Big Ten: Derek Lewis
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
When Minnesota head coach Tim Brewster checked into his hotel Tuesday morning in Shreveport, La., the woman working at the front desk spotted the Golden Gophers logo on his shirt and smiled.
"The coach from Michigan just left," she told him.
Both Minneapolis and Ann Arbor, Mich., are located more than 850 miles from Shreveport, making it an odd place for Brewster and one of his Michigan counterparts to cross paths. But these days, Big Ten coaches are just as likely to bump into one another in Shreveport, Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and Houston as they are in Chicago, St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Detroit.
When Purdue head coach Danny Hope called ESPN.com on Wednesday afternoon, he was navigating a road near Bay City, Fla. An hour earlier, Wisconsin defensive line coach Charlie Partridge phoned in from the Fort Lauderdale area.
The Big Ten recruiting range is expanding far beyond the Midwest, and coaches are spending much of their time in the fertile states of the south and southeast.
If one incoming recruit symbolizes the recruiting change in the Big Ten, it's a safety expected to sign Wednesday with Wisconsin.
His name: Dezmen Southward.
His hometown: Fort Lauderdale.
"There's certainly great, great players in the Midwest, but just in terms of numbers, all you have to do is look at Division I signing day and the number of kids who play Division I out of this region here," said Partridge, who has recruited the Florida area for Wisconsin, Pitt and Iowa State, among others. "You can come down and get two to three kids who can have an impact on your program.
"People are recognizing the value of recruiting down here."