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Thursday, September 5, 2013
Big Ten recruiting storylines: Sept. 5

By Brad Bournival & Tom VanHaaren

This is a huge weekend in the Big Ten recruiting world with some very high-profile visitors invading college campuses around the conference.

Here’s a look at a few programs that will highlight a busy week in this week’s Big Ten storylines.

Gary Andersen era up and running

Following a 45-0 win over Massachusetts, Wisconsin looks to be on a roll. Speaking of good news, defensive end Rohan Blackwood (Brooksville, Fla./Nature Coast Technical), tight end Ryan Izzo (Sparta, N.J./Pope John XXIII), defensive tackle Jeremy Patterson (Jesup, Ga./Wayne County) and wide receiver Krenwick Sanders (Jesup, Ga./Wayne County) will all be on official visits this weekend for the Badgers’ game against Tennessee Tech. Wisconsin hasn’t had a commitment since July 8, so nabbing a pledge in the next week could help as national signing day gets closer.

Happy Valley running back rumblings

Penn State will do its best to impress three-star running back Qadree Ollison (Buffalo, N.Y./Canisius) when the 6-foot-1, 228-pound senior visits campus. Ollison is set to make his announcement on Monday and the race is believed to be between Penn State and Pittsburgh, which hosted Ollison last weekend.

The fact Ollison canceled an official visit with Wisconsin this weekend to be with the Nittany Lions might be telling in where the senior might end up.

As a junior, Ollison rushed for a school record 1,865 yards and scored 26 touchdowns.

Lights bring in bright stars

Since Michigan’s home schedule isn’t very exciting this season, the game against Notre Dame this weekend will be crucial for recruiting.

The second-ever night game in Michigan Stadium will take place Saturday, and the list of visitors are already strong. Defensive end Da'Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge), the No. 4 ranked prospect, and defensive tackle Malik McDowell (Southfield, Mich./Southfield) lead the way for 2014 prospects visiting.

For the 2015 class, ESPN Jr. 300 prospects Tim Settle (Massanan, Va./Stonewall Jackson), Justin Hilliard (Cincinnati, Ohio/St. Xavier), Brian Cole (Saginaw, Mich./Heritage) and No. 1-ranked Jashon Cornell (St. Paul, Minn./Cretin-Derham Hall) will all be in attendance.

Those prospects will also be joined by a few 2016 prospects, including offensive lineman Erik Swenson (Downers Grove, Ill./Downers Grove South), who holds an offer, wide receiver Desmond Fitzpatrick (Farmington Hills, Mich./Farmington) and defensive lineman Lawrence Gordon (Saginaw, Mich./Arthur Hill).

A few of the commitments will be on hand as well to try to reel in some of the big targets that will be in attendance.

This game, Nebraska and Ohio State will really be the only big events at home during the season for Michigan. For that reason, Michigan needs to come out swinging on the field and off this weekend.

Nebraska targets visiting

This could be a big weekend for Nebraska despite the fact the Cornhuskers are playing Southern Miss. Defensive back Josh Kalu (Houston, Texas/Alief Taylor) is among the prospects visiting for the weekend.

The three-star prospect is high on the Cornhuskers and this could be a pivotal weekend in his recruitment. Kalu hasn’t been to Nebraska, so he is excited to see what the Huskers have to offer.

“I want to see how well I fit in with the players,” Kalu said. “Coaches tell you things, but you want to see it with your eyes to see if it’s right for you. I want to see the atmosphere with game day and how the coaches treat the players. I would like to talk to about my major and when they would see me playing.”

Kalu is being recruited as a safety and says he has good communication with the coaching staff. He will also be joined by three-star running back Madre London (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas) on the visit.

London plans on taking his time and taking a few more official visits before making a decision, but this visit could be big for Nebraska with his recruitment as well.

The Cornhuskers might be trailing a few other schools, so this trip could sway London in their favor.

Ohio State rumblings

The Buckeyes are rumored to have some ground to make up on Rutgers for four-star athlete Noah Brown (Sparta N.J./Pope John XXIII). The good news for the school is that the 6-2, 215-pound senior will be in Columbus on an official visit during the San Diego State game. Brown wants to announce sometime next week, so having the senior on campus bodes well for the Buckeyes.

Speaking of boding well, Ohio State survived a trip to Clemson by its No. 1 target in inside linebacker Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County). McMillan left impressed by the Tigers, but still has Ohio State and Alabama at the top with Clemson.

McMillan has official visits lined up for Clemson (Oct. 19), Ohio State (Oct. 26), Georgia (Sept. 28), Alabama (Nov. 9) and Florida (Nov. 3).

Prospects headed to Illinois

Not to be outdone by the other Big Ten teams, Illinois is also hosting a plethora of top prospects.

Most of the recruits coming in are from the 2015 class, as the Illini are hoping to get a fast start to that class.

In-state quarterback Jack Beneventi (Glen Ellyn, Ill./Benet Academy) will be in attendance for the game, and that’s a big deal for Illinois. A lot of the top players from the state have been leaving outside the Midwest and outside the Big Ten, so if Illinois can start grabbing some of those kids it will do wonders for the conference.

Beneventi is No. 273 in the ESPN Jr. 300 and already holds several offers. He will be joined on the trip by fellow ESPN Jr. 300 prospect Simeon Lane (Cincinnati /St. Xavier) and wide receiver Miles Boykin (New Lenox, Ill./Providence Catholic).