Big Ten Signing Day Dream Team
National Signing Day has come again and with it, the top high school seniors across the nation faxed in their letters of intent to the schools they intend to play with. As usual, Penn State, Michigan, and Ohio State landed the top classes in the conference. Let's take a look at the top players the Big Ten landed this year.
QB Devin Gardner: Michigan
The Wolverines are weak at certain key positions, but one position they won't be for awhile is quarterback.
The Wolverines last year landed Tate Forcier who starred as a freshman, and this year, they followed up by landing the top dual-threat quarterback in the country, Detroit's Devin Gardner. Gardner chose the Wolverines over offers from dozens of schools across the country including Florida, LSU, Notre Dame, Oregon, and West Virginia.
The 6'4" QB led his high school team to the state championship game in both his junior and senior season, only to all short in the title game both times.
This summer Gardner attended the Elite 11 camp, which features the Top 12 senior QBs in the country. He drew rave reviews from everyone in attendance.
One camp counselor even said that Gardner was the best dual-threat QB that had ever attended the elite 11, a group that includes former Heisman candidate Dennis Dixon and Heisman winner Tim Tebow.
Gardner was first said to be a redshirt candidate due to Forcier's excellent freshman campaign, and the fact that Gardner needs to improve his mechanics; however, he enrolled at Michigan in January and will take part in spring practices. This could help him see some action this fall.
RB Roderick Smith: Ohio State
Running back wasn't a position of focus for most Big Ten programs this year but The Buckeyes did manage to land one stud.
Smith committed to the Buckeyes early in the process over offers from most Big Ten programs, and Tennessee. The 6'3" 220 lb RB isn't the quickest or most elusive back, but he will remind many Buckeye fans of former Heisman winner Eddie George in the way he is able to overpower and breakthrough nearly any tackle.
OL Andrew Norwell: Ohio State
Ohio was loaded this year with elite offensive tackles and none were better than Andrew Norwell.
Norwell actually committed signing day last year but that didn't stop programs like Notre Dame and Cincinnati from trying and sway him.
Norwell stands about 6'6" and weighs around 270 lbs. with plenty of room to put on more weight. But most impressive about Norwell are his long arms and the nasty streak he plays with.
Norwell will need a redshirt season to fill out his frame and learn the left tackle position better but once he does, he should give Big Ten defensive lineman fits.
OL Miles Dieffenbach: Penn State
The Nittany Lions took five offensive linemen in this class, possibly none better than Dieffenbach.
Dieffenbach picked up his offer from Penn State late May and committed only a couple days later. The Pittsburgh native chose the Nittany Lions over offers from Pitt, Florida State, Boston College, Minnesota, and handful of others.
Dieffenbach already is 6'5" and around 275 lbs. Most impressive about Dieffenbach is how quick his feet are and the good technique he already has. Dieffenbach will likely play center in college and already has the size to play so he could be one of the early contributors from this class.
OL Andrew Donnal: Iowa
Donnal is another offensive-tackle from Ohio.
His recruitment took off quickly, picking up early offers from most Big Ten teams; however, after a trip to Iowa City in May, Donnal abruptly ended his recruitment and chose the Hawkeyes.
Donnal already has the size of a college lineman at 6'6" and over 280 lbs but will need a redshirt season to fill out his frame and also work on speed; he needs to learn to move his feet quicker.
In a couple years Donnal should take his spot as the Hawkeyes starting left tackle.
TE C.J. Fiedorowicz: Iowa
Fiedorowicz first committed to Illinois in July, but after the Illini's terrible season and a good visit to Iowa, the 6'7" 240-lb switched his commitment to the Hawkeyes.
Fiedorowicz possesses great size for a tight end and great ball handling. He will, however,need to work on his speed and blocking ability, as he has been used mostly as a receiver most of his career because of the mismatch he creates with defensive-backs. Over time, he should however develop into the best tight end in the Big Ten.
WR Ricardo Miller: Michigan
The Florida native was the earliest prospect to commit out of any Big Ten class.
Miller started picking up offers in September 2008 starting with Florida, Stanford, and Tennessee. A couple weeks later, his dream offer came in from Michigan and Miller jumped at it immediately.
The 6'2" 200-lb receiver was considered one of the Top 20 players in the state of Florida but Miller and his family moved to Ann Arbor the past summer; Miller finished high school right across the street from the Big House.
Miller isn't a burner but it'd be hard to find a receiver in this class with better hands. He is another prospect who has already enrolled and will take part in spring practices, which could lead him to seeing playing time early.
WR James Louis: Ohio State
Louis picked up offers from nearly every school in the country but surprised everyone by committing to the Buckeyes in July without ever making a trip to the campus.
The Florida native was still pursued by Florida, Minnesota, and Virginia Tech and wavered for awhile, but ended up signing with the Buckeyes.
Louis is only 5'11" and weighs around 175 lbs, which means he will likely play slot receiver for the Buckeyes. Louis finished his junior season racking up over 1,000 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns.
DE William Gholston: Michigan State
Gholston's recruitment was one of the simplest of the year.
It was known for a long time that the Detroit native favored the Spartans despite offers from every powerhouse in the country. The 6'7" 240 lb defensive end ended his recruitment in June, pledging to the Spartans.
Gholston did waver in the last couple months after over a dozen Spartan football players were involved in an off field incident on campus. He began to consider Alabama again, but Gholston signed with the Spartans in the end.
From a pure physical point, there may not be a more impressive prospect in this class. Gholston is almost pure muscle and it shows when he is on the field. The one key to watch will be his transition from playing linebacker, where he played in high school, to defensive end as his size will prevent him from still playing LB.
If Gholston is able to handle this transition well, then he could be even better than his cousin, former Ohio state star and New York Jets defensive end Vernon Gholston.
DT Richard Ash: Michigan
Ash's recruitment was one of the more interesting ones of the year.
Ash went from favoring West Virginia, to favoring USC, to favoring LSU, and then finally committing to the Wolverines in December.
He is a prototypical boom or bust recruit: He will either be one of the most dominant lineman in the country three years from now or be riding the pine.
Ash's potential is through the roof standing, 6'4" and 265 lbs with room to put on more weight as he has never lifted weights in his life. The Florida native could become the next dominant Michigan defensive-lineman following in the footsteps of Woodley, Graham, and Branch. But he has a tendency to get lazy and take plays off.
If Rodriguez and co. are able to light a fire under him, Ash could make his presence well known throughout the Big Ten by 2011. But that's an if. If he doesn't, then he will likely be nothing better than a mediocre Division I player.
DE Dakota Royer :Penn State
Royer's recruitment was pretty simple.
The Pennsylvania native received offers from all the Big Ten schools and many more from schools across the country; however, he always favored the Nittany Lions. In July, he made it official.
Royer possesses excellent size at 6'3" and 211 lbs; he is also very quick off the edge. He will need to put on some more weight before he is ready to play, so a redshirt year might be in order for him.
LB Khairi Fortt: Penn State
Penn State is known as linebacker U and they grabbed another great one in this year's class.
Fortt is one of the few elite players to come out of one of the New England states and it shows in his offer lists,which included USC, Florida, Michigan, Tennessee, and Georgia. The Nittany Lions narrowly edged out the Bulldogs for Fortt's services, but in the end, Fortt felt at home in Happy Valley.
Fortt is a good sized linebacker at 6'2" 220 lbs, but he will need to put on around 20 pounds of muscle before seeing playing time. Hopefully this doesn't slow him down as his speed is what is most impressive about Fortt. Give Fortt a couple years and he should become one of the elite Linebackers of the Big Ten.
LB Josh Furman: Michigan
If we were looking for the best athlete in the country, it'd be hard to find someone to match up with Furman.
Furman stands at 6'3" and around 200 lbs but despite his size, he is one of the fastest players in the country clocking a 4.36 40-yard dash.
Due to his exceptional athletic ability, Furman was recruited for a variety of different positions by schools like Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, and Penn State. Some colleges tried to entice Furman by selling him that could he be the next Eddie George and play running back, but he realized he has the most potential on the defensive side of the ball.
Furman will need some time to learn the position as he played running back most of high school, but once he gets coached up, the Big Ten should watch out. With Furman's athletic ability, he could be as good as they come.
LB Mike Hull: Penn State
Hull was a very early commit, pledging to the Nittany Lions in November 2008; however, this didn't stop schools like Michigan, Ohio State, and Pittsburgh to try and turn him.
The 6'1" 215 lb Pennsylvania native is a very strong tackler and shows great instincts. Despite Hull already being one of the strongest players in the 2010 class, he will need a couple more years to develop more as he is undersized to play LB. He may actually have to make a permanent move to safety. Hull must also work on moving quicker from sideline to sideline as this will help with his coverage skills.
CB Christian Bryant: Ohio State
Bryant's recruitment was the usual for players that attend Glenville in Cleveland, Oh.
They visit a couple of other schools, but always end up signing with Ohio State. Bryant was one of the best all-around players in high school, playing on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball.
Bryant isn't the tallest of defensive backs only standing around 5'10", but he has a great motor and has very good ball handling. He still needs to bulk up some and o put more effort in. If he does, he could become on of the Big Ten's best.
CB Cullen Christian: Michigan
Michigan's secondary has been their weakest area of their defense the past two years, but with their recruiting efforts this year, they made it apparent they don't want it to be that way for long.
Christian favored the Wolverines throughout his entire recruitment and although he knew where he was going for months, he didn't announce until November.
Christian is one of the most physically impressive cornerbacks in this class, standing at 6'0" 180 lbs with some of the most fluid hips of anyone in this class. He will likely be one of the earliest contributors in this class, as Michigan secondary is in need of another starting CB with the departure of junior Donovan Warren.
S Demar Dorsey: Michigan
Dorsey was possibly the biggest shocker of signing day.
The Florida native had been committed to Florida for over a year before the two decided to part ways last month. Dorsey then decided to visit Michigan, Florida State, and USC. Many thought that he was headed to either FSU or USC on signing day, but Dorsey shocked everyone when he decided he rather head north to play for the Wolverines.
Dorsey is another player who could have an immediate impact as he can play either safety or cornerback due to his good size, 6'1" 175-lbs and blazing speed with a 4.3 40-yard dash.
Dorsey had a great showing at the Under Armour All-American game picking off a pass, forcing a fumble, and racking up four tackles. If there is one freshman to watch for in the Big Ten to make a huge impact, Dorsey would be it.
S Marvin Robinson: Michigan
Robinson's recruitment was one of the earliest of any prospect in the 2010 class.
The Florida native began picking up offers from USC, Florida, Ohio State, and Michigan when he was only a sophomore, but after attending a summer camp at Michigan between his freshman and sophomore year in 2007,Robinson already knew where he was headed. He didn't announce until April this past year.
Robinson should get a shot at free safety though he may be growing out of the position at 6'1", 200 lbs. Fortunately the Wolverines' spinner position, a hybrid of safety and linebacker, would be a perfect fit for Robinson. Robinson tried to enroll early but was unable to due to not having enough credits; however, he will be in Ann Arbor for summer workouts.