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Monday, December 2, 2013
Weekend recruiting wrap: Big Ten

By Tom VanHaaren

This was the final week of regulation for Big Ten teams, so naturally it meant one last push with visiting prospects. A few teams hit big over the weekend and a few are still left with questions.

Here is a look at what happened over the weekend within the conference.

Biggest commitment

Wisconsin had an outstanding weekend despite losing to Penn State on Saturday. The Badgers picked up a commitment from four-star athlete Dareian Watkins (Galion, Ohio/Galion) on Saturday night. Watkins previously had been committed to Northwestern, but the two split ways just a short time ago.

Watkins is an explosive athlete who could help the Badgers on offense or defense. He could be a versatile receiver in the new offense that coach Gary Andersen wants to move towards.

Wisconsin also got a commitment from former Northern Illinois commit Jacob Maxwell (Greendale, Wisc./Greendale).

To round out the weekend, the Badgers flipped offensive lineman Micah Kapoi (Kapolei, Hawaii/Kapolei) from Hawaii. Kapoi took a visit to Wisconsin this past weekend.

Nebraska also had a good weekend, picking up two commitments in defensive back Chance Waz (Pflugerville, Texas/Hendrickson) and juco defensive lineman Terrell Clinkscales (Dodge City, Kan./Dodge City Community College).

Biggest offer

Wide receiver Asantay Brown (Muskegon, Mich./Muskegon Heights) was offered by Minnesota over the weekend. Brown had been committed to Western Michigan, but reopened his recruitment and is considering the Gophers.

Nebraska offered one of the hottest offensive line prospects in the Midwest, Chukwuma Okorafor (Southfield, Mich./Southfield). He is another Western Michigan commitment, but his recent offers could lead him to land elsewhere. The 6-foot-5, 270-pound lineman has some decisions to make soon.

Most important visit

Nebraska hosted two big defensive line prospects for its game against Iowa: Clinkscales, who committed shortly after the trip, and 2014 defensive end Darius Slade (Montclair, N.J./Montclair).

Slade is down to Nebraska, Michigan State and Rutgers and will likely decide in the next few weeks. If the Cornhuskers get the last impression for the three-star end, that could end up being a big factor in his decision.

Biggest answer

Michigan State and Ohio State are set to play in the Big Ten championship game and that will most definitely help with recruiting.

With Ohio State’s win over Michigan and Auburn’s unbelievable win over Alabama, that essentially means Michigan State is in the Rose Bowl no matter the outcome against the Buckeyes.

One knock against the Spartans has been that they haven’t made it to Pasadena since 1988. Michigan State has always recruited the right type of players who fit the system, but it can’t hurt to get a little more national attention.

Both coaches have built their respective teams differently, but getting to a big bowl game will always help no matter who you’re recruiting.

Biggest question

Will defensive back Jabrill Peppers (Paramus, N.J./Paramus Catholic) actually take more visits? The No. 2 ranked prospect tweeted that he would take official visits after his season despite being committed to Michigan.

Peppers cited coach Brady Hoke’s uncertain future as the reason for his decision and that he wanted to make sure he had a backup plan. Since then, Michigan’s athletic director Dave Brandon wrote a blog post supporting Hoke and shooting down any rumors that he wouldn’t be back next season.

The top Michigan commit should be taking his official visit on Dec. 13 along with many of the other commits. According to Peppers’ high school coach, Peppers does not have any other visits scheduled yet. If his Michigan visit goes well and his concerns are squashed, that might prevent him from taking any more visits.

If the Wolverines can stop those visits from happening it might be one of the biggest wins in this class.