National Signing Day preview: Big Ten
The Big Ten has three programs ranked in the top 10 of the Rivals.com team recruiting rankings, a legitimate team rankings title contender and three programs recruiting after postseason head coaching changes.
With that in mind, the last 10 days of the 2017 class promise to bring plenty of intrigue in Big Ten country.
FIVE BIG RECRUITMENTS
The class of 2017’s No. 2 ranked prospect is one of only two five-stars uncommitted heading into the final 10 days of recruiting process, which is very strange for this time of year. Ohio State is the only Big Ten team in the mix, but they are a legitimate contender with two of Wilson’s fellow five-star Texans in Baron Browning and Jeffrey Okudah already committed to the program.
Solomon is the other uncommitted five-star left in the 2017 class, though at one point in the process he was committed to Michigan. The Wolverines remain in the hunt for the Georgia native even after his August decommitment, and there has been some momentum shifting back in their favor recently. Whether it is enough to beat out his other finalists – Alabama, Georgia and USC – remains to be seen.
Nebraska's recruiting push into the state of California is called “Calibraska,” and for Cornhuskers head coach Mike Riley it has already been a valuable recruiting approach. In the 2017 class, it has yielded two of their most important commitments and the potential for more. One of those left on the board for Nebraska is Lewis, who was a five-star until just recently. His decision will come down to the Cornhuskers and local program USC. A Nebraska pick would be very big for this class.
This is the recruiting equivalent of “three yards and a cloud of dust,” as several Big Ten teams are slugging it out to be the ultimate destination for the Rivals250 wide receiver. Iowa is the hometown team, Michigan State has had recent momentum and Ohio State now looks set to get his last official visit this upcoming weekend. Even Michigan got some recent buzz as getting back into this. In the end, though, Martin could land out of the conference.
Prediciton: Notre Dame
Rafdal is a mid three-star prospect, but his recruitment has turned interesting the last few weeks after he decommitted from Indiana. The Hoosiers technically remain under consideration, but the coaching change in Bloomington does appear to have Rafdal looking elsewhere. He visited Nebraska and Iowa this month and has one more official visit planned to LSU, which recently offered, before rendering his final decision.
TEAM THAT WILL SURPRISE: MICHIGAN STATE
It has been a rough last six months in East Lansing after Michigan State finished the 2015 season by playing in the College Football Playoff and signing a top 20 class last February. The wheels came off early in the 2016 season, though, and they have struggled to match the recruiting success they’ve experienced over the last few years in this 2017 class. Mark Dantonio is grinding all the way up until National Signing Day, however, and the Spartans are quietly starting to climb their way up the Big Ten Conference team recruiting rankings. They also have a couple of four-stars left on the table, like running back Cordarrian Richardson. who is set to officially visit this week.
TEAM THAT WILL DISAPPOINT: NEBRASKA
Nebraska went into the U.S. Army All-American Bowl earlier this month with hopes of landing nationally-televised commitments from three big-time prospects. At day’s end they had been shut out, which left the Cornhusker faithful irritable and displeased. Some of that angst was alleviated when a week later they landed the commitment of Rivals100 wide receiver Tyjon Lindsey, who had recently decommitted from Ohio State. Nebraska remains in the hunt for several more four-stars, including wide receivers Joseph Lewis, Jamire Calvin and Bryan Thompson, as well as top-ranked athlete prospect Deommodore Lenoir. It’s hard to find one of these late recruitments where Nebraska is the clear favorite, though, and another disappointing day feels likely.
CONFERENCE CHAMP: OHIO STATE
This is an easy one, and it may have been determined more than 18 months ago when Ohio State had 10 commits before the start of the 2015 season. They started off the 2017 class on such a tear, and opened up such a big lead over their Big Ten brethren, that it was always going to take a historic effort to overtake the Buckeyes' big lead. The Big Ten as a whole definitely upped its recruiting game in this class, but no one program individually is going to be able to get close enough to chase down Ohio State. They already have more five-stars committed than the Big Ten combined has ever signed in one class, and big fish still remain in a class that has yet to crack 20 commitments.