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Big Ten Spotlight: Five big questions about the 2024 cycle national recruiting analyst Clint Cosgrove takes a look at some of the biggest questions surrounding Big Ten programs and the 2024 recruiting cycle. That includes the recruitments of multiple five-star prospects and much more.



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1. Can Ohio State hold onto all three of its elite WR commits?

The Buckeyes continue to load up at receiver with commits from three of the top pass catcher in the 2024 class in five-star Jeremiah Smith along with four-stars Mylan Graham and Jeremiah McClellan. One would assume that a loaded receiver room could deter the nation's elite pass catchers from going to Columbus, where they may have to wait their turn to make an impact, but the draw of playing for Brian Hartline has almost been undefeated year in and year out.

Could this be the year where the Buckeyes don't keep the elite group of receiver commits in the boat? I'm not ready to say yes, but I do think it will be a battle to keep all three of the commits in the boat. Smith, arguably the top prospect in the country, continues to take visits and is far from a guarantee. Graham is heavily connected to Hartline and should Hartline leave for a head coaching opportunity all bets are off with his pledge. McClellan seems solid, but he visited Missouri on Saturday and is also being pursued heavily by Oregon and others.

There is a chance the Buckeyes continue the trend and keep all three, but this year could be different and an epic run of receiver recruiting has to end at some point, in theory at least.



2. Will Michigan State and Northwestern stay at the bottom of the Big Ten?

It should come with little surprise that the two programs with questions surrounding the next leader of the program are also the schools that rank last and second-to-last in the conference recruiting rankings.

Northwestern is known as a developmental program opposed to one that wins with more talent and many of its players commit to the university and its academic reputation as much as they do the football program itself. With that comes the likelihood of less attrition, but even in this case the Wildcats are having trouble holding onto commits with multiple defections and as a result seem to be targeting more under the radar types. Gone is the pull of playing for Pat Fitzgerald as well, which only adds to the complications in Evanston. The head coaching hire will be crucial towards salvaging the class and should Northwestern not make a splash, I would expect them to end up at the bottom of the Big Ten when signing day is over.

Michigan State has been so transfer portal heavy that its high school classes haven't been ranked as high as one would expect from a school that is only a couple years removed from competing for a championship. The Spartans have surprisingly weathered the storm and have only lost Camren Campbell and Reggie Powers due to the falling out with former head coach Mel Tucker.

Many of the commits wait in limbo in the meantime and Michigan State will likely need to make a splash hire to keep the pieces of this class intact. Nicholas Marsh remains committed but has been looking around and recently took an visit to Colorado and should he decide to flip that could cause a chain reaction. In the end, I don't see Michigan State fairing too badly and I would be shocked if the Spartans don't finish towards the middle of the pack once a new coach is in place and they rely less on the portal and more on high school players.




3. Will incoming Big Ten programs increase their activity in the Midwest?

Dante Moore
Dante Moore (© Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

Washington has been steadily recruiting in the Midwest since the arrival of Kalen DeBoer who has Midwest roots. Oregon has always spot recruited the region but never seemed to make the Midwest a priority and the same can be said with UCLA and USC to a certain extent. The move to the Big Ten appears to have impacted all of the future Big Ten members' recruiting footprint and this is a trend that I see continuing with additional success in the coming years.

Washington has already seen a serious increase in devotion and commitments when it comes to recruiting the region going from eight Midwest offers and two commits in 2022 to 25 offers and one commit in 2023 and 20 offers and one commit in Dominic Kirks in 2024. Oregon has offered 20 prospects in the 2024 class with one commit in Tionne Gray. UCLA, while not going all in on the region yet, has hit a high percentage of their offers from the region with current starting QB Dante Moore as one of three offers from the region in 2023 and two commits out of five offers in Robert Booker and Jamir Benjamin in 2024. USC has always been a program that recruits nationally and although the Trojans have yet to ink a Midwest high school recruit since Lincoln Riley's arrival, there has been a notable increase in offers extended to players from the region with 19 offers to Midwesterners in 2024 and 17 already out in 2025.

This is what college football recruiting in the conference realignment era is going to look like moving forward and I fully expect all of the Big Ten's incoming members to both increase their presence and land more recruits from the Midwest than we have ever seen before.


4. Can any Big Ten program catch Ohio State?

Ohio State has had an epic run on the recruiting trail with four five-star commits and an average star rating of 4.05 while boasting the nation's top-ranked 2024 class. The Buckeyes continue to make waves on the field as well and, with the sustained success we have seen under head coach Ryan Day, the program doesn't look to be slowing down on the recruiting trail or field anytime soon.

Should the Buckeyes keep all of their current commits there is a very good chance that Ohio State will bring home the Big Ten's first national recruiting title of the Rivals era. There are many variables at play but as things stand today I see a good chance at the Buckeyes making history with their 2024 recruiting haul.


5. How many Big Ten programs will make the top 25 team rankings?

The 2023 recruiting cycle saw four Big Ten programs land within the top 25 team recruiting rankings in Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan and Nebraska. The 2024 cycle could potentially see a number of additional Big Ten programs cracking this elite threshold as the conference has been as hot as ever on the recruiting trail this year.

Five conference members currently sit inside the top 25 with Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska trending towards special classes. Purdue sits right on the cusp at No. 27 with new coach Ryan Walters and staff creating a major buzz on the recruiting trail. Then you have Maryland at No. 30 putting the Terrapins right within striking distance, especially with the success Mike Locksley's program is having on the field. Rutgers with its new approach to recruiting sits at No. 34 with Minnesota and Iowa at Nos. 37 and 28 - putting all within reach of a top-25 finish.

Although not likely, The Big Ten has a shot of 10 conference programs landing in the top 25.