Where all 14 B1G teams stand in the 2021 recruiting rankings with National Signing Day approaching
National Signing Day is approaching. While most of the recruiting for the 2021 class was completed in the Early Signing Period in December, there are still some big names available and a few teams will try to make some last-second additions.
This year’s National Signing Day will be on Feb. 3, a little over one week away. Some B1G teams are a little more desperate to make some additions to the 2021 class than others. So, where does each team stand currently?
Let’s take a look at how the B1G recruiting rankings look with just over a week until National Signing Day arrives. Rankings are based on 247Sports’ Composite Rankings (national ranking):
1. Ohio State Buckeyes (No. 2)
Total commits: 21 — 5-star: 5 — 4-star: 13
Nobody in the B1G is anywhere close to dethroning the Buckeyes from their spot atop the recruiting rankings this year. Ohio State has more 5-star recruits (5) than the rest of the B1G combined (3). The class is headlined by defensive end Jack Sawyer, wide receiver Emeka Egbuka, offensive lineman Donovan Jackson, running back TreVeyon Henderson and quarterback Kyle McCord, all of the Bucks’ 5-star prospects. What more can you say? Ryan Day has once again dominated the recruiting trail.
2. Michigan Wolverines (No. 13)
Total commits: 20 — 5-star: 1 — 4-star: 10
The good news? Michigan owns the B1G’s second-best recruiting class. The bad news? The Wolverines are still 11 spots behind rival Ohio State in the national rankings. The gap doesn’t appear to be closing. Michigan should be optimistic about signing the nation’s No. 2 pro-style quarterback in J.J. McCarthy and having commitments from five prospects ranked inside the Top 100 nationally. Overall, a really strong class for Jim Harbaugh and his staff.
3. Wisconsin Badgers (No. 16)
Total commits: 21 — 5-star: 1 — 4-star: 5
You probably won’t believe this, but Wisconsin is stockpiling high-ranking offensive linemen again this recruiting cycle. Shocker, right? For the second time in three seasons, the Badgers have landed a 5-star offensive lineman, landing a pledge from Nolan Rucci, the nation’s No. 15 overall prospect in the class. Fellow offensive tackles JP Benzschawel and Riley Mahlman also rank inside the Top 150 nationally. Yeah, Wisconsin’s offensive line is going to continue to be a strength for years to come.
4. Maryland Terrapins (No. 18)
Total commits: 23 — 5-star: 1 — 4-star: 4
Mike Locksley continues to prove that he can recruit some of the most talented players and bring them to College Park. The Terrapins have a Top 20 class highlighted by 5 prospects with a 4- or 5-star rating. Maryland addressed did an excellent job addressing some of its greatest needs, landing 5-star linebacker Terrence Lewis, 4-star defensive end Demeioun Robinson, 4-star linebacker Branden Jennings and 4-star defensive tackle Taizse Johnson. The Terps have struggled on that side of the football, but help is on the way.
5. Nebraska Cornhuskers (No. 20)
Total commits: 20 — 5-star: 0 — 4-star: 4
Recruiting local talent has always been a priority for Scott Frost, and it’s paid off with the 2021 class. Six of Nebraska’s eight highest-ranked pledges in this class are either in-state products or come from Iowa or South Dakota. Obviously, that isn’t a hot recruiting bed, but there are plenty of talented players in the area. The big addition for the Huskers’ 2021 class is 4-star tight end Thomas Fidone, an Iowa native. Nebraska also got a huge commitment from 4-star linebacker and Hawaii native Wynden Ho’ohuli.
6. Iowa Hawkeyes (No. 22)
Total commits: 18 — 5-star: 0 — 4-star: 6
Similar to Wisconsin, Iowa has placed a heavy emphasis on recruiting offensive and defensive linemen. Iowa’s Top 4 recruits in this class play in the trenches, highlighted by offensive tackle David Davidkov, the nation’s 141st overall prospect in the cycle. Offensive guard Connor Colby, defensive end Justice Sullivan and offensive tackle Beau Stephens are also excellent prospects from the Midwest. Quietly, the Hawkeyes have assembled one of the nation’s better recruiting classes, and are 14 spots ahead of where they finished with the 2020 clas.
7. Penn State Nittany Lions (No. 24)
Total commits: 15 — 5-star: 0 — 4-star: 5
Not the best class of the James Franklin era in Happy Valley. Not only do the Nittany Lions lack any 5-star prospects, this is a class that’s small in size, receiving only 15 commitments in the cycle so far. Landon Tengwall is the bright spot of the class, a 4-star offensive tackle who cracks 247Sports’ Top 50 for the 2021 class. This isn’t a bad class for Penn State, but it certainly isn’t the kind of group we’ve come to expect from Franklin and his staff.
8. Minnesota Golden Gophers (No. 35)
Total commits: 18 — 5-star: 0 — 4-star: 4
With P.J. Fleck’s culture in place and success during the 2019 campaign, more and more highly-ranked prospects are taking an interest in Minnesota. The Gophers lost a huge commitment from Avante Dickerson over the weekend, who could’ve been an immediate-impact player of the 2021 class. Still, the Golden Gophers have 4 players with a 4-star ranking who are committed which is a positive sign for a program that has struggled on the recruiting front throughout its history. Getting a player like 4-star dual-threat QB Athan Kaliakmanis is a big deal for Fleck, as well.
9. Michigan State Spartans (No. 40)
Total commits: 19 — 5-star: 0 — 4-star: 2
This might not be the most attractive class in terms of national ranking, but a lot of credit to Mel Tucker and the Michigan State staff. His first year with the program was a difficult one on the recruiting front, not being allowed to bring prospects to campus, having limited time getting to know the university and finishing his first season with only two victories. Still, Tucker was able to land star in-state defensive tackle Rayshaun Benny and Las Vegas outside linebacker Ma’a Gaoteote, both 4-star prospects.
10. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (No. 41)
Total commits: 21 — 5-star: 0 — 4-star: 2
Greg Schiano knows there’s a lot of major talent in the state of New Jersey, and he made that a priority. Rutgers has nine players committed in the 2021 class who are from the state, including the team’s highest-ranked prospects — cornerback Alijah Clark, linebacker Khayri Banton and athlete Jordan Thompson. The 2021 class has the potential to be Rutgers’ best nationally since 2017, when the Scarlet Knights ranked 42nd.
11. Northwestern Wildcats (No. 60)
Total commits: 14 — 5-star: 0 — 4-star: 2
If you haven’t learned by now, you can throw the recruiting rankings out the window when it comes to Northwestern. While the No. 60 ranking is a significant drop-off from the 2020 class (No. 47), Pat Fitzgerald was still able to land a pair of 4-star prospects in linebacker Mac Uihlein and offensive tackle Caleb Tiernan. Defensive end Najee Story is a really good prospect in this class for the Wildcats, too. No, this isn’t the best class Northwestern has had recently, but Fitzgerald and his staff to an excellent job developing players, and this cycle will be no different.
12. Indiana Hoosiers (No. 62)
Total commits: 13 — 5-star: 0 — 4-star: 2
A bit surprising to see the Hoosiers so low in this recruiting cycle after two impressive seasons in back-to-back years. Pair that with Tom Allen’s rise to fame and it’s tough to believe that Indiana is still near the bottom of the B1G this year. IU did land some outstanding skill position players, getting pledges from 4-star wide receiver Jaquez Smith and 4-star dual-threat quarterback and Indiana native Donaven McCulley. Part of the reason the Hoosiers sit so low is the small number of incoming prospects, currently only having 13 pledges. We’ll see if Indiana makes any late additions.
13. Purdue Boilermakers (No. 70)
Total commits: 15 — 5-star: 0 — 4-star: 1
Jeff Brohm came to Purdue and really improved its presence on the recruiting trail. That’s not the case this year. The Boilermakers are near the bottom of the B1G and the nation with the 2021 class, only bringing 15 prospects to West Lafayette this cycle. Purdue is nearly 40 spots lower than it was a year ago, when it had the country’s No. 32 ranked class. The huge addition for Brohm is 4-star linebacker Yanni Karlaftis, brother of star defensive end George Karlaftis. If he can make an impact like his older brother did so quickly in his Purdue career, the Boilermaker defense could see some instant improvement.
14. Illinois Fighting Illini (No. 74)
Total commits: 16 — 5-star: 0 — 4-star: 0
It’s really hard to grade this class for Illinois. Lovie Smith didn’t do a great job on the recruiting front and Bret Bielema had limited time to assemble a class — though he has made some late pitches to some available prospects. Top 500 offensive lineman Brody Wisecarver is the highest-ranked recruit of the class and should have a bright future in Champaign.