North Recruiting Notebook

NCAA football is nearing the midway point already this season. That means there are more and more trips and commitments happening around the country. takes a closer look at the latest around the North.

First off I'd like to send out my condolences to the family of Norman Griffith from Pahokee (Fla.). I had the pleasure of meeting "Pooh" this summer and sitting down with him for an interview and he was a first class human being all the way around.

I was stunned when I heard the news last week that he was taken from his family way before his time in a sensless act of violence. The "Muck City" crew lost a great one who will be sadly missed.

The Wisconsin Badgers hosted a big game against Ohio State this weekend and a couple of top recruits from the Midwest were present. Washburn (Minn.) TE Ra'Shede Hageman was in town along with two standout defensive ends from Ohio, Davon Custis (DeSales) and Pat Muldoon (St. Xavier). The surprise of the group was East St. Louis (Ill.) wide receiver Kraig Appleton. Appleton, who made a soft verbal to Illinois earlier this fall, is down to the Illini, Badgers and Texas Tech as his final three.

Pittsburgh beat Iowa a few weeks ago and just disposed of the nation's No. 10 ranked South Florida Bulls, but it was not enough to stop a legacy prospect from staying in the Midwest. Lake Forest (Ill.) defensive end Scott Covert (6'3, 240) committed to Iowa. His father, Jimbo Covert had been a standout for the Chicago Bears and Pittsburgh Panthers and Scott held an offer from Pitt, but decided to go a different way. "I have been coming to their camps for a long time, and I know coach (Kirk) Ferentz real well, plus all the coaches," he told Hawkeye Nation's Brian Finely, "I just felt real comfortable with the campus because I had been there for so many summers in a row."

One of the top uncommitted players in Indiana came off the board last week as Warren Central tight end Edward Hazelett committed to Western Kentucky. The 6'9, 245-lb Hazelett held offers from Cincinnati, Kentucky and Louisville, but chose the Hilltoppers because of the chance to play both football and basketball in college.

One junior who had a big game over the weekend was Chelsea (Mich.) running back Nick Hill. Facing one of the top teams in the state in undefeated Adrian, Hill ran for 310 yards and four touchdowns and also scored on a hook and ladder as Chelsea won 41-31. Hill has been putting up monstrous numbers the past two years, which has earned him offers from Eastern Michigan, Central Michigan and Stanford. Michigan State, Michigan and Notre Dame (who he took an unofficial to on Saturday) have also been in hot pursuit and after tearing through one of the top contenders in the state, those programs may soon add their names to the offer list.

Lynchburg (Va.) Brookville High School offensive lineman Devin Bolling is currently holding 15 written scholarship offers from schools such as Connecticut, Boston College, Marshall, ECU, Ohio, Richmond, Army, VMI and MTSU, among others. Pittsburgh has also told the interior lineman that a grey-shirt offer could be coming very soon.

Despite a slow start for the Rutgers program, four-star signal caller Tom Savage from Springfield (Pa.) remains completely solid with the Scarlet Knights and is not wavering at all despite what some sources may be reporting. Savage is the prize of this Rutgers class and even before his commitment his belief in the Rutgers staff was very evident.

Nyshier Oliver
Four-star safety prospect Nyshier Oliver gave his verbal commitment to Notre Dame this week, the 15th member of this year's Fighting Irish recruiting class. While Oliver has been a standout in the defensive secondary and at running back for St. Peter's Prep, he has been told that he will move to wide receiver at the next level and has already started to emulate the game of up and coming Irish wide receiver Golden Tate. Charlie Weis continues to recruit well in the state of New Jersey.

Could Hamilton (Ohio) High School linebacker Denicos Allen be getting close to making his college decision? Allen has visited several schools with Michigan State being the latest stop. According to several sources he could be making the call very soon.

Columbus (Ohio) Bellbrook offensive lineman Sam Longo made his return back to action over the weekend. The Ohio State commit had missed several games due to an injury.

There was a huge upset in Ohio this weekend as the number one ranked team in Division One went down. The Colerain Cardinals had several big wins this season, while sprinting out to a perfect record and there was talk of them being the favorite to win the "Big School" championship.

Friday night they ran into Middletown.

The school known from producing several big time college and even future NFL stars like Chris Carter. Middletown was equal to the task as they gave Colerain their first loss in Greater Miami Conference play since 1999. The Middies used big plays during crucial times in the game giving first year head coach Jason Krause a signature victory early in his career at the school.

Juniors Antonio Banks and Caleb Watkins were key in the victory along with Tennessee commitment D.J. Hunter.

Miami Ohio basketball commitment Allen Roberts again showed why many feel his best future is on the football field as he continues to show the tools to be a big-time player.

As we reported in last week's notebook Penn State did secure a verbal commitment from four-star New Jersey linebacker Glenn Carson. The Nittany Lions who have looked very good this year also landed Waldorf (Md.) Westlake speed merchant Devon Smith.

Smith blew up every camp and combine he attended this year with his lightning quick speed and ability to make people miss. Penn State has made a decent living the past few years with undersized playmakers at wide receiver. Smith can definitely continue that trend for Joe Paterno.

North Carolina State also landed a big-time small guy recently. The Wolfpack received a pledge from Cleveland (Ohio) Heights three-star wide receiver Bryan Underwood. The talented playmaker boasted offers from a number of Big 12, Big Ten, Big East and ACC teams before selecting North Carolina State.

** Midwest Analyst's Allen Trieu and Dave Berk contributed to this report as did East Analyst Matt Alkire.

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