Chicago Colleges: Signing Day

Big Ten viewer’s guide: Week 7

October, 10, 2014
Oct 10
10:00
AM CT
Week 7 is here, and let’s not sugarcoat it: Big Ten football has looked more interesting on other weekends. This first Saturday of the season without nonconference action lacks marquee matchups. Still, the division races will continue to take shape.

Here’s a look at the five games (all times Eastern):

Noon

Illinois (3-3) and Wisconsin (3-2), ESPN2: Will Melvin Gordon run for 300 yards? If the Badgers wanted it to happen, Illinois’ 119th-ranked rushing defense would likely comply. More of the intrigue in Madison involves the quarterbacks. For Wisconsin, Joel Stave, who returned last week against Northwestern, will see time, in addition to Tanner McEvoy, who might also take a shot at receiver. And with Illinois’ Wes Lunt out with a fractured leg, senior Reilly O’Toole and sophomore Aaron Bailey, who was set to redshirt, have competed in practice this week.

Indiana (3-2) and Iowa (4-1), ESPNU: Indiana has shown it can win on the road in tough spots, handing Missouri its lone loss on Sept. 20. The Hoosiers are more explosive on offense than any foe Iowa has faced. But Indiana still can’t defend well, in particular against proficient quarterbacks. The Hawkeyes are going back to Jake Rudock at the start, but C.J. Beathard will play. How well can Greg Davis manage this? If it’s a disaster, Indiana might just find itself in the right place at the right time for an upset bid.

[+] EnlargeDavid Cobb
Leon Halip/Getty ImagesDavid Cobb and Minnesota can take a big step in their quest for a Western Division crown by beating Northwestern on Saturday.
Northwestern (3-2) at Minnesota (4-1), BTN: Who would have guessed a month ago, as the Golden Gophers fell flat at TCU and the Wildcats sat winless, that this game would have legitimate implications for the West Division title race? It does, with NU in quest of a third straight unexpected win to open league play. Its defense led the charge against Penn State and Wisconsin. Minnesota is simply solid, led by David Cobb, statistically the league’s most valuable offensive player. Minnesota has defended the pass especially well in recent games and will test Northwestern’s Trevor Siemian, 13th in the Big Ten in QBR.

3:30 p.m.

No. 8 Michigan State (4-1) at Purdue (3-3), ESPN2: At least it’s not the best team in the Big Ten against the worst. Purdue escaped the low spot last week with a win over Illinois. And sophomore quarterback Austin Appleby looked good in the victory. Very good, in fact. Back at home, he figures to find a much more difficult situation against the Spartans, who might come in a bit angry after nearly blowing a 24-point, fourth-quarter lead against Nebraska.

7 p.m.

Penn State (4-1) at Michigan (2-4), ESPN2: The visitors from Happy Valley, after an off week, get an opportunity to show that their anemic performance against Northwestern was just a fluke. With an upcoming stretch of three challenging games, no better time exists for PSU to get healthy than at Michigan, trying to avoid its first 0-3 start in the Big Ten since 1965. Against a good Penn State front, the Wolverines must protect Devin Gardner and throw the football, neither of which they’ve done well in recent weeks.

Required reading

Fitzgerald avoids recruiting 'hat dance'

February, 5, 2010
2/05/10
3:22
PM CT
When I called Pat Fitzgerald the grinch of signing day, he politely demurred. And then he got rolling.

"I don't think I'm the grinch," he said the day after mocking the whole signing day hullabaloo in media reports. "I just think we should cut to the chase about what yesterday was really about.

"It's about young men solidifying their future," he said during a phone conversation from Columbus, Ohio, where he and his staff were speaking at a coaches convention. "We're overhyping the wrong things. ... We're glorifying the committing and recommitting and the hat dances. What are we doing?"

Read the full story.

Kelly's first recruiting class is strong

February, 5, 2010
2/05/10
3:19
PM CT
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- When Brian Kelly was introduced as head football coach at Notre Dame in December, he worked Irish Nation into a foaming-at-the-mouth frenzy with a spirited news conference. On signing day, he tried to temper moonstruck expectations while celebrating a quality recruiting effort.

An abbreviated courtship with the nation's top prep talent yielded Kelly and Co. a 2010 class ranked 21st by ESPN.com. It was a solid first at-bat. But even the hubris-fueled Kelly humbly acknowledged it wasn't a home run. Fact is, this is exactly what he expected when he inherited a program in severe need of a spit-shine.

"You need time to recruit," Kelly said Wednesday. "You need success if you want to be able to continue to recruit the very best. Clearly, we did not have either one on our side this time. We will. So the proof of our work as a staff and ultimately how I'll be judged is going to be down the road with this class, but more importantly next year's class as well."

Read the full story.

Fitzgerald happy with Cats' signees

February, 5, 2010
2/05/10
2:48
PM CT
[+] EnlargePat Fitzgerald
Scott Boehm/Getty ImagesNorthwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said college football recruiting is more about "young men solidifying their future."

Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald was a traveling man in January. He and his assistants bounced from California to Florida checking on their recruits during the month.

Worn out by traveling when Wednesday's national signing day finally arrived, Fitzgerald stated during his news conference to announce the program's new class that he wished the NCAA would move forward the signing period. While some coaches have the luxury of traveling little to make sure their commitments are still secure as new staffs try to swoop in and steal players, Fitzgerald had 17 players in 10 states to keep tabs on.

"I believe we should have an early signing day," Fitzgerald said. "I believe it should be the same time as when the junior college signing day is in December. Twelve of our 17 recruits were committed verbally before that day. It sure would have saved our university a lot of money.

Read the full story.

Graham looking forward to Ohio State

February, 5, 2010
2/05/10
2:46
PM CT

Wheaton North senior Taylor Graham never felt obligated to play football, become a quarterback or commit to Ohio State because his father, Kent Graham, once did all those things.

No, Graham chose those paths because that's what he sought for himself.

"He's always told me if I love football, that's what I should do," Graham said. "If not, there's no problem with that. I have to do whatever I love and do it to my fullest. It turned out to be football."

Read the full story.

Wildcats land prep pitch-and-catch duo

February, 5, 2010
2/05/10
2:44
PM CT

Olympia quarterback Trevor Siemian and wide receiver Rashad Lawrence never planned on attending the same college, especially one in the Midwest.

Not that they don't get along -- they have been friends since seventh grade -- but it never crossed their minds.

Each was focused on his own recruiting journey.

It was Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald's idea to put them on the same path. With Olympia (Orlando, Fla.) High School possessing a quarterback and wide receiver capable of playing in the Big Ten, it only made sense for the Wildcats to recruit them as a package.

Read the full story.

Fremd's Lombard pledges future to ND

February, 5, 2010
2/05/10
2:41
PM CT
[+] EnlargeChristian Lombard
Scott Powers for ESPN.comChristian Lombard didn't flinch when Notre Dame changed coaches. As far as he's concerned, "The university is the permanent part."

If Fremd senior offensive lineman Christian Lombard doesn't end up in the NFL, his high school coach, Michael Donatucci, believes he could pen a self-help guide.

"He should write a book on how to handle the recruiting process," Donatucci said.

Lombard's recruiting story is the opposite of most you hear these days. From the start, Lombard knew what he wanted -- high-end academics along with a solid football program. He also decided early he was going to end his recruitment early. He wasn't going to prolong it for extra attention. When he found his criteria in Notre Dame, Lombard ceased his recruiting in January 2009 and committed. He also didn't need to put "strong" or "soft" beside his verbal. Once he decided on Notre Dame, he was going to Notre Dame. End of story.

Read the full story.

Geneva's Boenzi thrilled to sign with NIU

February, 5, 2010
2/05/10
2:39
PM CT
[+] EnlargeFrank Boenzi
Scott Powers for ESPN.comNIU stood by Frank Boenzi despite his academic problems, and he's anxious to reward the Huskies' faith.

GENEVA, Ill. -- The reality of his college football future struck Geneva defensive tackle Frank Boenzi before his senior year.

Boenzi had always assumed he was fated for the Big Ten. He had a Big Ten body and Big Ten ability -- as Geneva coach Rob Wicinski put it, "He has the unique body control of a 200-pounder in a 300-pound body."

The problem has never been his skill. Big Ten schools did want the 6-foot-3, 320-pound Boenzi, as they knew he has the makings of menacing defensive tackle at the next level. They just weren't so eager to have him as a student.

Read the full story.

Osei chooses Illinois in difficult decision

February, 5, 2010
2/05/10
2:35
PM CT
Miles Osei
Scott Powers/ESPNChicago.comProspect quarterback Miles Orsei passed for 4,498 yards and 38 touchdowns and ran for 2,426 yards and 39 touchdowns in his junior and senior seasons combined.

Prospect quarterback Miles Osei expressed relief when he committed to Northern Illinois in December. He had taken his time with his decision, so he was confident the Huskies were the best available fit for him as a school and as a football program.

For Northern Illinois, it was also a key commitment. Osei was sought by a number of MAC teams that all saw the same thing: a future 6-foot-2 dual-threat star.

Then Illinois stepped in and complicated everything.

Read the full story.

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