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Monday, August 19, 2013
Weekend wrap: Big Ten

By Tom VanHaaren and Brad Bournival

Ohio State landed yet another big recruit, a few prospects snuck in visits before the season starts and there are still some big questions left to be answered after this week in Big Ten recruiting. Here is a look at what happened over the past week.

Biggest commitment: Ohio State started the weekend right with its 17th commitment in the Class of 2014 when the Buckeyes grabbed athlete Curtis Samuel (Brooklyn, N.Y./Erasmus). Samuel clocked a 4.36 40-yard dash at The Opening and joins an impressive group of speedsters for Urban Meyer. In the last two years, the two-time national champion has nabbed Dontre Wilson (4.33 40-yard dash), Ezekiel Elliott (4.33), James Clark (4.38), Parris Campbell Jr. (4.41), Terry McLaurin (4.41), Jalin Marshall (4.42), Corey Smith (4.50) and Samuel for his offense. If speed doesn’t kill, it certainly will contribute.

Biggest offer: Indiana proved it wasn’t going to ignore Illinois talent in 2015 when it offered Jacksonville offensive tackle Gabe Megginson and Maroa-Forsyth quarterback Jack Hockaday on Sunday. In 2014, the Hoosiers offered 22 athletes out of Illinois. In 2013, Indiana offered 21 out of the state.

Most important visit: Purdue survived a pledge’s unofficial visit to Notre Dame this weekend when three-star outside linebacker Drue Tranquill (Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll) visited the Fighting Irish and still came back committed. That doesn’t mean the 6-3, 207-pound Tranquill is done with Notre Dame by any means. He might catch the Irish against Temple on Aug. 31 and he’ll no doubt be keeping close tabs on the Boilermakers’ game with Notre Dame on Sept. 14.

Michigan State also hosted some big visitors, mainly in the 2015 class. Shahid Bellamy (Oak Park, Mich./Oak Park) was one of those visitors along with defensive back Tyson Smith (Orchard Lake, Mich./St. Mary’s) and Jacob Miller (Detroit/Northwestern) among others. The Spartans have been turning up the heat on 2015 prospects over the past few weeks and are working hard to secure major inroads for the local prospects.

Biggest answer: Iowa’s need to rebuild its linebacker unit was met on Saturday with the addition of inside backer Aaron Mends (Kansas City, Mo./Winnetonka). Mends is the third linebacker the Hawkeyes have taken in the 2014 class. His commitment shows a trend towards youth at Iowa as the Hawkeyes currently have four freshman linebackers on their roster as well.
Biggest question: After missing out on ESPN 300 defensive end Connor Humphreys (Portland, Ore./Central Catholic) when he chose Arizona State over Wisconsin, the Badgers are still in good shape. They’ve got ESPN 300 running back Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom), offensive guard Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) and three-star defensive end Rohan Blackwood (Brooksville, Fla./Nature Coast Technical) lined up for official visits.

Another question is if Michigan State’s recent efforts with in-state recruiting are going to pay dividends. The Spartans hiring Curtis Blackwell have sparked interest in some bigger named recruits, but they need to convert.

With some big names still on the board, a question many fans have is how Penn State will finish its class for 2014. It is looking like a handful of the Nittany Lions top targets are leaning elsewhere, so if Bill O’Brien misses on some of the remaining targets, where will he go from there? Defensive back Dravon Henry (Aliquippa, Pa./Aliquippa), Montae Nicholson (Monroeville, Pa./Gateway) and Mike Gesicki (Manahawkin, N.J./Southern Regional) are all on the board, but where they end up is yet to be seen. It is possible that most of them end up elsewhere.