James Franklin Is Making a Run at Brady Hoke's Spring Recruiting Crown

By Jordan Wagner on April 21, 2014 at 3:00p
James Franklin celebrates the prestigious April Recruiting Championship.

Most incoming freshmen have yet to set foot on campuses across the nation, but that hasn't stopped some schools from securing double-digit commitments for 2015. 

After a recent decommitment, Ohio State recruiting coordinator Mark Pantoni took to twitter to send a cryptic message suggesting that the Buckeyes will be just fine.

Despite the Buckeyes' slow start on the recruiting scene, there hasn't been any shortage of headlines in the Big Ten. 

Penn State, Nebraska Have early Success

In 2013, opposing fans joked about Michigan winning the prestigious April recruiting championship when the Wolverines' strong start faded to a slow finish. It appears this year's April recruiting championship belongs to Penn State.

The Nittany Lions currently hold the nation's second best class behind Alabama. Penn State's second-ranked class includes nine four-star prospects and three prospects rated as three-stars. 

While James Franklin's recruiting trail dominance attracts most of the attention, Bo Pelini is building a fine class in Lincoln. 

After recruiting struggles with the 2014 class, Nebraska is off to a quick start with 10 verbal commitments. Checking in at ninth in the 247Sports team recruiting rankings, the Cornhuskers have a strong foundation for their upcoming class. Rumors surrounding Pelini's job status have died down, which may aid his recruiting success. 

Nebraska has the luxury of landing one of the top junior quarterbacks in the country early in the cycle. Dual-threat Kevin Dillman had plenty of big-time offers before pledging to Pelini and company. Eric Lee, a four-star corner, pledged before Signing Day even passed. 

Northwestern Has Strong Week

Last year, Northwestern got off to a quick start on the recruiting scene, but fell off after a rough season. They currently check in at 23rd in the nation, with a class of two four-stars and the rest being three-stars. It's another good start for Pat Fitzgerald, but he'll need a stronger finish this season. 

Fitzgerald did manage to land eight recruits in a four day stretch. Andrew and David Dowell, twins from Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edwards, headline the Big Ten's third-ranked recruiting class. The four-star duo should provide the 'Cats with a pair of offensive weapons. The Ohio natives impressed at Ohio State's Friday Night Lights camp last summer. 

The unionization of Northwestern football appears to be having a big impact on recruiting for the Wildcats. Well, maybe that's a stretch. 

Kirk Ferentz Earning His Money?

The Iowa Hawkeyes have already secured the top five prospects from Iowa, helping them get off to a hot start in recruiting. Iowa checks in at fourth in the Big Ten and 26th in the nation. 

After losing top commitment Ross Pierschbacher to Alabama last year, Kirk Ferentz has been fighting suitors for three-star quarterback commitment Jack Beneventi. Beneventi is planning to take visits to Cal, Louisville, Texas and possibly other schools.

Offensive line has been one of the Hawkeyes' strengths over the years. That tradition could continue with a trio of three-star commitments: Landan Paulsen, Levi Paulsen and Jacob Newborg

The Usual Suspects At The Bottom

Ohio State fans worry about a lack of commitments, but it could always be worse. Indiana and Minnesota have yet to land a verbal for the 2015 class. Maryland and Purdue each have one, but both the Terrapins' and Boilermakers' first pledges have been big ones. 

Purdue quarterback commitment Elijah Sindelar was a favorite of Jeremy Birmingham and other Eleven Warriors members. The three-star prospect, who chose the Boilermakers over Kentucky, could be another sleeper for Darrell Hazell. As some might remember, Hazell was the first to offer Elite 11 QB David Blough before he burst onto the scene last year.

Four-star offensive guard E.J. Donahue was a huge start to Maryland's class last October. He may have been looking around since then. 

It's still too early for Ohio State or Michigan to panic. While both schools find themselves down in the rankings, they ought to finish with top recruiting classes. It's not about when a prospect makes his commitment, rather if they sign with your school in the end. 

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