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Monday, August 5, 2013
Weekend Wrap: Big Ten

By Tom VanHaaren & Brad Bournival


Teams are headed into camp, but that doesn't mean recruiting will stop. While it wasn't an overly exciting weekend for Big Ten recruiting, there was a commitment, offers that went out and visits that took place. Now a few questions must be answered.

Here is a look at the weekend wrap on Big Ten recruiting.

Biggest news: Defensive end Da'Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge) set his decision date for Nov. 14. Alabama, Florida and Michigan are his finalists, and each school will receive an official visit before he announces the final decision. The only visit he currently has set up is to Ann Arbor on Sept. 7 when Michigan takes on Notre Dame at night, but should have the other two set shortly.

Biggest commitment: Michigan State landed 2014 defensive end Robert Bowers (Columbus, Ohio/Walnut Ridge). Bowers held offers from West Virginia, Kentucky, Cincinnati, Louisville, Pitt and Purdue -- among others. With the success that Kentucky has enjoyed recruiting in Ohio, this was a good win for the Spartans. At 6-foot-5, 210 pounds, Bowers is the kind of prospect that might have been in line for more offers had he waited to make a commitment. He is commit No. 14 for Michigan State and the first true defensive end in the class.

Biggest offer: Indiana is making sure that one of its own gives the Hoosiers a good look as Darrin Kirkland Jr. (Indianapolis/Lawrence Central) picked up an offer during his unofficial visit on Sunday. The ESPN Junior 300 inside linebacker got to check out a practice and see that Indiana was serious about recruiting him at this early stage of the process. Kirkland was a big offer for the 2015 class, but the biggest for 2014 was likely Michigan's offer to Penn State linebacker commit Jared Wangler (Warren, Mich./De La Salle). Wangler's father, John, played quarterback for Michigan and his older brother, Jack, is a walk-on receiver for the Wolverines. Wangler now has a tough decision ahead of him if he wants to stick with the Nittany Lions, or flip so that he can play alongside his brother at Michigan.

Most important visit: Athlete Curtis Samuel (Brooklyn, N.Y./Erasmus) visited Rutgers this weekend and didn’t pull the trigger on a commitment. That’s great news for Ohio State as the four-star Samuel visited the Buckeyes during Friday Night Lights a week earlier and came away impressed. Samuel, who ran a 4.36 40-yard dash at The Opening, is believed to be ready to announce a commitment. Many believe Ohio State is the favorite, so not committing to the Scarlet Knights favors Columbus for the versatile Samuel, who rushed for 1,047 yards and scored 13 touchdowns last season.

Biggest answer: Wisconsin found out just how serious ESPN 300 running back Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom) was about the Badgers when the No. 100 player in the nation scheduled an official visit for Oct. 11 to see Wisconsin. Mixon now has official visits lined up for Florida, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and the Badgers. He released a top 10 earlier this week that included the aforementioned teams along with California, Ohio State, Oregon, Oregon State, Tennessee and Washington, so getting an official visit is big for Wisconsin. He'll have company as ESPN 300 offensive guard Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) plans to join him on the official visit as well.

Biggest question: Should Wangler choose to decommit from Penn State and head to Michigan, where would the Nittany Lions go to replace the outside linebacker? Athlete Jason Cabinda (Flemington, N.J./Hunterdon Central) had the Nittany Lions in his top 5 despite not having an offer following a June camp. The 6-2, 221-pound athlete committed to Syracuse on July 1, but national signing day is a long way off. Could Penn State jump back in and try to pick up the three-star athlete? That remains to be seen.