Earlier in the year, I discussed how stars are not everything when it comes to college football. Teams like Wisconsin do not necessarily go after the “big” targets, yet are still out there winning Big Ten titles. Nonetheless, recruiting classes can go a long way in predicting the success of a college football team. Thus, we bring you our Big Ten recruiting class rankings with just over one week to National Signing Day.
1. Ohio State Buckeyes
Breakdown: 2 five-stars, 20 four-stars, 2 three-stars
Analysis: Urban Meyer has once again collected one of the best recruiting classes in college football. While the Buckeyes lost a number of five-star recruits early on the recruiting trail, they have been able to recoup and sign several other top recruits. Furthermore, there is the possibility that some Ohio State four-stars see a ratings bump before National Signing Day.
Who’s left: Nicholas Petit-Frere and Rasheed Walker are two Ohio State prospects to keep your eye on for National Signing Day.
2. Penn State Nittany Lions
Breakdown: 3 five-stars, 11 four-stars, 9 three-stars
Analysis: Much like they have on the gridiron in recent years, Penn State and Ohio State have gone back and forth with one another throughout this recruiting cycle. Not only have the two battled for class superiority, but the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions have also tangled over multiple individual recruits. Luckily for Penn State, James Franklin has managed to pull a number of recruits away from Urban Meyer in the class of 2018.
Who’s left: The big target to keep an eye on is Rasheed Walker — yet another recruit that has come down to the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions.
3. Michigan Wolverines
Breakdown: 8 four-stars, 13 three-stars
Analysis: Despite not landing any five-stars (yet) in this 2018 class, coach Jim Harbaugh has still put together quite the recruiting class in Ann Arbor. Still, after scoring the 5th and 8th nationally ranked recruiting classes in previous years, this class is a tad under what the Wolverines have seen from Harbaugh.
Who’s left: Nicholas Petit-Frere and Jamarr Chase remain on Michigan’s radar for National Signing Day.
4. Nebraska Cornhuskers
Breakdown: 4 four-stars, 16 three-stars
Analysis: Mike Riley, the former head coach of the Huskers, and Scott Frost, the current head coach, have put together quite the recruiting class in Lincoln. With a number of targets still on the big board, look for the Cornhuskers to potentially surpass the Wolverines come National Signing Day.
Who’s left: Taiyon Palmer, Maurice Washington, Javontae Jean-Baptiste, Caleb Tannor, Tyrone Sampson Jr., John Jackson, Otito Ogbonnia, Kendrick Torain and Matthew Tago are all legitimate targets for the Cornhuskers. This could be a big one for Scott Frost & Co.
5. Minnesota Golden Gophers
Breakdown: 3 four-stars, 23 three-stars
Analysis: In my opinion, the Gophers have had a seriously underrated recruiting class this cycle. PJ Fleck has quietly put together a solid bunch of athletes more than capable of competing in the Big Ten West for years to come. I have Minnesota quite a bit higher than other rankings, but it is well deserved.
Who’s left: For the most part, the Golden Gophers have signed their targets for 2018. Do not look for any big surprises come National Signing Day.
6. Michigan State Spartans
Breakdown: 3 four-stars, 17 three-stars
Analysis: Coach Mark Dantonio has put together yet another good class up in East Lansing. Michigan State is in position to land a couple of more recruits on National Signing Day that should push the Spartans higher on this list.
Who’s left: Michigan State still has a shot to land Tommy Bush and Tennessee Pututau. I see the Spartans getting both come National Signing Day.
7. Maryland Terrapins
Breakdown: 3 four-stars, 19 three-stars
Analysis: Maryland has come out hitting hard on the recruiting trail this past season. By far one of the better recruiting classes in recent memory, this cycle should set the Terrapins up quite nicely for a tough Big Ten East.
Who’s left: As with Minnesota, do not expect any surprise signings on National Signing Day for Maryland.
8. Illinois Fighting Illini
Breakdown: 2 four-stars, 17 three-stars
Analysis: Perhaps even a worse injustice than the perception of Minnesota’s recruiting class is that of Illinois’. Some have the Illini ranked as low as dead last in the Big Ten. Lovie Smith has done an excellent job of landing some solid recruits for the Illini. Some of these rankings may be a product of recency bias due to their on-field product of late.
Who’s left: Look for the Illini to land their third four-star of the 2018 class in Merlin Robertson.
9. Purdue Boilermakers
Breakdown: 1 four-star, 23 three-stars
Analysis: Following a successful year on the football field, the Boilermakers add at least 24 football players to their team.
Who’s left: Purdue does not have any likely commits coming on National Signing Day, so you may be looking at the end of this Boilermaker recruiting class.
10. Wisconsin Badgers
Breakdown: 1 four-star, 18 three-stars
Analysis: As mentioned before, this is the MO of the Badgers. They pick up local recruits that are knowledgeable of the Badger culture. While this recruiting class may not stand out, still expect to see Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship time and time again.
11. Northwestern Wildcats
Breakdown: 1 four-star, 15 three-stars
Analysis: Northwestern‘s 2018 class mimics their 2017 class to a ‘T’. One four-star and 15 three-stars mark what is common for the Wildcats year in and year out.
Who’s left: As with most of the lower-ranked Big Ten teams, the Wildcats have already secured the majority of their recruits in the 2018 class.
12. Indiana Hoosiers
Breakdown: 24 three-stars
Analysis: The Hoosiers may have signed entirely three-stars, but, wow, did they sign a lot of them. 24 recruits is not too shabby for any recruiting class. While Indiana did not land any highly rated targets, this will still pave the way for a solid upperclass.
Who’s left: Jonathan King and James Miller are two major targets that could still go the Hoosiers’ way come National Signing Day.
13. Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Breakdown: 20 three-stars
Analysis: The Knights started off the recruiting trail with the opportunity to land the type of big-time recruits that Rutgers has not seen since Greg Schiano. However, Ash’s recruiting class took a sort of tumble with big names looking to other programs.
Who’s left: The Scarlet Knights still have a chance at in-state three-star defensive end Marcellus Earlington.
14. Iowa Hawkeyes
Breakdown: 18 three-stars
Analysis: Despite Kirk Ferentz signing an underwhelming class, be sure that some way, somehow, the Hawkeyes will knock off a top-five team at Kinnick next season. Why? Because Kinnick at night is spooky.
Who’s left: James Miller, three-star linebacker, is still on the Hawkeyes’ radar for National Signing Day.