Ohio State and Michigan are recruiting among the nation’s best, while good things are happening for several other Big Ten programs on the trail.
Five-star QB Christian Hackenberg, committed to Penn State, is the biggest pledge for any Big Ten school in this year's recruiting cycle.
We break down the current state of recruiting in the Big Ten.
Best Class: Ohio State tops the list according to 247Sports, while the 247Composite reads that Michigan has the No. 1 class in the conference. Both are expected to finish with Top-10 hauls nationally, as the two rivals continue to build a roster that compares to the nation’s elite.
Ohio State has the opportunity to close very strong with a lot of Top247 talents still on the board including five-star safety Vonn Bell, and four-stars Mike Mitchell, Daniel McMillian, James Quick, Trey Johnson, Gareon Conley, Donovan Munger, David Dawson, Tony Stevens and Cornelius Elder being a several of the many that still have the Buckeyes among their late leaders.
Michigan could also finish with a bang as the Wolverines remain players for sought-after talents like running back Derrick Green, safety Leon McQuay III and receiver Laquon Treadwell. One more offensive lineman would be a nice addition with Cal commit Cameron Hunt and UCLA pledge Kenny Lacy each scheduled to take a future official visit to Ann Arbor.
Biggest Commitment Gained: Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy five-star quarterback Christian Hackenberg is the conference’s top-rated commit, checking in as the nation’s No. 2 pro-style passer by both 247Sports and the 247Composite, and the No. 14 and No. 16 prospect overall respectively.
Quarterback was going to be the centerpiece for Penn State in the recruiting class-of-2013 even before the sanctions hit and to have the 6-foot-4, 210-pound Hackenberg stick with the Nittany Lions through everything was huge for Coach Bill O’Brien and his staff.
Hackenberg has all the physical tools and ability to build a program around and having a talent like him under center could soften the blow of limited scholarships set to hit the program.
Sleeper Class: Michigan State has quietly put together a well-rounded recruiting class full of several dominant high school football players. The Spartans not only recruited players that have a lot of potential, but they also landed guys that regularly made a difference for their teams on Friday nights.
Michigan State has put together a nice class led by four-star QB Damion Terry.
Quarterback Damion Terry had a big senior year and record breaking career, linebackers Jon Reschke and Shane Jones are very productive and are winners, defensive end Demetrius Cooper has a ton of upside and R.J. Shelton, Delton Williams, Gerald Holmes and Jay Harris give Michigan State a bevy of guys that are exciting with the ball in their hands.
It should also be noted that Indiana has done a fine job of keeping some of the top talent in-state home, scoring commitments from Top247 two-way lineman Darius Latham, who will begin his career as a defensive tackle, defensive end David Kenney, hard-hitting safety Antonio Allen and athletic safety Chase Dutra. All four have the ability to provide a boost to a defense that struggled this past fall.
Instant Contributor: Nebraska is bringing in the nation’s top weak-side defensive end and No. 4 JUCO prospect overall in Randy Gregory, who’ll have an opportunity to come in and fill the shoes of talented senior pass rusher Eric Martin.
The 6-foot-5, 240-pound Gregory signed with Purdue out of Fishers (Ind.) Hamilton Southeastern but ended up enrolling at Arizona Western where he developed into a blue-chip talent. Gregory is athletic enough to play a number of positions on the defense but is at his best rushing off the edge.
Biggest Prize Left: The biggest Big Ten recruiting battle left on the board is for Top247 offensive guard David Dawson. The former Michigan commit out of Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech has Michigan State as his leader over Ohio State with upcoming official visits to both schools. The biggest fish still on the board is Bell, who the Buckeyes are battling Alabama and Tennessee for.
Best Position Group: Michigan’s offensive line haul, even without Dawson, is huge as the strengthening that position group was a big key for the Wolverines in 2013. Kyle Bosch, Chris Fox, Logan Tuley-Tillman and Patrick Kugler were all national recruits and Michigan is in a good position to close things out with a verbal from a player like four-star Na’Ty Rodgers, Hunt or Lacy..
Ohio State has a chance to bring in a special defensive backfield group. Already having cornerbacks Cameron Burrows and Eli Woodard in the fold along with safety Jayme Thompson, the Buckeyes appear to be the leader for former Michigan commit Gareon Conley and could also land Bell as well.
Has Some Work To Do: When Purdue hires its new football coach, the first order of business will be keeping in-state quarterback Danny Etling in the fold. The talent out of Terre Haute (Ind.) South has the ability to take the Boilermakers in a winning direction. The Boilermakers have lost three defensive linemen in this class in Gregory to Nebraska, Parker Cothren to Penn State and Kyle Shortridge who is now open, so addressing front-seven needs will also be big for the new staff.