Football: Ohio State, Michigan have Big Ten’s best classes
Updated: February 1, 2012 3:07PM
National signing day had a distinctly retro feel in the Big Ten.
Ohio State and Michigan are far ahead of the rest of the conference and rank among the nation’s top five classes, according to most recruiting analysts. And so it’s looking more and more like the Big Two and Little Eight days of the ‘60s and ‘70s when Woody Hayes’ Buckeyes and Bo Schembechler’s Wolverines had a stranglehold on the league’s top talent.
“The biggest story is Ohio State and what Urban Meyer was able to do with a sub-par class by Ohio State standards,” said Rivals.com Midwest recruiting analyst Josh Helmholdt said of the Buckeyes’ new coach.
CBS Sports analyst Tom Lemming agreed that the Buckeyes’ incoming group is a testament to their coach’s impact.
“The Buckeyes have done very well since Urban Meyer joined the fray,” Lemming said. “It’s his personality, his drive and aggressiveness.
“There’s no secret he’s a hard worker. He’s got the [national championship] rings to back him up.”
Meyer’s first Ohio State class has a pair of five-star recruits: defensive end Noah Spence of Bishop McDevitt High in Harrisburg, Pa., and defensive end Adolphus Washington of Cincinnati Taft.
The Buckeyes also picked up Illinois’ top-rated player, Glenbard West defensive tackle Tommy Schutt, who originally committed to Penn State but reopened his recruiting after the Jerry Sandusky scandal broke.
While Ohio State’s recruiting picked up momentum after Meyer’s arrival, Michigan’s story is the opposite. “They closed early,” Helmholdt said. “In the spring and early summer is when they did most of their damage.”
Both of the Wolverines’ five-star players – defensive tackle Ondre Pipkins of Park Hill High in Kansas City, Mo., and offensive lineman Kyle Kalis of St. Edward in Lakewood, Ohio – announced their plans before the start of school last fall.
No other Big Ten class is in Lemming’s top 25 nationally, but two are close: Purdue and Iowa.
“What’s amazing about Purdue’s class is they’ve got commitments from kids in 14 different states,” Helmholdt said. “It was a great effort by them.”
Iowa’s class has a strong Chicago-area flavor with three four-star recruits: Lake Forest Academy defensive end Faith Ekakitie, Montini defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson and Providence offensive lineman Ryan Ward. The Hawkeyes also got three-star defensive back Maurice Fleming from Curie.