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Thursday, October 17, 2013
Big Ten recruiting storylines: Oct. 17

By Brad Bournival and Tom VanHaaren



It’s called the Big Ten Conference for a reason.

From big offers, to big official visits to big commitments, the Big Ten has been abuzz with activity.

Here’s a look at what happened this week and what’s to come this weekend as things start to heat up in the conference.

Big weekend for Illinois

Wisconsin travels to Illinois for what is turning out to be a big recruiting weekend for the Fighting Illini, as plenty of big 2014 and 2015 prospects will be on hand.

From the 2014 class, running back Madre London (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas), Chris Slayton (Crete, Ill./Crete-Monee) and Vontae Diggs (Downers Grove, Ill./Downers Grove North) are expected to be in attendance.

Among the 2015 visitors, ESPN Junior 300 quarterback Jack Beneventi (Lisle, Ill./Benet Academy), wide receiver Miles Boykin (New Lenox, Ill./Providence Catholic), running back Dre Brown (DeKalb, Ill./DeKalb) and ESPN Junior 300 linebackers Darrin Kirkland Jr.(Indianapolis/Lawrence Central) and Anthony McKee (Columbus, Ohio/Walnut Ridge) will also be in attendance.

Brooklyn calling

Thomas Holley
After visiting Penn State last week, ESPN 300 DT Thomas Holley will take an official visit to Ohio State this weekend.
On the heels of seeing one of the greatest Big Ten games in history when Penn State knocked off Michigan in quadruple overtime, ESPN 300 defensive tackle Thomas Holley (Brooklyn, N.Y./Lincoln) is taking an official visit to Ohio State this weekend.

The 86th-ranked player in the nation will have a familiar face with him as the Buckeyes were smart to bring Ohio State pledge and fellow Brooklyn star Curtis Samuel out of Erasmus High School with him on an official visit.

Incidentally, the two face each other on the gridiron the night before.

While the two are the only official visitors for the Iowa game, they’re not the only big names as commits Terry McLaurin (Indianapolis/Cathedral), Kyle Trout (Lancaster, Ohio/Lancaster) and Sam Hubbard (Cincinnati/Moeller) are expected to be there in an unofficial capacity.

ESPN Junior 300 standouts George Brown Jr. (Cincinnati/Winton Woods), Justin Hilliard (Cincinnati/St. Xavier) and Chris Green (Toledo, Ohio/Central Catholic) are trying to shore up plans to visit, as well as recently offered senior Frank Ragnow (Victoria, Minn./Chanhassen).

ESPN Junior 300 standouts Reagan Williams (Jackson, Ohio/Jackson) and Brandon Tiassum (Indianapolis/Park Tudor) will also take unofficial visits.

Put them in the books

The recruiting process is certainly gathering steam, and the list of offers handed out since Sunday proves it.

Ragnow and offensive guard Steven Gonzalez (Union City, N.J./Union City) have been offered by Ohio State.

Penn State offered outside linebacker Melvin Keihn (Baltimore/Gilman) and wide receiver Christian Philpott (Tallahassee, Fla./North Florida Christian), while Iowa offered quarterback Tommy Stevens (Indianapolis/Decatur Central) and athletes Parker Hesse (Waukon, Iowa/Waukon) and Dominick Sanders (Tucker, Ga./Tucker).

A few official visits were set up as Indiana will have offensive tackle commit DeAndre Herron (Avon, Ind./Avon) and junior college standout Richard Dorvilus (Independence, Kan./Independence Community College) in Bloomington on Nov. 29. Dorvilus intends on taking an official visit to Wisconsin on Nov. 8. He also has an offer from the Badgers.

Speaking of Wisconsin, the Badgers put out an offer to Northern Illinois commit and three-star wide receiver David Senior (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Cardinal Gibbons).

Ragnow heating up

Ragnow has seen his offer list grow recently, and his stock has risen since the season started. Ohio State was the most recent offer, and it was a big one in his mind.

“Ohio State was one I’ve wanted,” he said. “They’ve been talking to me forever and I’m happy they came through. They’re definitely in the mix.”

Ragnow has a top group of Florida State, Minnesota, Arkansas, California, Missouri, Vanderbilt, Wisconsin, Miami and Ohio State. He plans on narrowing his list down to five in the near future, and those five will be where he takes his official visits.

He isn’t quite sure yet which programs will get his official visits or make it in the top list, but he does know that Florida State and Arkansas are two that will be in the mix.

Tightening up loose ends

The recruitment of three-star tight end Mike Gesicki (Manahawkin, N.J./Southern Regional) will likely draw to a close Friday when the 6-foot-5, 202-pound senior announces his decision.

Gesicki, who has taken official visits to Ohio State for the Wisconsin game and Penn State for the Michigan tilt, has trimmed his list to the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions and is ready to end the recruiting process.

Both teams feel very good about where they stand with the tight end as the hours draw near to the announcement.

As a junior, the hybrid standout broke school records for catches (50) and receiving yards (958) and scored 10 touchdowns.

Westphal getting close

ESPN 300 defensive back Parrker Westphal (Bolingbrook, Ill./Bolingbrook) took his official visit to Michigan State this past weekend.

The No. 92 overall player in the country will now try to set up a visit to Northwestern to complete his visits. The Wildcats are in his top three along with Michigan State and Vanderbilt, so once the Northwestern visit gets set he should be close to a decision after that.

There is a good chance Westphal ends up staying close to home, as he is very close with his family. The Spartans put their best foot forward with him on this trip, but if Northwestern gets the last visit, as it seems like it will, then that could push the Wildcats over the top.

Wide receiver commits

Simmie Cobbs (Lombard, Ill./Montini Catholic) chose Purdue on Thursday morning, and it really wasn’t a difficult decision for the 6-4, 185-pound senior. In fact, it was Boilermakers all the way.

“After a couple visits in the past, you could see the campus was nice and the stadium was awesome. The facilities and coaching staff are great,” Cobbs said. “Coach Kevin Maurice was one of my guys from the beginning. He said he was going to help me get an offer, and he stuck to his word. I never forgot that. On top of that, it’s a Big Ten offer. There’s not much more I can ask for.”

Cobbs joins a 2014 wide receiver class for Purdue that includes Gregory Phillips (Lithonia, Ga./Arabia Mountain) and Trae Hart (Dallas/First Baptist). It’s a trio Cobbs sees great things from.

“I feel we can dominate,” he said. “When we spread out a defense and attack them from different angles, we can attack them with our athleticism. It will be hard to stop. In four years, you’ll see a strong senior group of receivers.”

Other visitors

* 2015 offensive lineman David Moorman (Northville, Mich./Northville) is visiting Michigan State.

* ESPN Junior 300 defensive tackle Hjalte Froholdt (Warren, Ohio/Harding) is visiting Michigan.