Play Fantasy Use your Fantasy skills to win Cash Prizes. Join or start a league today. Play Now
 
Tag:Bill Belton
Posted on: February 7, 2011 2:24 pm
Edited on: February 7, 2011 3:00 pm
 

Big Ten Recruiting Breakdown

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Signing Day is over and now that there’s been a little time to reflect, we’re ranking the Big Ten recruiting classes (all 12 of them) and breaking them down at the same time.

1. Ohio State

Overview: Bringing in the top class in the Big Ten is nothing new for the Buckeyes. This group is filled with impact players, especially on defense. Linebackers Ryan Shazier and Curtis Grant and corner Doran Grant should be terrorizing opposing offenses for years to come.
Hidden gem: Offensive guard Michael Bennett is someone who could develop into an all-league type of lineman. 
Pencil in for the fall: Quarterback Braxton Miller has enrolled early in order to compete for the starting job and could be the guy that fills in for Terrelle Pryor given his skill set.

2. Nebraska

Overview: The transition class to the Big Ten should have no problem coming in and helping the Cornhuskers win a bunch of games over the next few years. It will be interesting to see if star quarterback Bubba Starling chooses to actually enroll in Lincoln and not play professional baseball but for now, he’s part of this talented class. 
Hidden gem: Athlete Jamal Turner can play all over the field but he could be best utilized as a game-breaking receiver. 
Pencil in for the fall: Running back Aaron Green is one of the best backs in the country and should provide a nice complement to Rex Burkhead in Nebraska’s rushing attack.

3. Illinois

Overview: Head coach Ron Zook is known as a terrific recruiter and once again he delivered with a very solid class after rumors swirled early that it would be his last season in Champaign. There’s a good number of players who can compete for playing time right away and the Illini did well in grabbing several out of state players. 
Hidden gem: Dondi Kirby is a great athlete who was wanted by several powerhouse programs. He has the tools to become a great safety in college. 
Pencil in for the fall: With the departure of Mikel LeShoure to the NFL, running back Donovonn Young could come in right away and get some playing time.

4. Michigan State

Overview: This class is headlined by Lawrence Thomas but there are several other very good players coming in. Wide receiver Juwan Caesar should be a favorite target of whoever is under center and Darien Harris has the tools to play special teams right away while eventually taking over at linebacker. 
Hidden gem: Offensive tackle Donavon Clark has the frame to develop into a top flight lineman and is already very good in blocking for the run game. 
Pencil in for the fall: Linebacker Lawrence Thomas is one of the best defensive players to head to East Lansing out of high school. He could play at defensive end and be a nice speed rusher or at linebacker.

5. Iowa

Overview: The news of several Iowa players being sent to the hospital and the negative reaction to how Kirk Ferentz handled the situation didn’t seem to have any effect on this class. There were not a ton of highly rated guys but the ones they did get will fit in very nicely. 
Hidden gem: Quarterback Jake Rudock is likely not going to start right away but he could develop into the signal caller of the future.
Pencil in for the fall: Given the attrition at running back, Rodney Coe should vie for early playing time as the next in the line of impressive freshmen running backs.

6. Michigan

Overview: This class was hurt all year long by the rumors that Rich Rodriguez would be fired. Once the coach eventually was fired, several key commits went out the door as well, such as running back Dee Hart to Alabama. Nevertheless, new head coach Brady Hoke did a great job of keeping most of the class in the fold and even picking up a few kids. 
Hidden gem: Corner Delonte Hollowell isn’t as highly regarded as fellow defensive back Blake Countess but he could still turn out to be a very good player in a secondary that needs all the help it can get. 
Pencil in for the fall: The loss of Dee Hart and the lack of a big time tailback could mean Justice Hayes gets to line up next to Denard Robinson early in his career.

7. Wisconsin

Overview: Another solid but not spectacular class for Wisconsin. Not getting quarterback Jacoby Brissett was a big loss but there are other pieces to build around. The coaching staff did do a good job of putting up a wall around the state and keeping the best players home. 
Hidden gem: Jake Keefer is a very athletic player who should slide in at outside linebacker for the Badgers. He can put his hand on the ground if needed but should be a terror standing up and making plays. 
Pencil in for the fall: A.J. Jordan is probably the most talented player in the class and should be able to provide a boost in the passing because he has terrific hands.

8. Penn State

Overview: Not expected to be a big class, the Nittany Lions still should have done better in terms of quality. They fill needs at offensive line with some great players but there just are not the athletes on defense that Joe Paterno needed to bring in. 
Hidden gem: Bill Belton isn’t the biggest guy on the field but he can play a few different positions on offense and can be a threat just about anywhere. 
Pencil in for the fall: Don’t be surprised if Angelo Mangiro is a quality backup who gets playing time early next season along the interior line. A few injuries could easily lead to a few starts down the road.

9. Northwestern

Overview: Like Penn State, not a large class but there’s some good underlying talent for the Wildcats. Linemen make up the bulk of the class but there are some talented skill position players mixed in as well. 
Hidden gem: Quarterback Zach Oliver might have been a bit overlooked on the recruiting trail but he has all the tools to develop into a very good Big Ten signal caller based on his highlight reel. 
Pencil in for the fall: Wide out Christian Jones would be a starter at a lot of programs and it wouldn’t be surprising if he makes an immediate impact in the Northwestern passing game once he steps on campus.

10. Minnesota

Overview: All things considered, new head coach Jerry Kill did a pretty good job making the recruiting transition from the MAC to the Big Ten. He kept most of the class intact and managed to fill several needs for the Gophers. They may not be four-stars but they’re solid nevertheless.
Hidden gem: Joe Bjorklund not only has a fitting name for a Big Ten offensive lineman but he could turn out to be a good one. A little on the skinny side for an interior lineman, Bjorklund has a very solid frame to add weight, which should only help his physical run-blocking style. 
Pencil in for the fall: Tommy Olson is rated by many as the top lineman from the state of Minnesota so he should be somewhere on the two deep pretty quickly.

11. Purdue

Overview: A very small class but one that should find a few contributors for the Boilermakers over the next few years. 
Hidden gem: Tight end Robert Kugler is the son of Steelers offensive line coach Sean Kugler and you figure that acumen that comes from being the son of a coach will translate well in college, especially with the younger Kugler’s physical skills. 
Pencil in for the fall: Linebacker Armstead Williams is one of the best defensive recruits to head to Purdue and it would surprise no one to see him playing significant time on defense by the end of the year.

12. Indiana

Overview: Not exactly a huge surprise to see the Hoosiers on this list given their past recruiting history and the added burden of a staff change. Although they’re last in 2011, don’t be surprised if they make a climb on the rankings once Kevin Wilson has a full year to bring in recruits. 
Hidden gem: Linebacker Kyle Kennedy does a good job reading a developing play and wrapping up when making a tackle. He’s also pretty good at shedding a block and seems like a very solid player going forward. 
Pencil in for the fall: Athlete Shane Wynn is a playmaker and should be able to contribute at multiple positions on offense.

Posted on: February 2, 2011 9:31 pm
Edited on: February 2, 2011 10:29 pm
 

Big Ten Signing Day: Winners/Losers

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Overview: Overall it was a pretty good recruiting season for the Big Ten. There weren't a whole lot of shocking decisions on National Signing Day, though both Ohio State and Iowa were able to pick up some key members of their 2011 class.

Winners

Ohio State - Ohio State generally leads the Big Ten in recruiting every season, and 2011's class doesn't seem to be any different. While the Buckeyes had a strong class coming into Wednesday's festivities, getting Curtis Grant to commit during the day put this class over the edge. Grant joins what should be a strong class on defense, where the Buckeyes will look to replace Cam Heyward with guys like Kenny Hayes, Chase Farris and Steve Miller in a few years. Of course, Jim Tressel didn't concentrate solely on defense, as the Bucks picked up quarterback Braxton Miller as the possible successor to Terrelle Pryor in 2012.

Iowa - The Hawkeyes and Kirk Ferentz never seem to put together a jaw-dropping class, yet every year they tend to find themselves ranked in the top 25 classes. This year is no different, as MaxPreps has Iowa at 17, and the Hawkeyes signed 23 players. The final player was DT Darian Cooper, who chose Iowa on Wednesday, and comes from the same school Iowa landed RB Marcus Coker from last season. Kirk Ferentz generally doesn't go for flash as much as he finds players he can mold and fit into his system at Iowa, but you should expect to grow more familiar with names like Rodney Coe, Ray Hamilton, Austin Blythe and Jordan Walsh in the next few seasons.

Nebraska - Welcome to the Big Ten, Nebraska. The Cornhuskers had a good class coming into National Signing Day, but added the crown jewel on Wednesday with running back Aaron Green. Green combined with all the beef Bo Pelini is bringing in on the offensive and defensive lines should have his team ready for its new home. Of course, the wild card in all of this is quarterback Bubba Starling. He's the type of player that could make this a great class, but a lot of people seem convinced that Starling will never play a down in Lincoln, as he's expected to be a first round draft pick in the MLB draft this summer.

Losers

Penn State - There are plenty of talented players coming to Happy Valley next season. Defensive ends Deion Barnes, Shawn Oakman and QB/DB Bill Belton are strong, athletic players. The problem with Penn State's class this season is its just not up to snuff for Penn State. A 16-member class just isn't what the Nittany Lions are accustomed to, and you really have to wonder how much longer Penn State can afford to stand by Joe Paterno. When two of your best recruiters, Larry Johnson Sr and Tom Bradley, are spending time looking for new jobs instead of working recruits -- which may have cost Penn State Ishaq Williams -- then things need to be fixed. This may be Joe Paterno's last Signing Day at Penn State.

Michigan - Don't get me wrong, Michigan has a nice class. A class that got even better on Wednesday with tight end Chris Barnett, but I'm putting them in the losers section based on what this class could have been. The Wolverines lost a lot of talent after firing Rich Rodriguez, and Brady Hoke just didn't have a chance to keep guys like Dee Hart in Ann Arbor. As a result, a potentially great class can only be considered solid at this point.

Purdue - Listen, nobody was expecting Danny Hope and Purdue to blow the doors off of this class, but while they put together a nice class, it's certainly not the type that will help propel Purdue up from the bottom half of the Big Ten. Plus, anytime you're a school that needs as many athletes as it can get, getting banned from a high school in Florida is probably the worst thing you can do.



More Recruiting Coverage can be found here at CBSSports.com
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com