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Thursday, October 10, 2013
Big Ten recruiting storylines: Oct. 10

By Brad Bournival and Tom VanHaaren

From commitments to big official visit weekends, it's been a busy week of recruiting in the Big Ten.

Conference recruiting writers Brad Bournival and Tom VanHaaren take a look back at the week that was and look ahead as teams build toward the future.

Boilermakers flip a commitment

Purdue picked up a pledge from safety Timothy Cason II (Clarkston, Mich./Clarkston) this week. Though unranked and a former Western Michigan commit, the Boilermakers were able to flip the switch on the 6-foot, 179-pound Cason and make him the ninth commitment of the 2014 class.

He is the first defensive back taken in the class and is ready to make a name for himself as soon as he steps on campus.

“This means the world to me,” he said. “I just have to step up and continue to be a leader as a Boilermaker.”

Happy days in Happy Valley

Thomas Holley
Thomas Holley has visits planned to Penn State and Ohio State.
Penn State will have some big names oncampus this weekend. ESPN 300 defensive tackle Thomas Holley (Brooklyn, N.Y./Lincoln) will be on an official visit, as will three-star tight end Mike Gesicki (Manahawkin, N.J./Southern Regional). While Holley plans on taking an official visit to Ohio State next week, Gesicki is set to make an announcement soon after this weekend’s visit and the Nittany Lions might be in the driver’s seat.

Syracuse commit and inside linebacker Jason Cabinda (Flemington, N.J./Hunterdon Central) will also be on an unofficial visit.

A dozen ESPN Junior 300 standouts have confirmed trips to Penn State this weekend with offensive tackle Alex Bookser (Pittsburgh/Mt. Lebanon), cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick (Jersey City, N.J./St. Peter’s Prep), offensive tackle Sterling Jenkins (Pittsburgh/Baldwin), inside linebacker Chris Green (Toledo, Ohio/Central Catholic) and offensive guard Steven Gonzalez (Union City, N.J./Union City) highlighting the group set to take in the Michigan game.

Michigan State hosting top prospects

The biggest official visitor for the Spartans this weekend is defensive back Parrker Westphal (Bolingbrook, Ill./Bolingbrook), who will be in East Lansing with his father.

Westphal has Michigan State in his top three along with Northwestern and Vanderbilt. He has already been to Vanderbilt and is still looking to set up his trip to Northwestern. Once he gets that final visit, set he will likely make a decision shortly after.

The Spartans are also hosting running back target Madre London (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas), who also has Michigan State in his top group.

Offensive lineman Luke Hayes (El Dorado, Kan./Butler County Community College) and Darius Slade (Montclair, N.J./Montclair) are slated to be in East Lansing, as well as a few other prospects.

Muse heating up

Tanner Muse (Belmont, N.C./South Point), a 2015 athlete, has started to really pick up steam with his recruitment. Recently offered by Northwestern, Muse says he is also expecting to hear more from Michigan.

“The Michigan coaches are going to review my tape on Friday and get back to me. Coach [Roy] Manning said he loved my film and there’s no doubt I could play up there,” he said. “They invited me to a game, but I haven’t decided yet if I’ll be able to make it up.”

Muse holds offers from Northwestern, Clemson, Duke, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt. He has also been hearing a lot from Wisconsin and Nebraska.

Some programs have recruited him as a safety, while Michigan and Northwestern have said they see him more as an outside linebacker.

NC State, Clemson and Vanderbilt have all talked to him about playing baseball, and a few more schools could do the same.

Muse isn’t sure if he will be able to make it up to any of the Big Ten schools he’s hearing from, but will likely try during his bye week or after the season.

On Wisconsin

The Badgers landed a wide receiver making big waves across the country this week when Krenwick Sanders (Jesup, Ga./Wayne County) gave his pledge.

Just how good Sanders is can be seen in his numbers as he has 17 touchdowns this season on just 29 touches.

He has made his coach Jody Grooms a believer as the coaching legend had high praise for his three-star wide receiver.

“I’ve been in it for 20 years and he’s the best player I’ve ever coached,” Grooms said. “He’s unselfish. If he catches two passes he’s happy; if he catches 10, he’s happy.

“He is beyond a doubt the most electric football player I’ve ever seen. He’s a faster version than a Michael Irvin. He’s a game-changer. He’ll have 1,000 yards receiving and we run the ball 50 percent of the time.”

On Wisconsin II

The Badgers have a chance to do even more damage this weekend as two huge ESPN 300 standouts highlight this weekend of official visits with offensive guard Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) and running back Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom) taking center stage for Wisconsin’s game with Northwestern.

The duo, ranked 56th and 100th, respectively, aren’t the only big ones taking an official visit as wide receiver Jamil Kamara (Virginia Beach, Va./Bishop Sullivan Catholic), cornerback Deion Hallmon (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Cypress Bay) and safeties Andre Godfrey (Hollywood, Fla./Miramar) and John Plattenburg (Houston/Lamar) will be there as well.

Penn State and Michigan overlap

There will be plenty of big visitors on hand to see Penn State, but a few will also be watching the Wolverines.

Offensive lineman Sterling Jenkins (Pittsburgh/Baldwin), tight end C.J. Conrad (LaGrange, Ohio/Keystone), David and Andrew Dowell (Lakewood, Ohio/St. Edward), linebacker Chris Green (Toledo, Ohio/Central Catholic), Justin Hilliard (Cincinnati, Ohio/St. Xavier), Fitzpatrick and Gonzalez will all be in Happy Valley this weekend, and are all hearing from Michigan as well.

That’s a pretty extensive list of prospects who could be swayed by either team’s performance.

“I’ll be watching both teams for sure,” Jenkins said. “I just want to see competition. Both teams should be hungry after these last few weeks and I want to see it come out on Saturday.”