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What to watch for this weekend

12/15/2011

What will Ohio State's impact actually be in the East?

Hiring Urban Meyer certainly created waves in recruiting, most notably with Noah Spence.

The five-star defensive lineman is set to take his first official visit, to Ohio State, this weekend. His impressions from the trip will be interesting. So will his future travel plans. Spence once seemed like a lock to Penn State but with all that has happened, he's open.

The clock is ticking for the standout from Harrisburg (Pa.) Bishop McDevitt. Spence, who is rated the nation's fourth best overall prospect, said he'll likely take official visits to LSU and Florida. He's also still considering Penn State and Maryland. He plans to announce his decision on Jan. 5 at the Under Armour All-America Game.

Four-star athlete prospect Cyrus Jones was scheduled to take an official visit to Columbus but he has decided against it. That would seem to rule out the Buckeyes. Jones could still take an official visit but will have to do it quickly as he is also scheduled to announce his decision at the Under Armour All-America Game.

Will schools plunder Pitt?

Todd Graham's decision to leave Pittsburgh to become the head coach at Arizona State could certainly shake up the Panthers' 2012 class, but just how much remains to be seen.

Four-star quarterback Chad Voytik from Cleveland (Tenn.) High School said he's firmly committed to Pitt, even after Graham's departure. Voytik said the prospects he's talked to are also sticking with the Panthers as well.

That's a common response in the immediate moments after a coaching change. The problem for schools left in a coach's wake is that such loyalty doesn't always endure the test of time.

The Panthers have four four-star prospects: Voytik, tailback Rushel Shell from Aliquippa (Pa.) Hopewell, athlete Demetrious Davis from Youngstown (Ohio) Austin Fitch and offensive tackle Adam Bisnowaty from Pittsburgh (Pa.) Fox Chapel.

Shell picked Pitt over Alabama and several scholarship offers. Davis and his brother, two-star athlete prospect Christopher Davis, have said they will at least consider other schools. Arkansas, Ohio State and Arizona are early possibilities. Bisnowaty took an official visit to Florida before announcing his decision.

Proximity should help the Panthers. Of their 19 commitments, 10 are from Pennsylvania. All, except for Voytik, are from nearby states.

How will injuries matter?

Four-star prospects Ken Ekanem and Korren Kirven both suffered injuries in their high school semifinal games this month. Ekanem, who is from Clifton (Va.) Centreville, suffered a torn ACL. Kirven suffered a broken ankle.

It's unlikely any schools will back off the two talented prospects, but recovering from the injuries could interfere with their travel plans. Ekanem was originally going to begin the official visit process on Saturday, but that is now on hold. He'll visit the Fighting Irish in January and is also considering North Carolina, Oregon and Virginia Tech.

Kirven has said he'll definetely take official visits to Alabama and Tennessee and probably Auburn, but his timetable is still up in the air.

Who's next?

Interest in Taquan Mizzell continues to grow. The junior picked up his seventh scholarship offer this week.

Connecticut joined East Carolina, North Carolina State, Purdue, Vanderbilt, Virginia and Virginia Tech as schools that have extended official invites.

The 5-foot-9, 180-pound athlete from Virginia Beach (Va.) Bayside said he'll likely visit some schools soon but that no school is currently standing out from the pack.

Now that Mizzell has completed his junior season, other schools will continue to come calling for the ESPN 150 Watch List prospect.

Who will shine at the Shrine?

The game will showcase a strong assembly of talent on Saturday. That, however, is just part of the event.

The recruitment that has gone on among prospects this week is equally intriguing, especially with North Carolina's recent decision to hire Larry Fedora.

Four-star athlete Todd Gurley from Tarboro (N.C.) High School has heard from plenty of prospects this week. Can Fedora sway him to North Carolina or will other prospects sway him elsewhere, such as North Carolina State? They've all been talking this week.

The same can be said for Tar Heels commitment Bryce Kennedy from Southern Pines (N.C.) Pinecrest. The three-star offensive guard has been committed to North Carolina since October but said this week that the Wolfpack is his backup plan if things don't workout with Fedora's staff.