Big Ten Recruiting Rankings: Winners, Losers, Whiners and Wolverines

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Wayne quarterback Braxton Miller is already enrolled at OSU. (Photo by Nick Falzerano)

National Signing Day has come and gone, making it time to come out
with the Bucknuts final 2011 Big Ten Recruiting Rankings.  We look at
what went
right and wrong on the recruiting front for each Big Ten team, who is
each team’s top commitment and give a comment or two about each team.


National Signing Day has come and gone, making it time to come out
with the Bucknuts final 2011 Big Ten Recruiting Rankings.  We look at what went
right and wrong on the recruiting front for each Big Ten team, who is
each team’s top commitment and give a comment or two about each team. 
The number next to the school is the number of commitments that school
currently has.

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12.  Purdue (15)

What went right: Landing linebacker Armstead
Williams (Monroeville, Pa./Gateway) was a good addition and the
Boilermakers also landed a couple pretty good athletes out of the state of Florida.

What went wrong: Coach Danny Hope landed just one
commitment in the last three weeks before signing day and I had his
class ranked last in the conference before that.  Also, Hope had almost
no success recruiting in-state.

Top prospect: LB Armstead Williams

Comment: The state of Indiana is not
loaded with talent, but Hope signed just two prospects from the Hoosier State and neither was
among the Top 10 in the state.  More success in-state would be a good
starting point for Hope’s 2012 recruiting class.

Previous ranking: 12

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11.  Northwestern (17)

What went right: Coach Pat Fitzgerald signed five
prospects that had originally committed
to another school including defensive end Deonte Gibson (Lakewood,
Ohio/St. Edward) who first committed to Pitt and running back Jordan
Perkins (Lodi,Calif./Lodi) who initially committed to Stanford.

What went wrong: Fitzgerald did not land any of the
top prospects in the state of Illinois and signed just 17 prospects
overall.

Top commitment: WR Christian Jones (Spring,
Texas/Westfield) who is the No. 108 prospect on the ESPNU 150

Comment: Fitzgerald seems to get the best
out of each of his recruiting classes and I expect him to do the same
with this group.

Previous ranking: 11

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10.  Indiana (21)

What went right: Former Hoosier coach Bill Lynch
landed a large group of early commitments, 21 to be exact, and new coach
Kevin Wilson kept most of them in the fold.  Wilson also added an
exciting talent on signing day, wide receiver/return man Shane Wynn
(Cleveland, Ohio/Glenville).

What went wrong: DB Ramon Taylor changed his
commitment to Michigan and signed with the Wolverines.

Top commitment: Shane Wynn

Comment: It will be very interesting to
see how Wilson does with a full year to work on recruiting for his 2012
class

Previous ranking: 10

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9.  Minnesota (21)

What went right: The coaching change from the fired
Tim Brewster to new coach Jerry Kill did not cause a great deal of
disruption to the class Brewster had put together up to the point he was
let go.

What went wrong: Outside of OL Tommy Olson
(Mahtomedi, Minn./Mahtomedi) the Gophers
did not sign any other top prospects from the Midwest.

Top commitment: Tommy Olson

Comment: A battle is already brewing for
junior offensive lineman Jonah Pirsig (Blue Earth, Minn./Area) who has
offers from Minnesota, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Iowa.  Will Kill be
able to keep the state’s top prospect at home?

Previous ranking:  9

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8.  Illinois (27)

What went right: Ron Zook added depth with this
class and at least one prospect who if healthy could turn out to be a
huge steal, Dondi Kirby (Monroeville, Pa./Gateway).  Kirby is coming off
knee surgery, but when healthy
is a great prospect.  Zook also landed a QB prospect with outstanding
potential in Reilly O’Toole (Wheaton, Ill./Warrenville South).

What went wrong: Zook did not sign any of the top
level prospects from the state of Illinois.

Top commitment: Athlete Jon Davis (Louisville,
Ky./Eastern) who is the No. 138 prospect on the ESPNU 150

Comment: Other than Ohio, Illinois is the
Midwest state with the most prep football talent.  If Zook can land some
of the top level guys in the Illinois class of 2012 it would be a huge
help to his program.

Previous ranking: 8

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7.  Wisconsin (20)

What went right: Coach Bret Bielema did an excellent job of locking down the talent in the state of Wisconsin
including RB Melvin Gordon (Kenosha, Wis./Bradford) who switched his
commitment from Iowa to Wisconsin in early December.  Bielema also
landed some talented prospects from Pennsylvania, Illinois and Ohio.

What went wrong: Bielema missed out on TE Nick
O’Leary (West Palm Beach, Fla./Dwyer) who he made a strong run at.

Top commitment: RB Melvin Gordon

Comment: It would be huge for Bielema if
he could land QB Jacoby Brissett (West Palm Beach, Fla./Dwyer) who is
expected to announce tonight whether he has picked Wisconsin or Miami.

Previous ranking: 5

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6.  Penn State (16)

What went right: Joe Paterno had a limited number of
scholarships available this
year, but he did pretty well quality wise including signing Under Armour
All-American offensive lineman Angelo Mangiro (Succasunna,
N.J./Roxbury) who is the No. 54 prospect on the ESPNU 150, as well as
three very good defensive linemen in Shawn Oakman (Lansdowne, Pa./Penn
Wood), Deion Barnes (Philadelphia, Pa./Northeast) and defensive end
Anthony Zettel (West Branch/Ogemaw Heights).  Paterno also landed
‘athlete’ Bill Belton (Atco, N.J./Winslow Township) the No. 132 prospect
on the ESPNU 150.

What went wrong: While Paterno landed Oakman and
Barnes, overall he did not have a good year recruiting in his home
state.

Top commitment: Angelo Mangiro

Comment: At one point it looked like
Paterno’s 2011 class might be a disaster, but the dean of Big Ten
coaches made a nice comeback to land a solid class.

Previous ranking:  7

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5.  Michigan State (21)

What went right: Mark Dantonio landed ESPNU 150
linebacker and Under Armour All-American Lawrence Thomas (Detroit,
Mich./Renaissance) and did a pretty good job in-state overall.  He also
went into the talent rich state of Ohio and landed some solid prospects.

What went wrong: Dantonio missed out on ESPNU 150
wide receiver DeAnthony Arnett (Saginaw, Mich./Saginaw) as well as ESPNU
150 defensive back Doran Grant (Akron, Ohio/St. Vincent-St. Mary) whose
dad was a very good wide receiver for the Spartans.

Top commitment: Linebacker Lawrence Thomas

Comment: It will be interesting to watch
the in-state recruiting battles in 2012 between Dantonio and Michigan
coach Brady Hoke.

Previous ranking: 4

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4.  Michigan (20)

What went right: The Wolverines lost some
outstanding prospects who had committed to Rich Rodriguez when Rich Rod
was fired including Demetrius Hart (Orlando, Fla./Dr. Phillips) the No.
79 prospect on the ESPNU 150, and defensive back Dallas Crawford (Fort Myers, Fla./South Fort
Myers) who is No. 144 on the ESPNU 150.  However, new coach Brady Hoke
finished better than could be expected after being hired so late.  He
added half a dozen prospects to the class and was able to keep DB Blake
Countess (Olney, Md./Good Counsel) in the fold.

What went wrong: The defections of Hart (to
Alabama), Crawford (to Miami) and OL Jacob Fisher (Traverse City,
Mich./West) to Oregon were big losses.  Also loosing out to Penn State
for DE Anthony Zettel (West Branch, Mich./Ogemaw Heights) stung as
Zettel grew up a Michigan fan.

Top commitment: DE Brennan Beyer (Canton,
Mich./Plymouth)

Comment: Hoke’s biggest ‘get’ was landing
Greg Mattison to be his defensive coordinator.  Mattison will help
improve a porous Michigan defense and he is one of the country’s top
recruiting assistant coaches.

Previous ranking: 6

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3.  Iowa (23)

What went right: With the exception of DE Christian
French (Cedar Rapids, Iowa/Kennedy), Kirk Ferentz landed the top
prospects in-state he wanted.  He also landed some talented prospects
from Illinois, Wisconsin and Ohio including RB/LB Rodney Coe
(Edwardsville, Ill./Edwardsville).

What went wrong: Missing out on French (to Oregon)
stung as did the defection of RB Melvin Gordon (Kenosha, Wis./Bradford)
who changed his commitment from Iowa to Wisconsin.

Top commitment: OL Austin Blythe (Williamsburg,
Iowa/Williamsburg)

Comment: Ferentz has done very well with
some recruiting classes that were not highly ranked.  He should do very
well with this group.

Previous ranking: 3

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2.  Nebraska (19)

What went right: This class is led by a great
running back prospect in Aaron Green (San Antonio, Texas/James Madison)
as well as two outstanding quarterback prospects in QB/Ath Bubba
Starling (Gardner, Kan./Gardner Edgerton) and Jamal Turner (Arlington,
Texas/Sam Houston).  An outstanding group of five offensive linemen to
block for Green, Starling and Turner is also headed to Nebraska
including Tyler Moore (Clearwater, Fla./Countryside).  Green, Starling
and defensive back Charles Jackson (Klein, Texas/Klein) are all ESPNU
150 prospects.

What went wrong: TE/LB Darien Bryant (Pickerington,
Ohio/North) de-committed shortly after committing to the Cornhuskers and
overall the Cornhuskers did not have a great finish and did not close
the gap on Ohio State coach Jim Tressel’s top rated Big Ten class.

Top commitment: RB Aaron Green (San Antonio,
Texas/James Madison) who is the No. 11 prospect on the ESPNU 150

Comment: Now that the Cornhuskers are in
the Big Ten it will be interesting to see if their recruiting shifts
with more emphasis on the Midwest.  I predict it will.

Previous ranking: 2

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1.  Ohio State (23)

What went right: So much went right for the Buckeyes
as Jim Tressel landed another Top 10 class nationally.  Tressel for the
most part cleaned up in the state of Ohio missing out on just two
prospects he offered.  Tressel also went out-of-state to land some super
talent including Army All-American linebacker Curtis Grant (Richmond,
Va./Hermitage), Under Armour All-American linebacker Ryan Shazier
(Plantation, Fla./Plantation) and ESPNU 150 wide receiver prospect Evan
Spencer (Vernon Hills, Ill./Vernon Hills).  In all Tressel signed seven
prospects from the ESPNU 150.

What went wrong: Very little went wrong, but the
Buckeyes would have loved to have landed offensive lineman Aundrey
Walker (Cleveland, Ohio/Glenville) who announced on National Signing Day
that he selected USC over Ohio State, and Under Armour All-American
defensive back Darius Jennings (Baltimore, Md./Gilman) who picked
Virginia over Ohio State on the same day.

Top commitment: Under Armour All-American
quarterback Braxton Miller (Huber Heights, Ohio/Wayne)

Comment: The Buckeyes are already off to a
great start for 2012 with five early commitments.  All five are among
the top prospects in the state of Ohio.

Previous ranking: 1

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