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Signing Day Blitz: Ranking the Big Ten

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Urban Meyer's return to college football helped Ohio State land the top class in the Big Ten on National Signing Day.
We break down and rank the classes in the Big Ten.
Illinois | Indiana | Iowa | Michigan | Michigan State | Minnesota
Nebraska | Northwestern | Ohio State | Penn State | Purdue | Wisconsin
Headliner: Expect defensive tackle Ondre Pipkins to step onto the field immediately as a freshman.
Sleeper: Kentucky safety Jeremy Clark grew three inches between his junior and senior seasons.
Overview: Head coach Brady Hoke and his staff did most of their damage in the spring and summer, landing 20 commitments before the end of July. The Wolverine's capped off their class on Signing Day by adding four-star running back Dennis Norfleet, their ninth Rivals250 prospect in 2012. Michigan still has a shot to land one of two four-star offensive line prospects still on the board - Chicago Simeon tackle Jordan Diamond or Castle Rock (Colo.) Valor Christian guard Alex Kozan.
3. Nebraska
Headliner: The No. 8-ranked junior college prospect in the country, cornerback Mohammed Seisay is already on campus in Lincoln.
Sleeper: Bo Pelini's staff picked up explosive Toledo athlete LeRoy Alexander late in the process.
Overview: Although Wednesday did not produce the flood of additions Nebraska fans had hoped for, they still landed three top talents on the first day of the signing period with four-star athlete Alonzo Moore and three-star defensive tackles Vincent Valentine and Aaron Curry. This was always going to be a small class for the Cornhuskers because of limited scholarship availability, but they do finish with 17 total signees who have an average star rating of 3.35. Nearly half of the Cornhusker's class waited to commit until the final month before National Signing Day.
4. Purdue
Headliner: The Boilermakers dipped into one of the top talent-producing prep programs on the East Coast in Olney (Md.) Good Counsel for four-star defensive lineman Ryan Watson.
Sleeper: Danny Anthrop is a small-school star who could make an early impact on special teams.
Overview: Purdue closed out National Signing Day with the surprise addition of three-star Kentucky offensive lineman Joey Warburg. What is most impressive about the Boilermakers' haul is that their 25 signees hail from 15 different states. Head coach Danny Hope and his staff signed prospects from New York to California and several places in between. They have a chance to increase their class size by one on Friday when three-star Chicago Simeon quarterback Robert Gregory plans to declare his intentions. Purdue is expected to be the recipient of Gregory's letter of intent on that day.
5. Michigan State
Headliner: Wide receiver Aaron Burbridge should be able to step on the field as a freshman.
Sleeper: Mark Dantonio's staff passed on some more widely known defensive tackles to sign Portland's David Fennell.
Overview: Three-star wide receiver Monty Madaris finally did fax in his letter of intent to the Michigan State coaching staff on Thursday morning, and the Spartans bump just ahead of Iowa for fifth place in the Big Ten class rankings as a result. Madaris is part of an impressive wide receiver haul for Michigan State, which is also bolstered by the addition of Tennessee transfer DeAnthony Arnett. The Spartans had limited scholarships available in the 2012 class, but they took care of needs at receiver, tight end, offensive line and defensive back.
6. Iowa
Headliner: Jaleel Johnson is one of two four-star defensive tackles Iowa signed in 2012.
Sleeper: Linebacker Nate Meier played 8-man football in high school, but he has the physical tools for the Big Ten.
Overview: Hawkeye fans are still waiting on word from four-star offensive guard Alex Kozan post-Signing Day. Kozan has yet to sign his letter of intent after apparently verbally committing the Iowa earlier in the week. Head coach Kirk Ferentz was able to announce a class of 24 signees on Wednesday, including a quartet of four-star prospects. One of those four-stars is Pennsylvania running back Greg Garmon, who could be called upon early in his career after the Hawkeyes lost starter Marcus Coker to transfer following the 2011 season.
7. Penn State
Headliner: Four-star wide receiver Eugene Lewis stuck with the Nittany Lions throughout their troubled stretch.
Sleeper: Da'Quan Davis is a lockdown cover corner with good speed and loose hips.
Overview: Penn State's recruiting troubles started with the scandal in State College that resulted in the dismissal of iconic head coach Joe Paterno, then escalated when the University took almost two months to name his permanent successor - a coach who was still tied to a NFL playoff team. Bill O'Brien had just three and a half weeks to pull the 2012 class together, but was also juggling responsibilities with the New England Patriots who will play in this weekend's Super Bowl. The result is a once-promising class that now just barely resides in the top 50 classes in the nation.
8. Northwestern
Headliner: Ifeadi Odenigbo was attracted to Northwestern because of its academics. Pat Fitzgerald was attracted to Odenigbo because he is a freak athlete.
Sleeper: Lancaster, Pa., offensive lineman Adam DePietro could play guard or tackle in college.
Overview: Despite head coach Pat Fitzgerald's apparent disdain for recruiting sites, Northwestern finishes with one of their highest rated classes during his tenure, bolstered by the signing of two four-star defensive linemen from the state of Ohio. The Wildcats did a solid job in the Midwest and went into the state of Texas for several of their additions, including their final commit in the 2012 class - North Forney three-star athlete Stephen Buckley. With 21 total signatures on Signing Day, Northwestern adds both depth and talent to future rosters.
9. Illinois
Headliner: Running back Dami Ayoola turned down offers from more than a dozen schools to sign with Illinois.
Sleeper: While Ayoola will get most of the fanfare coming in, do not be surprised if Devin Church turns out to be the best running back in this class.
Overview: Tim Beckman tapped into his contacts throughout the Midwest to help him finish out Illinois' class after leaving Toledo in December to take over the Illini's head coaching position. 12 of the 19 players signed on Illinois committed to the program after Beckman took over as head coach, and eight of those hailed from the states of Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. Surprisingly Beckman left the group of prospects that had committed to his staff at Toledo before his departure alone, even though there were several on that list who could have helped out the Illini.
10. Wisconsin
Headliner: In-state linebacker Vince Biegel should be leading the Badger's defense for a number of years.
Sleeper: Running back Leo Musso rushed for 5,348 yards and 87 touchdowns in his high school career.
Overview: Biegel and four-star offensive guard Dan Voltz are two of the best at their positions in the entire country, but overall the Badgers finished poorly after a strong start to the class back in the spring. This was never going to be a big class because they had limited scholarships available, but the loss of six assistant coaches diminished the momentum they had built early in the process and they lost two four-star offensive tackles in the final weeks. The addition of three-star Indiana offensive tackle Jake Meador on National Signing Day helps, and they are still in the running for four-star offensive tackle Jordan Diamond who decides on Friday.
11. Minnesota
Headliner: Quarterback Philip Nelson is a cool customer under center and could see playing time early in his career.
Sleeper: Having just turned 17 years old, athlete Duke Anyanwu should still be a junior in high school.
Overview: The Gophers cleaned up their own backyard, where they landed seven of the top nine prospects in the state of Minnesota. Nelson was the big prize in-state, but they also complement him with the No. 3 ranked in-state prospect, wide receiver Andre McDonald, who recommitted to the Gophers days before Signing Day after spending a few months on Vanderbilt's commitment list. Jerry Kill's staff met a lot of their outstanding needs in 2012 by signing a large class of 27 players.
12. Indiana
Headliner: Oak Forest, Ill., running back Tevin Coleman was a big January pickup for the Hoosiers.
Sleeper: Tight end Jason Spriggs has the frame to grow into a left tackle in college.
Overview: Although 2012 will probably be remembered by most as the year in which Indiana had a commitment from five-star quarterback Gunner Kiel before the in-state signal caller opted to take his talents elsewhere, Kevin Wilson's first full class in Bloomington is still a large group of 25 signees that can address a lot of needs on the roster. The Hoosiers did a great job adding depth at the defensive line positions, but also signed two quarterbacks to ease the pain of losing the nation's top ranked pro-style passer.
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