Matt Charboneau of The Detroit News breaks down the Big Ten recruiting classes for 2019.
Like most teams, the work for 2019 had essentially been completed during the early signing period, a time new coach Ryan Day did a good job of holding together a class that was recruited primarily with Urban Meyer in charge. On Wednesday, the Buckeyes added four-star guard Enokk Vimahi from Kahuku, Hawaii, but the big get over the last couple of months was the transfer of former Georgia quarterback Justin Fields. At the same time, Day and his staff worked toward the 2020 class — one that Meyer had already garnered a handful of commits — and beyond. That look ahead is bright as Ohio State secured a commitment from 2021 defensive end Jack Sawyer, who is expected to be a five-star prospect by the time his junior season at Pickerington (Ohio) North begins.
The Nittany Lions were in good shape coming out of the early signing period with a top-10 class. Eleven of those players are already enrolled in State College and James Franklin entered the month of February having gained commitments from a trio of defensive linemen, three-stars D’Von Ellies, Smith Vilbert and Joseph Appiah Darkwa, all of whom signed on Wednesday. The Nittany Lions weren’t done, though, adding three-star wide receiver TJ Jones.
It’s not much of a surprise to see the Terrapins at or near the bottom of most Big Ten rankings considering coach Mike Locksley didn’t come on board until just a couple weeks before the early signing period began in mid-December. He’s been busy since then, however, adding six more commitments throught January and into this week. The Terps were still pushing for a couple more heading into Wednesday and hit big by landing four-star dual-threat quarterback Lance LeGendre also officially visited College Park last weekend. They also landed outside linebacker Cortez Andrews and three-start defensive lineman Anthony Booker.
The Hoosiers landed 19 recruits during the early period and five of them have already enrolled. But that hardly meant Tom Allen and his staff were done as they entered the new year with five more scholarships available. They landed a commitment from three-star offensive tackle Tim Weaver over the weekend, a move that might not move the Hoosiers up in the overall rankings but does help fill a need. They also signed three-star safety Josh Sanguinetti on Wednesday.
The Scarlet Knights didn’t land a player ranked in the top 600 according to the composite rankings at 247sports.com, but they top two in the class are running backs that have a chance to make an impact. At the top of that list is Aaron Young, a recruiting win over Michigan State as Young flipped to the Scarlet Knights on the first day of the early signing period. He joined three-star running back Kay’Ron Adams, giving the Rutgers offense something to build around. They hit defense on Wednesday, adding LB Brian Ugwu, DL Rayyan Buell and DB Darius Gooden, all three-star recruits.
Amazing what a winning season and some forward momentum will do for a team when it comes to recruiting. The Boilermakers were in the thick of the title hunt last season in the West, hung on to coach Jeff Brohm and cleaned up in recruiting, landing four four-stars, including defensive end George Karlaftis, the 59th-ranked player in the nation. Other four-star signees were receiver Milton Wright, safety Marvin Grant and defensive tackle Steven Faucheux. As of late Wednesday, the Boilermakers were still waiting on three-star linebackers Jacob Wahlberg and Chase Triplett.
The Big Ten West championship and appearance in the conference championship game didn’t yield a windfall in recruiting for the Wildcats, but that’s how Pat Fitzgerald rolls in Evanston. The Cats signed 18 players in the early period, ranking in the top 50 in the nation. They also added three-star running back Evan Hull in late January with a few more spots open heading into Wednesday but Hull was the only addition.
The fact the Badgers had a subpar season by their standards in 2018 didn’t change the fact they are a factory for offensive linemen as five-star tackle Logan Brown of East Kentwood and four-star tackle Joe Tippman from Fort Wayne, Ind., both signed in the early period. Like the other teams in the conference, the Badgers have put most of their effort the past couple of months into 2020 and beyond, making for a fairly quiet day on Wednesday.
The Hawkeyes have put together a solid class that includes four-star linebacker Jestin Jacobs as well as a pair of four-star offensive tackles — Ezra Miller, who is already enrolled, and Tyler Endress, who signed in December. The Hawkeyes added three-star cornerback Jermari Harris this week, who made it official by signing on Wednesday to round out the 22-man class.
The Golden Gophers don’t have any players in the class rated higher than a three-star, but 12 players who signed in December have already enrolled in Minneapolis. The Gophers lost a commit this week when defensive tackle Kristian Williams announced he was decommitting as he had taken visits to Oregon and Kansas, however, Minnesota landed JUCO CB Gervarrius Owens on Wednesday. The Gophers also have secured a pair of transfers — defensive tackle Micah Dew-Treadway from Notre Dame, and wide receiver Rashad Grimes from Southern California.
The Cornhuskers didn’t have the season on the field they’d hoped for, but coach Scott Frost certainly brought the buzz to the program most hoped for, something that has carried into recruiting. The former Huskers quarterback landed a class in December that included six players rated as four-star prospect while seven players are already enrolled. The last week has included a couple misses as outside linebacker Steven Parker committed to Kansas on Monday while junior college defensive end Soni Fonua opted to commit to LSU. The Huskers did add WR Demariyon Houston on Wednesday.
The Fighting Illini don’t have huge numbers as only 13 players are committed with 11 already signed, however a pair of four-stars inked their letters in December while linebacker Shammond Cooper announced he was committing to the Illini in early January and signed on Wednesday. Coach Lovie Smith and his staff have been looking ahead to 2020 but did manage to add another linebacker Wednesday when three-star prospect Tarique Barnes of Memphis, Tenn, signed to bring Illinois’ class to 13 players.