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Thursday, October 24, 2013
Big Ten recruiting storylines: Oct. 24

By Brad Bournival and Tom VanHaaren

From commitments to official visits to offers tendered, the Big Ten is never at a loss for headlines.

Here’s a look at the latest from an always busy conference:

Bill O’Brien serving pancakes

Urban Meyer has been known as the master in flipping committed prospects in his time at Ohio State and rightfully so with more than a dozen pledged targets becoming Buckeyes. O’Brien is catching up after flipping Jason Cabinda (Flemington, N.J./Hunterdon Central) from Syracuse to Penn State on Wednesday.

Cabinda marks the sixth pledge to change stripes and join the Nittany Lions since O’Brien took over the reins in Happy Valley.

He’s raided Maryland three times in landing running backs Richy Anderson and Johnathan Thomas as well as offensive guard Tanner Hartman. O’Brien has also plucked quarterback Steven Bench from Rice and landed defensive tackle Parker Cothren from Purdue.

Buckeye leafs

Ohio State’s biggest target is headed to Columbus this weekend for the game against Penn State as the top-ranked linebacker in the nation regardless of position comes to town on an official visit in Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County).

McMillan isn’t the only one slated to take an official visit as East Mississippi Community College teammates Avery Gennesy at offensive tackle and A.J. Stamps at safety are coming along. ESPN 300 wide receiver Josh Malone (Gallatin, Tenn./Station Camp) will be on an official visit, too as will commit and defensive end Jalyn Holmes (Norfolk, Va./Lake Taylor).

By the way, Gennesy and Stamps went to the same community college current Ohio State junior and 2013 signee Corey Smith went to.

ESPN Junior 300 standouts Jauan Jennings (Murfreesboro, Tenn./Blackman), Lorenzo Nunez (Kennesaw, Ga./Harrison), Brandon Wimbush (Jersey City/N.J./St. Peter’s Prep), Minkah Fitzpatrick (Jersey City N.J./St. Peter’s Prep), Jacques Patrick (Orlando, Fla./Timber Creek), Anthony McKee (Columbus/Walnut Ridge), Shy Tuttle (Lexington, N.C./North Davidson), Larry Scott (Hubbard, Ohio/Hubbard) and Kelly Bryant (Piedmont, S.C./Wren) have all said they are coming.

As always, the list is fluid and could change at any time. There are a good collection of commits coming to the game as well.

Lee getting close

ESPN 300 linebacker Brandon Lee (Indianapolis/Lawrence Central) cut his list down to Cal, Louisville, Missouri and Virginia Tech on Wednesday night. He will be announcing his decision on Nov. 8, and has already taken an official visit out to Cal and will be out to see Virginia Tech this weekend.

The No. 242 ranked prospect had Northwestern and Penn State in his top list, so those two schools are now obviously out of the running.

It’s still a bit of a mystery as to where he will end up, since Lee has kept everything close to the vest. He is keeping everyone in suspense and taking it down to the wire right up to his announcement date.

London has a top five and a timeline

Running back Madre London (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas) is a highly coveted senior among Big Ten teams. With limited options remaining, plenty of teams are hoping to land the three-star back.

On Wednesday, London tweeted that his top five is Nebraska, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Illinois and Pitt and that he will be making his final decision in two weeks.

The Spartans might have the edge here, but it could go either way since he has taken a few visits recently to various programs.

At 6-foot-2, 202 pounds, he would be a great fit for most programs, so landing this Florida athlete will be a big deal for whichever program gets his commitment.

Michigan coaches on the road

Michigan fans are closely watching every move of No. 4 ranked Da'Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge). He is set to visit Alabama this weekend, so there is plenty for Wolverines fans to keep an eye on.

But before he takes that visit, Michigan assistant coach Roy Manning will be out at Hand’s school to check on the five-star prospect.

Hand will also visit Florida on Nov. 9, just five days before he makes his decision on Nov. 14.

There have been questions from the fans on whether or not Michigan’s rough start to the season will impact Hand’s decision or feelings towards the Wolverines.

At this point it doesn’t appear to be the case, especially because the Michigan coaching staff has done such a good job building the relationship with him.

The coaching staff will also be out to see top-ranked 2015 defensive end Jashon Cornell (St. Paul, Minn./Cretin-Derham Hall) on Friday.

Michigan will also check out 2015 targets Darian Roseboro (Lincolnton, N.C./Lincolnton), Jack Beneventi (Lisle, Ill./Benet Academy), Juval Mollette (Randleman, N.C./Randleman) and 2016 targets Erik Swenson (Downers Grove, Ill./Downers Grove South) and running back Elijah Holyfield (Atlanta/Woodward) this week.

Offers are out

The Big Ten once again stayed active in offering potential standouts at the next level.

Since Monday, Wisconsin has offered offensive tackle Kolton Miller (Roseville, Calif./Roseville) and outside linebacker Michael Lazarus (Berkeley, Calif./Berkeley), and Purdue has offered wide receiver Cameron Green (Lincolnshire, Ill./Adlai E. Stevenson).

Nebraska sent out an offer to Kahlil Lewis (Miramar, Fla./Miramar) and Jaevon Walton (New Orleans/Edna Karr). Ohio State tendered one as well to wide receiver Kemah Siverand (Houston/Cypress Ridge).

Indiana has thrown an offer out to offensive tackle Matt McCann (Indianapolis/Bishop Chatard).

Wisconsin picks up another commitment

Syracuse lost its second pledge in as many days when three-star tight end Beau Benzschawel (Grafton, Wis./Grafton) switched his allegiance and became the 17th commitment in the 2014 class for Wisconsin.

For Benzschawel, who is a legacy at Wisconsin, the choice was easy.

“My dad and uncle both played there, so it means a lot to be able to follow in their footsteps,” he said.

Benzschawel is the first tight end taken in the class and the ninth player the Badgers have grabbed on the offensive side of the ball.

“I am a big athlete that can fit in multiple positions,” Benzschawel said. “So I can help the program out by being able to play multiple positions, if need be.”