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October 11, 2005

Big Ten Blitz: Huge weekend in South Bend

When top-ranked Southern Cal comes to South Bend Saturday afternoon, Notre Dame will not only have a huge load on the field to deal with but a truckload of official visitors to entertain off of it.

Rivals100 members like five-star Irish commitment Darrin Walls, and Matt Carufel are all set for their Irish visit this weekend. Many believe with a win, not only will Notre Dame pull off one of the biggest wins of the year, but possibly one of the biggest recruiting hauls this year.

The list also includes Rivals250 prospects Richard Jackson, Anthony Lewis, Terrence Austin, and Lou Eliades as well. Tennessee commitment Jacques McClendon's trip to South Bend will be his first official visit of four since committing to the Vols.

With Notre Dame's commitment list at 19 already, the class could come to an early close if things go according to plan.

However, what makes the weekend even bigger is many of the prospects in town are USC targets as well. These include four-star Riavls100 offensive tackle Butch Lewis and the nation's No. 1 defensive tackle Gerald McCoy.

To steal a prospect away from a recruiting power like USC is a major feat but coach Charlie Weis and his coaching staff are tackling the challenge head on. The Irish have gone head-to-head with another power like Michigan this year and have had quite the success.

Commitments Robby Parris, Bartley Webb, and No. 1 cornerback Walls were all Michigan targets before committing to the Irish. That aggressive approach is obviously not just centered towards Michigan but also other top programs in the struggle for the nation's top players.

Can Notre Dame do the same to USC with a victory Saturday? Their weekend is certainly stacked up towards the right direction.

The aura of USC doesn't appear to have hurt the interest that Rose and others have for Notre Dame.

"You're not going to find a better tradition than at Notre Dame and they were the team I grew up pulling for as a kid," Rose said.

Cancellations don't hurt Penn State

When Penn State coach Joe Paterno cancelled all official visits last weekend so that his current players could concentrate, prospects like Brandon James and Jacques Rickerson were not pleased.

But considering previous official visitor and Maryland commit, Antonio Logan-El took an unofficial trip with a host of others that came away impressed, things didn't look so bad. In fact, Logan-El, a Rivals100 member, came away with PSU in the lead.

"I will say it does move Penn State up, but as far as Maryland and Penn State, they're still very close," Logan-El said after his trip. "I would say Penn State is my No. 1 school at this point, but it's not by a large margin."

Prospects J.B. Walton, Jared Odrick, Adam Patterson, and defensive end Aaron Maybin also appeared very impressed with what they saw. Rumor has it that Maybin is on the verge of committing after the trip. The others appear to be taking other trips before deciding.

With a win and several impressed visitors, perhaps the cancellations didn't hurt so much after all.

Brown commitment leaves OSU questions

Cincinnati (Ohio) Princeton offensive tackle made his commitment to Virginia Tech last week and left many Buckeye fans wondering what happened.

Brown was considered a very early and long-time Ohio State lean but after his commitment to Virginia Tech word surfaced that something apparently turned him off.

"I learned more things and changed my decision," Brown said. "I've heard some things and talked to some people."

Rumors circled that Brown's father and the top prospect were not given enough attention during the big weekend for the Texas game. However, Brown denies the claims and stated that it was because there was not a connection with the coaching staff.

Regardless, questions continue to be asked on the OSU front as to what went wrong. Many fans just want to forget and move on.

Illinois continues to solidify pledges

With the likes of St. Louis (Mo.) Vashon defensive end Jerry Brown and four-star quarterback Isiah Williams dead set on taking visits, the Fighting Illini are pushing hard to solidify players that have been soft commitments for some time.

However, things don't look so bad with all of them. It looks like wide receiver Chris James is solid again after canceling a trip, and defensive back Garrett Edwards is not far from making his commitment air tight.

"I'd say there's a 98 percent chance I'll sign with Illinois in February," Edwards said. "I'm just going to check some other places out to make myself 100 percent with them."

Brown, on the other hand has official visits set up to three other schools. Williams is looking at Tennessee, Ohio State, Penn State, and North Carolina for trips elsewhere. Ohio State has been considered a leader behind Illinois.

The picture will get clearer over the next few months for Ron Zook and his staff.

Iowa goes to Texas for commit, again

It wasn't a huge shock to anyone that Baytown (Texas) Lee wide receiver James Cleveland made a pledge to Iowa last week after his visit. It's hard to ignore the growing pipeline the Hawkeyes are having in the Lone Star state.

With coach Dick Olin, Drew Tate's stepfather, being the head coach at Baytown Lee, Cleveland took the pipeline route as the 10th Texan to join the Hawkeyes since 2002 and the next future Lee star at Iowa. The pickup also is the second Texan to join the Iowa class along with Dallas defensive end Braylon Broughton this year.

Iowa receiver coach Lester Erb was a big reason, but Carl Jackson is turning into a very important recruiter for the Hawkeyes in Texas.

Etc.

Even with a loss, Purdue hosted a load of official visitors this past weekend for their game versus Iowa including three-star Ohio cornerback Royce Adams, two-star outside linebacker Jeremy Campbell, and three-star North Chicago linebacker Kevin Green…Boilermaker commitments Kyle Adams, Kyle Sheehan, and John Humphrey also visited…Northwestern's big win over Wisconsin aided in grabbing a commitment from Farmington Hills (Mich.) Harrison wide receiver Sidney Stewart. Stewart committed over offers from Central Michigan and Ohio…Indiana has been busy quietly adding three commitments this past week. Indianapolis offensive tackle James Brewer, three-star offensive guard Cody Faulkner, and defensive end Greg Middleton were added this past week as the Hoosiers begin to roll with their 2006 class.

Editor's note: The Big 10 Blitz is a weekly look at recruiting among the 11 conference schools and Notre Dame.

More Recruiting Blitzes:
SEC: Bama building an OL
Big 12: Don't count out Colorado


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