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B1G National Signing Day 2016

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Harvesting Talent in the Heartland and Beyond

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Harvest: a word rich with meaning in the land of the B1G, where it conjures images of silos brimming with the bounty of verdant fields (and/or of a creepy storefront church). While we the fans have been polishing chairs with our backsides since early January, our football staffs have been pounding the pavement in hopes in bringing in a bumper crop of new talent destined for Saturday heroics.

The arrival of Urban Meyer at Ohio State breathed new life into a moribund B1G recruiting culture. While some decry his methods as "SEC tactics" (a term that falls in the same category as "assault rifle" in that it has no definition but is nevertheless a well-worn pejorative), the fact is that he wins because he recruits. He recruits because he wins. Such is the reality of college football today.

If you want to win, you have to recruit with abandon. To that end, Urban Meyer is hardly alone. James Franklin has pulled in multiple highly-ranked classes at PSU. Jim Harbaugh has attacked recruiting with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind. Literally. He's sleeping at recruits' houses. The B1G of old has been churned under by the treads of the diabolical recruiting machine. Call it SEC. Call it whatever you want. For the first time in a long time, the B1G is blazing a trail to the talent and sealing the deal.

Bring on the harvest!


The Wheat

**Numbers and Rankings as of February 2nd**

1. Ohio State - 23 Recruits // National Rank: 2

Who to be excited about: Nick Bosa comes to Columbus to continue the legacy his older brother started. Despite coming off ACL surgery, he's expected to be as good or better than Big Bear. OSU also landed two solid WR talents in Austin Mack and Binjimen Victor, who will eventually bolster what was probably the weakest unit on last year's offense. Lastly, the most talked-about pick-up was the double whammy of Maryland recruits Dwayne Haskins and Keandre Jones flipping to Ohio State. Former Wisconsin commit Antonio Williams rounds out the class at running back.

Biggest miss: While it seemed that OSU was seriously in the mix for Rashan Gary, it looks as though he's probably headed to Michigan. Given OSU's needs at DT in the future, he would've been a great grab. He's the top player in this year's class, so that sort of goes without saying.

2. Michigan - 25 Recruits // National Rank: 6

Who to be excited about: Rashan Gary. No, he hasn't announced his decision yet, but Harbaugh's hiring of the kid's high school coach points to this being a done deal. Harbaugh also landed a 4-star pro style standout in Brandon Peters. Start your Andrew Luck comparisons now. To complement him in the backfield, Michigan grabbed the #4 ranked running back in this year's class, Kareem Walker.

Biggest miss: Erik Swenson. Not for the talent, but for the PR nightmare that has unfolded since.

Outstanding Recruit: Rashan Gary

3. Penn State - 20 Recruits // National Rank: 13

Who to be excited about: Miles Sanders, a 5-star recruit ranked #1 at the running back position. He looks to be the solution to the drought of ball-carrying talent that plagued PSU in recent years. That's a huge win for the Franklion and could be the key to jump-starting an offense that too often tried to live and die by the bubble screen. He'll run behind #1 ranked offensive guard Michal Menet and # ranked center Connor McGovern. On the defensive side of the ball, Maryland star DE Shane Simmons rounds out a class loaded with talent in the trenches--which is where PSU needs it most.

Biggest miss: Given the haranguing by fans and foes alike about the performance under center, it's a tad surprising that PSU didn't push harder on a top QB recruit. Instead, Franklin landed a 3-start pro style commit in Jake Zembiec. Not terrible, but if QB play remains spotty down the road the fans will remember.

**UPDATE: 4-star Safety and PSU legacy Andrew Pryts flips to Stanford.**

4. Michigan State - 20 Recruits: 14

Who to be excited about: A foursome of WR talent looks to have potential for instant impacts in East Lansing. While none is a top-ten recruit at the position, all are 4-star talents and likely caught the eye of Dantonio (a man known for finding gems on a coal face) for good reason. The OL positions look strong as well, with two strong 3-stars out of the Columbus, OH, area and a third from NJ. Ohio was also good to Mike D'antoni's search for the next Connor Cook. He landed Messiah DeWeaver, the #11 ranked pro style QB out Dayton. Lastly, the MSU defensive line remains a core competency of the staff. Josh King and Austin Robertson are both top-ten prospects and will someday mix it up in the trenches for the Green & White.

Biggest Miss: "I wouldn't call him a miss per se because MSU didn't really recruit him, but I do wonder if they should have made instate RB Martell Pettaway a higher priority. My recollection is he was viewed as a Spartan lean early on, but the staff looked elsewhere and now there's no tailback in the class." -Andrew Kraszewski

5. Nebraska - 21 Recruits // National Rank: 24

Who to be excited about: Mike Riley, you magnificent bastard. The California pipeline looks to be in full effect for the second-year Mr. Congeniality Award Winner and Head Husker. Top-ten safety recruit Marquel Dismuke could be the first of many prospects to flow in from the talent-rich climes of Calabasas, CA. Pro style QB recruit Patrick O'Brien and Dismuke's #5 ranked counterpart Lamar Jackson also call the sunshine state home.

Biggest miss: I dare say none. Riley has achieved what everyone said both had to be done and could not be done: recruited from far and wide to fill the locker room in Lincoln recruits from three coasts and the heartland spell good things for the future of Husker football.

The Chaff

6. Wisconsin - 26 Recruits // National Rank: 30

Who to be excited about: There aren't a ton of top-ranked standouts in this class, but overall Chryst has achieved a nice spread of talent across the board. In true B1G fashion his only top-ten ranked recruit is Anthony Lotti, the #4 punter in the nation. Nonetheless, he pulled in solid performers at key positions. Cole Van Lanen and Patrick Kasl look to be the next building blocks in the Wisconsin tradition of a bulldozing offensive line. Noah Burks and Griffin Grady will fill in the junior ranks at linebacker. Lastly, 4-star athlete commit A.J. Taylor could be the centerpiece in an offense that will do more than just grind out yards on the ground.

Biggest miss: Antonio Williams. Enough said.

7. Minnesota - 19 Recruits // National Rank: 41

Who to be excited about: Despite being only thee-star recruits, Minnesota landed the #10 ranked dual threat QB in Seth Green out of Allen, TX. His future protection comes in the form of Garrison Wright and Vincent Calhoun, both of whom are top ten guards. The Ski-U-Mah crowd should also be happy to have landed a quality weak-side DE in Tai'yon Devers.

Biggest miss: Dedrick Snelson, probably. Losing out to UCF would hurt on a number of levels.

8. Iowa - 24 Recruits // National Rank: 45th

Who to be excited about: QB Nate Stanley, not only because of his actual talents, but because he was stolen from a Wisconsin program that hasn't seen a QB of their own in years. Say, isn't this article sponsored by Enterprise? Maybe Wisconsin should just rent another QB. It worked once, right? Anyhow, Iowa...the Hawkeyes are wafer-thin at DE and recruits Cedric Lattimore and Romeo McKnight could see early field time.

Biggest miss: Not a single 4-star recruit or top-20 position prospect. Old Kirk is dead?

9. Maryland - 19 Recruits // National Rank: 47

Who to be excited about: Durkin has addressed two of Maryland's biggest deficiencies. He filled out the missing depth on the offensive line with two 4-star OG talents in Terrance Davis and Richard Merritt. The new coach backed that play with two three-star OTs, Terek Zingale and Brian Plummer. Secondly, he bolstered the flagging secondary with four 3-star commits, two each at safety and cornerback.

Biggest miss: Haskins and Jones discovered that Old Bay is sold in literally every supermarket in America, and they took their show on the road.

Outstanding prospect: 4-star DE Terrell Hall, a likely Bama commit.

10. Northwestern - 20 Recruits

Who to be excited about: RB Jeremy Larkin could be a Justin Jackson who actually scores TDs. Fitzgerald also managed to grab some 3-star receivers, which was a position that seemed non-existent at times last year. Three-star pro style QB Aidan Smith seems like an odd fit in an offense that has relied so heavily on the dual threat signal caller, and he may indicate the shape of things to come in Evanston.

Biggest miss: No punter. That is not a good thing for Northwestern.

The Manure

11. Indiana - 18 Recruits // National Rank: 61

What gives us hope: Three safety commits! And a DT commit! They're all three-star, too. Defense may yet come to an IU game near you!

12. Illinois - 24 Recruits // National Rank: 67

What isn't a stake through the heart of the program: Not a whole lot, honestly. To have this many recruits and be so low is rough. Probably the one bright spot of note is that Cubit's staff put a lot of effort into finding a QB and landed a good number of recruits on both sides of the line. Illinois got pushed around on offense up front last year, though their D-line looked surprisingly athletic at times. Every little bit helps...the next coach after Cubit falls on his sword in Chambana.

13. Rutgers - 16 Recruits // National Rank: 71

Why it's not that bad: Chris Ash got a late start after the Fiesta Bowl, and the truth of the matter is that this program is a dumpster fire on wheels after the Flood era. While he didn't land anyone you'd call a top recruit, he did cement commitments from Tennessee QB Tylin Oden (who piloted his team to a 3-7 record) and snagged a grad transfer from Michigan. He also lost several recruits to Pitt. Baby steps in Piscataway.

14. Purdue - 18 Recruits // National Rank: 82

Why they're still alive: WDE Austin Larkin, a JUCO cat from San Francisco. Other than that, they're pretty much out of Schlitz as usual. Most of their hard commits didn't make the national ranking list, though.

The High-Hanging Fruit

Of the eleven remaining top-25 players in the 247sports composite listing, the B1G is in the running only one. That one happens to be Rashan Gary, which could move Michigan up several spots in the final ranking. Overall, though, what you see is what you're getting for top talent this year. Don't expect too many crazy signing day flips in the B1G's favor. Though I wouldn't take your eyes off Urban Meyer. He's ESS EEE SEEE, Pawwwl.

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