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October 24, 2012
Rivals.com Midwest recruiting analyst Josh Helmholdt looks at the movement within the Big Ten in his Big Ten Breakdown.
Illinois: Head coach Tim Beckman and his staff have shown the willingness to turn over every stone to find the players they need to populate their roster, and that has certainly included examining the junior college ranks. At least a dozen JUCO prospects from the 2013 class claim offers from the Illini, including San Pablo (Calif.) Contra Costa C.C. defensive end Demetrius Cherry and Victorville (Calif.) Victor Valley C.C. defensive tackle Abens Cajuste, who have official visits scheduled the first two weekends in December. Illinois also received good news on one of its prep commitments, when four-star quarterback Aaron Bailey was cleared for the postseason after suffering a knee injury earlier this fall.
Indiana: While the wins have been tough to come by on the field, Indiana has a string of victories on the recruiting trail this month. This past weekend the Hoosiers landed the commitment of four-star Indianapolis (Ind.) Pike defensive end David Kenney, and on Wednesday they landed four-star Georgia athlete Rashard Fant. They also appear on the verge of adding four-star Indianapolis defensive tackle Darius Latham. With Rivals250 safety Antonio Allen already on their commitment list, Indiana has a chance to sign its best recruiting class in at least a decade.
Iowa: Iowa suffered a blow when its first commitment in the 2013 class -- four-star defensive end David Kenney -- decommitted earlier this month and subsequently committed to Indiana. But the Hawkeyes bounced back with a big recruiting visit weekend for their home contest with Penn State this past Saturday. Among the visitors was three-star running back Berkley Edwards, who has had the Hawkeyes at the top of his list since they offered. Edwards was impressed with the academic offerings in Iowa City and could be leaning the Hawkeyes way.
Michigan: Michigan was also bitten by the decommitment bug earlier this month when four-star Detroit Cass Tech offensive guard David Dawson decided he wanted to take visits to other schools. The two parties have now gone their separate ways, but Michigan did counter with an offensive line addition in the 2014 class when Chicago Hales Franciscan offensive tackle Denzel Ward committed. The Wolverines are still looking to fill Dawson's spot with an offensive lineman in the 2013 class.
Michigan State: Michigan State is starting to make inroads to former Michigan pipeline Detroit Cass Tech, and the Spartans may still have some opportunities in the 2013 class. Already they have the verbal commitments of 2013 offensive tackle Dennis Finley and 2014 linebacker Deon Drake from Cass Tech. Now, four-star offensive guard David Dawson and three-star defensive tackle Kenton Gibbs are mentioning the Spartans prominently. Dawson includes Michigan State in his top five, while Gibbs -- who does not yet hold a Michigan State offer -- says he has been in conversation with the Spartans' coaching staff in recent weeks.
Minnesota: There have not been many reasons for Minnesota fans to get excited about recruiting in the class of 2013, but the Gophers have a chance to gain some momentum this weekend when they welcome three official visitors to Minneapolis for the game against Purdue. Expected in are three-star Tampa (Fla.) Freedom safety Nate Goodwin, three-star Loxahatchee (Fla.) Seminole Ridge linebacker Rayfield Dixon and two-star Hialeah (Fla.) Dade Christian tight end Aaron Batten.
Nebraska: Some teams opt to bring in few official visitors during the fall, but Nebraska does not subscribe to that line of thought. The Cornhuskers hosted 14 official visitors for their home contest against Wisconsin in September, and have another 14 scheduled for this weekend against Michigan. Highlighting the expected official visitors list are four-star West Coast prospects Priest Willis and Demorea Stringfellow. Four-star Kansas City defensive end Jamone Boyd and four-star Florida defensive back Mackensie Alexander are also expected in Lincoln.
Northwestern: With an unusually high number of early commitments in the 2013 class, Northwestern has had the luxury of getting an early start on recruiting in the class of 2014. The Wildcats have extended several new offers to junior prospects in recent weeks. Among them is Cincinnati (Ohio) LaSalle wide receiver Derek Kief who just broke his school's record with 60 receptions in only nine games this season. Kief is also the teammate of one of Northwestern's top remaining 2013 targets, three-star cornerback Jaleel Hytchye.
Ohio State: There is no question the Buckeyes have put a strong emphasis on the linebacker position in the final few months of the 2013 class. On the field, injuries have decimated their roster and while no recruit is going to help them this fall, Ohio State is making sure it is set at the position in future years. Texas four-star Mike Mitchell has been leaning Ohio State's way for some time, but the Buckeyes are making contingency plans in case Mitchell does not come through. They offered Florida three-star Skai Moore in recent weeks, and he has now scheduled an official visit to Columbus. Auburn commit Trey Johnson and Florida commit Daniel McMillan are also talking about official visits with the Buckeyes and in-state athlete Christopher Worley is another option at linebacker.
Penn State: The NCAA sanctions levied against Penn State were no doubt going to produce defections among the Nittany Lions' class of 2013 committed prospects. But they have a chance this weekend to welcome one of their pre-sanctions commitments back into the fold when Bratt (Fla.) Northview three-star safety Neiko Robinson heads to State College for an official visit. Robinson took an official visit to Minnesota earlier this month that he said "exceeded my expectations," but head coach Bill O'Brien and staff will be giving their all to show Robinson that Penn State is still the place for him.
Purdue: Purdue added commitments Nos. 12 and 13 to its 2013 class during the last two weeks in the form of three-star Loxahatchee (Fla.) Seminole Ridge defensive tackle Kyle Shortridge and two-star Lithonia (Ga.) Arabia Mountain linebacker Danny Ezechukwu. Both prospects made their official visits to West Lafayette the weekend of Sept. 28 when the Boilermakers played host to Marshall. Purdue is still holding strong with a prospect who officially visited earlier this month -- three-star Canadian offensive tackle David Knevel, who said Tuesday the Boilermakers remain atop his list after an official visit to West Virginia.
Wisconsin: Head coach Bret Bielema and his staff have been doing their most recruiting damage the last few months in the class of 2014, but with three months remaining before National Signing Day, Wisconsin is turning the heat back up on the 2013 class. On Tuesday, the Badgers landed in-state safety Matt Hubley to bring their total number of class of 2013 commitments to 14. They also are expected to host an official visitor this weekend when Encino (Calif.) Crespi three-star safety Tyler Foreman makes his way to Madison to see Wisconsin host Michigan State.
ALSO: Notre Dame
Notre Dame: The Irish were making life tough for Pac-12 schools when they hosted prospects such as USC commits Chris Hawkins and Max Redfield and Stanford commit Isaac Savaiinaea for official visits earlier this month and had all three seriously considering switching to the Irish. But those West Coast schools have started to fight back. Hawkins has since re-upped with the Trojans and is considered a strong commitment, while Savaiinaea also appears back to being strong with the Cardinal. The Irish still appear to be a major factor for Redfield, however.
Follow Midwest Region recruiting on Twitter at @JoshHelmholdt.