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Wednesday, June 27
Updated: August 30, 11:01 AM ET
Highly rated QB Palko picks Panthers

By Bill Hodge

The football superpowers are warming up, as Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio State, Texas, UCLA and South Carolina have gained commitments. In basketball, the Florida Gators, Wolverines and Iowa added prized verbals.

Outstanding quarterback Tyler Palko of Imperial-West Allegheny, Pa., has chosen the Pittsburgh Panthers.

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have a commitment from defensive lineman Dan Santucci of Chicago-St. Patrick, Ill., over interest from Nebraska, among others. The Irish recently gained touted offensive linemen James Bonelli of Ventura-St. Bonaventure, Calif., over USC, Florida, Tennessee and Florida State, among others; and Scott Raridon of Mason City, Iowa, over Wisconsin. Others were Nebraska, Oklahoma, Iowa State and Iowa.

The Michigan Wolverines have gained pledges from Top 100 offensive lineman Ruben Riley of Grand Rapids-Creston, Mich.; defensive back William Cooper of Flint-Northern, Mich.; linebacker Dave Harris of Grand Rapids, Ottawa Hills, Mich.; and tight end Kevin Murphy of Grand Rapids-Forest Hills, Mich. The Wolverines recently gained a pledge from offensive lineman Mark Bihl of Washington Court House-Washington, Ohio. Bihl won the State Division II shot championship.

Texas pledged outstanding tight end David Thomas of Wolfforth-Frenship, Texas, over Texas Tech and Oklahoma, among others. Thomas caught 57 passes for 1,104 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior.

The Ohio State Buckeyes have gained offensive lineman T.J. Downing of Canton-GlenOak, Ohio, over interest from Michigan, Pittsburgh, Purdue and Illinois. He is the son of former Michigan and San Francisco 49ers lineman Walt Downing.

Linebacker Xavier Burgess of Sacramento-Grant, Calif., verballed to the UCLA Bruins.

South Carolina has a commitment from receiver Charles Ben of St. Matthews-Calhoun County, S.C., over Tennessee, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Florida, Clemson and Michigan State. He caught 53 passes for 1,020 yards and 23 touchdowns as a junior.

More Football News:
Big Ten:
Quarterback Chris Pazan of Chicago-Brother Rice, Ill., verballed to Illinois over offers from Michigan and Northern Illinois.

Highly rated quarterback Brandon Kirsch of Lebanon-Cedar Crest, Pa., who passed for 1,600 yards and 20 touchdowns as a junior, has verballed to the Purdue Boilermakers. Other early offers included Pittsburgh, Maryland, Rutgers, Temple and Buffalo.

Running back Greg Gold of Irving, Texas, has chosen Northwestern.

Redshirt freshman running back/linebacker Larry Pinson of Eagan, Minn./Jenks, Okla., is transferring from Minnesota and considering both Oklahoma and Nebraska. His brother Lawrence is a highly rated prep linebacker.

Big East:
Kicker Justin Musiek of Hanover, N.H., verballed to Rutgers.

Boston College pledged defensive lineman Jake Ottolini of New Hampton School, N.H.

Linebacker Kelvin Flood of Dallas-Kimball, Texas, decommitted from West Virginia.

Punter Tom Hagan of Roanoke-Cave Spring, Va., verballed to Virginia over interest in Michigan, North Carolina, Maryland and Ohio State.

Quarterback Dominique Richmond of Hagerstown-South Hagerstown, Md., has verballed to Maryland.

Clemson has nine verbals, including offensive lineman Josh Brock of Cartersville, Ga., over offers from Maryland, Georgia Tech, Kentucky and East Carolina, plus interest from Auburn, Georgia and Tennessee; and receiver Gerald McCloud of Jacksonville, Fla.

Arizona has a commitment from defensive back Jason Martin of Pasadena-Muir, Ariz.

Washington has added offensive/defensive lineman Vernont (Maurice) Murray of Long Beach-Poly, Calif.

Mountain West:
Colorado State has commitments from running back/linebacker Adam Hayward of Huntington Beach-Marina, Calif., and offensive lineman Josh Day of Aurora-Overland, Colo.

Class 2002 Prospects:
Prospects are being identified for the upcoming season. Search over 1,870 players already listed: Prospects/Commitments.

Class 2001 Rankings:
Florida State Seminoles signed the top football class, followed by Michigan, LSU, Texas, Miami (Fla.), Oklahoma, Tennessee, Washington, UCLA and Clemson (Class Rankings).

Football Signings/Commitments
FANSonly: Main Recruiting Page.
Class 2002: Prospects/Commitments
Class 2001: Prospects/Commitments/Over 2,650 Signings
Top 150: Prospects/Commitments/Signings
Conference Commitments/Signings: Lists
Class 2000: Database.

Basketball News:
The Florida Gators have a commitment from outstanding guard Anthony Roberson of Saginaw, Mich., who was also being recruited by Duke, Michigan State and Michigan. He averaged 24 points as a junior. Forward Adrian Moss of Humble, Texas/Southwest Texas State/Fork Union MA, Va., has committed to the Gators for this upcoming season. He must receive a full release from Southwest Texas State or redshirt.

Guard Tyler Bluemling of Mt. Lebanon, Pa., signed with Duquesne after decommitting from Navy.

Forward Issa Konare of Senegal/Bridgton Academy, Maine, signed with South Carolina.

Forward Josh Rhodes of Santa Cruz, Calif., has committed to Iowa. Rhodes is the third verbal for the Hawks, joining guard Jeff Horner of Mason City and forward Greg Brunner of Charles City.

Center Nina Smith of Santa Cruz, Calif., will transfer from Wisconsin to Iowa State over Iowa and Northern Iowa. Nationally rated and former Miss Iowa Basketball as a prep, she averaged 11.9 points for the Badgers last season.

Guard Daniel Horton of Cedar Hills, Texas, who averaged 25 points as a junior, committed to Michigan over Florida, Texas, Arizona and Stanford.

Over 1,000 players have signed basketball scholarships. Ninety-four Top 100 Prospects made their college choices, with six players choosing the NBA draft.

Early Period Rankings:
The ACC and Pac-10 dominated the recruiting battle with DePaul and Florida leading the Class 2001 Preliminary Rankings.

Basketball Signings/Commitments
FANSonly: Main Recruiting Page.
Class 2002 Men: Prospects/Commitments.
Class 2001 Men: Prospects/Commitments/Official Signings.
Men's Top 100: Prospects/Commitments/Official Signings. Six players opted for NBA.
Class 2001 Women: Prospects/Commitments/Official Signings.
Class 2000 Men: Database.
Class 2000 Women: Database.

Bill Hodge is the executive editor and director of recruiting coverage at For daily columns on prospects, commitments and signings, plus databases, go to's Recruiting Page.

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