The Big Ten 2013 recruiting classes left us with a mixed bag. Unlike the SEC, where it seems as if every team in the conference came away with what it wanted, Big Ten teams combined successes and failures.
Some teams had a few hit and misses, which landed them somewhere in the middle when grading. Simply put, this year’s classes had a little something for everybody. You had the teams that showed up and landed many elite players, and teams that picked up solid recruits—but unless there are several stars behind those players' names, nobody is going to mention it.
Now that national signing day is in the books, here is one word that describes each Big Ten team’s recruiting performance.
What It's Worth: For a team that only won two games last season, Illinois sure was able to convince a handful of solid guys to give head coach Tim Beckham a chance. The star of this class is Bailey at the quarterback position; with his dual-threat abilities, he could develop into something special within a year or two. Day gives the team options as he can play on both sides of the ball, and there are a few other guys who could turn some heads like Darwyn Kelly and Dionte Taylor.
It's been a while since there has been any consistency to Illinois, so we'll take a wait-and-see approach.
What it's Worth: You really have to give it up to head coach Kevin Wilson. He has helped change the culture around Indiana and has gotten many players to believe in what he is trying to do. A handful of the recruits who signed on the dotted line had offers from big-time BCS programs but decided to team up and give the Hoosiers a chance. Latham should help anchor the offensive line from day one, and Smith is a speedy back who will give the offense a boost.
Those days of Indiana being the Big Ten's laughing stock is no more as long as these types of classes can continue.
What It's Worth: Kirk Ferentz wasn't able to hit any home runs during this recruiting period, which is kind of disappointing due to everything he has done and how long he has been around. Iowa put together a class that is stuck in the middle of the road. There wasn't anything great to write home about, but there are some guys who could blossom into solid players with the proper coaching and a little more experience under their belts.
A couple players to watch out for include Wisnieski at tight end and Damond Powell at wide receiver.
What It's Worth: Michigan did everything it needed to do to show the rest of college football that this is still an elite program. The Wolverines picked up their quarterback of the future in Morris, landed a running back who could start right away in Green and picked up numerous linemen on both sides of the ball who will contribute at a high level. If it weren't for a few recruiting classes that were insanely impressive, this one would be receiving a lot more attention.
Brady Hoke proved himself with this 2013 class.
What It's Worth: Michigan State really put together one of the best recruiting classes in the Big Ten. Terry is a playmaker at the quarterback position who could become the starter as early as 2014, Williams is an athlete who can play many positions, and Dennis Finley is that typical Big Ten tackle who will soon develop into a beast. The Spartans have one of the smaller classes in this conference (18 commits), but the quality isn't lacking.
Easily one of the underrated classes of the 2013 recruiting season.
What It's Worth: Even with head coach Jerry Kill leading Minnesota to a bowl game last season for the first time since 2009, it didn't do much for the momentum heading into national signing day. The Golden Gophers finished with easily the worst recruiting class in the Big Ten, and it is truly hard to find a player out of this bunch who will make an immediate impact.
While Minnesota did make significant strides last year, it is tough to convince elite talent to play for a program that hasn't been relevant in decades.
What It's Worth: If it weren't for the two powerhouse programs of Michigan and Ohio State recruiting out of their minds, everybody would be talking about the job Nebraska has done. The playmakers who decided to become Cornhuskers really makes you turn your head and shows that this team will remain competitive for many years. Gregory is an elite talent at defensive end, Newby and Adam Taylor will form a 1-2 punch at running back, and Johnny Stanton could become that next solid dual-threat option at quarterback.
Bo Pelini was holding back no punches with this class, and it will pay off in a big way for his team down the line.
What it's Worth: Northwestern will never receive credit for the job it does in recruiting because there are rarely any flashy players who become Wildcats. Due to Northwestern's tough academic requirements and the fact that it has not gained a ton of respect as a football program, many top recruits look elsewhere. However, Alviti is a dual-threat quarterback who will become the future of the program, and several beefy offensive linemen will help form a solid offensive front for years to come.
The class won't appear on any Top 10 lists, but as long as Pat Fitzgerald can continue to coach these players up and win games, there is more here than meets the eye.
What It's Worth: This recruiting class that Urban Meyer basically put together at the last minute should scare the rest of the college football world. The coach showed that he still has that magic to do remarkable things, and 247Sports gave the Buckeyes the No. 1 class in the Big Ten because of it. Landing Bell practically out of nowhere was huge for the team, and getting playmaker wide receivers such as Marshall and Corey Smith will pay off in a big way.
Watch out, Meyer has once again found his mojo.
What It's Worth: I couldn't be more impressed with the job head coach Bill O'Brien has done for Penn State, so I had to write a few hundred words about it. Seriously, to land arguably the best quarterback of this class and to be able to convince multiple players with more than three stars next to their names to play in Happy Valley is a job well done. O'Brien has obviously been saying and selling the right things because Penn State is working with limited scholarships and is banned from a bowl game for the next three years.
If O'Brien can land the big fish with those restrictions, there are no excuses for anybody else.
What It's Worth: Was it because of the Boilermakers hiring a new head coach? If that is the case, it isn't a good thing because usually a successful head coach such as Darrell Haze brings energy back into a program and gets folks excited again. According to 247Sports, Purdue had a worse recruiting class than programs such as Iowa State, South Florida and even Kansas. Ouch. It wasn't long ago when Purdue was consistently competing with the big boys and looked like it was about to turn the corner as a legitimate Big Ten contender.
Hopefully things will get better before they get any worse.
What It's Worth: Unlike Purdue, Gary Andersen, Wisconsin's new head coach, was able to hit the ground running and put together a respectable recruiting class to show Badger fans that the future will remain bright. Clement was one of the top running backs in this class, and there are a handful of above-average athletes, including T.J. Watt, who happens to be the younger brother of Houston Texans J.J. Watt.
It was already going to be tough to deal with the returning team, but if this class is an indication of things to come, this is a program that will continue to be at the top of the Big Ten.