Singing Day came and went on Wednesday, and with it, the end of the silly season where recruiting exists in a vacuum that — at least according to fans — fails to account for the other aspects that make a football program successful, such as coaching, development of talent, and, oh, deployment of talent.
Nonetheless, recruiting rankings — and how a school recruits relative to its rivals — is a pretty good indicator of how a team will perform in the future.
So with that in mind, we break down the recruiting classes of the Big Ten West.
**THE RANKINGS BELOW ARE BASED ON THE 247 COMPOSITE RANKINGS**
National Ranking: 62
Big Ten Ranking: 14
Big Ten West Ranking: 7
Key Signees: Marquez Beason (ATH); Isaiah Williams (ATH); Shammond Cooper (LB)
Outlook: The Illini signed a small class — 13 signees — that is big on top-end talent. The class is headlined the four-star trio of Isaiah Williams, Marquez Beason and Shammond Cooper. This trio will be entrusted to be the core that hopefully allows the Illini to take a major step forward in the next three years. Since Lovie took over in 2016, the Illini have desperately lacked experience and top-end talent. The youth movement of 2017 has created a roster full of experience and this recruiting class should now provide what could be a competitive team. Mix in the offseason transfers, that include former blue chip TE Luke Ford, and the Illini have the makings of a vastly improved squad in 2019.
National Ranking: 20
Big Ten Ranking: 4
Big Ten West Ranking: 1
Key Signees: Wendale Robinson (RB); Nick Henrich (ILB); Luke McCaffrey (ATH)
Outlook: Scott Frost has never needed a roster full of blue chip recruits to compete. As Offensive Coordinator at Oregon and Head Coach at Central Florida, he got two- and three-star players to play like four- and five-stars. You can expect he will do the same at Nebraska. Wendale Robinson and Luke McCaffrey — Christian McCaffrey’s brother — are both explosive in the open field and fit the mold of the type of player that can excel in Frost’s system.
National Ranking: 25
Big Ten Ranking: 5
Big Ten West Ranking: 2
Key Signees: George Karlaftis (DE); David Bell (WR); Milton Wright (WR)
Outlook: Last year, Purdue Coach Jeff Brohm signed Rondale Moore — a coveted blue-chip WR. Brohm immediately made use of Moore. The Freshman WR turned into one of the biggest offensive threats in the Big Ten. This year, Brohm brought in four-star WRs David Bell and Milton Wright. The Boilers now have three blue-chip WRs in the lineup as Brohm looks to build one of the most fearsome passing attacks in the Big Ten. Purdue’s defense is also getting a major lift with the signing of George Karlaftis, a four-star home-grown DE from West Lafayette.
National Ranking: 27
Big Ten Ranking: 6
Big Ten West Ranking: 3
Key Signees: Logan Brown (OT); Graham Mertz (QB); Joe Tippmann (OT)
Outlook: Since Paul Chryst took over at Wisconsin in 2015, the Badgers have had a few shots at the College Football Playoff but have fallen short largely due to a lack of dynamic play at QB. Those days might be over as the Badgers signed Graham Mertz, a four-star QB from Kansas City, who’s MVP performance in the All-American Bowl has Badger fans salivating. Expect Mertz to get playing time early and to possibly take the Badger’s to the next level. The Badgers’ class also included Logan Brown, a five-star OT from Grand Rapids, Michigan, who is the highest-ranked recruit to sign with the Badgers in over a decade.
National Ranking: 40
Big Ten Ranking: 9
Big Ten West Ranking: 4
Key Signees: Jestin Jacobs (OLB); Ezra Miller (OT); Logan Lee (TE)
Outlook: Iowa was looking to address depleted depth at Defensive End and this recruiting class did just that. The Hawkeyes signed Jalen Hunt (DE), Chris Reames (DE), and Jake Karchinski (DE), thereby addressing their needs and setting the foundation for the edge of their defense. The Hawkeyes also signed three blue-chip players in Jestin Jacobs (LB), Ezra Miller (OL), and Tyler Endrer (OT). All in all, this Hawkeyes recruiting class promises that Iowa will maintain its defensive and ball control identity.
National Ranking: 42
Big Ten Ranking: 10
Big Ten West Ranking: 5
Key Signees: Tyler Nubin (CB); Rashad Cheney (DT); Keonte Schad (DT)
Outlook: P.J. Fleck and the Gophers failed to sign a blue-chip prospect this class, but they signed three-star recruits in quarterback Jacob Clark, defensive tackle Rashad Cheney, and defensive tackle Keonte Shad. This is a decent class for Minnesota, but the lack of any blue-chip players will make it tough for the Gophers to compete consistently for the Big Ten West.
National Ranking: 49
Big Ten Ranking: 11
Big Ten West Ranking: 6
Key Signees: Genson Hooper-Price (WR); Bryce Kirtz (WR); Michael Jansey (WR)
Outlook: Northwestern’s recruiting class consists of 19 three-stars but no blue chip recruits. Not to worry, the Wildcats typically punch above their recruiting weight when it comes to Big Ten play. Despite their underwhelming recruiting rankings, Northwestern has gone 26-9 in Big Ten play since 2015 and won the Big Ten West in 2018. So expect Northwestern to make the most of this recruiting class and expect Pat Fitzgerald to utilize this recruiting class in a way that continues to give hell to more talented teams.
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