A quick glance at the 247Sports national recruiting rankings, and the Big Ten conference would appear to be Ohio State, Michigan and then everybody else.
Four-star RB Akeel Lynch was a big get at a huge position of need for Penn State.
However, that’s a little misleading.
As the current list stands now, the Buckeyes check in at No. 5, the Wolverines are No. 8, and Nebraska is next to represent the Big Ten down at No. 29. Yet if you take a closer look, a very solid class by the Cornhuskers only has 17 prospects signed. If they would’ve taken a larger class, say three or four more, you would have seen them possibly rise into the top-20. Same goes for Wisconsin, who inked just 12 recruits. That’s only half a class by most standards, but the ones that are coming to Madison are very good football players.
Penn State was on track for a top-15 class before the Jerry Sandusky allegations rocked the football program. The Nittany Lions still finished strong including the John Hancock of four-star running back Akeel Lynch. Iowa and Michigan State both added a couple playmakers and solid depth to their rosters, while Minnesota’s first year head coach Jerry Kill kept the state’s top-two prospects at home despite some national offers. Northwestern landed an Under Armour All-American and a Semper Fidelis All-American. Indiana went the JUCO route to shore up its defense and Purdue has a balanced group of prospects from all over the country led by four-star defensive lineman Ryan Watson. Recently hired Illinois coach Tim Beckman scrambled to commit and sign 12 prospects since he was hired in early December, as the Illini finished with 19 signatures.
With signing day behind us, 247Sports assesses the superlatives of the Big Ten class.
Best Class: Ohio State
Since being hired in late-November, head coach Urban Meyer took a class that was hovering around No. 20 in the national rankings, and with the help of his staff, elevated it to what is now ranked No. 5 in the nation. Ohio State still has a chance to finish No. 3 if five-star receiver Stefon Diggs commits to the Buckeyes next Friday.
Meyer knows what it takes to win a national championship, and that’s to be dominant on defense. Ohio State added several difference makers to the defensive front-seven, led by five-star ends Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington. Complimenting them includes Top247 signees Joshua Perry, David Perkins, Se’von Pittman, Tommy Schutt, and Camren Williams. All but Washington and Perry came aboard after Meyer’s hiring.
Surprise Class: None
Noah Spence (pictured) and Adolpus Washington give Ohio State a pair of five-star defensive ends in 2012.
No real surprises as far as recruiting classes, but Northwestern beating out many of the nation's best programs for Under Armour All-American outside linebacker Ifeadi Odenigbo was a big coup for coach Pat Fitzgerald and his staff. The Dayton (Ohio) Centerville standout ranks as the nation's No. 98 prospect overall. Keeping Joliet (Ill.) Catholic running back and Semper Fidelis All-American running back Malin Jones close to home was also huge, as he picked the Wildcats over offers from Notre Dame, Iowa and Illinois.
Disappointing Class: Illinois
Kind of behind the eight ball, the Illini struggled on the recruiting trail after going through a coaching change and losing their top commit in four-star linebacker Keith Brown. Beckman was forced to pick through previously committed MAC recruits to finish out the class. An aggressive recruiter that likes to get in on potential prospects early, look for Beckman and his staff to quickly upgrade the recruiting in 2013.
Immediate Impact Players
Adolphus Washington: Already standing in at 6-foot-5, 245-pounds, Washington comes in college ready and provides the Buckeyes with a dominant pass rusher that they didn’t have in 2011. Washington racked up 23. 5 sacks as a senior at Cincinnati (Ohio) Taft High.
Ondre Pipkins: An explosive and powerful defensive tackle, who at 6-foot-3, 305-pounds, will arrive in Ann Arbor and help soften the blow of losing graduated senior Mike Martin. Pipkins dominated at the Ohio State NFTC during the summer and was a force during practice at the U.S. Army All-America Bowl.
Aaron Burbridge: The top prospect in the state of Michigan and Michigan State commit plays the game at a different speed than most of his high school peers. With the athletic ability to have also been a highly-recruited defensive back, the 6-foot-2, 180-pound Burbridge is an electric playmaker that should come in and produce on day one for the Spartans.
Based on 247Sports’ rankings
All Big Ten offense
QB: Bart Houston, Wisconsin
RB: Bri’onte Dunn, Ohio State
RB: Dennis Norfleet, Michigan
WR: Aaron Burbridge, Michigan State
WR: Amara Darboh, Michigan
TE: Devin Funchess, Michigan
OT: Erik Magnuson, Michigan
OG: Dan Voltz, Wisconsin
C: Isaac Hayes, Minnesota
OG: Kyle Kalis, Michigan
OT: Kyle Dodson, Ohio State
All Big Ten defense
DE: Noah Spence, Ohio State
DT: Ondre Pipkins, Michigan
DT: Tommy Schutt, Ohio State
DE: Adolphus Washington, Ohio State
LB: Joe Bolden, Michigan
LB: James Ross, Michigan
LB: Michael Rose, Nebraska
CB: Armani Reeves, Ohio State
CB: Terry Richardson, Michigan
S: De’van Bogard, Ohio State
S: Jarrod Wilson, Michigan