Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011
By Mike Clark
1. Ohio State: Don't expect the Buckeyes to fall from their perch atop the conference anytime soon. They have one of the top five classes nationally, one which mines Ohio's rich vein of prep talent but also includes three players from Florida and two from Illinois: Fremd OL Brian Bobek and Vernon Hills WR Evan Spencer.
2. Nebraska: The Cornhuskers are still focusing on their traditional base in the Big 12 region, with five players from Texas. But with their impending move to the Big Ten, they're also making inroads into the Midwest with Sacred Heart-Griffin OL Ryan Klachko from Illinois and a couple players from Ohio.
3. Iowa: Coach Kirk Ferentz went far and wide for this deep, talented class, targeting Texas, the East Coast and Illinois among others. The group includes Glenbard West OL Jordan Walsh and Thornridge RB Mikail McCall along with Edwardsville's multi-talented Rodney Coe.
4. Michigan: New coach Brady Hoke hit the ground running and snagged one prominent late commitment from Simeon OL Chris Bryant. The rest of the class leans heavily on players from Michigan and Ohio, including one of the nation's premier all-purpose backs: Justice Hayes of Grand Blanc, Mich.
5. Michigan State: Like their state rival, the Spartans put together a class heavy on players from Michigan and Ohio, though Canada and New Mexico also are represented. Hinsdale Central OL Jack Allen was an early commit.
6. Penn State: One of the conference's smaller recruiting classes is heavy on linemen, especially on the defensive side. The Nittany Lions didn't target the Chicago area this year; the closest they have to an area recruit is kicker Sam Ficken from Valparaiso, Ind.
7. Illinois: Probably no school had a bigger improvement from last year to this year than the Illini. They were aggressive in the Chicago area and came away with a strong group led by Sun-Times Player of the Year Reilly O'Toole, the Wheaton Warrenville South QB. But the talent doesn't end there: keep an eye on DB Dondi Kirby from Monroeville, Pa., Gateway and 5-11, 215-pound RB Donovonn Young from Katy, Texas.
8. Wisconsin: The Badgers stayed close to home, getting commitments from eight Wisconsin players, and dipped into the seemingly endless talent pool in Ohio. They also picked up one of the Public League's rising stars in Curie DE James Adeyanju.
9. Northwestern: Though the Wildcats' academics allow them to recruit nationally with commitments from California to Texas to New Jersey, they paid plenty of attention to their own backyard. Richards' versatile Jarrell Williams and Ols Matt Frazier of Bishop McNamara and Jack Konopka of Fremd lead the local list.
10. Indiana: New coach Kevin Wilson landed one of the nation's top linebackers in Zack Shaw of Coshocton, Ohio. Prospect OL Peyton Eckert is the Hoosiers' lone Chicago-area signee.
11. Minnesota: The Gophers lost Naperville North TE Matt LaCosse to Illinois after the firing of coach Tim Brewster, but kept twin brothers Kyle and Luke McAvoy, a pair of offensive linemen from Bloomington.
12. Purdue: It's been a rough spell for the Boilermakers, with just 13 wins in the past three seasons, and the conference's smallest recruiting class may not offer a lot of help. Purdue did grab one of the leaders of Homewood-Flossmoor's 2010 turnaround in 6-4, 300-pound defensive tackle Michael Rouse III.