How did all of the Big Ten teams do this recruiting season? Here are the recruiting rankings for the conference, along with the stars for each team, top players, and biggest strengths.
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2021 Big Ten Recruiting Rankings, Breakdown
No, really. How good were the Big Ten classes this 2021 recruiting season?
Big Ten East
1. Ohio State Buckeyes
It might not be the nation’s best recruiting class, but in a horseshoes-and-hand-grenades sort of way, it’s in the discussion with the Alabamas, Georgias and Oregons of the world – that’s all that matters. As always, the Buckeyes are getting a slew of guys making a stop-over in Columbus on their way to the NFL.
If Emeka Egbuka isn’t the nation’s best receiver prospect, he’s close. If Jack Sawyer isn’t the best defensive end, if Donovan Jackson isn’t the best offensive guard, and if Kyle McCord isn’t the best quarterback – and on and on – they’re all close.
2. Michigan Wolverines
Dog Jim Harbaugh and his era all you want, but recruiting hasn’t been an issue. Yeah, on the field and in the recruiting game, Michigan isn’t Ohio State, but that’s not quite a fair comparison even though beating that program is what matters. The Wolverines got their stars for the backfield in QB JJ McCarthy and RB Donovan Edwards, the O line gets were excellent, and it’s a strong overall class full of depth, versatility and talent.
3. Penn State Nittany Lions
Flip a coin or the third spot between Penn State and Maryland. The Terps got more quantity to go along with a few top-shelf parts, but Penn State got a few more big-time prospects. There isn’t a Micah Parsons or Devyn Ford type of elite guys, but there are a few who are close enough to be All-Big Ten difference-makers.
4. Maryland Terrapins
There were a few pickups for the offensive side, but this class is about defense, defense and defense. Head coach Mike Locksley was known for being a top-shelf recruiter when Maryland hired him, and he’s starting to change the talent level with a strong class last year and a fantastic one this season. He and his staff went hard after the star linebackers – getting Terrence Lewis and Branden Jennings out of Florida was massive.
5. Michigan State Spartans
Ehhhh, okay. It’s a recruiting class – no more, no less. Michigan State always went with a recruit-to-a-type thing under Mark Dantonio, and it all worked out just fine. Can Mel Tucker start to get the bigger prospects as he goes forward? The problem isn’t getting the guys to compete with Ohio State and Michigan – it’s getting the guys to compete with what Maryland is bringing in.
6. Rutgers Scarlet Knights
It’s not a stretch to call this the program’s best recruiting class in at least ten years, maybe more. It helps that it’s a big class full of commitments, but Greg Schiano is getting some real, live talents, too. He didn’t exactly put a fence around New Jersey, but he landed nine in-state players – getting LB Khayri Banton was big – but it’s not about getting a lot of local guys, it’s about getting the right ones.
7. Indiana Hoosiers
Even with the recent success, Indiana is never going to battle with Ohio State and Michigan for the star recruits. However, there isn’t any one area that’s all that special – except for, potentially, receiver – and there aren’t a whole lot of stars. If Donaven McCulley really is the next great quarterback, then the class works, but there’s not a lot for the lines to build around.