A fourth year of the early signing period is on the books and a final balance appears for the 14 teams of the Big Ten, the industry-generated 247Sports Composite. While an ordinary leader stays at the conference, there has been a major shake in the middle of the pack, with one program in particular making a leap into the top 4.
At the end of the day, a Big Ten championship is won in recruiting. The same applies to a college football playoff ticket.
« Here’s the reality that sets the national title contenders apart from everyone else – it’s still challenging to some extent . . . and I don’t want to pretend that’s still not a factor because it is, « 247Sports Scouting Director Barton Simmons said during the National Signing Day show on Wednesday at CBS Sports HQ. « But who are the teams that play for national titles every year? It’s Alabama that absolutely kills it at wide receivers. It’s Ohio State. It’s Clemson, who was U wide receiver for a while too. The receiver in today’s game where the quarterback is as important as he is, offenses that score as many points as possible, is the prerequisite to get into the playoffs and national championships. «
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How was this reflected in a league as competitive as the Big Ten back in the early signing period? Here’s a look at each team’s class from worst to first.
247Sports’ Take: Illinois fired fifth-year head coach Lovie Smith last Sunday and left the Fighting Illinois three days before National Signing Day in search of a new leader. While a trial is still ongoing, the Illinois were able to take the top St. . Louis DeSmet three-star offensive guard in the fold. However, Illinois is the final Big Ten class and the 78th nationwide. great.
247Sports’ Take: A bad year for Purdue on the trail ended in good news on Wednesday when West Lafayette (Ind. ) High four-star outline player Yanni Karlaftis signed and signed. Boilermakers’ younger brother in the second defensive game, George Karlaftis, was a huge success for an otherwise below par track.
247Sports’ Take: Despite a breakthrough season on the field, Indiana’s move checks on the 62nd. national place. However, the Hoosiers landed two four-star recruits in Jaquez Smith, the recipient of Atlanta Westlake, and Donaven McCulley, a double-threat quarterback from Indianapolis Lawrence North – top 250 candidates each.
247Sports’ Take: Northwestern’s 2021 class includes a few athletes gathering around a nickname, « Fighting Rece Davises » for the 2020 season. Solon, Ohio Najee Story, a unique top destination for the state of Ohio, is the chief among them. Inside linebacker Mac Uihlein and offensive tackle Caleb Tiernan form a pair of four-star recruits for the Wildcats.
247Sports’ Take: « I think we talked a little bit about some schools looking to get bigger and longer, » 247Sports national recruiting analyst Allen Trieu said on the Big Ten Network’s B1G Live: Signing Day Special on Wednesday. « That’s what stands out in this class, the body types, the great athletes who have played on both sides of the ball, but definitely some kids that I think can get into their strength programs and grow into their positions. «
« They did well again in Ohio this year and went in a bit, » added Trieu. « I think you will see them maybe trickle into the Midwest, even though Jersey will continue to be their home base. Got a really good kid out there named Kevin Toth who fits exactly what the coach is talking about – 6-foot-6, 270 pounds. I’m going to have to get into their strength program, but that’s the kind of kid I think they’ll need to be successful, so they can get in, add a few pounds, and contribute for them down the line. «
247Sports’ Take: Michigan State scored a strong finish led by Ma’a Gaoteote, four-star full-back from Las Vegas Bishop Gorman. MSU also received a pledge from veteran quarterback Anthony Russo from the Temple transfer portal and received Montvale (N. . J. . ) St. . Joseph Regional’s three-star offensive guard obliges Geno Van DeMark to sign on Friday.
« When this class is over there are going to be some notable trends, the most obvious of which is size, » said first year head coach Mel Tucker on Wednesday. « With a few exceptions, we set a specific size model for each position. All of our boys from the 2021 class are tough, they are physical soccer players who will forever be part of the state tradition. And as I said, we haven’t finished building this class yet. There will be announcements for the rest of the day and for the spring and summer. «
247Sports ‘Take: A mixed bag for Minnesota that features five four-star recruits, but one of them – the Golden Gophers’ top commit – is unsigned. While Minnesota has a nationwide top 30 class at No.. 28, including Antioch (Ill. ) Community Four Star Quarterback Double Threat Athan Kaliakmanis, The Gophers Have Omaha (Neb. ) Westside four-star cornerback Avante Dickerson.
« Last year after Minnesota put 2019 together, they (head coach) PJ Fleck and his staff did what they wanted on the recruiting path, » Andrew Ivins, recruitment analyst at 247Sports Southeast, told the Thursday episode of 247Sports Football Recruiting Podcasts covering an 11-2 Gophers season in 2019. « I remember there was a guy down here in Florida that Miami wanted to turn around and Minnesota wouldn’t even let the kid come to visit. So interesting how things have changed. «
247Sports’ Take: Nebraska scored a top 25 class, the No.. 2020 would follow. 20, with the Huskers on 25 . . . Council Bluffs, Iowa Lewis Central four-star tight end Thomas Fidone highlights Nebraska’s top reinforcements, and third-year head coach Scott Frost explains why.
« Well, I hope he’s a differentiator, » Frost said of Fidone on the Big Ten Network’s B1G Live: Signing Day Special. « He is as talented as I’ve recruited in a long time. He has great downhill speed and great ball skills. We need a few more people who can push the ball down and it will give us that from the tight end position. We’re definitely excited about him. «
247Sports’ Take: Maybe Iowa has one of the best classes in the Big Ten, with six four-star recruits, including Winnetka (Ill. ) New Trier offensive against David Davidkov. The Hawkeyes have a No.. 23 group.
« At the beginning of the process, I spoke to someone in Iowa and they said this was the best talent show in the Kirk Ferentz era, » Simmons said. « That explains why they’re recruiting well from a ranking standpoint this cycle. I think they offered more in-state kids, and this was up until the spring, than they had previously done in the Ferentz era. It’s a good opportunity they are seizing, and it’s a really good class. I’m a little surprised that the 23rd. is their highest grade ever, but I don’t think it’s shocking. «
247Sports’ Take: Penn State is usually closer to the 1-2 range of the Big Tens, having held a national top 10 rankings in recent years, but the Nittany Lions were inherently a smaller class. However, as Simmons explained, PSU missed two local targets in Lititz (Pa. ) Warwick Five Star Offensive against Nolan Rucci (Wisconsin) and Monroeville (Pa. ) Gateway four star security Derrick Davis Jr. .
« This is a slightly smaller class, » said Simmons. « There are currently only 15 people on this commit list. While this isn’t necessarily the dream class, it can explain a little why this is pushing the top 20 more than the top 10, and I think this is still a class that they feel like they’re rated really well in. «
« I mentioned missing a man like Nolan Rucci or a man like Derrick Davis. The reason these people are important is because they are more local players, « added Simmons. « And at Penn State, they’re still going to be trying to recruit nationally, and they’re going to have some success – and they have. But state college is a difficult place now. If you’ve never been to State College, it’s a difficult place, and Columbus isn’t so much. I think there is only one geographic challenge for them to get those pitches to California, Washington or California. That makes it all the more important when they get the chance to land one of these big guys on the ground that they quit the job. Look, the Nittany Lions are still a really strong class, and they have a quarterback, which is important. They landed a really talented offensive lineman in Landon Tengwall from DMV. Lonnie White is a guy from Pennsylvania who I think is a stallion. But surely, top 25, they would rather be in that top 10 category. «
247Sports’ Take: Maryland made waves with a 2021 class named the No.. 2020 followed. Finish 6 Big Ten. The Terrapins move for a group that is in first place. 19 in the 247Sports Composite Team Ranking included a flip from Jacksonville (Fla. ) Sandalwood four-star outside linebacker Branden Jennings, a No.. 109 all interested party originally engaged in Michigan.
« We feel really good in this class, » said sophomore head coach Mike Locksley Wednesday on the Big Ten Network’s B1G Live: Signing Day Special. « Lots of talented players in our first seven. If you want to win in the Big Ten, you have to be able to run the ball and stop the run. We put a lot of emphasis on this and our staff did a great job finding the right players. «
247Sports’ Take: Under the headline of Rucci, a previously mentioned train out of Penn State’s backyard, Wisconsin climbed to 16th nationwide. And reached the top three as the top 3 recruiting class of the Big Ten.
« He’s obviously a very talented soccer player, » Badgers head coach Paul Chryst said on the Big Ten Network’s B1G Live: Signing Day Special on Wednesday. « We were lucky enough to know Nolan early on. We love his family. His brother (Hayden) is on our team right now so it feels like that day is coming and really when he gets the chance to get to campus. He’s a really talented soccer player, but a great person who comes from a great family. We are very grateful and happy that he is coming to us. «
247Sports’ Take: Despite an uncertain future for the Wolverines regarding sixth year head coach Jim Harbaugh, Michigan managed a strong class, particularly in the skill positions. The Wolverines scored a No.. 12 move nationally, including a big win from securing engagement on the day of signing and signing long-time top running back target Donovan Edwards, a high four star prospect as the No.. 1. 44 total players and no. 4 runs from nearby West Bloomfield (Mich. ) High.
« I actually see some similarities between what Michigan is doing and what happened in Georgia, right? » Bud Elliott, national recruiting analyst at 247Sports, said during the 247Sports National Signing Day show at CBS Sports HQ on Wednesday. « Georgia realized that they had to leave and that they had to move to a slightly more open offensive because you need points to win in college football today. Michigan did the same by bringing in Josh Gattis. Now Georgia has recently shown a little more progress with JT Daniels showing up on the (Todd) Monken offensive.
« But ultimately Michigan can get there too. . . . And the speed they bring to the field would really add to Edwards (J.. . J. . ) McCarthy – here are some pieces.
« Now Harbaugh has work to do. I think you are worried that it might carry people, it never stays in one place for that long and there are probably some reasons for that. But if he can change that, there is sure to be talent in Ann Arbor – especially when you factor in that class. «
247Sports’ Take: The state of Ohio continues to recruit at the elite level in the days following Urban Meyer, with Ryan Day and his company taking the Buckeyes to an even higher level. Steilacoom (Wash. ) The high five-star recipient Emeka Egbuka was awarded a Dec. . 11 dedication and signature five days later, and there’s room for more when the second-tier OSU battles Alabama in the 247Sports Composite team leaderboard.
« Ohio State is kind of a kid at the front of the classroom – done a little homework, worked ahead, studied – there is no hesitation with Ohio State, » Simmons said. « Sure, there are still some big names on the board and JT Tuimoloau is an example of a man the Ohio State certainly continues to work on and is pushing for to be one of the elite defenders of the cycle. But Ohio State – back in the spring, when all these pandemic things were going on and things were shut down, this was the team that was a lead candidate for the No.. 1 was. 1 class in the country. And they’re still in that mix, but the reason it was so early in the mix is what it did to work ahead of time.
« You have people like Jack Sawyer who is an elite five-star talent. Emeka Egbuka, this is a new commitment. He’s the best recipient in the country and the guy Brian Hartline helped recruit from Washington and what an effort he’s had in putting together great recipient classes over the past few years. Donovan Jackson, a dominant five-star offensive guard who could play offensive tackle, is an elite player from the state of Texas. . . . They also have the best returns in the country at TreVeyon Henderson of Virginia
« You can hear one subject when I speak about this class – Virginia, Texas, Washington, Ohio. I mean, they hit every corner of the map – because that’s where the players are. . . . Ohio State and under Ryan Day – because everyone was concerned, what will recruiting be like when Urban Meyer is gone? Ryan Day passes this test – and indeed he does it. You are just making it and you are well equipped to keep fighting for no. 1 classes. «
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