Big Ten Spotlight: Which school is recruiting king at each position?
The Big Ten expanded to 14 teams starting with the 2014 season. So starting with that first season of being a 14-team league in recruiting through the current 2018 classes that are being assembled, we determine which schools have recruited best at each position.
QUARTERBACK: Ohio State
The Big Ten has not signed a five-star quarterback since 2014, but the Buckeyes expect that to change in 2018 because they have five-star Emory Jones already committed. He would join a stable of quarterbacks that has seen a quartet of four-stars sign in the previous four classes, including Rivals100 dual-threat signal caller Tate Martell in 2017. Returning starter J.T. Barrett should be the guy under center again in 2017, but there is plenty of talent waiting in the wings.
RUNNING BACK: Ohio State
This will be a theme throughout this position breakdown. Ohio State’s on-field and NFL Draft success have fueled strong recruiting returns, and vice versa. Having NFL Rookie of the Year Ezekiel Elliott being an Ohio State running back product certainly plays well with recruits. In 2018 the Buckeyes already have the No. 1 all-purpose back and No. 4 running back committed. Current starter Mike Weber was a Rivals100 prospect in the 2015 class, as were DeMario McCall in 2016 and J.K. Dobbins in 2017.
The field of Big Ten wide receivers should be very strong in the 2017 season, because the conference as a whole has recruited the position very well over the last few years. Nebraska, Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State were all serious contenders for top dog here, but Michigan’s haul has been the best. The Wolverines have one of two five-stars signed – No. 1 Donovan Peoples-Jones in 2017 – in the conference during this stretch along with eight additional four-star wide receivers and four four-star tight ends.
LINEBACKER: Ohio State
The Buckeyes get the nod again, and it may be the position at which they have the biggest recruiting advantage over their Big Ten brethren since 2014. Among their recent haul are three five-stars – Raekwon McMillan in 2014, Keandre Jones in 2016 and Baron Browning in 2017. They have also added nine more four-stars at the position, including in-state Rivals100 guys such as Jerome Baker, Justin Hilliard and Dante Booker. Michigan and Penn State have also recruited this position well, but not as well as Ohio State.
DEFENSIVE BACK: Ohio State
Five-stars Jeffrey Okudah and Shaun Wade, both members of that record-setting 2017 recruiting class, are the headliners here, but Ohio State has also signed the most four-star defensive backs in the conference during this stretch. And the tally does not even include recent first-round draft pick Marshon Lattimore, who was listed as an athlete prospect in the 2014 class. Another first-round pick from this most recent NFL Draft was safety Malik Hooker, who was just a three-star in the 2014 class.
LINEMEN: Ohio State
Even if you break down this group into the offensive line and defensive line, Ohio State probably takes both positions. When combined, the race is not close. The four five-stars at the position double the next closest competitor in the conference. Three come on the defensive side of the football – defensive ends Nick Bosa and Chase Young, and defensive tackle Taron Vincent in this 2018 class. Offensively, OSU's headliners include five-star Wyatt Davis and four-star Michael Jordan, who started as a true freshman last year.