Big Ten Spotlight: Breaking down the 2023 class
The recruitment of the 2023 class has been all but wrapped, up so there's no better time to break down each conference. Here is how each team in the Big Ten Conference fared in the 2023 cycle.
CONFERENCE BREAKDOWNS: Pac-12 | Big 12 | SEC | ACC
NSD COVERAGE: How new staffs fared | Tray Scott wins Recruiter of the Year | The Gorney Awards | Winners and losers | Alabama wins 2023 high school recruiting title | NSD LIVE – News, interviews & analysis | Announcement Guide | What's left? Just Duce
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CLASS OF 2023 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Team | Position | State
CLASS OF 2024 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Team | Position | State
CLASS OF 2025 RANKINGS: Rivals100
HOW THEY FINISHED
1. Ohio State (No. 4 nationally) - Although this may have not been the class it could have been, the Buckeyes truly had a phenomenal haul in terms of overall skill. Five-star receivers Carnell Tate and Brandon Inniss lead the way and the average star rating of 4.05 finished second only to Alabama.
2. Penn State (15) - The Nittany Lions finished below last year's No. 7 class, but still managed to land plenty of star power by signing 14 four-stars recruits, led by offensive lineman Alex Birchmeier, who was in the five-star conversation.
3. Michigan (18) - The Wolverines started a little slow but closed strong and managed to land a top 20 class, led by a receiving haul including three four-stars in Karmello English, Semaj Morgan and Fredrick Moore.
4. Nebraska (24) - Despite the limited amount of time Matt Rhule and staff were given this recruiting cycle, they managed to sign a top 25 class, headlined by Malachi Coleman, who has as much upside as any player in the 2023 recruiting cycle.
5. Iowa (31) - The Hawkeyes received a major blow when Kadyn Proctor opted to sign with Alabama, but there is plenty to like here with a number of players who could easily outplay their ranking, like four-star Trevor Lauck, who has first-round NFL upside.
6. Illinois (35) - Headlined by three in-state four-star signees in Malik Elzy, Kaden Feagin and Antwon Hayden, Bret Bielema and staff landed the best recruiting haul Illinois fans have seen in some time.
7. Michigan State (36) - The Spartans only signed 16 players from the high school and JUCO ranks, making the No. 36 overall ranking a little deceiving. But Michigan State fans have to be fired up about the defensive line haul, led by four-stars Andrew DePaepe, Bai Jobe and Jalen Thompson.
8. Minnesota (38) - PJ Fleck and staff put an emphasis on size, athleticism and tough players who love football. Four-star running back Darius Taylor was a huge win and is a name you will be hearing plenty of in the near future.
9. Northwestern (45) - Northwestern was able to land a surprisingly strong class despite a rough season in Evanston, and with Michael Kilbane and Tyler Gant the Wildcats' defensive line will be in good hands for the foreseeable future.
10. Maryland (49) - The Terrapins closed strong during the Early Signing Period by landing four recruits within a week of signing day and then capped off the class with the addition of four-star linebacker Michael Harris, who was a late signing day surprise.
11. Wisconsin (58) - Luke Fickell had a limited amount of time to fill a number of holes in this Wisconsin roster, and the No. 58 class isn't truly indicative of the work the staff did this recruiting cycle – due to the number of difference makers it brought in via the transfer portal.
12. Rutgers (65) - Rutgers didn't make a lot of noise during the 2023 recruiting cycle and with 19 total signees the Scarlet Knights will continue to be active in the transfer portal.
13. Purdue (66) - New coach Ryan Walters had his work cut out for him when he was hired roughly a week before signing day, but he was able to retain high three-star defensive line commits Drake Carlson and Will Heldt, in addition to adding a third high three-star defensive lineman in Jamarrion Harkless on signing day.
14. Indiana (67) - With only 15 non-transfer portal signees this was a relatively quiet signing period for the Hoosiers, but the staff did finish strong by landing six of its 15 signees within a week of the Early Signing Period.
Biggest Signing: Ohio State continued to flex its muscles in Florida by signing the nation's No. 1 overall receiver in Brandon Inniss. Inniss leads the way in what many consider the strongest receiver haul in the 2023 class and has the physical skill set to potentially contribute to the already dominant Ohio State receiving corps right away.
Biggest Steal: This could go a number of ways as there were some highly contested battles for five-star talent in the Big Ten, but I am going to go with a lesser-known name in four-star running back Darius Taylor. The Michigan native had a phenomenal senior season, and despite a number of top schools trying to lure him away, he remained solid with his pledge to Minnesota throughout the entire recruiting process.
Biggest Sleeper: Bret Bielema spoke highly of defensive back Saboor Karreim during the Rivals Signing Day Show, and I would be shocked if the physically gifted recruit from New Jersey didn't outplay his three-star ranking at Illinois. Karreim is long, athletic and versatile. He checks all of the boxes when it comes to a future high-round draft pick.
TOP THREE RECRUITERS
Brian Hartline, Ohio State: The Buckeyes had one of the best classes in the country, largely in part to Hartline's incredible wide receiver haul comprised of five-stars Brandon Inniss and Carnell Tate, in addition to four-stars Bryson Rodgers and Noah Rogers. The Buckeyes are known for their receiver play, and Hartline's job during this recruiting cycle should have his room playing at an elite level for years to come.
Brandon Jordan, Michigan State: Like Hartline, Jordan did some serious work when it came to landing difference-makers at his position group. The group of four-stars in Andrew DePaepe, Bai Jobe and Jalen Thompson have a chance to be a lethal group of pass rushers and should create plenty of headaches for Big Ten quarterbacks for years to come.
Steve Clinkscale, Michigan: Clinckscale is one of the most talked-about coaches when interviewing elite prospects on a yearly basis, and 2023 was another banner recruiting year for the Wolverines' secondary coach. Four-star Jyaire Hill's recruitment came down to the wire and was a huge signing day win. Fellow four-star defensive back and one-time Cincinnati commit Cameron Calhoun has all of the tools to be a star at the next level and chances are he would have not ended up in Ann Arbor if it wasn't for Clinckscale's ability to close on high-priority recruits.
WHO WON ...
Quarterbacks: Ohio State - This wasn't exactly a banner year for quarterback recruiting in the Big Ten, but Ohio State did land the highest-rated signal caller in Lincoln Kienholz, who was a one-time Washington commit. The South Dakota native has some developing to do, but he also has all of the tools to be a special player in the Big Ten.
Running backs: Minnesota - Michigan has an argument here as it signed the highest-rated running back in four-star Cole Cabana, but Minnesota signed two potential difference-makers, giving the Gophers the nod here. Darius Taylor has all of the talent and upside in the world, and he has a chance to be a dominant running back early on in his career. High three-star Marquese Williams had an incredible offer list when selecting Minneapolis as his destination and the one-time Rivals250 player could very well outplay his ranking.
Wide Receivers: Ohio State - I feel like I'm beating a dead horse here, but the amount of talent Ohio State hauled in at receiver during this recruiting cycle is scary. With two five-stars and two four-stars this Ohio State recruiting haul has four players with legit first-round draft pick potential, making this an easy call.
Tight Ends: Penn State - With three high-upside tight ends in Andrew Rappleyea, Joey Schlaffer and Mathias Barnwell, one could argue the Nittany Lions had the most impressive tight end haul in the country. All three four-stars have varying skill sets, and this group has a chance to make the tight end room in Happy Valley a team strength for years to come.
Offensive line: Ohio State - This is a toss-up as Penn State has a legitimate argument for the best OL haul in the Big Ten, but there is just too much star power and upside headed to Columbus for the Buckeyes not to take the crown. Luke Montgomery leads the way for a star-studded group that also includes three additional four-stars in Joshua Padilla, Austin Siereveld and Miles Walker.
Defensive line: Michigan State - A number of Big Ten schools could make the argument for best defensive line class, but I'm going with the Spartans and the pass- rushing ability arriving in East Lansing. Four-star Andrew DePaepe leads the way in terms of ranking, but Bai Jobe proved to be an absolute stud at the All-American Bowl and Jalen Thompson has the potential to be a sack master in the near future.
Linebackers: Penn State - The tradition of linebackers at Penn State is about as good as it gets and the 2023 class looks to continue the Nittany Lions dominance at the position. Led by two four-stars in Tony Rojas and Ta'Mere Robinson and anchored by high three-star Kaveion Keys, this is a group capable of being electric in Happy Valley.
Defensive Backs: Ohio State - The Buckeyes take the cake again in the secondary with an incredibly talented group full of NFL potential. High four-star cornerbacks Calvin Simpson-Hunt and Jermaine Mathews both made their case for being the top player at their position in the 2023 recruiting cycle. The safeties are as good as they come as well, with four-stars Malik Hartford and Cedrick Hawkins both having some serious upside.