Penn State Nittany Lions: Shaun Crawford

Weekend recruiting wrap: Big Ten 

November, 25, 2013
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Another week means more recruiting news within the Big Ten conference. There was plenty of action throughout, so here is a look at the top stories over the weekend.

Big Ten recruiting storylines: Nov. 21 

November, 21, 2013
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The Big Ten has seen plenty of action recently with commits, decommitments and offers being sent out. Here is a look at the latest story lines within the conference.

MOVING ON FROM HAND

Michigan missed out on five-star defensive end Da'Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge) on Thursday. Hand told the coaches Wednesday night, which gave them time to consider an offer to fill his spot.

The staff then promptly offered in-state prospect Jhonny Williams (Berrien Springs, Mich./Berrien Springs), who is currently committed to Missouri. Williams has now said he will visit Notre Dame, who also recently offered, and will most likely take a trip to Ann Arbor as well.

This could be interesting, as Williams only lives 30 minutes from South Bend and his father is a Michigan fan.

The Wolverines also offered three-star Cal running back commit Vic Enwere (Sugar Land, Texas/Fort Bend Austin), who has said he will likely take a visit as well.

[+] EnlargeTyler Wiegers
Tom Hauck for ESPNFour-star QB Tyler Wiegers decommitted to Rutgers and might take a trip to Iowa this weekend.
HAWKEYES UP

Quarterback Tyler Wiegers (Beverly Hills, Mich./Country Day) decommitted from Rutgers this week, something that’s starting to be a trend with its class.

The four-star quarterback is now considering Iowa, and could take a visit to see the Hawkeyes this weekend. If Wiegers does make the trip, a decision could come shortly after.

If he picks Iowa, Wiegers would be the second four-star commit for the Hawkeyes.

TRANQUILL FLIPS FOR IRISH

Linebacker Drue Tranquill (Ft. Wayne, Ind./Carroll) had been mulling a Notre Dame offer for quite some time, despite being committed to Purdue.

In a text message sent on Monday night, Tranquill made the decision to flip his commitment to Notre Dame.

“I’ve decided to play my next four years at the University of Notre Dame,” the text message said. “I have so much respect for Coach (Darrell) Hazell. I’ve never met someone with such high character. However, I’m ecstatic to go play for Coach (Brian) Kelly at the University of Notre Dame.”

RECRUITING OUT FRONT FOR WESTPHAL

Now that his season is over, ESPN 300 defensive back Parrker Westphal (Bolingbrook, Ill./Bolingbrook) is once again focused on his recruitment.

After much deliberation, the No. 96-ranked prospect is down to Michigan State, Northwestern and Vanderbilt.

He will be taking an unofficial visit to Northwestern on Saturday for its game against Michigan State and will then return again for an official visit in the first week of December.

That’s a huge opportunity for the Wildcats to seal the deal on one of the top remaining targets in this class.

SYKES SET TO RELEASE TOP LIST

Four-star linebacker Nile Sykes (Lombard, Ill./Montini Catholic) has been receiving major interest as of late. His most recent offer comes from Notre Dame, which has sparked interest.

Sykes has been focusing on his season, but tweeted this week that he will release a top-five list next week. He is a major target for Illinois and he also holds a Purdue offer.

With the loss of Tranquill, the Boilermakers could really use some help at linebacker.

MINNESOTA ROLLING

The Minnesota coaching staff has seen a spark in interest from prospects they have been in contact with in recent weeks. Winning typically cures all, and that’s the case with the Golden Gophers right now.

In-state target Frank Ragnow (Victoria, Minn./Chanhassen) says that Minnesota’s play on the field has definitely been something he’s taken into consideration.

“It’s huge, because I came into this fall, the one thing that Minnesota was lacking was winning,” Ragnow said. “I would’ve ruled them out if they weren’t winning. They always talked about winning and actually seeing it happen is huge.”

The Gophers are facing off against Wisconsin this weekend and will have running back target J'Vonte Herrod (Kennesaw, Ga./North Cobb) on campus for the game.

Herrod isn’t quite sure when he will make a decision just yet, but the Gophers are likely his current leader.


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B1G high school performers 

October, 7, 2013
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Here are this week's top performances from Big Ten commits and targets:

Illinois:
Julian Hylton: Hylton led Lincoln-Way North (Ill.) with 34 carries, 153 yards and two touchdowns in a 22-21 win over Lincoln-Way Central.


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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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B1G high school performers 

September, 23, 2013
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There wasn't a ton of movement in terms of recruiting for The Big Ten, but there were plenty of big performances from the commits and targets over the weekend. Here is a look at some of the top performers.

Illinois
Mike Dudek: Committed to Illinois, Dudek helped his team, Neuqua Valley (Ill.), to a 54-28 win over St. Charles East. Dudek had 335 all purpose yards, 5 receptions, 154 yards receiving and 4 touchdowns. He also had a 94-yard kick return for a touchdown in the win.

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Big Ten recruiting mailbag

August, 30, 2013
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It’s time to dip into the Big Ten recruiting mailbag and answer some of your questions. We’ll try to give everyone a chance to get their questions answered. We encourage you to send your questions by Twitter to @bbournival or @TomVH.

@Blue_gC_Blood: How close in size are Michigan commit Shaun Crawford and Ohio State pledge Eric Glover-Williams? I heard they are pretty much a carbon copy of each other, true?

Brad Bournival: Having seen both individuals multiple times in pads, that is a very fair assessment. Crawford (Lakewood, Ohio/Saint Edward) is 5-foot-9 and 175 pounds and EGW is 5-10, 170 pounds. But it goes well beyond that as both are very athletic kids who aren’t afraid to mix it up at times. Speed, obviously, is their biggest common denominator. It would be great to see Glover-Williams play the slot or split out wide to see just how close in game they actually are, but unfortunately for Canton (Ohio) McKinley, the Bulldogs put their junior star behind center because he is the best athlete on the field. That said Crawford is the better defender, though it should be noted Glover-Williams is better offensively. Seeing the two in camps, however, their game really is almost the same.




@joshuas430: Do you think the recruiting success for Rutgers has been more with the move to the Big Ten or their new head coach?

Tom VanHaaren: That’s a good question. I think there is some cache for recruits to play for Rutgers now that they are a part of the Big Ten. But if you look at their top prospects, they are all guys from New Jersey.

In the 2014 class, Rutgers has four ESPN 300 commitments and they are all from New Jersey. Rutgers has always done well with local prospects and that hasn’t changed with this class.

From 2011 to 2013, Rutgers actually signed 10 prospects ranked as four-stars from New Jersey and New York. That is a key for the Scarlet Knights’ success in recruiting, and it’s continued in 2014.

It’s interesting to look at the Big Ten aspect of this, because if Rutgers was already in the conference, it would have the No. 3 ranked class in the Big Ten.




@GRSportsBlog: What is your opinion of Montae Nicholson being able to play a hybrid safety/outside linebacker at the next level and the fact Penn State is trying to recruit guys to be versatile in its defensive packages?

Bournival: Penn State has never brought that up to Nicholson (Monroeville, Pa./Gateway) as it wants him to play safety and not linebacker, as the Nittany Lions will take a linebacker in this class. However, with the NCAA sanctions, the limited number of 65 scholarships really does alter how Penn State approaches the type of players they pursue. The Nittany Lions don’t have the luxury to miss on a player, so you’ll see more athletic players who can play multiple roles on the team. For example, if it can grab a player who helps in the offense and special teams, Penn State won’t hesitate.

The other reason the Nittany Lions need to have fast, athletic type players is to be able to matchup in an ever-changing Big Ten Conference that isn’t all ground and pound anymore.




@dydd911: Do you think we will see any commits from visitors at the Under the Lights game?

VanHaaren: Michigan’s night game against Notre Dame in Week 2 is going to be one of the bigger recruiting events of the season. The Wolverines really only have three big home games, so it’s also an important event in general.

The last time these two teams faced off at night at Michigan Stadium, safety Dymonte Thomas ended up committing right after the game.

This answer all depends on who ends up making it in for the game, but as of now it doesn’t look like there will be that type of situation. It looks like this game will be something that sets the tone for a prospect and could eventually lead to a commitment down the road.

Some of the bigger names that are visiting include 2014 defensive end Da'Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge) and the No. 1 ranked player in the 2015 class Jashon Cornell (St. Paul, Minn./Cretin-Derham Hall).

Hand has his announcement date set for Nov. 14 and still has official visits to Florida and then Alabama, so he doesn’t seem likely. Cornell, while he does have Michigan very high on his list, still plans on waiting to make a decision.

Since Michigan’s 2014 class is nearly full there will be a lot more underclassmen than seniors. That’s not a bad thing, especially if the environment is anything like it was two seasons ago in the first night game.




@buckeyefan686: It seems like Urban Meyer went hard after defensive backs and wide receivers in 2013 and linebackers/offensive tackles in 2014. What position groups do you see being the focus in 2015?

Bournival: First and foremost, I think Meyer looks at the quarterback position more than any other. With Braxton Miller possibly gone after this season and Kenny Guiton definitely, gone he’ll need to bolster that position and give it some depth. There could be no one with any meaningful in-game experience coming back in 2014 and he’ll need to address that in 2015.

With four defensive linemen gone after the 2014 season, don’t be surprised if he dips into the trenches yet again.




Mark, Chicago, Ill.: Do you see Northwestern landing any of the remaining big targets they have left in 2014?

VanHaaren: Short answer, yes. The bigger targets left on the board are all ESPN 300 prospects. Linebacker Brandon Lee (Indianapolis/Lawrence Central), defensive back Parrker Westphal (Bolingbrook, Ill./Bolingbrook) and tight end Garrett Dickerson (Oradell, N.J./Bergen Catholic).

Lee is visiting Cal this weekend when they take on Northwestern and will likely then take an official out to see the Wildcats at home.

I do think there is a good chance that at least one of these prospects chooses Northwestern. The question is how many? That is yet to be seen.

Big Ten recruiting storylines: Aug. 22 

August, 22, 2013
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Big Ten fodder is never hard to find, especially in recruiting. Here’s a look at a few programs that highlighted a busy recruiting week:

Cotton getting close

Linebacker Micquell Cotton (O’Fallon, Ill./O’Fallon) has narrowed his list down to Indiana and Iowa State. The three-star back holds offers from both schools as well as Syracuse and Michigan State.

Cotton has visited both already and will take official visits this fall before making a pick.
The Cyclones have some appeal with a solid 2014 class that includes ESPN 300 wide receiver Allen Lazard (Urbandale, Iowa/Urbandale), running back Tommy Mister (Chicago/St. Rita) and a few other good looking commitments.

We’ll see where things stand after he takes his trips.

Iowa adds cornerback

Cornerback Josh Jackson (Corinth, Texas/Lake Dallas) committed to Iowa on Thursday. He confirmed his commitment in a text message.

The 5-foot-11, 175-pound senior becomes Iowa's 13th commit and the unranked defensive back becomes the third player to be taken in the secondary in the Hawkeyes’ 2014 recruiting class. He joins cornerback Omar Truitt (Washington, D.C./St. John’s College) and safety Jyaz Jones (Dallas/South Oak). Jackson’s commitment continues the youth movement at Iowa, as six underclassmen will return next season from Iowa’s two-deep chart.

"I think it's going to be great," Jackson said. "With the guys coming in, we'll definitely make a big impact in the Big Ten and for the team."

Defensive end Torey Hendrick (Brooklyn, N.Y./ASA College) hasn’t broken down his top five yet, but the junior college sensation already knows one he’ll take a visit to Iowa.

The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Hendrick hasn’t set a date, but Iowa City be a destination. Expect Kansas to maybe earn a visit as well.

Hendrick currently has offers from Arizona State, Florida State, Kansas State, North Carolina State and Rutgers to go with Iowa and Kansas.

Lacrosse commit getting looks
Jason Alessi (Birmingham, Mich./Brother Rice) is committed to Michigan for lacrosse, but that might not be the sport he ends up playing in college as he is starting to get noticed for football as well.

Alessi is a 2014 defensive back who already holds football offers from Cornell and Air Force. He has heard from Yale, Harvard and most recently Michigan State.

The 6-foot, 170-pound safety took a visit to East Lansing last week and is now waiting for the Spartans to make a move. The coaching staff told him they want to watch film on his first few games this coming season and then make a decision.

If he has a good start to the season the Spartans might not be the only team to come calling.

Linebacker U looking again
Penn State has opened up its search to replace outside linebacker Jared Wangler (Warren, Mich./De La Salle), who decommitted from the Nittany Lions before pledging to Michigan.

With Syracuse commit Jason Cabinda (Flemington, N.J./Hunterdon Central) already in the mix of candidates, Penn State has offered outside backer Brandon Lee (Indianapolis/Lawrence Central). That means Northwestern has some company in landing the standout as Lee will travel to California on an official visit when the Golden Bears play the Wildcats on Aug. 31. Lee currently has a top five of Cal, Louisville, Northwestern, Oregon and Virginia Tech.

London a wanted man

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Best of the Midwest: Class of 2015 

August, 14, 2013
8/14/13
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Hjalte FroholdtBrad Bournival/ESPNHjalte Froholdt, the No. 14 player in the ESPN Junior 300, will be playing his junior season in his native Denmark but will have plenty of suitors waiting for his return to the United States.
There are currently 34 Midwest prospects -- 15 from Ohio -- within the ESPN Junior 300. Not a single one of them has pledged an allegiance to a school as of yet.

That means the dogfight is already on, as Big Ten schools and others around the country prepare for an 18-month battle for some of the best.

As is usually the case, the Midwest will bring some interesting storylines over the next few years as the focus will shift to the heartland for some of the biggest names at the high school level.

In keeping with Tuesday’s theme, here are the top 11 prospects out of the Midwest and where they’re at in the process.


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