Power Ranking Top 2014 Big Ten Football Recruiting Classes
The Big Ten is a league ruled by Michigan and Ohio State. That is no different in these rankings, but what could be a surprise is which of these programs has the top 2014 recruiting class so far.
Another clear surprise is how well Penn State is doing. The Nittany Lions have a limited number of scholarships available, but they still rank high on this list. Whether they can sustain that success will be a key storyline in the conference's 2014 recruiting cycle.
After netting a good class last February, Indiana is off to a slow start. And it is not alone. There is a big surprise near the bottom of these rankings.
Recruiting class and recruit information courtesy of 247Sports.com.
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Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Total commits: One
Top commit: Michael Barwick, 3-star DT
Hoosier coach Kevin Wilson is trying to change the culture of the football program in Bloomington, and it has been a challenge. However, he’s up for it and surely will start to crank more out commitments for 2014 soon.
His only commit at the moment is the 3-star Barwick, a 6'1", 297-pound DT from Ohio. Barwick will come to Bloomington to compete and penetrate gaps in the trenches.
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Total commits: Two
Top commit: Trae Hart, 3-star WR
Former Kent State coach Darrell Hazell is the new Boilermaker leader. He will look to take many of the lessons learned as an assistant at Ohio State and implement them at Purdue.
In all likelihood, the Boilermakers won’t sign a Top 25 class this year, yet look for Hazell to score a couple of upsets on the recruiting trail.
Hart is his top pledge right now, and the little guy from Dallas can flat-out fly. Hart weighs just 155 pounds on a 5’10.5” frame, but he has elite quickness and speed.
Leon Halip/Getty Images
Total commits: Two
Top commit: Luke Gifford, 3-star ATH/S
There are only two commitments thus far for Big Red, but one of them is a big one. Gifford is a 6’3”, 195-pounder from Lincoln who can play safety, wide receiver or outside linebacker. The 3-star recruit has good athleticism, length and the speed to quickly close on the football.
He may get a chance to play wide receiver due to his size and hands, but free safety may be his best position.
Bo Pelini will undoubtedly collect more commitments as this year moves forward. He has two Top 25 finishes in the past three recruiting cycles. Right now, Nebraska has two 3-star commitments.
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Total commits: Three
Top commit: Jeff Jones, 4-star RB
The Gophers are another school fighting to ascend up the Big Ten pecking order. Minnesota is looked at as a recruiting afterthought by many prospects in the region, but Jerry Kill is working hard to reverse that.
Jones, a 4-star RB, is his top commitment, and was a priority target for Kill from the start of this 2014 cycle. Jones has a 6’0”, 194-pound frame and the talent to be an immediate contributor as a freshman.
QB Dimonic McKinzy is a 3-star dual-threat guy with a strong arm and the running ability to operate a zone-read running attack.
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Total commits: Four
Top commit: Nick Allegretti, 3-star OC
Illinois is looking to improve its recruiting stature in the Big Ten, and it seems to have the right idea in recruiting the Midwest region. All four of Illinois’ commitments are from the local region, as Tim Beckman tries to build this program with Midwest talent.
Beckman has four 3-star recruits as it stands.
Allegretti is his top find, as the 6’3”, 290-pound center has good toughness and executes his blocking assignments consistently. Beckman has a QB he likes in 6’3” Chayce Crouch, who will be throwing to WR Mike Dudek.
The Illini project as a middle-of-the-pack recruiting program in 2014.
Matthew Holst/Getty Images
Total commits: Four
Top commit: Ross Pierschbacher, 4-star OL
Iowa is the not kind of school that brings in a lot of 5-star and 4-star recruits. The Hawkeyes recruit players who fit what their program is about and rely heavily on player development and good coaching.
However, 2014 may mark a departure from that strategy, as head coach Kirk Ferentz has a great commitment in Pierschbacher, one of the top offensive line prospects in the nation. He has good feet, strength, agility and the ability to crack the two-deep early in his career.
Iowa will use Pierschbacher’s commitment as a rallying cry in 2014 recruiting.
Ferentz has one 4-star and three 3-star commitments in his class.
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Total commits: Six
Top commit: Craig Evans, 4-star DT
The numbers may be small right now for the Badgers, but the quality of their 2014 class at this point is great. There are three 4-star as well as three 3-star prospects in this class, and new coach Gary Andersen is steady as she goes in Madison.
It is not a surprise that all five in-state pledges play on the line of scrimmage, and they are highlighted by Evans, a 4-star defensive lineman who is 6'3" and 305 pounds.
Another recruit, 4-star defensive end Conor Sheehy, can play on the strong side as well as inside.
Offensive line commits Jaden Gault, a 4-star recruit, and George Panos, a 3-star recruit, both fit the typical Wisconsin mold.
This 2014 cycle has been about quality for Andersen, and he’ll look to keep it that way as he adds more players to his class.
5. Michigan State
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Total commits: Eight
Top commit: Byron Bullough, 3-star ATH
The Spartans have an eight-man recruiting class of 3-star players. Bullough is the top player in the group. He has good toughness, instincts and pursuit speed in tight spaces as an outside linebacker/strong safety.
QB Chris Durkin’s size, at 6’4”, 216 pounds, and arm strength immediately commands attention.
Brian Allen is a center prospect at 6’2”, 287 pounds, and Deon Drake has played against solid competition at Cass Technical in Detroit as a linebacker.
4. Penn State
Patrick Smith/Getty Images
Total commits: 10
Top commit: DeAndre Thompkins, 4-star ATH/WR
Penn State is going after pass-catchers.
Of its 10 commitments, four are wide receiver prospects. Thompkins, a 4-star player from North Carolina, is the top player in the class. The 6’0”, 175-pounder has speed and playmaking ability.
There is no defensive lineman and only only one offensive lineman in this class, making it a predominantly skill-position affair so far for head coach Bill O’Brien. Keep in mind, Penn State’s class will be very small due to Jerry Sandusky scandal-related sanctions, so look for O’Brien to be selective with offers from here on out.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Total commits: 11
Top commit: Justin Jackson, 4-star APB/CB
Head coach Pat Fitzgerald has 11 commitments. There’s no superstar recruit in this group, but all 11 are solid, hardworking football players. Jackson, a 4-star back, is one of the better scatbacks in the country and will be dangerous in the Wildcat offense.
A 3-star DB, Jordan Thomas is a 6'0", 175-pounder from Texas. He has good athleticism and the ball skills to be a threat to intercept passes.
At the moment, Fitzgerald has two 4-star and nine 3-star commits.
2. Ohio State
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Total commits: Nine
Top commit: Damon Webb, 4-star CB
Recruiting at Ohio State has been excellent since the day Urban Meyer arrived a year-and-a-half ago. He has capitalized on his connections to pry talent out of the South.
However, all nine of his current pledges are from the Midwest.
He has seven 4-star and two 3-star players locked up.
The top commit is Webb, a 4-star cornerback. He has good athletic ability and movement skills, and he can be used as a press corner. WR/RB Parris Campbell is a speedy 4-star player who is another Jalin Marshall-Dontre Wilson type.
Outside linebackers Dante Booker and Kyle Berger are 4-star recruits who have great instincts and pursuit speed.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Total commits: 12
Top commit: Jabrill Peppers, 5-star CB
Peppers is the most versatile player in America and the best recruit head coach Brady Hoke has brought to Ann Arbor. He will play a ton as a true freshman.
Of Michigan's 12 commitments, six are offensive players.
None are bigger offensively than Harris, a 4-star wide receiver. He's the first big-time wide receiver prospect that Hoke has attracted to Ann Arbor. He's part of a class that is on pace to place the Wolverines in the Top 10 nationally in the recruiting rankings.
Other standouts in the class include Wilton Speight, a 3-star QB who will compete with 2013 QB signee Shane Morris, and Florida product Mason Cole, a 4-star offensive guard.
Middle linebacker Michael Ferns is a 4-star kid from Ohio who will be looking to develop into an anchor in the middle of the Wolverines defense.
One of the most intriguing commitments is from 4-star DT Bryan Mone from Utah. He’s a 6’4”, 316-pounder with explosive strength and quickness who could be ready to play early in Ann Arbor.
This class has one 5-star, seven 4-star and four 3-star commits.
Edwin Weathersby is the College Football Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. He has worked in scouting/player personnel departments for three professional football teams, including the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns.