolverines. Instead, he kept his pledge with Ohio State on signing day. But Weber was understandably frustrated with the Buckeyes after running backs coach Stan Drayton left for the NFL a day later. Even though he signed under “false pretenses” according to his high school coach, Weber and Ohio State came to an understanding and now he’s already a 1,000-yard rusher.

Kareem Walker, Michigan RB

Class: 2016

Originally committed to: Ohio State

What happened: Once billed as the top tailback in the country, Walker committed to Ohio State the day of the National Championship in 2015. But as the months passed, rumors swirled that Walker was wavering in his early pledge and favoring rival Michigan. Those came to a head when he officially visited Michigan in October 2015. Despite several denials of bailing on his OSU pledge, those rumors proved to be true. The Under Armour All-American dropped his Ohio State commitment in November and announced his Michigan commitment in December. He even Facetimed Harbaugh for the announcement (via NJ.com).

Michigan fans might’ve gotten a little extra satisfaction out of Walker’s flip after the Weber situation a year earlier.

Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State QB

Class: 2016

Originally committed to: Maryland

What happened: When Urban Meyer wants a quarterback, he gets his quarterback. Maryland just happened to be the unfortunate victim of that. Haskins committed to Maryland in the summer of 2015. That, of course, was before the new coaching staff came and went. Haskins had a close relationship with Mike Locksley. He talked to Saturday Tradition at Under Armour All-America practice in December 2015 after Locksley wasn’t kept on DJ Durkin’s staff.

Three weeks later, Haskins committed to Ohio State. He didn’t technically open up his recruitment at any even given point, but when Haskins gave his verbal pledge to the Buckeyes two weeks before signing day, it was over. Meyer called Haskins the “best quarterback prospect he’s ever seen.” Now, many are expecting him to take over for J.T. Barrett and become the next great Buckeye quarterback.

Keandre Jones, Ohio State LB

Class: 2016

Originally committed to: Maryland

What happened: Just like fellow Maryland native and close friend Haskins, Jones also dropped his commitment from the Terps and flipped to Ohio State. The speedy linebacker made his announcement a week after Haskins, and it was actually Haskins who confirmed the reports on social media. That was a tough blow for Durkin’s staff to absorb that late in the recruiting cycle. Jones was committed to the Terps for nearly 14 months before that. But as is often the case with coaching changes, a top-flight recruit got the chance to reevaluate his options. Unfortunately for the Terps, Jones’ option was in the same division.

Tyjon Lindsey, Nebraska WR

Class: 2017

Originally committed to: Ohio State

What happened: The Buckeyes don’t lose many of their top commitments leading up to signing day. Lindsey, however, was a different story. The Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) teammate of Ohio State pledges Tate Martell and Haskell Garrett was expected to be the Buckeyes’ top receiver in the 2017 class after committing in August. Lindsey surprisingly de-committed from Ohio State three weeks before signing day (via Cleveland.com).

Three days later, Lindsey announced his commitment to the Huskers. The Corona, Calif. native was Mike Riley’s biggest signee yet in the Calibraska movement. Lindsey’s recruitment certainly added another interesting chapter in the Zach Smith-Keith Williams rivalry.

Gareon Conley, former Ohio State CB

Class: 2013

Originally committed to: Michigan

What happened: Conley certainly burned the Wolverines. After the four-star Washington Massillon (Ohio) cornerback committed to Michigan in March of his junior season, he picked an inconvenient time to open up his recruitment. It came right after he visited Columbus unofficially when the Buckeyes beat the Wolverines to close out a perfect regular season. During the Brady Hoke era, Michigan had a no-visit policy for commits. Conley wanted to visit other schools. A week later, he visited Ohio State officially and committed. He and Marshon Lattimore formed arguably the best cornerback duo in America in 2016 and both were picked in the first round of the 2017 NFL draft. Conley also helped the Buckeyes continue their streak of five straight wins against Michigan.

Lavert Hill, Michigan CB

Class: 2016

Originally committed to: Penn State

What happened: It’s usually a pretty clear sign that when a recruit de-commits from one school while on a visit to another, he’s going to end up at the school he’s visiting. That proved to be true with Hill, who announced he was dropping his 10-month commitment to the Lions while he was in Ann Arbor in late November. Hill’s recruitment took an interesting turn two months later when in an effort to lure him back, Penn State introduced the coveted cornerback at a Lions hockey game.

Many cried foul, claiming that Penn State committed an NCAA violation for addressing Hill by name at a public event. Hill, however, had signed financial aid agreements with Penn State and other schools. That meant the university was allowed to promote him while on his official visit even though he wasn’t enrolled. It turned out to be much to do about nothing because Hill picked the Wolverines instead of Michigan State and Penn State on signing day.

Saquon Barkley, Penn State RB

Class: 2015

Originally committed to: Rutgers

What happened: Ok, so technically this wasn’t an intra-conference flip. When Barkley committed to Rutgers, the program was still in the American Athletic Conference. But because Rutgers joined the B1G at the start of the 2014 season and Barkley was a 2015 recruit, we’ll count it. Barkley committed to Rutgers at the beginning of his junior season in 2013. Then he exploded and the offers poured in. He flipped from Rutgers to Penn State in February 2014 days after attending the Lions’ junior day. That was also two weeks after James Franklin took over. As the story goes, Franklin wrapped up an ESPN interview about his first class and immediately called Barkley to tell him “he was coming to Penn State” and that “he’s not taking no for an answer.” Rutgers had to watch Barkley run for 195 yards against them as a true freshman, and they couldn’t halt Barkley and the Lions’ pursuit of a B1G Championship in 2016. That’s the type of thing that will haunt a fanbase for years.

REFERENCES

Photo Credit: Mark Henle-USA TODAY Sports

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