Big Ten

Big Ten National Signing Day roundup: Where every team ranked


Big Ten National Signing Day roundup: Where every team ranked

An awful lot of attention is paid to National Signing Day, perhaps far too much considering the vast majority of the players trumpeted won't make impacts for their teams for years.

But surely this is a big day for these players and the coaches who worked hard to bring them into their programs.

So here's a team-by-team rundown of how the 14 Big Ten program fared on National Signing Day, in order of Rivals' rankings.

Ohio State Buckeyes

Big Ten ranking: 1
National ranking: 2

It was another recruiting bonanza for Urban Meyer & Co. — and don't underestimate the value of that company, with assistant Kerry Coombs getting named Rivals' recruiter of the year — bested in the rankings by only back-to-back national title game participant Alabama. The Buckeyes landed a whopping six five-star recruits: Florida defensive back Shaun Wade, California offensive lineman Wyatt Davis, Maryland defensive lineman Chase Young, Florida wide receiver Trevon Grimes, Texas linebacker Baron Browning and Texas defensive back Jeffrey Okudah. All of those guys ranked inside Rivals' top 33 prospects in the country. So in other words get used to that Ohio State defense staying good for quite some time, no matter how many guys it loses to the NFL each year. There are 11 four-star recruits to go along with those five-star guys — including Tate Martell, the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback in the class — and all in all 10 of the top 100 (a full 10 percent for those counting at home) picked the Buckeyes. The only thing Meyer's complaining about? There weren't enough guys from Ohio: "No, 50 percent is kind of the mark that I've been trying to — I keep it right in front of me and I stare at it and make sure that we're doing right." Meyer might not be happy about that, but he sure is doing something right.

Michigan Wolverines

Big Ten ranking: 2
National ranking: 4

Expect Jim Harbaugh to keep jumping into pools and climbing trees and riding go karts and doing all sorts of other ridiculous stuff. Because it's working. Michigan landed one of the best recruiting classes in the country, complete with 19 players rated as five- or four-star recruits by Rivals. The trio of five-star guys is headlined by Donovan Peoples-Jones, the No. 1 wide receiver and the No. 12 player in the country. He's a Detroit kid and will stay home and play for the Wolverines. So too will Florida linebacker Jordan Anthony, the No. 1 inside linebacker in the country, and Georgia defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon, the No. 2 defensive tackle in the country. Harbaugh brought in seven of the top 76 players in the class. Wide receiver is one of the most exciting positions for Michigan, with four guys rated in the top 35 wideouts in the country. After Peoples-Jones at the top, Tarik Black, Nico Collins and Oliver Martin are all top-250 recruits nationally.

Penn State Nittany Lions

Big Ten ranking: 3
National ranking: 12

The reigning Big Ten champs are in elite territory when it comes to recruiting, too. Pennsylvania defensive back Lamont Wade is the No. 1 defensive back in the country, the No. 11 recruit in the whole country, and opted to stay in state with James Franklin and the Nittany Lions. Penn State also landed 10 four-star prospects and didn't have to travel far to get the majority of them. Pennsylvania offensive lineman C.J. Thorpe is the team's only other top-100 prospect, but the four-star designation was given also to Ohio quarterback Sean Clifford, Virginia defensive lineman Yetur Matos, North Carolina linebacker Brelin Faison-Walden, Virginia defensive back Jonathan Sutherland, New Jersey defensive lineman Fred Hansard, Florida wideout Kahlee Hamler, Michigan defensive back Donovan Johnson, Virginia linebacker Ellis Brooks and Maryland defensive back Tariq Castro-Fields.

Maryland Terrapins

Big Ten ranking: 4
National ranking: 17

How about DJ Durkin running with the big dogs this year? After his first season as the head coach at Maryland, Durkin brought in an eye-popping recruiting class that features eight four-star prospects and a whopping 20 three-star guys, a number eclipsed by only two other programs in the country. Durkin's newest quarterback, Washington DC native Kasim Hill, will grab all the attention. He's the No. 4 pro-style quarterback in the class and the No. 93 player in the country and picked Maryland over the likes of Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska and Penn State. But there's a fleet of four-star guys on the Terps' signing list, including three Marylanders in defensive back Deon Jones, running back Anthony McFarland and offensive lineman Marcus Minor. With two four-star players from Virginia, defensive lineman Breyon Gaddy and athlete Tahj Capehart, and one more from New Jersey, defensive back Markquese Bell, Durkin really locked down the geographic area surrounding his program.

Nebraska Cornhuskers

Big Ten ranking: 5
National ranking: 20

Mike Riley brought in a strong class that includes three players ranked in the top 100. The highest-rated one is Las Vegas wide receiver Tyjon Lindsey, the No. 9 wideout in the country and No. 62 player in the country. Then there's fellow top-100 players Elijah Blades, a defensive back from California, and Avery Roberts, a linebacker from Delaware. But those three aren't even half of Riley and Nebraska's four-star haul. Tristan Gebbia is one of the highest-rated quarterbacks in the class and one of the top 125 prospects in the country. And Riley welcomed in a pair of four-star wide receivers in Jaevon McQuitty, a Columbia, Mo., native stolen right out from under the ex-rival Missouri Tigers' noses, and Keyshawn Johnson Jr., whose dad is the three-time Pro Bowler and whose high school teammate is the aforementioned Gebbia.

Michigan State Spartans

Big Ten ranking: 6
National ranking: 33

Headlines Wednesday belonged to Donovan Winter, who was one of the few members of Michigan State's class who didn't sign his National Letter of Intent. He didn't because he was in jail. But Mark Dantonio had plenty of good news to share, inking a quartet of four-star recruits and stealing all four of them from enemy territory. Maine South offensive lineman Kevin Jarvis was among the highest-rated of the bunch, the No. 13 guard in the country and the fifth-best player in Illinois. And tight end Matt Dotson was the sixth-best prospect in the state of Ohio. But Spartans fans looking for bragging rights will surely focus their attention on a pair of prospects from Ann Arbor: wide receiver Hunter Rison and linebacker Antjuan Simmons, the Nos. 5 and 6 players in the state of Michigan. Add to those guys a group of 16 three-star recruits, and Michigan State reloaded again.

Wisconsin Badgers

Big Ten ranking: 7
National ranking: 35

Wisconsin is famous for the success it frequently has with Badger State-bred recruits. But Paul Chryst went elsewhere around the country to bring in the headliners of his 2017 class. While offensive lineman Kayden Lyles hails from Wisconsin — the state's top player — the other four four-star recruits on this year's signing list come from other states. Quarterback Jack Coan, a top-15 pro-style quarterback nationally, is from New York. Defensive end Andrew Van Ginkel is a grad transfer from Iowa. Running back Jonathan Taylor, a top-15 prospect at his position, is from New Jersey. And the Badgers' top recruit, wide receiver Danny Davis, is from Ohio. Davis is a top-100 recruit, a top-15 wideout in the class and the No. 3 player in his state. But he's no Buckeye. He's a Badger.

Iowa Hawkeyes

Big Ten ranking: 8
National ranking: 40

A five-star prospect heading to Iowa? It doesn't happen often, but Kirk Ferentz landed a big fish in defensive end A.J. Espensa, a defensive end from Edwardsville. The five-star recruit is the No. 30 prospect in the country and the No. 1 player at his position, not to mention the No. 1 player in Illinois. But an out-of-state program landed him. And Espensa isn't the only departure from the Hawkeyes' typically steady diet of three-star prospects. Four-star offensive lineman Tristan Wirfs is the No. 31 player at his position nationally, Iowa locking down the best player in the Hawkeye State. Ferentz went into Illinois and grabbed two more of the state's top 25 players: running back Ivory Kelly-Martin from Oswego East and defensive back Camron Harrell from Bradley-Bourbonnais.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Big Ten ranking: 9
National ranking: 43

Man what Rutgers wouldn't do to be the No. 9 team in the Big Ten standings and one of the 45 best teams in the country when it came to what happens on the field, right? Well, Chris Ash is trying to get his program there with an impressive recruiting effort this season, one that brought three four-star prospects to New Jersey. Two of them are in-state guys in wide receiver Bo Melton and offensive lineman Micah Clark, two of the top seven players in the Garden State. Dual-threat quarterback Johnathan Lewis is also a top-10 New Jersey guy, and there are two others on Ash's welcome list who were rated in the top 15 in New Jersey. The other four-star recruit hails from Maryland, linebacker Tyshon Fogg.

Illinois Fighting Illini

Big Ten ranking: 10
National ranking: 48

Given Illinois' doldrums in recruiting under Tim Beckman and, briefly, Bill Cubit, you can't help but praise Lovie Smith's efforts in his first class. Brother Rice wide receiver Ricky Smalling, the No. 6 player in Illinois and a top-50 wideout nationally, is the headline-maker in the class. Smith's other two four-star guys are high school teammates from Miami: wide receiver Carmoni Green and defensive end Owen Carney. There's consternation, though, over the lack of a National Letter of Intent from grad-transfer quarterback Dwayne Lawson, a former four-star recruit who spent a year at Virginia Tech and committed to the Illini in early December. According to a report, he's working through some academic issues, which kept him from signing Wednesday. Considering he was one of the favorites to be the team's starting quarterback in 2017, this is worth paying attention to.

Northwestern Wildcats

Big Ten ranking: 11
National ranking: 55

Finishing behind the rival Illini in these rankings is a unusual occurrence for the Wildcats under Pat Fitzgerald. Northwestern signed no players given four-star ratings by Rivals this year but have a healthy number of three-star guys, headlined by a pair of defensive ends in Earnest Brown and Trevor Kent, from Texas and Kansas, respectively. Other names of note include Ohio superback Trey Pugh, Massachusetts linebacker Blake Gallagher, Ohio offensive lineman Sam Gerak and Texas defensive end Sam Miller. Glenbard North wide receiver Jace James is the Cats' biggest get from the state of Illinois, a top-25 player in the Land of Lincoln. And there's a quarterback on the list in Cincinnati native Andrew Marty.

Minnesota Golden Gophers

Big Ten ranking: 12
National ranking: 59

P.J. Fleck didn't have too much time to put together his first recruiting class at Minnesota. But he still managed to row the boat to 15 three-star recruits. Offensive lineman Blaise Andries is the No. 1 player in the state of Minnesota, but Fleck's group hails from all over. Running back Mohamed Ibrahim comes from Maryland, defensive back Adam Beck comes from Texas, wide receiver Christopher Bell comes from Illinois, tight end Jake Paulson comes from kentucky, and athlete Demetrius Douglas comes from Oregon. Expect better results after Fleck has a whole year to amass a class.

Indiana Hoosiers

Big Ten ranking: 13
National ranking: 65

Despite being buried at the bottom of the Big Ten recruiting rankings and missing out on the top six players in the Hoosier State, Indiana did beat rival Purdue when it came to landing in-state talent. The Hoosiers inked the Nos. 7, 9 and 11 players in Indiana: defensive back Bryant Fitzgerald, defensive end Britt Beery and defensive tackle LeShaun Minor. But Tom Allen's highest-rated recruit hailed from Wisconsin. Defensive tackle Juan Harris is the No. 6 player in the Badger State.

Purdue Boilermakers

Big Ten ranking: 14
National ranking: 68

Not much to get pumped about in Jeff Brohm's first recruiting class at Purdue, one that was ranked as the worst in the conference. As mentioned above, the Boilers couldn't even fare too well in the Hoosier State, picking up just one guy — offensive lineman Mark Stickford — ranked as one of the state's top 15 players. Purdue's highest-rated recruits are California quarterback Nicholas Sipe, Florida defensive back Dedrick Mackey (a good name for West Lafayette) and Mississippi defensive back T.J. Jallow.

See how they stack up: Week 12 college football top 25 rankings


See how they stack up: Week 12 college football top 25 rankings

With Week 12 in the books, here’s my top 25:

1. Oklahoma (10-1)

Still the team with the best resume in the country, no one can compete with OU’s wins over TCU, Ohio State and Oklahoma State, the latter two coming away from Norman. Baker Mayfield might not be a choir boy, but he’s the best player in the nation.

2. Miami (10-0)

You might think that being down 28-14 to Virginia in the second half was cringe-worthy, but the Canes made up for things by storming back with 30 unanswered points. Now they finally have to go away from South Florida for the first time since almost losing to North Carolina last month.

3. Alabama (11-0)

Tide gonna roll. But this Cupcake Weekend in the SEC has got to stop. While teams in other conferences are slugging it out against rivals, Bama gets to take a day off against Mercer? It’s just not fair. Also, Bama’s schedule is so soft, there’s no way it deserves to be the No. 1 team in the country.

4. Georgia (10-1)

The Dawgs should wrap an 11-1 regular season this weekend against Georgia Tech. But the SEC title game presents a kind of no-win scenario: undefeated Alabama or Auburn, who throttled Georgia earlier this month.

5. Wisconsin (11-0)

You didn’t need Wisconsin to do what it did to Iowa and Michigan to prove it had one of the best defenses in the country — but that sure didn’t help. Stockpiling national love with those two wins, a win in the Big Ten title game figures to make the Badgers a Playoff lock.

6. Clemson (10-1)

Why’d Kelly Bryant have to go and get hurt for that Syracuse game? The Tigers would be No. 1 and the undisputed best team in the country. Still, though, a win over Miami in the ACC title game ought to get the champs back into the Playoff.

7. Auburn (9-2)

Great job pounding Louisiana-Monroe, Tigers. You shall not escape the wrath over Cupcake Weekend in the SEC. That dumb game aside, Auburn and Alabama will meet in a titanic Iron Bowl this weekend with a trip to the SEC title game on the line — and perhaps a Playoff spot, as well.

8. Ohio State (9-2)

Not that pummeling Illinois is any big deal, but the Buckeyes are still alive in this thing and look like a team capable of making some Playoff noise. First, Ohio State has to win The Game and then the Big Ten title game to knock out undefeated Wisconsin.

9. Notre Dame (9-2)

Out of the Playoff chase thanks to that loss at Miami, Notre Dame squeaked by Navy this past weekend. Hope a New Year’s Six bowl game is enough for the Irish. We know it’s not enough for those ND fans. So maybe join a conference? Just saying.

10. TCU (9-2)

The Frogs can still make their mark on the Playoff race, even if they can’t get in themselves. The Big 12 title game will almost surely be TCU’s attempt at revenge on Oklahoma. Unfortunately, if revenge does come, it will probably cannibalize the conference’s Playoff hopes, too.

11. Penn State (9-2)

Why Penn State gave up 44 points to Nebraska, I do not know. What I do know is that probably no one cared because Penn State is going to go down as the most inconsequential 10-2 team of all-time. Such a bummer considering the preseason expectations for both the team and Saquon Barkley.

12. USC (10-2)

Yeah, I guess there’s still a way for USC to make the Playoff, but it’s hard to imagine that madness unfolding, even in the oft-mad college football. The Trojans get the winner of the Apple Cup in the Pac-12 title game.

13. UCF (10-0)

Finally we get our much-anticipated UCF-USF showdown this weekend. Make it count, Knights. This is probably gonna be Scott Frost’s last regular-season game in Orlando.

14. Washington (9-2)

It’s hard to say who has the edge in the Apple Cup, but certainly the stakes are high, with the winner going off to play USC in the Pac-12 title game. Can either team make the Playoff? Well, probably not, no.

15. Washington State (9-2)

Is this it for Mike Leach on The Palouse? He could be a hot candidate this offseason and leave for perceived greener pastures. Winning the Apple Cup would go a long way toward making that happen.

16. Mississippi State (8-3)

A win in the Egg Bowl means a 9-3 regular season for the Bulldogs with their three losses coming against three top-10 teams.

17. Oklahoma State (8-3)

Poor Okie State has been so good all year and had two losses to the two best teams in its conference, and then it went and lost to K-State for some ridiculous reason. The Mullet deserved better in 2017.

18. Northwestern (8-3)

The Cats are the fourth-best team in the Big Ten, simple as that, with wins over Michigan State and Iowa and conference losses to Wisconsin and Penn State. As commendable an effort as you’ll find in a highly competitive league. Plus, Fitz’s team is on a six-game win streak that could end up extending to eight.

19. Stanford (8-3)

Already with a win over Washington, Stanford could close the regular season with two wins over top-10 teams in its final three games. Also Bryce Love is back in the groove after back-to-back 100-yard games.

20. Memphis (9-1)

The Tigers have lost just one game all season, to the best Group of Five team out there. Heck of a season by Memphis.

21. Michigan State (8-3)

A 17-7 win over Maryland couldn't have been the most exciting way for anyone to spend their weekend. Sparty's had a mighty fine season, though, considering how badly things went in 2016.

22. LSU (8-3)

The SEC has seemingly gotten increasingly better as the year has progressed, with LSU and Mississippi State making for a solid-enough middle tier. But remember when LSU lost to Troy? That wasn’t good.

23. South Florida (9-1)

If not for that loss to Houston, USF’s showdown with UCF this weekend would be for Group of Five supremacy. Even without that, though, this should be a highly entertaining affair.

24. Virginia Tech (8-3)

The Hokies have a chance to salvage their tumble at the close of the season with a win at Virginia. But given how well the Cavs played at Miami this past weekend, a VT win is no sure thing.

25. Iowa State (7-4)

I understand the math and all, but can't the Big 12 just suspend its rules and send Iowa State to the title game? We all want to see the OU-ISU rematch. Why are you preventing us from being happy, Big 12?

See how they stack up: Week 11 college football top 25 rankings


See how they stack up: Week 11 college football top 25 rankings

With Week 11 in the books, here’s my top 25:

1. Oklahoma (9-1)

The Sooners probably won’t be No. 1 in the Playoff rankings, as the committee will almost surely move Bama up a notch. But OU has an incredible resume, one much better than the Tide’s, with wins over Ohio State, TCU and Okie State. No one in the country can compete with those wins.

2. Miami (9-0)

The Canes are too legit to quit after pulverizing Notre Dame on Saturday night. That signature win teamed with the prior week’s win over Virginia Tech makes that near loss to lowly North Carolina seem like forever ago. Welcome to Miami, indeed.

3. Alabama (10-0)

A great win on Saturday night by the Tide in what seemed like their first actual game of the season. The schedule has been soft as silk, but now Auburn’s status as an SEC juggernaut makes the Iron Bowl a colossal clash.

4. Georgia (9-1)

Knocked off the top of the college football mountain, the Dawgs still deserve to be in the Playoff field, just a one-loss team with that one loss coming to another top team and that still-excellent win at Notre Dame. The resume’s still there, but now the SEC title game will be for all the marbles.

5. Wisconsin (10-0)

Bucky’s sitting pretty after making Iowa look like an FCS team on Saturday — especially impressive considering what Iowa did the week prior. Expect Michigan and Minnesota to provide decent enough challenges, but it seems like Wisconsin’s set up for a Big Ten title-game date with Ohio State.

6. Clemson (9-1)

Miami is the king of the ACC, but thankfully the ACC title game looks to be a Playoff play-in game between the Tigers and Canes. The champs still have as good a shot at this thing as anyone.

7. Auburn (8-2)

Two-loss Auburn in the Playoff? It’s not crazy at all after what the Tigers did to Georgia on Saturday, destroying the No. 1 team in the country and setting up what will be another titanic Iron Bowl meeting with Bama.

8. Notre Dame (8-2)

The Irish’s Playoff hopes sank like a ship in Biscayne Bay thanks to the demolition Miami dolled out on Saturday night. ND’s resume is still fine — two losses to two Playoff-caliber teams. But with no conference title to play for, a two-loss ND team might as well be a six-loss ND team.

9. Ohio State (8-2)

Guess who's still lurking in the Playoff race? It seemed Brutus was dead as could be after getting woodshedded by Iowa last weekend, but then Ohio State put a whooping on Michigan State and everyone’s ears perked up again. Appearing destined for the Big Ten title game, things could get interesting.

10. TCU (8-2)

The Frogs will most likely still get a crack at a Big 12 title — and revenge on the Sooners, who picked em apart on Saturday — but the Playoff might be out of the cards now.

11. Oklahoma State (8-2)

You know who’s still really good despite having losses to the two top teams in the Big 12? Okie State. That was some game between the Pokes and the ‘Clones on Saturday. If only the Mullet could be unleashed on the Playoff. Alas.

12. USC (9-2)

Dramatically overrated in the last batch of Playoff rankings, the Trojans now seem to be the cream of the unimpressive Pac-12 after Washington’s loss. All sorts of madness would have to occur in order for USC — or any Pac-12 team — to land in the final four.

13. Penn State (8-2)

Great job beating up on Rutgers this weekend, Penn State. Now what? With games against Nebraska and Maryland left, will any preseason favorite (outside Florida State, of course) get less attention down the stretch than the Lions?

14. UCF (9-0)

Central Florida is that Group of Five team this year. If it beats USF in the regular-season finale, people you know will be like, “Why shouldn’t UCF be in the Playoff?” And you’ll just have to give them a look and walk away.

15. Washington State (9-2)

Wazzu has to win one game and it’ll play USC for a Pac-12 title. Despite the lack of Playoff stakes, the Cougs winning a conference championship would be a pretty big deal.

16. Washington (8-2)

Of course, standing in Wazzu’s way is Washington, which tripped up against Stanford and could follow up last year’s Playoff appearance with absolutely nothing.

17. NC State (7-3)

The ACC and SEC seemed to have flipped roles overnight. The once-mediocre SEC now has three playoff-caliber teams and a couple other decent ones. The once-awesome ACC now has two of the best teams in the country and then … NC State.

18. Mississippi State (7-3)

The Bulldogs put up one heck of a fight against Bama on Saturday, and if it wasn’t for that ridiculous sequence of play-calling following Bama’s missed field goal, they might have won. Oh well.

19. LSU (7-3)

LSU beat Arkansas on Saturday, which isn’t a terribly difficult thing to do. 2017 will go down as a “what if” year for the Bayou Bengals. As in, what if they hadn’t lost to Troy?

20. Stanford (7-3)

Two of Stanford’s losses have come against ranked teams. It’s now beaten Washington and could beat Notre Dame in two weeks. It has one of the best running backs in America. So shouldn’t Stanford be better?

21. Memphis (8-1)

Since losing at UCF, Memphis has rolled everyone, winning five straight by an average of 47.8-27.2. Good job, Memphis.

22. Arizona (7-3)

The Wildcats are 7-3 this season and have scored at least 45 points in every one of those wins. That includes last weekend’s win over Oregon State, in which Khalil Tate ran for 206 yards and two touchdowns. Dude's good.

23. Northwestern (7-3)

Meow. The Cats are winners of five straight, even if their overtime streak came to an end. The quest for a 9-3 finish is on, with only Minnesota and lowly Illinois left on the regular-season schedule.

24. Michigan State (7-3)

Two losses in three weeks for Sparty, who got absolutely steamrolled by Ohio State this past weekend. Michigan State will likely be rooting for Michigan in The Game as it would figure to wrap its regular season with wins over Maryland and Rutgers.

25. West Virginia (7-3)

The ‘Neers have only lost to Virginia Tech, TCU and Okie State, which is not too bad. But that’s a couple losses too many in the high-flying Big 12.

Others receiving votes:

Virginia Tech (7-3)

Things have bottomed out for the Hokies, who have lost back-to-back road games to Miami and Georgia Tech after a 7-1 start. Without the loss to the Jackets, Virginia Tech’s resume would look real nice. But alas.

Iowa State (6-4)

There was almost another Attack of the ‘Clones this past weekend in a thriller with Okie State. But the Pokes came out on top, sending Iowa State to its fourth loss. That dream Big 12 title game featuring the ‘Clones? A fantasy. Sigh.

Michigan (8-2)

Michigan only has two losses, which means it has to be kinda good, right? Well, it’s lost its only two games against ranked teams and its best win is Florida, so … no, I guess not.

South Florida (8-1)

Way to beat UConn, South Florida.