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Appleton spurns Illinois for Badgers

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

It's barely 8 a.m. in the Central time zone, and there's already been a fairly major signing day development in the Big Ten.

Wide receiver Kraig Appleton of East St. Louis, Ill., has signed with Wisconsin after committing to Illinois in late November. There had been increased rumors that Appleton and his high school teammate, wideout Terry Hawthorne, will head elsewhere after committing to Illini head coach Ron Zook.

But according to the live blog at uwbadgers.com, Appleton sent in his letter to Wisconsin at around 8 a.m.

The 6-foot-3, 190-pound Appleton, ranked as the nation's No. 15 wide receiver by ESPN's Scouts Inc., is a huge find for Wisconsin at a position where it needs help. The Badgers' wideouts dropped too many passes last season, and the departure of former All-American tight end Travis Beckum creates a void in the passing game as the team prepares for yet another quarterback competition this spring.

Illinois, meanwhile, has lost some recruiting momentum in recent days. If the Illini lose Hawthorne as well, it could be a very long day for Zook and his staff.

In other Big Ten news, Minnesota bolstered its defensive backfield with cornerback Michael Carter, who originally committed to West Virginia before changing his mind.