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Three-Point Stance: Big Ten superlatives, 2022 class, Week 1 games

Rivals.com National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell’s Three-Point Stance looks at a snapshot of 2021 recruiting efforts in the Big Ten, previews next week's 2022 rankings and gives you five opening weekend games to watch.

RELATED: SEC recruiting superlatives, transfers to watch, recruiting changes

CLASS OF 2020 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

CLASS OF 2021 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

1. BIG TEN RECRUITING SUPERLATIVES  

Jack Sawyer
Jack Sawyer (Josh Helmholdt / Rivals)

It's time to take a look at how recruiting is shaping up in each Power Five conference. Today I’ll look at the Big Ten with a few superlatives.

Hot Start: Ohio State — The Buckeyes are the No. 1 team in the Rivals.com Team Recruiting Rankings and are on the minds of so many top prospects that they could become the first northern school to win the Rivals.com recruiting title. That’s how well they are doing.

Biggest Recruiting Get: DE Jack Sawyer, Ohio State — Sawyer is the lone five-star committed to the Big Ten and is a top-10 talent. It’s not a stretch for Ohio State to land a top defensive end or an in-state star, but he’s the alpha dog for now.

Biggest Recruiting Loss: OT Blake Fisher, Notre Dame — Is it really big loss when the Big Ten loses a recruit to Notre Dame, especially an Indiana kid? Yes, it is. The Irish aren’t in the Big Ten last I checked and they recruit the Midwest hard, which makes them an enemy of the conference.

Slowing Down: Penn State — OK, I don’t really mean it because Penn State will end up recruiting a top-15 class. But only two commitments so far and both are three-stars? That’s a slight concern.

Steady Eddie: Michigan — Michigan only has three commitments as well but all three are elite prospects at their positions and all four-stars. That’s what we expect from the Wolverines. A little more quantity would be nice though.

As Expected: Iowa, Wisconsin — The Hawkeyes and the Badgers continue to recruit at a very solid level and are luring more four-stars and developing more three-stars than they have in recent years. And that’s expected based on some solid seasons.

Must Keep: DT Damon Payne — The state of Michigan is loaded this year and Payne plays a position hard to find. The conference can’t lose him like it did with Justin Rogers last year.

Out-of-State Grab: QB J.J. McCarthy, Michigan — It’s a toss up between McCarthy and Kyle McCord who is headed to Ohio State. The Buckeyes are getting enough attention, so I’ll give some to Michigan.

In-State Keep: OT Teddy Prochozka, Nebraska — The State of Nebraska doesn’t produce a ton of Rivals100 prospects, so when it does, the Huskers need to keep them home. Prochozka could be a monster.

Surprise Start: Maryland — The Terps' season was nothing to write home about, so having nine early commitments with most rated three-stars or above is a strong start for Mike Locksley.

New Coach ‘Crootin: Rutgers Greg Schiano can recruit and he’s off to a nice and strong start in his second stint at Rutgers. The quality so far is very solid.

Hot Seat Recruiting: Lovie Smith, Illinois — OK, before Illini fans get all upset, I don’t think Lovie is on the hot seat anymore. Or at least not as hot as his seat has been. But who else can I pick? The Big Ten is loaded with coaches who appear to be stable and safe in their jobs for now.

2. BIG QUESTIONS ABOUT THE 2022 CLASS

Walter Nolen
Walter Nolen (Rivals.com)

Next week, Rivals.com reveals our first 100 ranked players for the class of 2022 and here are some questions heading into the week...

1. Which position is loaded? The cornerback position looks very promising in 2022 with big names like Jaheim Singletary, Denver Harris, Domani Jackson and Khamauri Rogers. In fact at defensive back overall, including the safeties, it could be the best year since 2013 when Vernon Hargreaves, Jalen Ramsey, Kendall Fuller, Su’a Cravens, Tre’Davious White and others starred.

2. Which position looks weak early? Running back looks weak early and there aren’t a ton of inside linebackers that have emerged yet.

3. Who is the player who could end up being among the best at his position in years? Defensive tackle Walter Nolen is someone I can see being among the best in recent years at his position. He’s the most special prospect in the class.

4. Is there a Heisman candidate already? Sure, why not? It’s gotta be a good quarterback, right? So jot down the names of Gunnar Stockton, Quinn Ewers, Maalike Murphy and Ty Simpson.

5. What’s the best battle going to be? The battle for the No. 1 cornerback is going to be epic but I am really intrigued by the battle at offensive tackle between Kameron Dewberry, Earnest Greene and Julian Armella. It looks like a strong class at tackle.

3. FIVE WEEK 1 GAMES THAT I AM EXCITED ABOUT

Kedon Slovis
Kedon Slovis (AP Images)

With all this craziness going on, I thought it would be nice to take a late-March look at five of the Week 1 games that I’m looking forward to the most. And, yes, we will have a season.

1. Alabama vs. USC — As each day passes I think more and more that Clay Helton and USC are going to be scary for some teams. Alabama is loaded, but this could be interesting.

2. Michigan at Washington — Washington is a tough place to play a football game, and despite a new coach and new quarterback, the Huskies could be trouble for Michigan.

3. North Dakota State at Oregon — Oregon is expected to be the Pac-12 champs, but this is a very tough opening week test from a team that knows how to win.

4. Virginia vs. Georgia — This is not a fun first game for Georgia as Virginia is well-coached and the Cavaliers are well aware of new Bulldogs quarterback Jamie Newman.

5. Ole Miss vs. Baylor — The battle of two new coaches should be a fun one as each roster has some serious speed.