Big Ten: Young men go East to power schools
Overview: Once again, Urban Meyer has his program grabbing the top-rated class in the Big Ten as the Buckeyes look to restock after a disappointing season that ended without a chance to defend their national title. Scout.com ranks Ohio State as the No. 2 class in the nation and seven players have already enrolled, and none are rated any less than a four-star prospect. The Buckeyes beat out Michigan for four-star defensive back Jordan Fuller on Monday night. The Buckeyes also beat Wisconsin and Indiana for four-star athlete Malik Harrison, a Signing Day commit.
Top player: Defensive end Nick Bosa is not only the brother of All-American Joey Bosa, who just left Ohio State a year early for the NFL draft, but he’s the top-rated defensive end in the nation, according to Scout.com, and the No. 5 player overall.
Overview: Jim Harbaugh has made plenty of news in the final weeks leading up to Signing Day — some good and some bad. However the flurry of decommits and commits are viewed, the Wolverines coach has put together a class that ranks No. 6 in the nation, according to Scout.com. Harbaugh has had to go outside of the Midwest for most of the class with the bulk of top prospects already committed by the time he took over, but he did manage to hold off Michigan State for both lineman Michael Onwenu and defensive back Lavert Hill.
Top player: Defensive tackle Rashan Gary is the top-rated player in the nation and the Wolverines had to work hard to hold off a late push from Clemson, but he’s a player that will almost certainly make an immediate impact in Ann Arbor.
Overview: The best-ranked class in Mark Dantonio’s tenure comes in at No. 19 in the country, according to Scout.com, and most of the work was done by the end of last summer. The Spartans had their share of commitments by then but added the top player in the state — wide receiver Donnie Corley of Detroit King. They lost out late on Hill and a couple of four-star defensive linemen — end Prince Sammons of Cincinnati (Auburn) and tackle Karamo Dioubate of Philadelphia (Temple).
Top player: Corley is the highest rated and will likely play right away, but fellow incoming receivers Cam Chambers, Justin Layne and Trishton Jackson will be in the mix as well.
Overview: The Nittany Lions saw plenty of movement in the last couple of weeks heading into Signing Day as decommits hit hard, including defensive tackle Michael Dwumfour to Michigan and defensive tackle Karamo Dioubate to Temple. Penn State also lost safety Aaron Matthews this week after he flipped to Pittsburgh to be a receiver. However, the Nittany Lions did some late flipping of their own, getting three-star receiver Dae’lun Darien to back out of his commitment to Temple and pledge to play at Penn State. The constant shuffling has Penn State firmly in fourth behind the Big Ten East leaders.
Top player: Running back Miles Sanders flirted with some other schools, including Michigan State, but remained committed to Penn State. Sanders is the top-rated running back in the nation, according to Scout.com.
Overview: D.J. Durkin will have his work cut out putting together a solid class in his first season leading the Terrapins and turning the tide of poor recruiting that got worse each year under former coach Randy Edsall. The East’s best talent has been committing elsewhere but the Terps have managed to bring in some solid prospects, including four-star offensive guards Terrance Davis and Richard Merritt. Four-star wide receiver Tino Ellis of DeMatha Catholic could also be an early contributor for an offense seeking playmakers.
Top player: Ellis is ranked the second-best player in Maryland and the No. 42 wide receiver in the nation by Scout.com.
Overview: Kevin Wilson is steadily improving the Hoosiers and a smaller class this season shows he’s not had the turnover of recent years. It’s tough to recruit against the conference’s heavyweights, but Wilson has grabbed his share of talent, including former Michigan State commit Jonah Morris, a four-star athlete who projects as a linebacker for the Hoosiers, former Missouri commit Mackenzie Nworah, a three-star guard, and running back Kiante Enis, a former Michigan commit.
Top player: Offensive tackle Coy Cronk is a four-star according to Scout.com, and many believe he’ll be an NFL-caliber player by the time he’s done at Indiana.
Overview: There’s been plenty of movement the last few days as first-year coach Chris Ash puts the final touches on his class. The Scarlet Knights lost tight end Korab Idrizi to Boston College and offensive lineman Elijah Johnson also backed out. However, Rutgers has brought in its share of talent, including Michigan graduate transfer Ross Taylor-Douglas, who played running back and defensive back. The Scarlet Knights also got late commits out of offensive linemen Sam Howson and Mike Lonsdorf, a former Connecticut commit.
Top player: Trey Sneed is the 40th-ranked running back in the nation and is already enrolled, increasing the chances he sees the field this fall.
Overview: The Hawkeyes’ class is ranked 31st nationally and seventh in the Big Ten by Scout.com. Amazingly, 23 of the Hawkeyes’ commitments came before the end of August, long before the team went unbeaten in the regular season. That has given the Iowa staff plenty of time to concentrate on next year's recruiting and the Hawkeyes already have the No. 2-rated defensive end, A.J. Espensa, committed to the 2017 class. An area of need for Iowa was defensive line, and five will sign. The Hawkeyes have three commitments from Detroit, Cedrick Lattimore and Chauncey Golston, both from East English Village, and Alaric Jackson of Renaissance.
Top player: Lattimore, rated four stars, is 6-foot-5, 265 pounds and No. 9 on The Detroit News Blue Chip list. He had 17 sacks during his senior season.
Overview: The Wildcats have one early enrollee, defensive end Tommy Carnifax, who turned down Iowa and Wisconsin. They needed receivers and landed a few, including 6-3, 195-pound Ben Skowronek, who could make an impact this fall. Several recruiting analysts think Northwestern got a hidden gem in Riley Lees, listed as an athlete and lightly recruited. He could be a slot receiver for the Wildcats.
Top player: Jeremy Larkin from LaSalle in Cincinnati is a 5-10, 180-pound running back with 4.55 speed, ranked No. 24 at his position by Scout.com. The former Cincinnati commit has excellent quickness, balance and vision.
Overview: The Badgers have four four-star recruits in the class, including athlete A.J. Taylor. They have only four in-state recruits, having missed on a couple of key seniors. Four-star defensive tackle Garrett Rand wavered, taking a late visit to UCLA, but signed, and the Badgers did lose running back Antonio Williams, flipped by Ohio State.
Top player: Cole Van Lanen, a 6-5, 283-pound offensive tackle, is ranked No. 5 at his position by Scout.com. He picked the Badgers over Michigan and Iowa. Van Lanen, who played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, likely will redshirt this fall.
Overview: The Cornhuskers have five four-star recruits and two early enrollees, including four-star pro-style quarterback Patrick O’Brien, ranked No. 17 at his position. Nebraska offered O’Brien a scholarship before any other Power Five team. Nebraska’s class is ranked No. 28 nationally by Scout.com and No. 6 in the Big Ten. Coach Mike Riley has landed only two in-state commitments.
Top player: Four-star John Raridon committed to Nebraska in September 2014. He is 6-4, 270 pounds and is one of three offensive linemen in the Cornhuskers’ class. He is ranked the No. 2 guard nationally by Scout.com.
Overview: The Gophers have six early enrollees in this class, which includes one four-star recruit, outside linebacker Carter Coughlin. Also among the early enrollees is dual-threat quarterback Seth Green, a three-star former Oregon commit. Since Tracy Claeys took over from Jerry Kill as head coach, the Gophers have lost eight recruits and added seven. JUCO transfer Kobe McCrary committed in January. The 6-1, 230-pounder rushed for 1,190 yards and 22 TD last season for Butler (Kansas) Community College.
Top player: Coughlin, from Eden Prairie, Minn., is the No. 4 OLB nationally according to Scout.com and No. 51 on the Scout 300. The 6-3, 220-pounder chose Minnesota over Ohio State and Oregon.
Overview: The Illini needed depth on the offensive line and landed four to help the position group, including three-star Jake Cerny from Traverse City. Illinois was hoping to get a backfield lift from running back Kentrail Moran, but he decommitted in late January. The Illini do have a potential sleeper in three-star receiver Dominic Thieman.
Top player: Zarrian Holcombe is a three-star tight end from Texas. The 6-5, 215-pounder had been committed to Texas A&M before deciding to attend Illinois. He is ranked No. 27 at his position by Scout.com.
Overview: The Boilermakers’ class is ranked 14th in the Big Ten by Scout.com. They picked up seven defensive backs and also needed a quarterback to add some depth after Austin Appleby decided to transfer to Florida. Dual-threat quarterback Jared Sparks, a two-star from Louisiana, fills that need.
Top player: Defensive end Austin Larkin, an early enrollee, is a three-star from the City College of San Francisco. The 6-3, 250 Larkin is the nephew of baseball Hall of Famer Barry Larkin and was a walk-on at Notre Dame in 2014 before transferring.