National signing day was full of non-surprises. The consensus No. 1 recruiting class belonged to Alabama. Ohio State and Michigan nailed down two of the top classes in the country, ranking miles ahead of the meat of the Big Ten. USC, Florida State and Oklahoma fared best in their respective conferences.
How did our local programs do?
Notre Dame: Recruits apparently were unworried by the Irish’s 4-8 record last season and expanded speculation about coach Brian Kelly’s job security. According to 247Sports’ composite rankings, which factor into the rankings of the major recruiting services,
Kelly roped in the No. 11 class in the nation. Tight end Brock Wright and offensive lineman Robert Hainsey are the highest-rated signees.
Illinois: How does 10th in the Big Ten and 44th in the country sound? Actually, pretty good. It’s the Illini’s highest-ranked class since 2011, the last class signed by Ron Zook. Considering Lovie Smith didn’t come on board until March, the 25-strong 2017 group — which includes 24 three-star players — is a solid foundation on which to build a more respectable program.
‘‘Lovie’s staff definitely exceeded expectations in Year 1, especially given its late start,’’ said Jeremy Werner, the publisher of Scout’s Illinois site.
The Illini signed 10 in-state players, tied for the most since 2003.
Northwestern: Pat Fitzgerald and Co. just keep doing what they do. The Wildcats’ 19-player class ranks 11th in the Big Ten and 48th in the land — right where Fitzgerald’s program seems to be every signing day. The only consensus four-star member of the class is Earnest Brown, a defensive end from Texas.
Northern Illinois: The Huskies’ class ranks 111th in the country and ninth in the Mid-American Conference.
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