Signing Day Checklist: Wrapping up the Big Ten

National Signing Day has come and gone. And while most of the focus on recruiting in the Big Ten was on the classes that Ohio State and Michigan put together, it turns out there are still 10 other schools in the conference. They even have their own recruits.

So let's take a look at how each school did on Wednesday.

Leaders Division


Signees: 25

247Sports National Rank: 46

Overview: The Illini needed a lot of help on defense both on the line of scrimmage and in the secondary. They addressed both of those needs, going the old-fashioned route of finding high school talent and trying to plug holes via junior colleges. All in all, Illinois put together a nice class considering it's coming off a 2-10 season in which it looked completely overmatched. If there's a problem, it's that the Illini still missed out on a lot of the top talent in their own state. 

Headliner: Dual-threat quarterback Aaron Bailey was the prize of this class. The four-star is considered the fifth-best dual-threat quarterback in the country.

Instant Impact: Defensive end Paul James out of Miami could see the field quickly. The Illini pass rush was one of the worst in the Big Ten last season, and James will have every chance to help improve it in 2013.

Best-Case Scenario: This isn't a class that's going to go on and win Big Ten titles routinely, but it could be the foundation of a competitive program under Tim Beckman.


Signees: 22

247Sports National Rank: 43

Overview: Kevin Wilson did well for himself. Indiana finished with the seventh-best class in the Big Ten this season, which is no small feat given that this is Indiana football we are talking about here. The Hoosiers' biggest weakness in 2012 was their defense, and Wilson addressed it as best he could by bringing in 12 new defensive players. Of course, this is a Kevin Wilson team that we're talking about, so the offensive side of the ball wasn't ignored. The Hoosiers brought in a stud tackle and a few more playmakers as well.

Headliner: Offensive tackle Darius Latham is the biggest recruit in this class both by rank and size. 

Instant Impact: Steven Funderburk is an early enrollee out of junior college who should see immediate playing time at outside linebacker in 2013.

Best-Case Scenario: Indiana's offense under Wilson is coming along much quicker than the defense. But if this latest class brings some talent and depth to the defense, it could help Indiana get to bowl games with more regularity.

Ohio State

Signees: 25

247Sports National Rank: 2

Overview: This is the most impressive class in the Big Ten, which is not a shocking development considering that we're talking about both Ohio State and Urban Meyer here. The Buckeyes' class already was strong before landing players like safety Vonn Bell, wide receiver James Clark and running back Dontre Wilson on Wednesday. This is a class that not only helped address depth at some trouble spots on the Ohio State roster but also brought in even more talent. What could be scary for teams outside the Big Ten is that this class was brought in from all over the country, which means Meyer won't just be focusing on Ohio and the Midwest.

Headliner: There is a lot of talent in this class, but perhaps none more impressive than safety Vonn Bell.

Instant Impact: Running backs Ezekiel Elliot and Dontre Wilson could find themselves getting touches this season to lighten the load on Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde.

Best-Case Scenario: Sometimes the best-case scenario is also the expectations for a class. Ohio State fans expect national titles under Urban Meyer, and this class might just help deliver one.

Penn State

Signees: 17

247Sports National Rank: 26

Overview: Penn State and Bill O'Brien did a nice job working around the limits placed on them by the NCAA and put together a nice class. The Nittany Lions had needs at quarterback, in the secondary and at linebacker and addressed those needs while also filling smaller holes elsewhere throughout the roster. A big need was at quarterback, and that's where Penn State landed one of the top junior-college quarterbacks in the country in Tyler Ferguson and also the top pro-style quarterback prospect in the 2013 class, Christian Hackenberg.

Headliner: Considering what O'Brien did with Matt McGloin, it's no wonder Penn State fans are salivating over the idea of him working with Hackenberg for four seasons.

Instant Impact: Tight end Adam Breneman enrolled early and has a good shot at seeing the field in 2013 as Penn State looks for more weapons in its passing attack.

Best-Case Scenario: There are still three seasons to go before anybody in this class will have a chance to play in a bowl game, but there's enough talent here to make sure Penn State keeps winning games in the Big Ten while serving out its NCAA penalties.


Signees: 24

247Sports National Rank: 62

Overview: Darrell Hazell did not have a lot of time to address a team that has a lot of needs. As a result, Purdue finds itself with one of the lowest-rated classes in the Big Ten. Where Purdue did do well was in addressing its needs on the defensive line, as nine new defensive linemen have been added to the roster. However, there is only one offensive lineman in the class, which leaves Purdue thin up front and could mean trouble if the injury bug hits.

Headliner: The highest-rated player in this class is three-star quarterback Danny Etling. 

Instant Impact: With both Akeem Shavers and Ralph Bolden moving on, running backs Keyante Green and Dalyn Dawkins will have opportunities to back up Akeem Hunt in Hazell's offense this season.

Best-Case Scenario: This is not a great class, but it's not a bad class, either. Hopefully for Purdue, there's enough talent and depth here to help it tread water for a season and allow Hazell a chance to start bringing in his own players.



247Sports National Rank: 37

Overview: Wisconsin saw a few defections after Bret Bielema and a large portion of its coaching staff left Madison, but what remains is still a class that finishes in the top half of the Big Ten. Gary Andersen also has four new defensive backs who can help address a need in the secondary. It is a bit surprising to see only one offensive lineman in the class considering this is Wisconsin, but there's enough depth on the roster to ensure this likely won't be a big deal in 2013.

Headliner: While he'll have a hard time finding carries this season amongst all the talent in Wisconsin's backfield, running back Corey Clement could be the newest addition in a long line of prolific Wisconsin backs.

Instant Impact: The Badgers lost three starters from their secondary, which is why both of their early enrollees are cornerbacks. Sojourn Shelton and Keelon Brookins have a shot at seeing significant time.

Best-Case Scenario: Wisconsin is in a weird place. The consistency that has been a hallmark of this program the last 20 years has now been disrupted. The hope is that this class helps make the transition to Andersen as smooth as possible and the Badgers just keep on churning.

Legends Division


Signees: 22

247Sports National Rank: 55

Overview: There is no such thing as a sexy Iowa recruiting class, but that doesn't mean there isn't some talent here that will help Iowa rebound from a bad 2012 season. However, the Hawkeyes really need an infusion of talent on the defensive line, as they ranked last in the Big Ten in sacks last season, and I just don't see anything in this class that is going to change that. There are four wide receivers in the class who could help an Iowa passing attack that was, well, let's just say that "attack" is a very generous word for Iowa's passing game in 2012.

Headliner: Tight ends and Iowa go together like Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, so it's no surprise the highest-rated player in this class is tight end Jon Wisnieski.

Instant Impact: Freshmen generally don't make an impact under Kirk Ferentz. But given the annual attrition at running back in Iowa City, it wouldn't be a shock to see LeShun Daniels and Desmond King on the field at some point.

Best-Case Scenario: Iowa is hoping this class can stop the bleeding and help turn around a program that has been trending downward in recent seasons.


Signees: 27

247Sports National Rank: 5

Overview: The only other Big Ten class that comes close to Ohio State, Michigan's 2013 class is one of the best in the country. Not only is this a class that addresses Michigan's needs, but it does so with some of the best talent in the country. It's also very heavy on trench warfare, as 10 of the 27 commits play on either the offensive or defensive lines. In other words, it is a very good blend of size, strength and skill. It should keep Michigan right at the top of the conference with Ohio State.

Headliner: Brady Hoke finally has a chance to bring in his quarterback of the future with four-star Shane Morris.

Instant Impact: With an injury to Fitz Toussaint and Vincent Smith's departure, running back Derrick Green could find himself on top of the depth chart this fall.

Best-Case Scenario: A few more classes like this, and Michigan won't just be competing with Ohio State for trips to the Rose Bowl but for national championships.

Michigan State

Signees: 18

247Sports National Rank: 33

Overview: Michigan State took a step back on the field in 2012, but it still put together a nice recruiting class for 2013. The Spartans certainly need more skill on offense, and they're hoping they addressed those needs with a class that includes three running backs and two wide receivers. There's also four-star quarterback Damion Terry who could end up having a huge impact on this team in years to come. This class also made sure to address some needs that Michigan State will have in the 2014 season.

Headliner: While Mark Dantonio said Andrew Maxwell is still his starter, Terry will have a chance to compete with Maxwell and Connor Cook in East Lansing this summer.

Instant Impact: With a few key departures in the secondary, it's possible cornerback Darian Hicks will see the field sooner rather than later.

Best-Case Scenario: Michigan State had won 11 games in back-to-back seasons before going 7-6 in 2012. The hope is this class can get the Spartans back on that level and possibly to Pasadena.


Signees: 20

247Sports National Rank: 65

Overview: Minnesota addressed some of its needs, but a few remain. The Gophers need talent at wide receiver and got some, but the playmakers that it needed on defense are lacking in this class. It's not a great class, and that's why it's rated as the worst in the Big Ten. Another concern is that, while this class is put together with players from around the country, only one of the 20 new Gophers is from Minnesota. Jerry Kill will need to improve his in-state recruiting in years to come.

Headliner: At 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, wide receiver Drew Wolitarksy is the highest-rated player in Minnesota's class.

Instant Impact: Outside linebacker De'Vondre Campbell is a juco transfer who is likely to see plenty of time on the field this fall.

Best-Case Scenario: Minnesota seems to be headed in the right direction under Kill, and hopefully this class will continue that trend and prove to be much stronger than initially thought.


Signees: 26

247Sports National Rank: 23

Overview: Nebraska put together the third-best class in the Big Ten this season, which is good news because the Cornhuskers have a lot of holes to fill after winning the Legends Division. Bo Pelini stocked up on offensive tackles, bringing in four of them. He also brought in six defensive linemen to help replace the three starters that Nebraska loses. That doesn't mean there aren't skill players in this class; the Huskers bring in another couple of four-star running backs and four-star quarterback Johnny Stanton.

Headliner: Four-star outside linebacker Marcus Newby could end up as quite the defensive force before his career in Lincoln ends.

Instant Impact: With so many starters leaving on the defensive line, you can be sure that junior college defensive end Randy Gregory will see plenty of snaps this season.

Best-Case Scenario: Nebraska reached the Big Ten Championship Game last season, but the goal in Lincoln is to win Big Ten titles. A class like this will help ensure the Cornhuskers can compete with Ohio State and Michigan.


Signees: 19

247Sports National Rank: 51

Overview: Pat Fitzgerald finds himself with a solid class this season, as with each passing season we see Northwestern start bringing in more and more talent. Northwestern is also having more success getting the top talent from the Chicago area, which can only help in the long run. This year, Northwestern has to replace three starting offensive linemen; because of that, we see four new linemen in this class. If there's something about this class not to like it's the lack of help for the secondary. Matt Harris will play corner for the Wildcats, and it's possible that's the fate of three-star athlete Godwin Igwebuike, but I'm not sure that's enough to fix an area that has been problematic in recent seasons.

Headliner: There's nothing flashy about this, but there's a good chance that the best player in this class will be four-star center Tyler Lancaster.

Instant Impact: With the offense that the Wildcats run, it wouldn't be shocking to see running back Keith Watkins spelling Venric Mark from time to time.

Best-Case Scenario: This class improves the depth and talent on Northwestern's roster to ensure that the Wildcats continue to be a factor in the Big Ten and make sure it's not another 64 years before the next bowl win.

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CBS Sports Writer

Tom Fornelli has been a college football writer at CBS Sports since 2010. During his time at CBS, Tom has proven time and again that he hates your favorite team and thinks your rival is a paragon of football... Full Bio

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