Big Ten football signing day breakdown: Here's where Iowa Hawkeyes' class ranks
The Big Ten made noise on the first day of the NCAA's three-day early signing period.
Iowa, which usually goes under the radar on this day, had a strong showing in the league.
Maryland pulled off a stunner when it convinced five-star receiver Rakim Jarrett to spurn LSU in favor of the Terrapins.
Scott Frost hauled in a sack full of four-star prospects, showing Nebraska can be a force on the recruiting trail even when it isn't winning.
And Ohio State reclaimed its perch as the conference's recruiting champion.
With that in mind, here's where each school ranks in the Big Ten after Wednesday:
Ohio State still at the top
The Buckeyes have been the conference's most consistent recruiting power for a decade, and there were no signs of slowing down in 2020 class after Ryan Day replaced Urban Meyer. OSU jumped to No. 3 in the 247Sports Composite team rankings after adding California four-star quarterback CJ Stroud on Wednesday, easily tops in the conference. They have nine prospects ranked in the top 100, and are the favorite to add a 10th on Thursday when four-star California cornerback Clark Phillips III announces. The rest of the Big Ten combined has six top-100 prospects.
Michigan and Penn State still No. 2 and No. 3
The Wolverines and Nittany Lions signed the Big Ten's top two classes in 2019, and so far this cycle have the Big Ten's No. 2- and No. 3-ranked classes. This year's ranking continues the more typical trend in which Michigan and Penn State finish right behind Ohio State. In 2018, Penn State ranked No. 2 in the Big Ten and Michigan was No. 3; in 2017, the order was flipped. Just as the Buckeyes are the premier recruiting power in the conference, Michigan and Penn State are having the next-most success, with the Wolverines ranking 11th nationally for 2020 and the Nittany Lions ranking 12th.
Frost impressing at Nebraska
Scott Frost has the No. 4 class in the Big Ten and is on track to sign his third straight top-25 class. Nebraska has nine commitments ranked as four-stars, after plucking four-star safety Jaiden Francois and four-star receiver Marcus Fleming out of Miami on Wednesday. The haul gives Nebraska's class the most four-star recruits in the conference after Ohio State (14), Michigan (13) and Penn State (11). It's an impressive job by Frost, who dipped down into his Southern ties to also land four-star linebacker Keyshawn Greene, four-star safety Henry Gray, Francois and Fleming from Florida, four-star receiver Omar Manning from Texas and four-star quarterback Logan Smothers from Alabama.
Ranking the classes
There could still be some movement as schools gain or lose commitments in the weeks before the February signing day. Here are the rankings as of Wednesday:
1. Ohio State
The Buckeyes signed the nation's No. 1 wide receiver in Julian Fleming, and might have compiled one of the greatest receiver classes of all time. Each of their four receivers rank in the top-100, with Fleming (No. 2 overall) joining Jaxon Smith-Njigba (No. 33), Gee Scott Jr. (No. 62) and Mookie Cooper (No. 82). It's a class that should give Big Ten secondaries fits for years to come. Ohio State also landed the nation's No. 1 offensive tackle (Paris Johnson Jr.) and four-star Arizona quarterback Jack Miller — pretty important, considering 2020 may be Justin Fields' last season.
The strength of the Wolverines' class lies on defense, where seven of their 10 top-ranked signees project. But offensive coordinator Josh Gattis also added speed on offense and replenished the cupboards with dynamic playmakers such as receivers A.J. Henning (an accomplished sprinter), Roman Wilson (who ran an electronically timed 4.37 40-yard dash) and Eamonn Dennis (an explosive two-way playmaker) and running back Blake Corum, a bowling ball of a back with 4.4 speed.
3. Penn State
The Nittany Lions have done an excellent job recruiting rangy, athletic linebackers in recent cycles (Micah Parsons, Lance Dixon and Brandon Smith come to mind) and Curtis Jacobs, their top-ranked commitment, continues that tradition at "Linebacker U." Running backs coach Ja'Juan Seider also did a great job in his home-state of Florida, helping land four-star athlete Caziah Holmes and four-star running back Keyvone Lee.
The Cornhuskers have excelled with smaller, speedier receivers like Wandale Robinson and JD Spielman, and they added the next in line Wednesday in Miami Northwestern four-star Marcus Fleming. But they also add a couple bigger, rangier outside receivers with this class in four-stars Zavier Betts and Omar Manning. This is a superb recruiting job by Scott Frost, especially considering the lack of on-field success.
Trey Wedig and Jack Nelson look like the next great Wisconsin offensive linemen. The Badgers also brought in six linebackers, including Nick Herbig, from Hawaii, and Malik Reed, from Arizona. Wisconsin landed four-star outside linebacker Kaden Johnson early Wednesday morning — a big recruiting win over Nebraska, Oregon State and Minnesota, among others.
The Hawkeyes dug deep to land nine players on the offensive or defensive lines. Four-star defensive ends Logan Jones and Deontae Craig replenish the cupboard with A.J. Epenesa leaving for the NFL after this season. And in keeping tradition, Iowa landed a pair of tall, rangy tight ends in Ohio three-star Luke Lachey and Texas three-star Elijah Yelverton. It's a typical Kirk Ferentz class: Low on star power, high on upside.
Brycen Hopkins had a hugely successful senior season, and Oak Park tight end Maliq Carr could be the Boilers' next weapon in the passing game. Carr, one of two four-star recruits in Purdue's class, was one of four players the Boilers plucked out of Michigan, along with defensive tackle Bryce Austin, athlete Anthony Romphf and receiver Abdur-Rahmaan Yaseen, who flipped from Northwestern. One sleeper pick: Marcellus Moore, a high school track star, has the to be an explosive playmaker.
The Terrapins pulled off the biggest coup in the nation Wednesday by flipping five-star receiver Rakim Jarrett from No. 1 LSU. Mike Locksley had been struggling to recruit in-state, which made signing Jarrett a statement recruiting victory that could pay off with future classes. Jarrett is the third-highest ranked signee in the Big Ten, after Ohio State's Julian Fleming and Paris Johnson. The Terrapins also landed four-star linebacker Ruben Hyppolite II out of Florida.
Minnesota's best season in a generation produced a solid but not stellar class. Fleck, a former receiver and receivers coach, brought in a deep and talented group that should help supplement Rashod Bateman, the Gophers' third-team All-American receiver. Four-star Daniel Jackson leads the receiver class, and St. Louis outside linebacker Itayvion Brown looks like a player who could contribute early. The Gophers' defense got a boost when three-star defensive end Jah Joyner flipped to Minnesota from Boston College.
Four-star center Peter Skoronski had some big offers and is the fourth highest-ranked prospect Northwestern has ever landed, according to 247Sports. He could be a mainstay up front for years. Pat Fitzgerald won some other impressive recruiting battles for players such as guard Josh Priebe and linebacker Cullen Coleman.
11. Michigan State
The Spartans struggled to recruit in-state and didn't land a single four-star prospect this cycle. Still, there are plenty of under-the-radar prospects who will make an impact down the road. Ian Stewart is a big-bodied receiver who could also play safety or even linebacker. Angelo Grose is a speedy defensive back who could be a star at cornerback. Mark Dantonio called it a "typical class." And that feels about right.
Tom Allen landed a few difference-makers in this class. Rashawn Williams, a four-star prospect who starred at Detroit King, could make an immediate impact at receiver. Indiana did a great job of going south to build its class — defensive tackle Damarjhe Lewis should help beef up the interior of the defensive line.
A somewhat small class with a few impact players at the skill positions: receivers Jadon Thompson, who will sign in February, and James Frenchie and running back Reggie Love are the top prospects. The addition of former Trinity Catholic coach Cory Patterson continues to pay dividends, as he helped land Frenchie and Love, who both attend that school.
Greg Schiano really hit the ground running, but it's a difficult job that will make recruiting very hard, as other Big Ten schools have successfully recruited New Jersey the past few years. Schiano landed nine players in December as part of a 16-man class. New Jersey athlete Tyreem Powell is the top prospect in the class at No. 765 nationally.