Ten Big Ten stories worth reading Friday

Michigan State continues to wait on the signature of top recruit Malik McDowell, an in-state defensive end and the top player in Michigan who picks the Spartans over Ohio State and Florida State. This story explains the ramifications of an athlete not signing a letter-of-intent. It’s really no big whoop. No one needs to sign one to get a scholarship. In fact, I always have felt LOIs are a bad deal for touted prospects. In fact, they may be better off not signing them.

Read all of our Signing Day coverage over here.

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BREAKING: Every college football coach liked his 2014 signing class.

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Remember Acie Earl? I do. Nice player for Iowa, as he’s the school’s No. 2 all-time scorer and No. 1 shot blocker. Mike Hlas of the Cedar Rapids Gazette has podcast with the former Hawkeye big man.

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From the files of the “painfully obvious”: Illinois needs this most recent recruiting class to pay immediate dividends.

In two years, Tim Beckman is 6-18 overall and 1-15 in the Big Ten. That one Big Ten triumph came last season vs. the worst Purdue team in generations. I’d say the 2014 season is pretty important.

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There is a lot to like about Michigan, which is tied for first place with Michigan State. In fact, this team may have what it takes to return to the Final Four. The key guy? Glenn Robinson III.

The key for GR3? Being more consistent. He was struggling with his shot earlier this season, but seems to have figured that out. Now, he needs to step up his overall game. The season officially is entering crunch time. And Michigan has four different players averaging double-figures in Big Ten play, while eight are shooting over 40.0 percent. Some impressive numbers here.

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With the NFL Combine invite list out, the hype and chatter for the 2014 draft will gain mojo. What will happen to Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez? Mel Kiper, Jr., and his hair think Martinez could have a future on defense.

He certainly won’t be a quarterback. But, does Martinez have a defensive attitude? Eric Crouch never found a home at another position. I hope it happens for T-Magic. What an athlete.

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There are few 2014 Big Ten recruits more hyped than Ohio State linebacker Raekwon McMillan, who already is on campus and will go through spring drills.

In fact, I will be shocked if the kid doesn’t make a big impact this fall for a Buckeye linebacking corps that needs help. I can’t wait to see the McMillan in action.

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This is pretty cool. With recruiting for 2014 completed, the College Football Matrix takes a look at each team’s trends in recruiting to get a feel where they are heading with this upcoming  class.

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In hoops, Michigan State got Adreian Payne back for last night’s win vs. Penn State. And, the big fella looked pretty good. But, just as Payne was returning, Keith Appling was leaving with a wrist injury that kept him out last night. But did you get a load of Denzel Valentine in Appling’s absence? Impressive.

Branden Dawson also remains out with a hand injury. Will this team ever be whole again? When it is, how good will MSU be? Scary, huh? Oh, and that three-game Penn State winning streak which was the longest in the Big Ten? It’s history.

Nittany Lions fans should focus on these next four games: Illinois; at Indiana; Iowa; at Nebraska. They will be more indicative of PSU’s progress.

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TWEETS THAT MATTER

My take: Four days? Believe me, that’s too much. I’ve been to Big 12 media days when they were four … long … days.

My take: I knew there was a reason why I liked Ryan.

My take: Earle Bruce’s grandson.

My take: Stay tuned.

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About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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