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Big Ten Football: The Top 5 Recruits of 2012

Zach TravisContributor IOctober 8, 2016

Big Ten Football: The Top 5 Recruits of 2012

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    A team is only as good as the players it puts on the field.  Even Bear Bryant could only do so much without smart, talented athletes to make the plays and win the games.

    Thankfully, the Big Ten is long on both good coaches and quality players, and this incoming recruiting class is no exception.  Some of the best recruits in the nation will be suiting up for teams in the Midwest over the next few years.

    Let's take a quick look at the five best incoming Big Ten recruits so far (I know we still have a few days until signing day) and what impact those players could have as early as September.

Noah Spence, Ohio State

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    Rivals - five stars

    Scout - five stars

    ESPN - five stars

    24/7 - five stars

    If you want to look at big-name recruits, look no farther than Ohio State's blue-chip defensive end, Noah Spence.  The 6'4", 245 lb. recruit out of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania is widely considered the best recruit in the Big Ten and is a top-10 recruit to Rivals.

    Initially, Spence was a Penn State lean, but with the turmoil in Happy Valley and the introduction of Urban Meyer as head coach at Ohio State, Spence quickly made up his mind and pledged with the Buckeyes.

    Spence isn't quite the physical freak that Jadeveon Clowney was last year, but he is athletic enough to challenge for some early playing time before making a push for a starting role in his second year on campus.

Ondre Pipkins, Michigan

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    Rivals - five stars

    Scout - four stars

    ESPN - four stars

    24/7 - four stars

    Ondre Pipkins may not be the most highly thought of recruit coming into the Big Ten this year, but he is nearly the biggest.  The 6'3", 330 lb. defensive tackle is originally from Saginaw, Michigan, but moved to Kansas City, Missouri.  Despite the distance from the Mitten State, he still grew up a Michigan fan and has quickly become one of the most active Wolverines on Twitter and in interviews.

    He has also been active on the field.  After starting off as a middling three-star recruit, he used a solid camp season to raise his profile and earn an invite to the Army All-American game, where he impressed scouts with his surprising athletic ability (no one expects 330 lbs. to move anywhere quick).  

    With defensive tackle being a big position of need for the Wolverines this fall, look for Pipkins to help plug the hole early.

Adolphus Washington, Ohio State

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    Rivals - five stars

    Scout - five stars

    ESPN - four stars

    24/7 - five stars

    You wouldn't be far off to call Ohio State's defensive-line haul an embarrassment of riches.  Not only do the Buckeyes have Spence, four-star defensive end Se'von Pittman and four-star defensive tackle Tommy Schutt, but the Buckeyes have 6'4", 230 lb. Adolphus Washington—a top-25 recruit to Rivals that is regarded as the best defensive end to come out of an absolutely loaded Ohio class this year (including Pittman, Michigan recruits Tom Stroble and Chris Wormley and Northwestern recruit Ifeadi Odenigbo).

    Washington was another player that made a big impact in the Army All-American game, and while his weight might keep him from earning his way onto the field right away, Washington looks like a safe bet to be an All-Big Ten-level defensive end in a couple years, and maybe more.

Kyle Kalis, Michigan

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    Rivals - five stars

    Scout - five stars

    ESPN - four stars

    24/7 - four stars

    The highest rated offensive-lineman recruit was almost a Buckeye.

    Kyle Kalis, a 6'5", 300 lb. offensive guard from Ohio, initially decided he wanted to be a Buckeye, but began to have second thoughts upon the dismissal of former coach Jim Tressel.  Once Kalis got comfortable with the Michigan coaching staff, he decided to switch his commitment (at the displeasure of quite a few Ohio State fans) and has embraced the rivalry with a passion reserved usually for those who've already been on the field for years of it.

    It is a good thing, too, because Michigan looks to be dangerously thin on the offensive line next year, and Kalis could be called upon early.  Scouts generally agree that he is one of the more college-ready linemen to come out of high school this year, and he has the build, strength and mean streak to be a pile-driving guard for years to come.

Aaron Burbridge, Michigan State

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    Rivals - four stars

    Scout - four stars

    ESPN - four stars

    24/7 - four stars

    Despite Michigan State's recent success on the field, the Spartans' recruiting efforts have fallen a bit flat. Of Michigan State's 14 commits, only one is a consensus four-star.  That would be receiver Aaron Burbridge, a 6'1", 175 lb. player out of Farmington Hills, Michigan.  Burbridge is a fluid athlete and great route-runner who could very well contribute early.

    The odds are Michigan State will need to call upon him soon.  The Spartans lose their top-three wide receivers and most productive tight end, all while breaking in a new quarterback.  Burbridge may not earn a starting job out of the gate, but he could find his way into playing time.

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