Ohio State is back on top in Big Ten recruiting, with Ryan Day wrapping up his first full signing class Wednesday with a letter of intent from the two-time Michigan high school player of the year.
Michigan, Penn State and Nebraska followed the Buckeyes in the Big Ten composite rankings compiled by 247Sports.
The Big Ten has nine teams among the top 40 nationally for the first time, including five in the top 25 — Ohio State (No. 5), Michigan (No. 14), Penn State (No. 15), Nebraska (No. 20) and Wisconsin (No. 25).
Last year was the first time since 2010 that Ohio State’s class was not judged best in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes were transitioning from Urban Meyer to Day and slipped to third behind Michigan and Penn State.
“It’s been great to recruit a whole class from beginning to end,” Day said on the Big Ten network. “We’ve done a great job in Ohio but also have done a great job from coast to coast.”
Day’s 25-man class includes 17 four- or five-star prospects on the heels of a 13-1 season that ended in the College Football Playoff. One of the four-stars is Carlos Martinez of Muskegon, Michigan, who held off signing in December when co-defensive coordinator and his primary recruiter Jeff Hafley was named head coach at Boston College.
Martinez hit it off with new coordinator Kerry Coombs during a meeting last month, and that allowed the Buckeyes to fend off late bids from LSU and Oregon, among others. Martinez, a quarterback in high school, expects to play defensive back for the Buckeyes.
Michigan stood pat with 23 December signees, including 14 four-stars. The Wolverines had hoped to land Under Armour All-America offensive lineman Micah Mazzccua of Baltimore, but he de-committed two weeks ago and signed with Baylor.
Penn State has 11 four-star players in its 27-man class. The top-rated player is linebacker Curtis Jacobs of Glen Burnie, Maryland, the No 34 player in the nation by 247Sports.
Three-star running back Jordon Simmons of Power Springs, Georgia, delayed his signing a day after Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio announced his retirement after 13 seasons.
The Spartans signed 19 players in December and added two more Wednesday to what, at No. 10 in the Big Ten, is their lowest-ranked class since the 2007 group assembled during the John L. Smith-to-Dantonio transition.
RISE OF THE WEST
Nebraska, coming off two straight losing seasons under Scott Frost, continues to build with a class ranked fourth in the Big Ten and first in the West Division for the second straight year. The Cornhuskers landed nine four-star players, with offensive lineman Turner Corcoran of Lawrence, Kansas, the top player.
Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota put together their best classes in more than a decade and join Nebraska and Purdue in the top 40 nationally. BTN analyst Gerry DiNardo said Frost and Purdue coach Jeff Brohm have recruited at a higher level than their predecessors, and Wisconsin’s Paul Chryst and Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz have made changes to upgrade their recruiting operations.
Minnesota’s P.J. Fleck is building momentum, and Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald signed his first four-star in two years in center Peter Skoronski of Park Ridge, Illinois.
“The West is going to be highly competitive,” DiNardo said.
FEAR THE TURTLE
Maryland has a top-six class in the Big Ten for the second time in three years, largely because of the surprise December signing of five-star wide receiver Rakim Jarrett.
The 6-foot, 208-pound Jarrett, out of St. John’s College High in Washington, D.C., is the top slot receiver prospect in the country. He de-committed from LSU in one of the biggest surprises this signing period.
SCHIANO’S SECOND FIRST CLASS
Greg Schiano’s first class in his return to Rutgers is made up of 23 players and ranked 13th in the Big Ten, ahead of only Illinois. Among the new players are six transfers, including four who have appeared in a combined 104 games for Power Five schools.
Aron Cruickshank, who ran back two kicks for touchdowns for Wisconsin and was sixth nationally in kick returns, is from New York City and was looking to play closer to home. Safety Brendon White, who played the last three seasons at Ohio State, was defensive MVP of the 2019 Rose Bowl win over Washington.
Two others are graduate transfers. Defensive tackle Malik Barrow started his career at Ohio State before transferring to Central Florida and played four games there last season. Defensive lineman Michael Dwumfour, a New Jersey native, started two games and played in eight others for Michigan.
White and Barrow were at Ohio State at the same time Schiano was the Buckeyes’ defensive coordinator (2016-18), and Schiano had tried to recruit Cruickshank to OSU.