Ohio State, Michigan recruiting rates 1-2 in Big Ten

Ohio State, Michigan recruiting rates 1-2 in Big Ten
February 7, 2013, 12:30 pm
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Ohio State coach Urban Meyer didn't have to spend time preparing for a postseason bowl game because of NCAA sanctions. So he concentrated on recruiting one of the best freshman classes in the nation. Just another case of the rich getting richer.

While Ohio State and Michigan dominated the recruiting sweepstakes -- what else is new? -- there was good news on the local front. Although Illinois' first-year coach Tim Beckman suffered through a 2-10 season, losing the last nine games in a row, he managed to sign a better-than-average class that could avoid such nightmares in the future.

Meanwhile, Ohio State and Michigan signed two of the Top 10 classes in the nation. In fact, the Buckeyes and Wolverines were so dominant that longtime recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS Sports Network said he wouldn't bother to rate the rest of the recruiting classes in the Big Ten.

"Ohio State and Michigan are 1-2 and then you can shake up the rest and pull them out of a hat," Lemming said. "They are all pretty close, not a lot of talent. They haven't recruited like the other conferences. After the top two, the other 10 schools are so weak, it doesn't make any sense to rank them."

Lemming compares Meyer to Alabama's Nick Saban and former USC coach Pete Carroll in their approach to recruiting...relentless, almost ruthless, aggressive, hard work, personality.

"Meyer has the state of Ohio locked in. And, traditionally, it is one of the best states in the country for high school talent," Lemming said. "He recruits his home state and then goes after No. 1 draft choices around the country."

Meanwhile, other Big Ten coaches still are trying to figure out a way to catch Ohio State and Michigan in the recruiting sweepstakes. Remember when observers thought the gap would be narrowed when perennial national powers Penn State and Nebraska were persuaded to join the conference? Based on this year's returns, the gap has widened. Only one other Big Ten school ranks in the top 35.

"The Big Ten has to expand its horizons and bring in kids from Florida, Texas and California," Lemming said. "They aren't as fast or as big or as strong or have as much depth as SEC schools or other nationally-ranked programs.

"And Big Ten schools must show more loyalty and patience to coaches so they can develop programs. Instead, alumni panic after two or three years and the program is left with no consistency. There is a perpetual downward spiral by changing coaches all the time."

Here is how the Big Ten recruiting classes shape up:

1.  Ohio State: Meyer put a lid on an outstanding class on Monday by getting a commitment from highly prized athlete Dontae Wilson, who had decommitted from Oregon and was considering Texas, and signing safety Vonn Bell on Wednesday. He also landed two of the top players in Texas, linebacker Mike Mitchell and quarterback J.T. Barrett. Mitchell was committed to Texas but was wooed by Meyer to Ohio State.
2.  Michigan: Coach Brady Hoke recruited five Top 100 players -- running back Derrick Green, quarterback Shane Morris, defensive tackle Henry Poggi, offensive lineman Kyle Bosch of Wheaton St. Francis and linebacker Mike McCray. He also got offensive lineman Logan Tuley-Tillman of Peoria Manual. Griffin reminds of the pro-style ball-carriers that former coach Lloyd Carr used to recruit.

3.  Nebraska: To bolster the offensive line, the Cornhuskers signed 6-foot-7, 305-pound Matt Finnin from College of DuPage. They also got five 4-star recruits -- linebacker Josh Banderas, defensive end Randy Gregory, linebacker Marcus Newby and running backs Terrell Newby and Adam Taylor.

4.  Penn State: Coach Bill O'Brien landed three top 100 players--tight end Adam Breneman, quarterback Christian Hackenberg and defensive end Garrett Sickels. He also got an outstanding offensive lineman in 6-foot-5, 315-pound Brendon Mahon.

5.  Wisconsin: The Badgers signed one top 100 recruit, defensive end Alex James. They got two Illinois products, offensive lineman Jack Keeler of Barrington and linebacker Garrett Dooley of Rochester. Three others to watch are running back Corey Clement, defensive end Chikwe Obasih and defensive back Keelon Brookins.

6.  Michigan State: The Spartans landed one Chicago recruit, 6-foot-5, 220-pound defensive end Demetrius Cooper from Julian. And they signed three four-star players -- linebackers Shane Jones and Jon Reschke and quarterback Damian Terry.

7.  Indiana: Coach Kevin Wilson made the most of his class, signing one of the best Hoosier classes in recent years. He landed tight end Danny Friend of Morris and four four-star players -- defensive back Antonio Allen, defensive tackle Darius Latham, defensive end David Kenney and athlete Rashard Fant.

8.  Illinois: Beckman lost one of his best recruiters, Luke Butkus, but his aggressive approach landed quarterback Aaron Bailey of Bolingbrook, running back Kendrick Foster of Peoria Richwoods, athlete Caleb Day of Hillard, Ohio, defensive end Paul James of Miami, Florida and defensive tackle Merrick Jackson of Belleville Althoff. He also signed five promising junior college players. But the Illini lost linebacker Reggie Spearman of Simeon to Iowa.

9.  Northwestern: Quarterback Matt Alviti of Maine South is the Wildcats' best recruit, their only four-star signee. Coach Pat Fitzgerald also landed four other Chicago area players -- offensive linemen Blake King of Minooka and Tyler Lancaster of Plainfield East and athletes Matt Harris of Lyons and Tom Fuessel of Lincoln-Way East, who decommitted from Northern Illinois. Also watch athletes Godwin Igwebuike and Kyle Queiro and tight end Jamie Taylor.

10.  Purdue: The Boilermakers signed three Illinois products -- defensive tackle Johnny Daniels of Foreman, defensive end Evan Panfil of Lincoln-Way Central and athlete John Strausser, a 6-foot-4, 235-pounder from St. Thomas More in Champaign. Panfil decommitted from Illinois. Quarterback Danny Etling is the only four-star recruit.

11.  Iowa: Coach Kirk Ferentz is eager to rebuild his program and return the Hawkeyes to the level they once were. He signed three Illinois products -- linebacker Reggie Spearman from Simeon, offensive lineman Colin Goebel from Naperville North and wide receiver Derrick Willies from Rock Island. Spearman had committed to Illinois, then changed his mind.

12.  Minnesota: A tough year, on and off the field, for former Northern Illinois coach Jerry Kill. But he was cheered by the signing of quarterback Chris Streveler from Marian Central and running back Berkley Edwards. He also got two talented wide receivers in Eric Carter and Drew Wolitarsky and a big-time linebacker in De'Niro Laster.