Top Midwest prospects committing early

There are 23 prospects from the Big Ten region on the ESPNU 150. Of those 23 prospects, 19 have already selected their college. Certainly the trend for early commitments from Midwest prospects has continued with the Class of 2009.

The four Midwest stars that have yet to decide on their college are quarterback Morgan Newton (Carmel, Ind.), wide receiver Kraig Appleton (East St. Louis, Ill.), offensive lineman Marcus Hall (Cleveland, Ohio/Glenville) and defensive lineman Craig Drummond (Chicago/Morgan Park).

The 6-foot-4 and 205-pound Newton may announce his college choice within the next couple weeks.

"We play our first game on ESPN on Saturday, Aug. 23 against Indianapolis Cathedral," Newton said. "I might commit on that day.

"I've narrowed it down to six schools. It's Indiana, Purdue, Florida, Kentucky, Clemson and Illinois in no specific order."

Appleton, who caught 53 passes and scored 16 times during his junior season, is in no hurry to make his decision. The 6-foot-3,190-pounder is considering scholarship offers from Illinois, Missouri, Michigan and LSU among others. Appleton, No. 108 on the ESPNU 150, says he does not have a leader.

The 6-foot-5 and 290-pound Hall doesn't have a leader either, but he has a top three.

"I'd say Michigan, Ohio State, and LSU are my top three," Hall said. "I'll take official visits before I decide. I want to take all five, but I can't say that's a guarantee."

Hall said Miami and Illinois round out his top five, but if he were to land a scholarship offer from USC, the Trojans would move into his group of favorites.

Drummond, the No. 67 prospect on the ESPNU 150, has scholarship offers from LSU, USC, Miami, Florida, Ohio State, Illinois, Tennessee and many others. Like Hall, Drummond seems to be in no hurry to select a college. It would be no surprise if he selected LSU, USC, Miami or Florida, but Ron Zook and the Fighting Illini can not be counted out.

Midwest notes

• Miami (Fla.) Palmetto running back Jaamal Berry, the No. 11 prospect on the ESPNU 150, continues to have Ohio State as his leader. Berry says the Buckeyes have a big edge. The school generally thought to have the best chance to unseat the Buckeyes is Florida. However Ole Miss could ultimately present Ohio State with the biggest challenge in terms of landing the super running back.

• Adding speed has been a priority the last two years for Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis. In landing a commitment from McKees Rocks (Pa.) Montour star E.J. Banks last week, Weis added a super athlete who possesses great speed and quickness. Banks selected the Irish over Ohio State, where his cousin Joey Galloway played.