Now that National Signing Day 2014 has come and gone, it's time to start evaluating the players that were brought in by the 14 schools who will make up the Big Ten conference next fall.
One thing that's pretty clear is that the Big Ten isn't recruiting on the level of the SEC, Pac-12, or even the Big 12. This is something that will need to improve if the conference wants to be more respected on the national stage like it was at one point in time.
Conference strength aside, below are our final team Big Ten recruiting rankings. Taken into account will be the overall quality of talent brought in, upside, and to some extent- the quantity of recruits the schools brought in.
With out further adieu, the Land-Grant Holy Land Big Ten recruiting rankings:
Purdue struggled through an awful 2013 football season and their 2014 recruiting class isn't going to make their team's situation any better. They failed to land a four-star prospect and don't really have any commits that jump off the page. The strong points of their class are the couple of decent defensive backs, defensive linemen, and a guy who could be a good quarterback in David Blough, who's already started classes in West Lafayette, but Darrell Hazell will definitely need to step things up if he wants to make Purdue relevant once again.
Other notable signees: DE Gelen Robinson, CB Timothy Cason II, S Cedric Dale
The Fighting Illini didn't show much "fight" on the recruiting trail this year as head coach Tim Beckman brought home another underwhelming recruiting class. They were able bring in one top-notch recruit in the form for massive 6'7, 290-pound junior college defensive linemen Jihad Ward. In addition to Ward, they brought in a good junior college wideout in Tyrin Stone-Davis, Ohio native quarterback Chayce Crouch, and a few others who could be contributors somewhere down the road.
Other notable signees: WR Geronimo Allison, WR Mike Dudek
A once quality recruiting class had its bottom fall out as the Scarlet Knights saw many defections from the class over the past couple of months. Kyle Flood's long term future in Piscataway is an unknown, but he'll be a Big Ten head coach, if but for a season. There are a few solid prospects in the class including the likes of running back Robert Martin, early enrollee offensive tackle Marcus Appiefield, and linebacker Justin Nelson. They'll need to step up their recruiting game in a big way in order to compete for Big Ten titles.
Other notable signees: RB Josh Hicks, OT Tariq Cole
After years of being a cellar dweller in the Big Ten, the Golden Gophers had a solid year in 2013 and also saw a slight improvement on the recruiting trail. Running back Jeff Jones is definitely the crown jewel of their class and has the ability to star from day one and compete for all -ig Ten and All-American honors down the road. They also scored a commitment from promising quarterback Dimonic McKinzy and wide receiver Melvin Holland Jr.
Other notable signees: TE Gaelin Elmore, C Connor Mayes, DE Andrew Stelter
Kirk Ferentz and company didn't turn in a great recruiting class, but they were able to land a decent one, led by quarterback Tyler Wiegers, who I think will be very good in their offense. Other players I really like in their class are athlete Jay Scheel, who will probably be a wide receiver, massive tight end Matt Nelson, and runnings backs Markel Smith and CJ Hilliard.
Other notable signees: OT Lucas LeGrand, DE Torey Hendrick, CB Jalen Embry
Kevin Wilson has turned the Hoosiers into a better team on the football field and has also upped their force in the recruiting world. They landed a couple of very solid prospects in their class, led by wide receiver Dominique Booth. In addition to Booth, they landed linebacker Tegray Scales, who I think will be a good player, defensive back Will Dawkins, running back Devine Redding, and promising athlete Tommy Mister.
Other notable signees: TE Jordan Fuchs, DT Mike Barwick
I'm very impressed with the recruiting job Pat Fitzgerald and his staff were able to do in the 2014 recruiting cycle. They were able to land a couple of impact recruits including the likes of cornerback Parrker Westphal, quarterback Clayton Thorson – who has the potential to be very good – speedy running back Justin Jackson, and defensive end/tight end Garrett Dickerson, who I really like on offense.
Other notable signees: RB Auston Anderson, OT Tommy Doles, DT Fred Wyatt, LB Cam Queiro
I'm probably higher on the Terrapins' recruiting class then mostly, but the big thing they were able to do is land a few blue-chippers who can have a big impact from day one on campus. Their class is led by five-star offensive tackle Damian Prince. They've also received letters of intent from Fork Union Military Academy offensive tackle Derwin Gray, offensive tackle Larry Mazyck, defensive end Jesse Aniebonam, and future quarterback William Ulmer.
Other notable signees: OT Brendan Moore, DE Tyler Burke, CB Daniel Ezeagwu, ATH Juwann Winfree
Bo Pelini and his staff didn't add any "great" prospects to their team, but they sure did a good job of getting some good ones. The guy who I think could have the biggest impact down the road is quarterback Zach Darlington, running back Mikale Wilbon, who I'm very high on and fits their system like a glove, defensive tackle Joe Keels, and a pair of solid offensive linemen in Tanner Farmer and Nick Gates.
Other notable signees: WR Monte Harrison, OG D.J. Foster, DT Peyton Newell, ATH Demornay Pierson-El
The Badgers landed another very solid recruiting class under Gary Andersen, which is headlined by offensive tackle Jaden Gault, who I think will be the next great Wisconsin offensive linemen. They also landed a good future quarterback in D.J. Gillens, jack-of-all-trades athlete Dareian Watkins, system running back, Taiwan Deal, and a very good defensive end in Connor Sheehy.
Other notable signees: RB Caleb Kinlaw, WR Krenwick Sanders, OG George Panos, DE Billy Hirschfeld
4. Michigan State
Sparty had a middle-of-the-pack class heading into the day, but they landed two huge commitments in the form of five-star defensive end Malik McDowell and safety T.J. Harrell in order to finish in the top five of our rankings. Other top talents the Spartans signed include defensive tackle Craig Evans, safety Montae Nicholson, and center Brian Allen. Thanks in part to success on the football field, Michigan State finishes with its best recruiting class in years.
Other notable signees: RB Vayante Copeland, DE Enoch Smith Jr., LB Deon Drake, ATH Byron Bullough
3. Penn State
Penn State lost top commit Thomas Holley following the departure of Bill O'Brien, but they've been on a recruiting roll ever since James Franklin took over in Happy Valley. Their class is led by former Rutgers wide receiver commit Saeed Blacknall, fellow wide receiver Chris Goodwin, freak-athlete tight end Mike Gesicki, promising quarterback Michael O'Connor, defensive tackle Antoine White, and safety Marcus Allen.
Other notable signees: RB Johnathan Thomas, WR De'Andre Thompkins, DT Tarow Barney, LB Troy Reeder, S Koa Farmer, ATH Nick Scott
Brady Hoke and the Wolverines continue to be one of the two Big Ten teams with the ability to pull in elite prospects. The best player in their class is definitely cornerback Jabrill Peppers, who is an absolute stud and will probably make an impact starting next year. In addition to Peppers, they were able to add standout wide receiver Drake Harris, an excellent offensive tackle in Mason Cole, Bryan Mone, who is one of the best defensive linemen in the class, standout linebacker Michael Ferns, and future quarterback Wilton Speight.
Other notable signees: TE Ian Bunting, OT Juwann Bushell-Beatty, DE Lawrence Marshall, LB Chase Winovich, LB Noah Furbush
1. Ohio State
Urban Meyer's third recruiting class speaks for itself. It's loaded with elite talents including the likes of star linebackers Raekwon McMillan and Dante Booker Jr. Then you have one of, if not the best class of defensive backs in Damon Webb, Marshon Lattimore, Erick Smith, and the underrated Malik Hooker. Throw in offensive weapons Johnnie Dixon, Curtis Samuel, Jamarco Jones, and Demetrius Knox and you have the Big Ten's best recruiting class – it's honestly not really even close.
Other notable signees: QB Stephen Collier, DE Jalyn Homes, LB Kyle Berger, LB Sam Hubbard, ATH Parris Campbell, ATH Noah Brown
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