Thursday, October 3, 2013
Big Ten recruiting storylines: Oct. 3
By Brad Bournival and Tom VanHaaren
Indiana takes center stage in these week’s Big Ten storylines, but that doesn’t mean other schools aren’t getting involved.
Here’s a look at the week that was and what’s ahead:
The Hawkeyes look to be in the driver's seat for versatile three-star athlete Jalen Embry.
Hawkeye on the prize
Iowa will have a big visitor in three-star Jalen Embry (Detroit/Martin Luther King) when the 5-foot-11, 180-pound athlete arrives on campus this weekend for an official visit. Embry is down to the Hawkeyes and Wisconsin. Iowa has a leg up, however as Desmond King from nearby Detroit Crockett Tech signed with the Hawkeyes in February. Embry, who plays wide receiver and defensive back, currently doesn’t have an official visit set up to Wisconsin. The Badgers came in late with an offer on Aug. 1, but Embry is still considering them. It might be a bit too much to overtake the Hawkeyes, who seem to be the favorite as Embry and King talk quite a bit about a future at Iowa.
Holloman one to watch
His name hasn’t popped up too much just yet, but 2015 running back Joshuwa Holloman (Avondale, Mich./Avondale) will soon be a household name.
He has already heard from Michigan, Pitt, Ohio State, Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Indiana and Missouri among others.
Holloman is known for his speed and could start to pick up interest in the near future.
Indiana ready to ink two, welcome three
The Hoosiers have had a busy week with three-star hybrid linebacker/safety Dameon Willis Jr. (Cleveland/St. Ignatius) committing Wednesday, just two days after three-star wide receiver Coray Keel (Snellville, Ga./South Gwinnett) did the same to Indiana.
For Willis, it was more than just the football side of things as the Hoosier education enticed him as well.
“I chose Indiana because I always wanted to play in the Big Ten,” Willis said. “But Indiana is also a school where I feel I could come in and make an impact early.
“Besides the football aspect of the decision, IU is a great school academically. The campus is beautiful and I plan to enjoy every bit of it for the next four to five years.”
In talking with South Gwinnett coach John Small, the Hoosiers are getting the complete package in Keel.
“He’s a high character kid, he’s a total student athlete,” Small said. “He doesn’t just get it done on the field, he takes his academics very serious.
“When we lose him, we’re losing not just a great football player, but an incredible young man. He’s got a bright future ahead of him. He’s not only a great receiver, but a great blocker out on the perimeter and that’s what you need in that type of offense. It’s not whether he catches 30 balls a game or two, he just wants to win.”
The pledges are Nos. 11 and 12 for Indiana in the 2014 recruiting class. Willis joins Donovan Clark (Fort Wayne, Ind./South Side) in the secondary for the Hoosiers, while Keel will join three-star senior J-Shun Harris (Fishers, Ind./Fishers) at wide receiver.
ESPN Junior 300 standout Reagan Williams (Jackson, Ohio/Jackson) has been in contact with most of the Big Ten. He holds offers from Kent State and Ohio University, but there is a good chance that picks up soon.
The 6-3, 225-pound linebacker will be visiting Northwestern this weekend, Penn State on Oct. 12 and Ohio State on Oct. 19. He has also started to garner interest from the West Coast.
“I was invited out to a game at Stanford,” he said. “If I had my way I would take a trip out there in November, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it.”
He has been told some programs are recruiting him as an inside linebacker and some as an outside linebacker, but the position doesn’t matter. Growing up in the Midwest, he is just hoping for a Big Ten or BCS offer.
Ohio State put itself in good position with ESPN 300 wide receivers Johnnie Dixon (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla./Dwyer), Travis Rudolph (West Palm Beach, Fla./Cardinal Newman), athlete John Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Long Beach Polytechnic) and tight end DeAndre Goolsby (Derby, Kan./Derby), but might have sent one out of the park last weekend when the quintet took official visits to Columbus.
With NBA great LeBron James leading the Buckeyes from the Blackwell Inn to St. John Arena for the team’s skull session before Ohio State’s 31-24 win over Wisconsin, recruits erupted on Twitter. When James spoke to the team and crowd, it sent goosebumps through many a player, fan and target. It hit home with three-star Mike Gesicki, who tweeted that the Buckeyes were “the real deal” after listening to James’ pre-game speech. Gesicki is expected to take a trip to Penn State on Oct. 12 and then make a decision soon afterward.
The Wolverines are set to host Minnesota this weekend and it looks like it will be a smaller visitor list for the game. The 2014 class is almost wrapped up, but there are still a few key pieces out there.
Defensive linemen Malik McDowell (Southfield, Mich./Southfield) and Da'Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge) are the two big pieces. It’s looking like McDowell will take his time and take some official visits before making his decision.
He has, however, been back and forth on a decision so that could change. Hand has his announcement set for Nov. 14, and it’s looking as though Florida is Michigan’s biggest competition.
With six commitments already in the 2015 class, the coaches can sit back and evaluate the prospects they want before offering as well. There will probably only be around 15 to 17 spots in the 2015 class, so there already aren’t many spots left.
The Wildcats are hosting Ohio State this weekend, but maybe more importantly, College GameDay will also be in town. The game in Evanston, Ill. will be on prime time and is a prime opportunity to impress recruits.
Even if there isn’t a long list of visitors, plenty of prospects will be watching on television to see what Northwestern is made of.
Northwestern currently has the 27th-ranked class in the country and the momentum is swinging in its favor.
Wisconsin adds another commit
Junior college defensive end Joe Keels (Highland, Kan./Highland) saw what Badgers football was all about when he was a senior playing in-state at Kenosha Bradford High School.
The bug bit him so hard he made it his goal to get to Wisconsin. That drive ended Thursday morning when he announced his commitment to the Badgers.
“Going into this year, my goal was to go to Wisconsin,” Keels said. “It definitely was the drive.
“It’s close to home and seeing how they treat each other and seeing the love you get from the town and being in that stadium made it easy. I’ve been close to them the last few years.”
In committing, the 6-4, 280-pound Keels becomes the 15th member of the 2014 class and is the fifth defensive lineman and second defensive end to join the Badgers.
He will enroll in January and have three years to play two seasons. Keels, who has 16.5 tackles and 2.5 sacks so far this season, also plans to make an immediate impact once he’s in Madison.
“They’re getting a hard worker for four downs,” Keels said. “If they want me to block a punt on fourth down, I’ll block a punt. If a guy scores a touchdown, I’ll make him fumble on the next play. I’ll work hard in the classroom and do whatever they need me to do. There won’t be a harder worker on the team.”