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B1G Notes: Key Conference Battles

News, notes and buzz from around the Big Ten.

Michigan continues to battle Ohio State for Top50 CB Marshon Lattimore.

Conference Recruiting Battles

Top100 Targets

-Penn State impressed Brooklyn (N.Y.) Lincoln five-star defensive tackle Thomas Holley this past weekend on his official visit to Happy Valley. Next up is Ohio State this weekend. The Buckeyes are considered the favorite for the nation’s No. 24 prospect overall and will have an opportunity to build on the impression they made over the summer. Other schools in the mix includes Florida, Notre Dame, Rutgers and Syracuse.

-Cleveland (Ohio) Glenville Top50 cornerback Marshon Lattimore and his four-star safety teammate Erick Smith are considered huge Ohio State leans, however Michigan will likely get both U.S. Army All-Americans back to campus for an official before the two decides. The Buckeyes hardly ever lose when recruiting at Glenville.

-Michigan remains the heavy favorite for Southfield (Mich.) High Top50 defensive lineman Malik McDowell, with Michigan State and Ohio State still trying to make a push. McDowell was expected in East Lansing last weekend and the Buckeyes recently made a stop to see McDowell. McDowell has talked for a while about getting down to Columbus for a visit but that hasn’t happened yet. Expected to announce at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, McDowell is still considering a few schools outside the Big Ten but the Wolverines will be tough to beat when it’s all said and done.

-The nation’s top tight end in Manahawkin (N.J.) Southern Regional’s Mike Gesicki took his official visit to Penn State last weekend and the Nittany Lions have made this very interesting as they battle Ohio State for a commitment. Gesicki will announce his decision on Friday and while the Buckeyes are the heavy favorite on the Crystal Ball, this appears to be very close. A similar recruitment was Top100 offensive tackle Jamarco Jones, who Ohio State landed but had to really battle Michigan State down the stretch. Urban Meyer and company are hoping for the same outcome.

-Don’t expect any major developments regarding the nation’s No. 6 offensive tackle Brian Wallace until after he finishes his senior season at St. Louis (Mo.) Christian Brothers College, but Iowa and Nebraska are among the hopeful programs to score the U.S. Army All-American. Ohio State is also in the top five along with Arkansas and Alabama. Wallace wants to take his official visits before deciding.

Top247 Targets

Michigan State will get a crack at Wisconsin Top247 DT commit Craig Evans following the season.

-Bolingbrook (Ill.) High four-star cornerback Parrker Westphal took an official visit to Michigan State this past weekend and the Spartans pose a significant challenge to Northwestern for the Chicago-area standout. Vanderbilt is also in the top three and Westphal has used his official to the Commodores campus as well. Westphal is trying to get back to Evanston before deciding. He keeps in regular touch with head coach Pat Fitzgerald and Northwestern remains the favorite at this point.

-St. Louis (Mo.) University four-star cornerback Raymond Wingo talk about playing in the SEC, but Indiana, Michigan State and Nebraska will look to change his mind when he takes visits following his senior season. The Hoosiers particularly have a good chance of pulling Wingo away from the SEC. Arkansas, Auburn and Tennessee are Wingo’s top SEC suitors.

-Sun Prairie (Wis.) High Top247 defensive tackle Craig Evans has been a verbal to Wisconsin since April, however Michigan State remains strongly in the mix and he’s expected to visit East Lansing after the season. Evans visited Arkansas earlier this season but the Badgers and then the Spartans look like the current top two.

Noteworthy Targets

-Indianapolis (Ind.) Decatur Central four-star offensive tackle Lukayus McNeil visited Michigan State last weekend and saw the Spartans defeat his other top school Indiana. The Hoosiers lead on McNeil’s Crystal Ball, but the tide could be turning towards the Spartans. With all that being said, McNeil will take his time with his recruitment and is still considering several other schools including Iowa, N.C. State, Louisville, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Virginia Tech.

-Ohio State offered Chanhassen (Minn.) High offensive tackle Frank Ragnow this past Sunday and could get him on campus as quickly as this weekend. The Buckeyes are a major player for Ragnow along with Minnesota and Wisconsin. Florida State is the current leader for Ragnow but the opportunity to play in the Big Ten and stay closer to home is also exciting. Arkansas is another school Ragnow and his family are high on.

-Michigan State is the team to beat for Crete (Ill.) Monee defensive end Chris Slayton, but he says Illinois is recruiting him the hardest and he’s expected in Champaign on Saturday for the Wisconsin game. Syracuse rounds out Slayton’s top three.

-Illinois, Indiana and Purdue are all battling for Lombard (Ill.) Montini Catholic linebacker Nile Sykes, who will turn his attention outside the conference as he tries to setup official visits to Missouri and Syracuse for after the season.

RB Madre London has already taken official visits to Michigan State, Nebraska and Wisconsin. Illinois gets its shot this weekend.

-Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas running back Madre London has already taken official visits to Nebraska, Wisconsin and Michigan State, with the Spartans coming this past weekend. He’ll head to Illinois this coming weekend with a decision expected in November. Michigan State may have pushed past Nebraska after his experience in East Lansing. We’ll see what happens in Champaign.

-Wisconsin looks like the team to beat for Niles (Ill.) Notre Dame running back Chris James, with Pittsburgh rounding out the top two. Iowa, Michigan State and Tennessee are three other programs the Windy City playmaker is still giving a strong look to.

-Purdue and Nebraska are in the top three for Saint Louis (Mo.) Lutheran North defensive end Renell Wren.

-Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin are among the top schools for Buford (Ga.) High athlete Zavior Hoxie, with the Hoosiers perhaps being the program in the best position.

Recent Commitments

Houston (Texas) Alief Taylor cornerback Joshua Kalu gave his pledge to Nebraska on Monday evening over opportunities from Colorado, Houston, Rice, SMU and Washington State among others. The 6-foot, 171-pound Kalu plays safety in high school and will come in and play nickel for the Huskers. He is the 13th commit for Nebraska in 2014, moving the program up to No. 45 in the national rankings, good for No. 7 in the Big Ten.

Wisconsin landed a commitment from Jesup (Ga.) Wayne County receiver Krenwick Sanders exactly a week ago, boosting the Badgers recruiting class to No. 3 in the Big Ten and No. 28 nationally. Sanders was a one-time Georgia commit and also had offers from the likes of Florida, Florida State, North Carolina, South Carolina and Vanderbilt. Wisconsin is also the team to beat for Sanders’s teammate, defensive tackle Jeremy Patterson.

Highlights From Last Recruiting Weekend

Wisconsin increased its chances of landing Top100 WR Jamil Kamara this weekend.

We already talked about Gesicki and Holley, the key prospects that visited Penn State last weekend.

Michigan State and Wisconsin also had major recruiting weekends.

The Badgers brought in five-star running back and U.S. Army All-American Joe Mixon, Top100 receiver and U.S. Army All-American Jamil Kamara along with four-star cornerback John Plattenburg, safety Andre Godfrey and Utah defensive tackle commit Allan Havili. Best bets to be Badgers at this point are Kamara and Godfrey, while becoming wildcards for Mixon and Plattenburg.

Mentioned already in making their way to the Spartans campus were Westphal, McNeil and London. Also in town were Toms River (N.J.) South safety Otis Kearney, Montclair (NJ) High defensive end Darius Slade and New Smyrna Beach (Fla.) High athlete D'Cota Dixon. Best bets right now are London and possibly McNeil, but it wouldn’t be surprising to if more from the weekend ultimately joined the fold.

Quick Hitters

-Illinois is hosting the most exciting weekend in the Big Ten. Besides London and Slayton, senior defensive lineman Ryan Reese will be on-hand and several key underclassmen are expected including four-star receiver Miles Boykin, four-star quarterback Jack Beneventi, four-star linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr., jumbo-athlete David Edwards, defensive tackle Kraig Howe, and sophomores in running back Kentrail Moran and outside linebacker Ethan Tuckey.

-Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech Top247 2015 running back Michael Weber is expected to visit Michigan State on Saturday with his father. The Spartans are considered the team to beat for the talented in-state standout. Also visiting East Lansing will be Lagrange (Ohio) Keystone tight end C.J. Conrad and Canton (Ohio) McKinley senior outside linebacker Jamal Davis.

-Michigan’s recruiting class in 2015 currently ranks No. 3 nationally, headlined by five-star receiver George Campbell, five-star running back Damien Harris and two more four-stars from Ohio in athlete Shaun Crawford and safety Tyree Kinnel. The Wolverines will sign a small group from the junior class, but the names they’re in on will keep them near the top of the national rankings. Visiting this weekend is another Brady Hoke would love to see eventually join the fold in Top50 defensive tackle Hjalte Froholdt, who played his sophomore season at Warren (Ohio) Harding as an exchange student before returning to Denmark. Michigan is one of the major players for the 6-foot-4, 282-pound Froholdt along with Ohio State.

-Northwestern hosts Wisconsin on Saturday, and the Wildcats will have several potential preferred walk-ons in town for the game. The most intriguing visitor of the weekend is Nixa (Mo.) High junior running back/linebacker Alec Murphy, who has visited Evanston several times in the past and is high on the Wildcats. He has a strong chance to land a Northwestern offer down the road.

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