Penn State Nittany Lions: Andrew Dowell

The calendar now reads May (happy Cinco de Mayo to you, too) and it's a good time to check the recruiting scorecard for the 2015 class. Thirteen of the Big Ten's 14 squads are on the board -- Minnesota is still waiting for its first verbal pledge -- and several teams are filling up fast.

The James Franklin effect continues to boost Penn State, which not only has the most verbal commitments (13) in the Big Ten -- the second-most in the FBS behind Alabama -- but also the most ESPN 300 prospects (six). Nebraska also is in double digits for 2015 recruits, and Northwestern and Iowa also are off to quick starts.

Remember, February is a long way away and many things can and will change between now and national signing day, but here's where Big Ten teams stand right now:

PENN STATE
2015 verbal commitments: 13
ESPN 300 prospects: 6
Highest-rated recruit (according to ESPN Recruiting Nation): Offensive tackle Ryan Bates
Spotlight: PSU has added to its defensive line in recent weeks with a pair of defensive tackles from Maryland. Adam McLean, an ESPN 300 prospect, committed during Blue-White Weekend. Then, after a relatively quiet three weeks, Penn State added Jonathan Holland on Saturday. Holland has good size at 6-foot-5, and at 225 pounds could fill out some more.

NEBRASKA
2015 verbal commitments: 10
ESPN 300 prospects: 2
Highest-rated recruit: Cornerback Eric Lee
Spotlight: The Huskers had a nice surge toward the end of spring practice, picking up four verbal commitments, including one from quarterback Kevin Dillman. An ESPN 300 prospect, Dillman is a native of Sweden who started his high school career in California and will finish it in Texas. An intriguing prospect, to say the least.

NORTHWESTERN
2015 verbal commitments: 9
ESPN 300 prospects: 0
Highest-rated recruit: Athlete David Dowell
Spotlight: Northwestern picked up eight of its nine commits during a five-day stretch last month (April 11-15). The surge included the Dowell twins, David and Andrew, a running back. David played both cornerback and wide receiver for Saint Edward High School in Lakewood, Ohio. He'll likely suit up in the secondary at Northwestern.

IOWA
2015 verbal commitments: 8
ESPN 300 prospects: 1
Highest-rated recruit: Athlete Drew Cook
Spotlight: After adding four recruits in March, Iowa has been fairly quiet, other than picking up a familiar name in Brady Reiff. The younger brother of former Hawkeye star offensive tackle Riley Reiff committed in late April. Brady is a defensive end at Parkston (S.D.) High School. Riley also came to Iowa as a defensive end before switching to offense.

RUTGERS
2015 verbal commitments: 7
ESPN 300 prospects: 0
Highest-rated recruit: Quarterback Michael Dare
Spotlight: The Scarlet Knights had a nice surge of commits toward the end of spring ball, including running back Charles Snorweah. Born in Liberia, Snorweah boasts good speed and has played both running back and fullback during his high school career.

MICHIGAN
2015 verbal commitments: 5
ESPN 300 prospects: 3
Highest-rated recruit: Cornerback Garrett Taylor
Spotlight: After losing two coveted recruits in the winter, Michigan picked up a key player in Taylor, the nation's No. 10 cornerback prospect. Taylor is the latest top prospect from Virginia to go blue, joining running back Derrick Green (2013 class) and quarterback Wilton Speight (2014 class).

WISCONSIN
2015 verbal commitments: 4
ESPN 300 prospects: 0
Highest-rated recruit: Quarterback Austin Kafentzis
Spotlight: The Badgers traditionally have done a good job of securing their borders with top offensive line recruits, and they continued the trend with Jon Dietzen. A native of Seymour, Wis., Dietzen had offers from Nebraska, Miami and Michigan State but opted to stick with his home-state school.

MICHIGAN STATE
2015 verbal commitments: 4
ESPN 300 prospects: 2
Highest-rated recruit: Offensive tackle Kyonta Stallworth
Spotlight: The Spartans added only one recruit during spring ball but potentially a key piece in quarterback Brian Lewerke from Phoenix. Rated as the No. 9 pocket passer in the 2015 class, Lewerke picked MSU over several Pac-12 schools, Louisville, Florida and others. He's the second quarterback recruit to pick the Spartans, joining Jayru Campbell, who last week reached a plea deal after being charged with assaulting a school security officer.

ILLINOIS
2015 verbal commitments: 3
ESPN 300 prospects: 1
Highest-rated recruit: Offensive tackle Gabe Megginson
Spotlight: Megginson is a big get for coach Tim Beckman, who needs to attract more of the state's best players. Rated as the nation's No. 20 tackle prospect, Megginson had several Big Ten, SEC and Pac-12 offers. Illinois' first three 2015 recruits are from the state, a good early sign for the embattled Beckman.

OHIO STATE
2015 verbal commitments: 2
ESPN 300 prospects: 2
Highest-rated recruit: Athlete Eric Glover-Williams
Spotlight: The class is off to a bit of a slow start, and Glover-Williams' status remains shaky because of some off-field issues. But Ohio State hasn't been a fast starter under coach Urban Meyer and still brings in top classes when all is said and done. Safety Ben Edwards changed his commitment last month from Ohio State to Auburn.

MARYLAND
2015 verbal commitments: 1
ESPN 300 prospects: 0
Highest-rated recruit: Offensive tackle E.J. Donahue
Spotlight: Donahue remains the only 2015 prospect on Maryland's board, but the team picked up a nice addition for its secondary in junior-college cornerback Denzel Conyers, who signed with the Terrapins after visiting last month. Conyers boasts nice size at 6-3 and 200 pounds. The Florida native played last season for Butte College in California. He's expected to enroll in June and contribute this season.

PURDUE
2015 verbal commitments: 1
ESPN 300 prospects: 0
Spotlight: Quarterback Elijah Sindelar committed in February and remains the only player on Purdue's 2015 board. Sindelar, a native of Princeton, Ky., is the nation's No. 14 pocket passer. He continues the trend of nice quarterback pickups for coach Darrell Hazell.

INDIANA
2015 verbal commitments: 1
ESPN 300 prospects: 0
Spotlight: Indiana didn't have to wait quite as long for its first recruit as it did in 2013 as offensive lineman Simon Stepaniak picked the Hoosiers this past weekend. A native of Hamilton, Ohio, Stepaniak had several Big Ten offers but picked an IU team that quietly has produced terrific offensive lines under coach Greg Frey.
Here are this week's top high school performances from Big Ten commits and targets.

One win shows PSU recruits bright future 

October, 16, 2013
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It is extremely rare when one football game can make a big impact during a rising high school star’s long recruiting process.

Saturday’s 43-40 quadruple-overtime win by Penn State over Michigan might be that exception.

While all of the 2015 commitments still have 16 months left before they can sign a national letter of intent, those in attendance said some big things days after witnessing the big win by the Nittany Lions.


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From commitments to big official visit weekends, it's been a busy week of recruiting in the Big Ten.

Conference recruiting writers Brad Bournival and Tom VanHaaren take a look back at the week that was and look ahead as teams build toward the future.

Boilermakers flip a commitment

Purdue picked up a pledge from safety Timothy Cason II (Clarkston, Mich./Clarkston) this week. Though unranked and a former Western Michigan commit, the Boilermakers were able to flip the switch on the 6-foot, 179-pound Cason and make him the ninth commitment of the 2014 class.


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From Wisconsin moving up in the polls to a few schools moving down, it was a busy week in the Big Ten and the class rankings reflect that.

Here’s a look at what conference recruiting writers Brad Bournival and Tom VanHaaren saw and some trends to follow in the upcoming weeks:

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Andrew Dowell (Lakewood, Ohio/St. Edward) had the hit heard 'round Ohio during a camp this summer in Columbus.

David Dowell is the flashy wideout with offers that have landed him on the ESPN Junior 300.

No matter how fans look at it, the two brothers for St. Edward are the oars that row the boat for the Eagles.

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With any conference there will always be battles on the recruiting trail within the Big Ten. Coaching changes, different philosophies and geographic location all factor in to who battles who.

Here is a look at the top five Big Ten recruiting rivalries.

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From Iowa, Michigan State and Wisconsin grabbing a commit, to Penn State receiving great news on the recruiting front, to Ohio State playing host to some big-time official visitors this weekend, Big Ten storylines were everywhere this week.

Here’s a look at a busy time in this week’s Big Ten storylines:


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Tales From the Road: Penn State 

June, 5, 2013
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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Every Wednesday, as part of a RecruitingNation-wide series, NittanyNation will take a closer look at what's going on in the world of Penn State recruiting.


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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Before Andrew Dowell (Lakewood, Ohio/St. Edward) and his twin brother David impressed the masses at the Columbus Nike Football Training Camp on Sunday, they snuck in a trip to Penn State to participate in the Nittany Lions’ one-day camp.

To say the trip was anything less spectacular to the brothers would be understating the importance.


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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden pulled one player aside several times during Saturday's advanced skills camp, gesturing and smiling while offering some tips.

That player, 2014 linebacker Jason Cabinda (Flemington, N.J./Hunterdon Central), nodded along with Vanderlinden and appeared to take the instruction well -- especially for a recruit whose film mostly showcases him at tailback and defensive end.

"They wanted to see if I was comfortable playing at linebacker," Cabinda said. "Any mistakes I made for the most part were just mental mistakes, because of me not playing linebacker and not me physically being unable to do something. So that was a really good sign. They feel like I just need some coaching up, and I'll be fine."

The Nittany Lions have recruited Cabinda since his sophomore season, but teams' interest has especially picked up since April. His offer list increased from just one to more than a dozen, mostly from FCS schools. He now counts several FBS schools -- Boston College, UConn, UMass, Navy, Syracuse, Temple -- on that offer sheet.

The 6-foot-2, 221-pound athlete visited campus a few months ago, after junior day, to watch spring practice. And, although he doesn't yet hold a PSU offer, he thought he greatly improved his standing with the staff after his camp performance.

"They said they think very highly of me, and they definitely want me to come back," Cabinda said. "They said if they didn't think highly of me, then they wouldn't have asked me to come back. So I hope I'll be hearing from them soon.

"I've just always loved Penn State. I came here before, and I just love the campus. I visited the stadium; I was just laying down inside and taking it in. So, yeah, I really do like Penn State."

New offer out: 2015 CB Minkah Fitzpatrick (Jersey City, N.J./St. Peter's Prep) stood out as the top athlete at PSU's camp and earned an offer from PSU before the afternoon's second session started up.

Bill O'Brien talked to Fitzpatrick's father on the field for several minutes during the morning session, and the elder Fitzpatrick said he enjoyed the chat. His son already boasts nine offers, and he'll undoubtedly be receiving more as he attends more camps and his film trickles out.

His father, also named Minkah, told NittanyNation his son will be stopping at several camps this summer and is only looking at schools in which he has considerable interest. PSU was Fizpatrick's first stop, but he also plans to see Alabama next month and has a South Carolina visit scheduled.

Fitzpatrick also wants to see Ohio State, Clemson and Michigan before his junior season begins.

Jesse James lookalike? One tight end who caught a lot of on-lookers' eyes was 2014 TE Alec Bloom (Ligonier, Pa./Ligonier), who stands at 6-foot-7 just like sophomore TE Jesse James.

Bloom, whose primary sport was basketball until this year, showed nice hands on several passes. He holds no offers but appears to be primary run-on material. This was his first-ever football camp, and the tight end felt the coaches noticed him Saturday.

And, of course, he was well-aware of those inevitable James comparisons.

"You ever hear of Jes--," someone asked.

"Jesse James," Bloom interrupted, laughing. "Yeah, I watched tape on him, and he's very good. He's a role model, so to speak."

On a lighter note ... : As soon O'Brien entered Holuba Hall, PSU's indoor practice facility, it was pretty easy to see just how starstruck some of the recruits were.

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