Football: How the Big Ten recruiting classes shape up
Updated: February 1, 2012 4:20PM
1. Ohio State: The Buckeyes can’t play in the Big Ten championship game or a bowl this season, thanks to the fallout from the scandal that led to Jim Tressel’s forced departure. But new coach Urban Meyer still recruited the conference’s best class, including Glenbard West DT Tommy Schutt, and they’ll be ready for the postseason in 2013.
2. Michigan: Second-year coach Brady Hoke has another exceptional class, one that’s just behind Ohio State’s. The Wolverines did it by staying close to home, loading up on the top talent in Michigan and Ohio. DT Ondre Pipkins from Kansas City, Mo., and OL Kyle Kalis from Lakewood, Ohio, are both in Rivals’ top 25 nationally.
3. Purdue: After having the Big Ten’s smallest and least heralded class a year ago, the Boilermakers have their best incoming group in years. It’s a geographically diverse group with players from Florida, New York, California and everywhere in between. Four-star players Ryan Watson, a defensive end from Maryland, and Carlos Carvajal, an athlete from New York, lead the way.
4. Iowa: As usual, the Hawkeyes focused mostly on players from outside of Iowa. They picked up four-star RB Greg Garmon from Erie, Pa., and did as well in the Chicago area as anyone, landing four-star recruits Jaleel Johnson (Montini), Faith Ekakitie (Lake Forest Academy) and Ryan Ward (Providence) along with Curie’s Maurice Fleming.
5. Nebraska: Montini receiver Jordan Westerkamp, who capped a record-setting career with a spectacular performance in the Broncos’ Class 5A title-game win over Joliet Catholic, could be the best player in a pretty good recruiting class for the Cornhuskers. Edwardsville DT Vincent Valentine also is heading to Lincoln.
6. Michigan State: The Spartans don’t have some of the big names like Ohio State and Michigan, but they do have a solid class that includes the best in-state player the Wolverines didn’t get: four-star WR Aaron Burbridge from Farmington Hills. Keep an eye on Nick Thompkins of Snellville, Ga., one of the nation’s top all-purpose backs.
7. Minnesota: Former Northern Illinois coach Jerry Kill has the Big Ten’s biggest class with 28 recruits, including three-star LB Jack Lynn from Lake Zurich. Kill also landed five players from Texas and four from Florida, along with no less than seven three-star players from Minnesota.
8. Wisconsin: The flip side of the coin from Minnesota, the Badgers have the conference’s smallest group with just 12 players. There is some quality, though: Vince Biegel from Wisconsin Rapids is the No. 3 outside linebacker in the country and Barrington’s Dan Voltz is ranked eighth among offensive guards.
9. Northwestern: The Wildcats showed they can recruit with the best by beating out Notre Dame and Ohio State to get four-star DE Ifeadi Odenigbo from Centerville, Ohio. Locally, Northwestern scooped up tJoliet Catholic RB Malin Jones, Wheaton Warrenville South’s versatile Dan Vitale and Plano DB Joseph Jones along with Boylan DE Dean Lowry.
10. Indiana: The Hoosiers’ class looked a lot better when it included five-star QB Gunner Kiel of Columbus, Ind., who wound up at Notre Dame. Indiana still has a big class that includes Oak Forest RB Tevin Coleman and Sandburg OL Dan Feeney.
11. Penn State: A few months ago, the Nittany Lions were on their way to putting together one of the nation’s top classes. But then the Jerry Sandusky scandal broke, coaching icon Joe Paterno was fired and the search for his replacement was a drawn-out affair. DT Jamil Pollard from Westville, N.J., is the lone four-star prospect left.
12. Illinois: With a class lacking star power in the wake of a coaching change, the Fighting Illini have nowhere to go but up. New coach Tim Beckman has done a good job of keeping Ron Zook’s recruits in the fold and has added a few late deciders. He figures to do much better next year.