Early Signing Period: Big Ten Report Card

Uncategorized

*****

ILLINOIS 

Analysis: First-year head coach Bret Bielema came into a recruiting situation at Illinois where the program had finished last or second-to-last in each of the three previous classes and signed the fewest number of prospects in the conference over that stretch. The Bielema effect was immediately felt with a class that numbers 22 signed and ranks 10th coming out of the Early Signing Period. Bielema stated early in his tenure that in-state recruiting was going to be a priority, and he backed that up by signing 10 in-state prospects in the early period, including linebacker Jared Badie, who is only the second top 10 player in Illinois to sign with the home-state school in the last five classes.

Grade: B

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH ILLINOIS FANS AT ORANGEANDBLUENEWS.COM

*****

INDIANA 

Analysis: Indiana’s on-field success in the 2020 season bled over into recruiting, and even a disappointing 2021 season did not derail what will go down as the Hoosiers’ best recruiting class in the Rivals era. The class is highlighted by seven four-star prospects, including Rivals100 defensive athlete Dasan McCullough, who is one of three in-state four-stars in the class. Tom Allen’s staff finished strong as well, flipping tight end Brody Foley from Tennessee and adding four-star defensive Nick James from Florida in December. Indiana’s previous high in the national team recruiting rankings was 38th, but the Hoosiers are virtually assured a top 20 finish this year.

Grade: A

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH INDIANA FANS AT THEHOOSIER.COM

*****

IOWA

Analysis: Iowa was involved in some high-profile recruiting battles down the stretch, and it won its fair share. The biggest catch was undoubtedly five-star safety Xavier Nwankpa. The Hawkeyes had to beat out Notre Dame, Ohio State and a host of top national programs to land their first five-star since A.J. Epenesa in 2017. With just 17 prospects signed in the early period, Iowa has room to sign more if it so desires. Already though, this class is one of the program’s best in the last decade and currently is the top-ranked 2022 class in the Big Ten West Division.

Grade: B+

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH IOWA FANS AT HAWKEYEREPORT.COM

*****

MARYLAND

Analysis: It was a busy signing day week in College Park, but it delivered more talented players to the Terrapins. That late-arriving group included three of the Terrapins’ top five rated players in the class, most notably four-star athlete Octavian Smith and Rivals100 Jaishawn Barham. Head coach Mike Locksley flipped Barham from South Carolina on signing day. His staff also flipped three-star running back Ramon Brown from Virginia Tech and three-star offensive tackle Andre Roye from Penn State during signing week. The class currently ranks eighth in the Big Ten, but sixth in the East Division, just ahead of Rutgers.

Grade: B

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH MARYLAND FANS AT TERRAPINSPORTSREPORT.COM

*****

MICHIGAN

Analysis: Michigan is making its first appearance in the College Football Playoff with a senior-led team. The cupboard will need to be restocked following the conclusion of this season, and Jim Harbaugh was able to address that with both numbers and talent in the Early Signing Period. The Wolverines signed 22 prospects in the early period, for a class that currently ranks third in the Big Ten and eighth nationally. Five-star cornerback Will Johnson is the headliner, but the Wolverines also have nine four-stars, including safety Keon Sabb, who flipped from Clemson on signing day.

Grade: B+

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH MICHIGAN FANS AT MAIZEANDBLUEREVIEW.COM

*****

MICHIGAN STATE

Analysis: Mel Tucker arrived in East Lansing after recruiting for the 2021 class had started in earnest for most programs, then saw a 15-month dead period start just weeks later. So, 2022 is really his first, full recruiting class with the Spartans, and it exited the Early Signing Period as a top 20 class. Tucker has been lauded for his use of the transfer portal since arriving in East Lansing, but he also showed his recruiting prowess in the high school ranks with this 2022 class. The Spartans had good success in-state, landing four-stars Jaden Mangham, Alex Van Sumeren and Dillon Tatum, but the headliner is four-star quarterback Katin Houser out of California, who ranks No. 140 nationally.

Grade: B+

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH MICHIGAN STATE FANS AT SPARTANMAG.COM

*****

MINNESOTA

Analysis: P.J. Fleck’s recruiting efforts since arriving at Minnesota have been remarkably consistent. The Gophers have signed a class that ranks right around No. 40 in the country almost every year, and that is the territory this 2022 class stands coming out of the Early Signing Period. Depth was added across the board, but especially at defensive end where four-stars Anthony Smith and Trey Bixby are among three prospects signed. The Gophers went to South Dakota for their quarterback, three-star Jacob Knuth, and surrounded him with five new pass catchers and three more offensive linemen in this class.

Grade: C+

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH MINNESOTA FANS AT THEGOPHERREPORT.COM

*****

NEBRASKA

Analysis: Plagued by rumors his coaching seat in Lincoln was getting hot, Scott Frost had trouble generating momentum on the recruiting trail during the crucial stages of 2022 recruiting. By the time Nebraska’s administration confirmed Frost would be back in 2022, most of the Cornhusker’s top targets were already off the board. The news did give Frost and his staff time to add numbers late, however, with half of the 14 signees making their decisions in the month of December, including their only four-star commitment, New Jersey defensive back Jaeden Gould. Nebraska’s 2022 class ranks last in the Big Ten coming out of the Early Signing Period, however – a position the Cornhuskers are certainly not accustomed to.

Grade: C-

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH NEBRASKA FANS AT HUSKERONLINE.COM

*****

NORTHWESTERN

Analysis: Northwestern usually signs one of the smaller classes in the Big Ten, and this 2022 group is no different. Fifteen prospects inked with the Wildcats on Dec. 15, comprising a group that ranks 13th in the conference and 48th nationally. Thanks in part to a 15-month dead period, it was a late-developing class. Four-star Reggie Fleurima was the first commit in the class, offering up his pledge last March. Northwestern’s first commits were all from in-state, before it branched out and landed prospects from places like California, Texas, Arkansas and Connecticut.

Grade: C

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH NORTHWESTERN FANS AT WILDCATREPORT.COM

*****

OHIO STATE

Analysis: For the 11th time in the last 12 classes, Ohio State exits a signing period sitting with the Big Ten’s best recruiting class. The Buckeyes’ recruiting dominance over the conference is nearly unmatched, but in this cycle they have Penn State and Michigan nipping at their heels. Ohio State only has 18 prospects signed, however, while Penn State and Michigan are well into the 20s. The class got a bump when five-star Sonny Styles reclassified from 2023 to 2022. He joins fellow five-star C.J. Hicks and a host of Rivals100 prospects in the Buckeyes’ class.

Grade: A-

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH OHIO STATE FANS AT SCARLETANDGRAYREPORT.COM

*****

PENN STATE

Analysis: With the NCAA relaxing restrictions on how many prospects can be signed in this class, we are seeing bigger classes signed in the Early Signing Period than we have in previous years. Penn State checks in with the Big Ten’s biggest class at 23 prospects signed. Five-star defensive end Dani Dennis-Sutton is the headliner, but the bulk of the top talent in this class checks in at the offensive skill positions. Quarterback Drew Allar, running backs Kaytron Allen and Nicholas Singleton and receivers Kaden Saunders, Mekhi Flowers and Anthony Ivey all rate as four stars.

Grade: A-

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH PENN STATE FANS AT NITTANY NATION

*****

PURDUE

Analysis: Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm locked up his quarterback early, setting a strong foundation for this 2022 class. Four-star Brady Allen finished his high school career with over 12,000 yards passing, a Class 3A state title and Mr. Football honors in the state of Indiana. Brohm told Rivals.com on signing day that Allen was helpful in attracting other prospects to West Lafayette. Purdue’s other four-star in this class, defensive end Joe Strickland, is also from the state of Indiana, as were three other prospects who signed in the early period. Look for Purdue to attack the transfer portal hard this off-season.

Grade: B

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH PURDUE FANS AT BLACKANDGOLD.COM

*****

RUTGERS

Analysis: While Rutgers comes out of the Early Signing Period with the Big Ten East’s lowest-ranked class, part of that is due to the size of the class. It is the only school in that division besides Ohio State to sign fewer than 20 prospects, and it has an average star rating that ranks better than three schools ranked ahead. Rutgers may add another prospect in the late period, but it is expected to hit the transfer portal hard this off-season. Among the 2022 high school recruiting class are four stars Jacob Allen, Samuel Brown, Moses Walker, Kenny Fletcher, Anthony Johnson and Amarion Brown.

Grade: B-

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH RUTGERS FANS AT THEKNIGHTREPORT.COM

*****

WISCONSIN

Analysis: Wisconsin has been as good as any team in the country at keeping its top in-state talent at home. That looked likely to happen again in 2022, especially after the state’s No. 1-ranked player, Joe Brunner, pledged last summer. However, Wisconsin lost two four-stars to out-of-state schools, and is in a battle to keep four-star lineman Carson Hinzman home. Brunner ended up as the only four-star to sign with the Badgers in the Early Signing Period, and he headlines a class of just 14 that ranks 12th in the Big Ten team rankings.

Grade: C

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH WISCONSIN FANS AT BADGERBLITZ.COM

Leave a Reply