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Thursday, October 31, 2013
Big Ten recruiting storylines: Oct. 31

By Brad Bournival and Tom VanHaaren


From big visits to Big Ten schools building a solid base for the future, the conference wasn’t devoid of good storylines. Here’s a look at the week that was:

Boilermakers hope Drue finds ‘Tranquill’ setting

Purdue will get one last chance to impress three-star pledge Drue Tranquill (Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll) this weekend and it will come against the hottest team in the nation when the Boilermakers play Ohio State, which has won 20 games in a row. Tranquill has been a soft commit to Purdue since Notre Dame offered him a scholarship on Aug. 2. He’s visited both campuses several times since then and wants to make a choice after this visit.

Buckeyes’ big news after big recruiting weekend

Raekwon McMillan
Raekwon McMillan brought his family on his official visit to Ohio State.
Ohio State did little to hurt itself in a 63-14 over Penn State with more than a dozen ESPN and ESPN 300 targets on campus.

The top name in that group was five-star inside linebacker Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County), who left after his official visit saying the Ohio State trip exceeded expectations. He still has trips to Alabama, Clemson and Florida on tap, but Ohio State’s success could prove to be the closing statement as McMillan’s family came with him for the trip.

Speaking of success, ESPN 300 wide receiver Josh Malone (Gallatin, Tenn./Station Camp) put Ohio State back in the mix after taking an official visit, and ESPN 300 defensive end Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell) talked about making an official visit after seeing the Buckeyes mop up the Nittany Lions in person. Junior college standout Avery Gennesy (Southaven, Miss./East Mississippi Community College) has a top two of Ohio State and Texas A&M after his trip to Columbus last weekend.

London calling

Running back Madre London (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas) is set to announce his decision on Monday. The three-star running back listed a top five of Illinois, Michigan State, Nebraska, Pitt and Wisconsin as the finalists.

London has been a highly sought-after prospect in the Big Ten. At 6-foot-2, 202 pounds, he would fit in nicely with most teams.

He has recently taken visits to Illinois, Nebraska and Michigan State, and it seems as though the Spartans might have a good shot to land him.

Northwestern eyeing two

Northwestern came into the season with some big momentum on its side. The Wildcats have suffered a few conference losses, but it doesn’t seem as though that will impact the recruiting efforts.

With most of the 2014 class full, there are really only two big targets on the board: defensive back Parrker Westphal (Bolingbrook, Ill./Bolingbrook) and Garrett Dickerson (Oradell, N.J./Bergen Catholic), both ESPN 300 prospects.

Westphal has narrowed his list to Northwestern, Michigan State and Vanderbilt and has taken official visits to all but Northwestern.

That last visit should get scheduled in the near future and a decision could follow shortly after.

Dickerson has ties to the Northwestern program as his brother is currently on the team, and his teammate, Cameron Queiro, is committed in this class.

The four-star tight end will likely end up at Northwestern or Stanford, so this will be an interesting one to watch.

State championship

A few Michigan players have dubbed the rivalry game against Michigan State as the state championship game. It’s always a hard-fought game with recruiting implications.

Both teams are almost full in the 2014 class, so there won’t be many battles between the two. However, one of the bigger uncommitted in-state prospects, Malik McDowell (Southfield, Mich./Southfield), will be on hand.

ESPN 300 wide receiver Jamil Kamara (Virginia Beach, Va./Bishop Sullivan Catholic) is taking his official visit, but is only considering Michigan State out of the two. ESPN 300 athlete Montae Nicholson (Monroeville, Pa./Gateway) didn’t close the door on making his second trip to East Lansing, but said he was unsure if he would make it or not.

Most of what’s at stake will be with the 2015 class. In-state prospects, including ESPN Junior 300 athletes Brian Cole (Saginaw, Mich./Heritage) and Tyriq Thompson (Detroit/Martin Luther King), offensive lineman David Moorman (Northville, Mich./Northville) and running back Avonte Bell (Lansing, Mich./Sexton), will be there, among others.

The Spartans will also have 2015 wide receiver Miles Boykin (New Lenox, Ill./Providence Catholic), 2016 linebacker Daelin Hayes (Orchard Lake, Mich./St. Mary’s) and several other recruiting targets on hand.

Wisconsin trying to flip the switch again

Just a week after flipping tight end Beau Benzschawel (Grafton, Wis./Grafton) from Syracuse to Wisconsin, the Badgers are trying to do it again.

This time it comes in longtime USC commit and ESPN 300 offensive tackle Toa Lobendahn (La Habra, Calif./La Habra), who has been pledged to the Trojans since July 12, 2012. Lobendahn will take an official visit to Madison the weekend of Nov. 15, when Wisconsin plays Indiana.

Like Benzschawel, whose father and uncle played for the Badgers, there is a connection, though this one is of a different sort. Wisconsin assistant Chad Kauha'aha'a, who is recruiting Lobendahn, is very familiar with the family name, having played in college with Toa’s father, Vince, at Utah.