The pseudo-opening day of the 2009 college football season was on National Signing Day and the Big Ten made some strides in recruiting from top to bottom.
The rich (Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan) only got richer and pulled in the top classes in the conference, but strong showings from Michigan State and Wisconsin and solid performances from Illinois and Minnesota show that the conference is at least still competitive in the recruiting market.
Let's take a quick look at how each school did on signing day and access who has the best incoming class in the Big Ten.
Ron Zook's third class is definitely less exciting when compared to the previous two and the signing day loss of heavyweight recruits Kraig Appleton and Craig Drummond only add to the disappointment.
The Illini did fill most of their needs and added players in key positions including bolstering the defensive line with edge rusher Michael Buchanon and securing a talented replacement for Juice Williams in Nathan Scheelhaase.
Zook's biggest coup was landing speedy receiver Terry Hawthorne and one-time Ohio State commit Justin Green at running back.
Total Recruits: 20
What they needed: Offensive line, quarterback, defensive line, linebacker
What they got: Andrew Carter (No. 7 OT), Nathan Scheelhaase (No. 20 QB), Lendell Buckner (No. 16 DT), Aaron Gress (JUCO LB)
Top three: Andrew Carter (No. 7 OT), Terry Hawthorne (No. 10 WR), and Lendell Buckner (No. 16 DT)
2008 wasn't always pretty for the Hoosiers and the loss of momentum carried into the recruiting period for third year coach Bill Lynch. The class does address some key concerns including depth on the offensive line and quarterback.
The biggest key for this class though was defense and the Hoosiers landed several recruits who will compete early for playing time.
Total Recruits: 18
What they needed: Offensive line, linebacker, quarterback, defensive back
What they got: Charles Chapman (No. 83 OT), Dimitrius Carr (No. 65 LB), Edward Wright-Baker (No. 45 QB), Nick Zachery (No. 141 S)
Top three: Mitch Ewald (No. 5 K), Duwyce Wilson (No. 38 WR), and Edward Wright-Baker (No. 45 QB)
Those who follow Iowa football know that the Hawkeyes may not always have the highest ranked or most prestigious classes, but that they are blessed with a coach who gets the most out of his players consistently no matter how many stars they have on the recruiting Web sites.
The 2009 class is small, but solid for Ferentz and includes more dynamic wide receivers for Ricky Stanzi to throw to and strong offensive lineman to give him time to get the ball to those receivers.
Total Recruits: 19
What they needed: Wide receiver, tight end, offensive line
What they got: Keenan Davis (No. 16 WR), Anthony Schiavone (No. 92 TE), Nolan MacMillian (No 81 OT)
Top three: Keenan Davis (No. 16 WR), Brandon Wegher (No. 16 RB), Nolan MacMillian (No 81 OT)
Michigan fans were desperate for some good news following a tumultuous 2008 season and Rich Rodriguez felt the increase in pressure hit him squarely in the face as signing day approached. Keeping verbal commitments became a challenge and the Wolverines would eventually lose nine players.
Good news was on the way for Michigan fans though and when all was said and done the Wolverines landed a top 10 recruiting class and look to be headed in the right direction proving that Michigan will always be a major player in the recruiting race.
Total Recruits: 22
What they needed: Quarterback, defensive back, defensive line
What they got: Tate Forcier (No. 15 QB), J.T. Turner (No. 3 CB), Craig Roh (No. 8 DE)
Top three: J.T. Turner (No. 3 CB), Craig Roh (No. 8 DE), Michael Schofield (No. 10 OT)
No team in the Big Ten made a bigger one-year improvement in recruiting than Michigan State. The Spartan's class boasts two outstanding prospects in David Barrent and Edwin Baker, but the success of this class is the quality depth it adds across the board, especially at offensive line, linebacker, and defensive back.
Total Recruits: 23
What they needed: Running back, wide receiver, defensive line, linebacker
What they got: Edwin Baker (No. 20 RB), Dana Dixon (No. 113 WR), Corey Freeman (UR DE), Chris Norman (No. 8 LB)
Top three: Chris Norman (No. 8 LB), Edwin Baker (No. 20 RB), and Blake Treadwell (No. 4 C)
Tim Brewster didn't quite make the recruiting splash he did in his first season, but he really didn't need to. The Gophers added players at the right spots and the late signing of cornerback Michael Carter enhanced an already solid class that includes several players who will contribute early.
Adam Weber to Eric Decker is the present of Minnesota football, but the future will be Moses Alipate to Hayo Carpenter and the addition of Hasan Lipscomb will give the Gophers some much needed depth at running back.
Total Recruits: 20
What they needed: Offensive line, wide receiver, defensive back, tight end
What they got: Josh Campion (No. 47 OT), Hayo Carpenter (JUCO WR), Michael Carter (No. 35 CB), Ra'shede Hageman (No. 11 TE)
Top three: Hayo Carpenter (JUCO WR), Ra'shede Hageman (No. 11 TE), and Matt Garin (No. 30 DE)
The Wildcats hope to continue the momentum established by the surprise 9-4 2008 season.
The biggest hole to fill was left by graduating four-year starter Tyrell Sutton, but Pat Fitzgerald added two backs (Arby Fields and Mike Trumpy) to the stable and Evan Watkins is a quality quarterback who could be the future of the program.
One glaring need was at the wide receiver position and the Wildcats did little to secure that position for the future.
Total Recruits: 18
What they needed: Running back, linebacker, wide receiver, defensive line
What they got: Arby Fields (No. 96 RB), Damien Proby (No. 48 LB), Drew Moulton (No. 291 WR), Davon Curtis (No. 23 DE)
Top three: Patrick Ward (No. 18 OT), Davon Curtis (No. 23 DE), and Evan Watkins (No. 63 QB)
Jim Tressel has pulled in another top recruiting class that is full of talent and potential first year contributors.
Buckeye fans should be happy about the addition of some needed speed on the offensive and defensive lines, running backs Jaamal Berry (speed) and Carlos Hyde (a Beanie Wells clone) will compete for the starting job, and defensive standouts Dorian Bell and C.J. Barnett could be the next Laurinaitis and Jenkins.
This Buckeye class was full of legacy players including Duron Carter, son of former Ohio State wide receiver Cris Carter, who will give Terrelle Pryor another playmaker on offense, as well as, Adam Homan (brother of current Buckeye linebacker Ross Homan) and Zach Boren (brother of current Buckeye offensive lineman Justin Boren).
Total Recruits: 25
What they needed: Running back, fullback, quarterback, defensive back, defensive line, linebacker
What they got: Jaamal Berry (No. 8 RB), Carlos Hyde (No. 1 FB), Kenneth Guiton (No. 53 QB), C.J. Barnett (No. 14 CB), Johnny Simon (No. 5 DT), Dorien Bell (No. 2 LB)
Top three: Dorien Bell (No. 2 LB), Jaamal Berry (No. 3 RB), and Johnny Simon (No. 5 DT)
Joe Paterno has been around long enough to realize that there is more to recruiting than just landing the marquee names. It's about filling the positions you have needs in with the best available player and the Lions did just that.
The biggest disappointment for the Lions was missing out on linebacker Jelani Jenkins, but JoePa did ink two outstanding recruits in Darrell Givens and Eric Schrive who will contribute early, as well as very solid players in Gerald Hodges, Kevin Newsome, and Justin Brown.
Total Recruits: 27
What they needed: Quarterback, offensive line, wide receiver, defensive line, defensive back
What they got: Kevin Newsome (No. 10 QB), Eric Shrive (No. 2 OT), Justin Brown (No. 9 WR), Sean Stanley (No. 26 DT), Darrell Divens (No. 11 CB)
Top three: Eric Shrive (No. 2 OT), Gerald Hodges (No. 4 LB), and Darrell Givens (No. 11 CB)
First year coach Danny Hope spent a lot of time recruiting in Florida and that hard work may have paid off. The Boilermakers signed 14 of its 20 recruits from the Sunshine State.
A few players including running back Al-Terek McBurse and linebacker Antwon Higgs could contribute immediately, but it's hard to imagine that most of these players are nothing more than second-tier recruits from a talent-rich state.
Total Recruits: 20
What they needed: Running back, wide receiver, defensive line, defensive back
What they got: Al-Terek McBurse (No. 67 RB), Eric Williams (No. 117 WR), Eric McDaniel (No. 31 DT), Ishmael Aristide (No. 160 S)
Top three: Kris Cooke (JUCO DT), Eric McDaniel (No. 31 DT), and Gabe Holmes (No. 27 TE)
A disappointing 2008 campaign didn't affect recruiting for the Badgers. Bret Bielema and his staff addressed several needs with this class and even persuaded its top recruit, Kraig Appleton, to switch his commitment from Illinois on signing day.
Appleton will instantly help an anemic passing game and could have a huge freshman impact on the team and the defensive line now has some depth with the addition of Shelby Harris, David Gilbert, and Jordan Kohout.
Total Recruits: 21
What they needed: Offensive Line, wide receiver, defensive line, defensive back
What they got: Ryan Groy (No. 37 OG), Kraig Appleton (No. 19 WR), Pat Muldoon (No. 33 DE), Dezmen Southward (UR S)
Top three: Jordan Kohout (No. 17 DT), Kraig Appleton (No. 19 WR), and A.J. Fenton (No. 14 LB)