Monday, February 3, 2014
Weekend recruiting wrap: Big Ten
By Tom VanHaaren
The final weekend before signing day saw a lot of movement within the Big Ten. Here is a look at what took place on the recruiting trail over the weekend.
Biggest commitment: Nebraska went on a frenzy this past weekend, landing six total commitments. The biggest came from ESPN Junior 300 defensive back Eric Lee (Highlands Ranch, Colo./Valor Christian), the No. 217 prospect, and ESPN Junior 300 athlete Avery Anderson (Colorado Springs, Colo./Pine Creek), ranked No. 235 in his class.
The Cornhuskers also landed 2014 quarterback A.J. Bush (Norcross, Ga./Norcross), defensive linemen Blake McClain (Jacksonville, Fla./Sandalwood) and DeAndre Wills (Lineville, Ala./Clay Central) and 2015 running back Kendall Bussey (New Orleans/Isidore Newman).
Illinois got some good news at the junior day event when 2015 quarterback Jimmy Fitzgerald (Champaign, Ill./Centennial) committed to the Illini. Fitzgerald is a good in-state prospect who had been hearing from some big programs.
Biggest offer: Wisconsin extended an offer to ESPN Junior 300 Kyle Penniston (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei) while he was on a visit to Madison. The Badgers also offered ESPN Junior 300 running back Damien Harris (Berea, Ky./Madison Southern), top-ranked at his position. Harris, a former Michigan commit, wasn't on campus.
Michigan offered ESPN Junior 300 offensive linemen Grant Newsome (McLean, Va./The Lawrenceville School) and Ryan Bates (Warminster, Pa./Archbishop Wood).
Penn State also offered an ESPN Junior 300 offensive lineman in Steven Gonzalez (Union City, N.J./Union City), who immediately vaulted the Nittany Lions to No. 2 on his list behind Ohio State.
Most important visit: ESPN 300 defensive lineman Malik McDowell (Southfield, Mich./Southfield) took his official visit to Ohio State this weekend. The trip was his final visit after hosting a coach from every school in his top four the previous week. McDowell is now set to make his decision.
He will announce from among Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Florida State on signing day during a news conference at his school at 9:30 am.
Biggest answer: Signing day won't disappoint. There is still plenty of drama leading up to the big event.
There are still some flips and switches that could happen, and several uncommitted prospects are on the board. The fans are getting their money's worth, while the coaches are frantically working to finish out these classes.
Biggest question: How will Penn State and Michigan State close their classes? The Spartans still have a lot of targets on the board, including McDowell, Daniel Cage (Cincinnati/Winton Woods) and Craig Evans (Sun Prairie, Wis./Sun Prairie).
There is a chance Michigan State could close out very well and help improve its position in the class rankings.
The Nittany Lions have only one spot remaining in the 2014 class, but the coaches are looking to fill that spot. There could be a few things brewing under the radar, too.