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Bobby Carpenter: A Big Day For The Big Ten

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It’s bowl season.

It’s portal season.

It’s hiring and firing season.

In the midst of all of this, it’s also the early signing period, which this year, falls between Wednesday, December 15th and Friday, December 17th. The early signing period was initially created for the select recruits who had been committed to their school for months. It would help secure a spot for those recruits and alleviate the pressure on coaches to nurse some recruits to National Signing Day on the first week of February.

We can debate the merit of the early signing period and whether it’s still even necessary. But that’s not for today. This is about examining the Big Ten recruiting classes and determining who has positioned themselves to make a push not only to win the conference, but to compete nationally. 

Ohio State secured their usual spot at the top, but who else made a push and were there any surprises? Here are the 247 Sports recruiting rankings for the Big Ten (National Ranking):

  1. Ohio State (4)
  2. Penn State (6)
  3. Michigan (9)
  4. Indiana (20)
  5. Michigan State (21)
  6. Iowa (25)
  7. Rutgers (27)
  8. Maryland (28)
  9. Purdue (38)
  10. Minnesota (43)
  11. Illinois (44)
  12. Northwestern (46)
  13. Wisconsin (49)
  14. Nebraska (56)

Spots 2-5 are all important and interesting in their own unique ways. Penn State usually finishes near the top of the Big Ten rankings but coming off a subpar recruiting season in 2020 and a few disappointing finishes the past few years, HC James Franklin needed to regain his mojo with a top 10 finish nationally. The gem of their class is QB Drew Allar, a 5-star QB from Medina, Ohio whom Franklin was able to poach out of the Buckeye state.

Michigan was able to ride their strong season to a top 10 national ranking. HC Jim Harbaugh has historically recruited fairly well, but coming off a Big Ten Championship, this just feels a little different for the Wolverines.

The 4th and 5th spots in the conference belong the Indiana and Michigan State respectively. Not only did Indiana snag the 4th spot in the Big Ten, but they were also able to garner the 20th spot nationally. While internet rankings only go back to the advent of the internet, this is by far the highest landing spot for the Hoosiers. Despite a disappointing 2021 season, they were able to ride the momentum of 2020 and hopefully replenish the talent that had been building the previous few seasons. 

Michigan State built their 2021 success on portal shopping. HC Mel Tucker took over during the COVID shortened 2020 season and had massive holes to fill coming into 2021. He was able to patch the roster with a number of transfers, most notably star RB Kenneth Walker III. While Tucker had success with the transfer portal, it isn’t the way he wants to build a program. The transfer portal does a great job of patching holes, but it’s not the way great teams are built. For Mel Tucker to put together the 21st rated recruited class nationally was a huge coup for the Spartans. He will continue to fill roster holes with transfers, but this was the solid roster base he needed. 

While Ohio State secured the top spot once again, it’s a great omen for the Big Ten that there were 6 teams ranked in the Top 25 of the national recruiting rankings. With the addition of Name Image and Likeness, the transfer portal and potentially Playoff expansion, it will be imperative for the Big Ten to establish itself as one of the premier conferences in college football, along with the SEC. This recruiting season went a long way to securing it.

Written by Bobby Carpenter

Bobby Carpenter is the resident college football expert at OutKick. He played linebacker for the Ohio State Buckeyes and won a National Championship in 2002. He played in the NFL for Dallas, Miami, Detroit and New England. Carpenter is a radio host on 97.1 The Fan in Columbus, Ohio, where he currently resides with his wife Cortney and their four children.

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