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Big Ten Spotlight: Looking ahead to National Signing Day

The Big Ten is not expecting as many late signing period fireworks as other Power Five conferences, but there are still a few storylines worth watching. This week we take a look at which programs have the most to gain and which are losing momentum heading into the Feb. 7 signing day.

RIVALS ROUNDTABLE: Previewing National Signing Day | NSD By The Numbers


Scott Frost
Scott Frost (AP Images)

Nebraska has, by far, the most recruiting action on tap for the final 10 days before National Signing Day. The Cornhuskers came out of the early signing period with the second-to-last ranked class in the Big Ten, but they were also the only conference program that experienced a head coaching change. In the early period, Scott Frost signed seven prospects his staff recruited to go along with the five commitment holdovers from the previous staff who signed. Nebraska has gained six more commitments this month and still has a couple spots available to use on this 2018 class. They have rallied up to a top-five ranked class in the Big Ten and are within striking distance of the top three.


Rasheed Walker
Rasheed Walker (Nick Lucero/

There are higher-ranked prospects who could still end up in the Big Ten on Signing Day, including five-star Nick Petit-Frere who still has Michigan and Ohio State as contenders, but more likely and more intriguing from a Big Ten standpoint is who wins the battle for Rivals100 Maryland offensive tackle Rasheed Walker. Ohio State and Penn State are going head-to-head here. The Nittany Lions have been considered the team to beat for the majority of Walker’s recruitment, but he just came off an Ohio State official visit the weekend of Jan. 19 and the Buckeyes definitely have needs at offensive tackle.


Rondale Moore
Rondale Moore (Nick Lucero/

There are definitely schools within the conference which are not sweating the late signing period, and the reason is because they pretty much closed up shop after the early signing period. Among the schools that have the least to do over the next 10 days are Minnesota, Purdue and Wisconsin. P.J. Fleck signed a full class of 25 in December and the Gophers are getting a head start on the 2019 class this month. Wisconsin probably was not expecting linebacker T.J. Edwards to return to school, so that is one fewer scholarship to offer in what was already a small class to begin with. And, any additions for Purdue between now and Signing Day will just be the cherry on the sundae after getting Rondale Moore’s commitment at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.


Tyreke Smith
Tyreke Smith (Nick Lucero/

Nebraska, with their 14 commitments since the start of December, has the most momentum in the Big Ten, but Ohio State has quietly been building momentum of its own since the early signing period. It seems strange to say the No. 2 ranked class in 2018 is flying under the radar, but the Buckeyes were overtaken for No. 1 after a huge early signing period performance from Georgia and that diverted attention away from Columbus. This month, though, Urban Meyer and Co. were able to overcome Big Ten foes Michigan and Penn State to land commitments from Rivals100 defensive ends Tyler Friday and Tyreke Smith, and they’re hoping that momentum continues as they pursue a handful of prospects in the late period, including five-stars Patrick Surtain, Nick Petit-Frere and Tyson Campbell.


Otis Reese
Otis Reese (Otis Reese (Photo by: Chad Simmons))

Michigan came into 2018 off a top-five ranked recruiting class in 2017 and a top 10 finish the previous season, but was hit hard by decommitments and missed opportunities. The Wolverines still have scholarships available and are still adding prospects, but five of their last six commitments did not hold offers from the school going into their senior seasons and it would be difficult to call them “Plan A” guys. Add to that their top-ranked and only Rivals100 commitment, Otis Reese, did not sign in the early period and just took an official visit with his home-state Georgia Bulldogs this past weekend. Michigan is having more success with college transfers, former five-star quarterback Shea Patterson being their biggest acquisition of the last few months, but momentum on the recruiting trail is waning.


Urban Meyer
Urban Meyer (AP Images)

Ohio State went into the early signing period with a 600-point lead in the national team recruiting rankings, but had lost all that cushion and relinquished the top spot before the first day of the early period ended. The Buckeyes are still No. 1 in the Big Ten, however, and their current lead is more than 400 points. Penn State has put up a valiant fight throughout this recruiting cycle, and even held the conference lead for a good length of time. Even if the Nittany Lions are able to keep Rivals100 offensive tackle Rasheed Walker away from Urban Meyer and Co., they just do not have enough bullets left to take a shot at the No. 1 overall Big Ten class in 2018.