ILLINOIS: Ron Zook does it again, this time with his 3rd class at Illinois. No stranger to recruiting accolades, Zook has brought in another great class, this time 28 commits, 6 of which are 4-star players, as his Illini continue to swing upwards both in the Big Ten and in the nation. They’ve already been to a BCS game (albeit a bad performance) but with Michigan having a whole new staff, there’s no reason the Big Ten won’t come down to Ohio State and Illinois.
INDIANA: Indiana had one of the best seasons in recent memory and it did virtually nothing for their recruiting. This class of 19 has only 5 3-star players, and work continues to look slow-going after the unfortunate death of their coach.
IOWA: The buzz around Kirk Ferentz is really starting to dissipate as the Hawkeyes have found themselves in a slump in the Big Ten recently, both on the field and also in recruiting. This class has 24 signees but not one of them is anything better than a 3-star prospect. Recruiting to the state of Iowa isn’t exactly the easiest thing in the world to begin with, and when you add on-field woes to that mix, it is near impossible. Iowa desperately needs a strong season, because this conference is feeling a resurgence of the middle-tier teams, and Iowa seems to be lost in that shuffle. They also need for a lot of kids to develop, because their recruiting seems to have gone downhill a good bit.
MICHIGAN: For all the turmoil and the bad-mouthing of Rich Rodriquez, this class is just as great as all Michigan classes end up being. The only problem is that there is no QB standout in this class, and as of yet, QB Terrelle Pryor, the number 1 player in the nation, has not committed to anyone. He could still end up in Ann Arbor. Of 24 commits, a massive 17 are 4-star caliber. But that’ll be all for naught if they can’t find a quarterback, since heir-apparent QB Ryan Mallet has transferred to Arkansas. This year could be a rocky one as they go through a major transition of offense, defense, and coaching staff.
MICHIGAN STATE: Mark D’antonio has a lot of work to do at Michigan State, and this recruiting class may provide some much needed depth. But with 19 signees, only 1 is a 4-star prospect. Still, MSU has shown flashes of greatness, and last year’s class was a lot more star-studded.
MINNESOTA: One of the great success stories of this recruiting season is Minnesota, and how they’ve been able to persuade quality recruits to commit to the Gophers. This class might be the best recruiting class ever at the university, with a whopping 30 commits, 7 of which are 4-star players. This new coach’s recruiting reach is pretty solid, getting kids from all over. A lot of these kids have been recruited to speed positions, which is a place the Big Ten seems to lack, but there is a big push by a number of Big Ten schools to move to a faster format. Minnesota is apparently one of them. The jewel of this class is QB MarQueis Gray, who had offers from Iowa and Oregon, to name a few.
NORTHWESTERN: Another below average class makes Northwestern in the running with Indiana for the chump of the Big Ten. 20 commits, nothing over 3-star status. They are losing tons of in-state kids to Ron Zook, and since he is one of the best recruiters of his generation, how do you combat that?
OHIO STATE: Tressel brings in another class of stars. 19 signees on board, 3 of which are 5-star players: OL Mike Adams, OL Mike Brewster, and WR DeVier Posey. 9 4-star players join them as well, as OSU continues to steal talent from the state of Florida. This program does not rebuild, they reload, and they have become an NFL factory, despite their terrible performances in the last two national title games. There’s no reason they can’t contend again this year.
PENN STATE: Small class this year for Joe Paterno, with only 14 overall commits. Of those 14 are 4 4-star prospects, making this class below average for the Nittany Lions. What this class needed more than anything else was RB depth, and they were not able to sign any of them. RB Michael Shaw, a longtime PSU commit, sent his Letter of Intent to Michigan on signing day, really putting a damper on this class for Penn State.
PURDUE: Joe Tiller found himself swimming upstream with Joe Paterno this recruiting season, as Purdue also felt the lashing of a major conference rival hiring a snake-oil head coach. WR Ray Roundtree, a longtime Purdue commit, sent his letter to Michigan on signing day. Tiller made his opinions felt, calling for an earlier signing day. Unfortunately, at the end of the night, Tiller has to realize who he is dealing with: 18 yr. old kids. 25 commits for the Boilermakers, and only 1 was a 4-star player.
WISCONSIN: This class for Wisconsin has 24 commitments and only 3 of which are 4-star caliber. You would expect more from a team who is, for some unknown reason, expected to finish at the top of their conference each season. Maybe losing games really does hurt recruiting, who would have thunk it? Wisconsin will probably enter 2008 ranked in the top 10 nationally and end up ranked about 40th.