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Ask Farrell: Which Big Ten coaches have impressed?

Ryan Day
Ryan Day (AP Images)

Maybe recruiting has not been changed forever, but for the time being the coronavirus global pandemic has definitely made things tougher.

Coaches cannot meet recruits face-to-face until at least early June. There is no spring evaluation period except for watching film. Top prospects cannot visit campuses. Parents cannot sit down with coaches.

Recruiting has been altered. But there is a chance for savvy and nimble coaches to make the best of a bad situation and even gain some recruiting advantages if they can figure out how to make it work.

In the Big Ten, there are a lot of smart coaches - and a lot of them who know how to sell their programs, whether in face-to-face meetings or with Zoom and FaceTime interactions.


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As it stands now, Ohio State not only has the top-ranked recruiting class in the Big Ten but in the entire country. Fifteen commits are in, including five-star defensive end Jack Sawyer and high-end four-stars Jakailin Johnson (DB), Marvin Harrison, Jr. (WR) and Kyle McCord (QB).

The month of March, as the coronavirus headlines ramped up, was actually a busy time for coach Ryan Day and his staff. They landed five commitments, with four of them being out-of-state prospects.

Second in the Big Ten team rankings is Michigan with eight pledges, and the Wolverines have been loading up in April. Four commits have come in this month alone as coach Jim Harbaugh and others are busy working the phones and on video conferences, doing as much as they can to load up for the 2021 class as well. Four-star Massachusetts tight end Louis Hansen is the biggest recent pledge.

Wisconsin is third in the conference, but its recruiting has been relatively quiet recently with only one commit in March. Rutgers is fourth as new coach Greg Schiano has been super-aggressive with 11 commits total - the second-most in the conference - and nine of them have come since early March.

Penn State coach James Franklin, one of the best recruiters nationally but one who also does his best work in face-to-face settings, has his Nittany Lions fifth in the conference with five of the team’s seven commits coming in just the last few weeks. The Lions landed high four-star OL Landon Tengwall and also did some major work in the state of Michigan with three pledges last week.


We ask Rivals National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell to name one or two coaches in the Big Ten who have been most impressive recruiting during this challenging time, and which coach might excel the most in this current recruiting climate?

“Well, clearly the shutdown hasn’t impacted Ohio State and Day at all, as they have the best recruiting class in the country and they’ve done an amazing job of landing commitments even from players who haven’t visited. Even though a high level of recruiting is expected at Ohio State, this has been especially impressive. And I like the start that both Wisconsin and Iowa have had, not only in landing local players but also reaching into key states. They have tough recruiting geography to navigate, but they are doing an excellent job so far. Kirk Ferentz and Paul Chryst do a great job of targeting players who fit their systems and develop players well, so many three-stars play like four-stars.”