The long, long wait is over as the first two-time national signing day periods have come to a close. Some Big Ten teams have been done since December, others picked up commitments in the final weeks, days and hours leading up to national signing day and still others had to wait until Feb. 7 to make it happen.
With everyone done for the 2018 football recruiting classes across the Big Ten, it’s now time to take stock of what happened, who won, who lost and everything in between.
Let’s dive in to what you need to know about the 2018 Big Ten football recruiting haul.
Biggest Winner: Ohio State
Urban Meyer and Co. continue to rule the roost when it comes to recruiting in the Big Ten, picking up the No. 1 class in the conference and the No. 2 class in the country. It was a huge battle between the Buckeyes and Georgia Bulldogs, but ultimately the SEC team narrowly beat out the Big Ten squad for the top spot in the country. That may seem like a loss in some respects, but Meyer and Co. continue to pace the conference when it comes to talent collection. This year’s class included 26 total recruits, including three 5-star players and a whopping 20 4-star players in the mix. That’s how you go about reloading instead of rebuilding every single year.
Biggest Loser: Michigan
It was a rough season on the field, going 8-5 after expectations of competing for a Big Ten East division title at the very least. But, as bad as things seemed on the field, Michigan lost more ground to their East division rivals on the recruiting trail. Michigan couldn’t pull in just about any of the big names they were in on heading in to the first signing period in December and even saw some of the biggest names on the commitment list flip in the final days and hours leading up to December’s signing period. Contrast U-M’s haul to Ohio State and you see why the Wolverines were the biggest loser. The Maize ‘n Blue signed not a single 5-star player and just seven 4-star players in a class that featured 19 total commitments. Harbaugh’s shine has worn off a bit on the recruiting trail, and is certainly a topic worth watching in the coming months as 2019 recruiting ramps up.
Biggest Steal on National Signing Day: Maurice Washington, RB (Nebraska)
— maurice washington 3 (@Mo_is_blessed) February 7, 2018
Chances are if you grew up in the 1990’s, running back at Nebraska would be a premier position. That hasn’t been the case as of late, but former 90’s legend, Scott Frost, is hell-bent on bringing that tradition back. He got a huge boost in that direction when 4-star running back Maurice Washington chose to sign with the Huskers on the 2nd national signing day. Nebraska has been devoid of big names at the position since Rex Burkhead and Ameer Abdullah roamed the same backfield. Washington is the No. 10 ranked running back in the 2018 class and joins JUCO No. 1 ranked running back Greg Bell in the mix for the Huskers. Those are quick upgrades at a position that needs to be strong for Frost’s offense to work in Lincoln. Oh, and did we mention he was the Under Armour All-American game MVP?
Biggest Loss of a Player: Jarrett Patterson, Notre Dame over Michigan
Michigan got burned for three of its top targets from December through national signing day, but no loss stings more than that of 4-star offensive tackle Jarrett Patterson. While it wasn’t a guarantee that Patterson was going to be a Wolverine, word on the street was that he was a heavy favorite to sign with Michigan. Then just last week Patterson eliminated the Wolverines completely from his list and bitter rival Notre Dame got the much-needed tackle in their midst. It was a huge blow to a program that struggled to get top tackles in the fold all recruiting cycle. Not only did Michigan take a loss to Notre Dame, they apparently couldn’t even come close in the end. We could’ve also gone with Otis Reese, who had committed to the Wolverines for over a year before flipping on national signing day to Georgia, helping the Bulldogs land the No. 1 overall class in the country. Not exactly a banner recruiting cycle in Ann Arbor.
Sleeper Class: Purdue
A look at the Boilermakers team rankings would suggest a mediocre class, but the devil is in the details for Jeff Brohm’s first complete class in West Lafayette. Purdue finished No. 11 in the conference with a class of 24 recruits. But, they were a top 50 recruiting class for the first time in forever and added some really intriguing pieces to the puzzle for Brohm to really jumpstart the program going forward. Heck, there was even the get of 4-star wide receiver Rondale Moore out of Louisville, Ky., giving the Boilermakers their first 4-star signee since Danny Etling back in the 2013 class. That is six classes between 4-star recruits for Purdue if you’re counting at home. Also, to put this class in perspective, in the hastily put together class last season, the average player rating was just a shade under 82, this season the average player rating bumped up 84.67. While names may not jump off the page at you just yet, don’t be surprised to see this class become the backbone of a vastly improved
The Big Ten only having four teams inside the Top 25 of the 247Sports team rankings seems a bit disappointing, but two of those four were inside the top 5 and having Nebraska sneak in to the Top 25 is a good sign for the conference. Wisconsin’s class was strong for its relatively low numbers and Minnesota, Maryland and Michigan State all had quality classes.
In total, the Big Ten put 11 teams inside the top 50 and that number included both Indiana and Purdue. It appears even the “bottom” of the Big Ten is recruiting at a level it never has before. That just means more potential for great competition in the years to come. As for recruiting, it also sets up the Big Ten to continue an upward trajectory that has been going on for the last few cycles. There are very few teams that can say they didn’t get better this recruiting cycle, and that is really all you can hope for.