Weekend recruiting wrap: Big Ten
September, 9, 2013
It was a big weekend for Big Ten recruiting. Tom VanHaaren and Brad Bournival recap the most important happenings around the conference:
Tom VanHaaren: Offensive lineman Nick Padla pledged to Michigan State over the weekend. That was a big deal for a few reasons, one of which was obvious on the field. Michigan State’s offense has struggled and the coaching staff needs help along the offensive line. Padla is the third offensive line commit in this class, so adding depth was key. Padla also has a 2014 teammate, defensive end Jhonny Williams, who has been hearing from Michigan State recently. If the coaches decide to offer Williams, then Padla’s commitment could help landing his teammate as well.
Brad Bournival: Wisconsin’s drought without a commitment ended two months to the day when defensive end Rohan Blackwood (Brooksville, Fla./Nature Coast Technical) gave his pledge to the Badgers after taking an official visit to Madison over the weekend. The three-star senior hinted that he could commit soon when he tweeted he might have found a new home prior to leaving for Florida. It became reality late Sunday evening when he made it official. Blackwood becomes the 12th commitment of the 2014 class for Wisconsin and proves the Badgers are serious about bolstering the defensive line as tackles Craig Evans (Sun Prairie, Wis./Sun Prairie), Billy Hirschfield (Hartland, Wis./Arrowhead) and Conor Sheehy (Milwaukee/Marquette University) preceded Blackwood with commitments in the 2014 class.
At the airport... this weekend was great I think I found myself a home #badgernation— Rohan Blackwood (@RohanRastaMon2) September 8, 2013
VanHaaren: Ole Miss offered 2015 wide receiver Miles Boykin (New Lenox, Ill./Providence Catholic) over the weekend. The rising prospect also holds offers from Illinois, Michigan State, Toledo and Western Michigan. At 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, Boykin is sure to see his offer list continue to grow.
Bournival: Ohio State is hitting the recruiting trail hard and making sure it isn’t missing the quarterback position in 2015. The Buckeyes offered yet another signal-caller. This one coming in is Kai Locksley (Baltimore/Gilman), who is listed as a wide receiver by ESPN. Locksley also picked up an offer from the Badgers.
ESPN Junior 300 stars Lorenzo Nunez (Kennesaw, Ga./Harrison), De’Andre Johnson (Jacksonville, Fla./First Coast), Kyler Murray (Allen, Texas/Allen) and Torrance Gibson (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./American Heritage) also have offers from the Buckeyes.
Wisconsin already has a commitment at quarterback in 2015 from dual-threat and ESPN Junior 300 standout Austin Kafentzis (Sandy, Utah/Jordan).
Boykin's offer is big because both Illinois and Michigan State are in need of receivers, even if he is a 2015 prospect. Ole Miss has done well with Illinois prospects recently, including No. 1 receiver Laquon Treadwell in 2013. It will be important for Big Ten schools to keep him home and out of the SEC.
VanHaaren: I should just leave Michigan 2015 running back commit Damien Harris’ (Bethea, Ky./Madison Southern) name here because he keeps tearing it up on the field. Harris carried the ball 31 times and ran for 315 yards with three touchdowns. He has 802 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns after three games.
Bournival: Wisconsin pledge Ula Tolutau put himself in some rare air when the Salt Lake City East running back rushed for 338 yards on 16 carries and scored four touchdowns in a 59-36 win over Sandy (Utah) Jordan. According to his coach, Brandon Matich, it’s the sixth-best performance in Utah history. Not to be terribly outdone, Purdue commit Drue Tranquill (Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll) is usually known for his defense, but he rushed for 200 yards and five touchdowns on eight carries in a 70-15 win over Ossian (Ind.) Norwell.
Most important visit
VanHaaren: There were plenty of big visitors at other programs, including Josh Kalu (Houston/Alief) at Nebraska, Montae Nicholson (Monroeville, Pa./Gateway) at Michigan State and a few others.
However, only three programs will get the chance to host No. 4 ranked Da’Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge) and Michigan had that chance this past weekend. The atmosphere was electric and there probably wouldn’t have been a better weekend to have Hand on campus. I believe it will be very difficult to beat Michigan.
Here are a few pictures from prospects that took a visit to Ann Arbor:
Justin Hilliard (@1Justinhilliard) September 8, 2013
Ian Bunting (@BuntingIan) September 8, 2013Bournival: Was Noah Brown’s trip to Ohio State enough for the Buckeyes? The four-star athlete out of Sparta (N.J.) Pope John XXIII took an official visit to Columbus over the weekend and seemed to enjoy himself. He talked about how exciting the Buckeyes’ skull session was before the game and tweeted about having dinner with Urban Meyer, adding that he was having a great time on his visit. With Rutgers as the perceived favorite and the Buckeyes coming on strong in the end, Ohio State did all it could to land Brown, who said he plans to make his decision this week.
VanHaaren: How well will Northwestern finish the season and what impact could that have on recruiting? The Wildcats are off to an impressive start to the season, beating Cal and Syracuse by a combined 35 points. Western Michigan and Maine are next up, and then Northwestern faces Ohio State in Evanston. If the Wildcats and Buckeyes are undefeated heading into that game, there will be a ton of implications on the line.
Bournival: Was Danny Clark (Massillon, Ohio/Washington) serious about what he said regarding the Buckeyes? The freshman phenom quarterback said if Ohio State offers, his recruiting process is over. His father, Jeff Clark, says it’s true. The Buckeyes are very high on the 6-foot-3, 205-pound prospect out of Massillon, who made his first career start last week in a 23-20 triple-overtime win over Canton GlenOak.
Bournival: That comes today when running back Qadree Ollison (Buffalo, N.Y./Canisius) makes his announcement at 3:15 p.m. The three-star Ollison wanted to take a visit to Penn State over the weekend, but scheduling conflicts kept him from Happy Valley. Ollison, who is down to Pittsburgh and the Nittany Lions, did get a visit from wide receivers coach Stan Hixon at his game Friday. Penn State is believed to be the favorite, although Pitt hosted him on an official visit in Week 1. Ollison rushed for a school-record 1,876 yards and 22 touchdowns as a junior.
Kirk Herbstreit's Gameplan Breakdown
BIG TEN SCOREBOARD
12:00 PM ET Illinois Northwestern 12:00 PM ET Purdue Indiana 12:00 PM ET Michigan 6 Ohio State 3:30 PM ET 10 Michigan State Penn State 3:30 PM ET 18 Minnesota 14 Wisconsin 3:30 PM ET Rutgers Maryland