If you want to be a force in college football, you have to dominate on the field and in the living room. How did the Big Ten's teams fare in 2016?
The 2016 Big Ten recruiting train has pulled into the station. Like any great ride, the best twists and turns were saved for the end. In all 313 players signed on the dotted line with the 14 schools in the conference. 92 (almost 30-percent) of the players committed to their school of choice between January 15th and February 3rd.
Ohio State finished with the Big Ten's best recruiting class. The Buckeyes finished 17 points higher than second place Michigan and earned the title as the B1G's top-ranked class for the sixth straight year. When you combine top notch coaching with superb talent you get a tradition of excellence and that's what the Ohio State program is working with.
Four teams made a final climb up the composite rating rankings, including Jim Harbaugh's first full recruiting class in Ann Arbor.
The Wolverines snagged 12 new players over the final 19 days. The addition of Rashan Gary, the No. 1 ranked player in the nation, gave the Wolverines a 6 point bump and sole possession of second place in the B1G. Harbaugh also flipped the top-ranked kicker, Quinn Nordin, and DT Michael Dwumfour from Penn State. Not to go unnoticed is that Michigan had six players "decommit" during the final weeks as Harbaugh came under fire for some questionable recruiting tactics.
The Spartans moved up a spot, but the loss of Auston Robertson cost MSU 6 comp. rating points. Dantonio didn't have a strong finish as he only added one player to his class. However, having the third best recruiting class in the Big Ten is worth noting.
The final piece to the Hawkeyes' puzzle was OT Alaric Jackson. The 3-star tackle helped Iowa finish 10th, one ranking spot and two points higher than the last update. All 25 of the players Kirk Ferentz signed in 2016 had a 3-star rating. That must be the secret to winning Coach of the Year honors in the Big Ten.
The Hoosiers got into the poaching game and were able to sign WR Taysir Mack away from Rutgers. Mack and the other nine commits moved Indiana up a spot in the rankings. Signing ten players late in the cycle and getting Mack gives Indiana a little momentum heading into 2016.
STUMBLING ACROSS THE LINE
Eight Big Ten teams had their final composite average ratings drop and five of the eight teams lost double digit points:
The Nittany Lions spent the majority of the recruiting cycle with the second best comp. average in the conference. However, Franklin and his staff could not retain S Andrew Pryts, ATH Aaron Mathews, K Quinn Nordin and DT Michael Dwumfour. Losing players of that quality is why Penn State dropped from second to fourth in the final comp. rating rankings. On the brights side the Nittany Lions nabbed the nation's top-ranked running back, Miles Sanders.
Ohio State's pilfering of QB Dwayne Haskins and LB Keandre Jones put a major dent in the Terrapins stretch run. Haskins was Maryland's top-rated commit and Jones was third. D.J. Durkin did get 12 new commits down the stretch, but quantity doesn't always equal quality. Durkin and the Terps lost 18 composite points during the last cycle.
Chris Ash did his best with the limited time he had to salvage the Scarlet Knights class. Unfortunately for Ash he had five recruits decommit. CB Patrice Rene, WR Isaiah Wright and WR Taysir Mack were big losses. Mack decommitted on signing day when he selected Indiana. Rutgers finished with 17 commits, the smallest class in the Big Ten.
The Illini's final comp. rating fell 14 points. The reason for the free fall is because five of Illinois' ten highest rated commits decommitted over the last three weeks. Bill Cubit was able to close out with 15 players, but the quality of player wasn't high enough to stop the exodus of points. Illinois finished 13th in the Big Ten with a composite rating of .811.
For the second straight year the Boilermakers finished with the worst comp. average rating in the Big Ten. Purdue's final nine commits sunk the school's average a conference high 24 points. The Boilermakers went from.821 down to .797. Pathetic. Purdue. Pathetic.
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Go here to see the Big Ten's 91 new commits and the 30 decommits between 1/15-2/3.
The total number of points earned by the Big Ten in 2016 was 259,113*. Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois were the teams above the conference average of 18,508. The Big Ten made strides this year, but with nine teams below the conferences average there is still room for improvement. The Eastern division set the tone and if there's a Western Division team hoping to make a run for a Big Ten title they're going to need to make some serious changes soon.
BATTLE FOR THE BOTTOM
Purdue owned last place for total points for the majority of the recruiting season. However, Indiana and Rutgers entered the last cycle 13th and 14th respectively. The Hoosiers added 11 players and shot up four spot in the rankings to ninth. Chris Ash was not able to gain enough points and Rutgers finished last in the Big Ten with 14,042 total points.
Perhaps the biggest surprise is that Michigan State and Penn State checked in at 12th and 13th place for the final rankings. The Spartans dropped from fifth to 12th. The Nittany Lions fell from ninth to 13th, though their smaller class size explains some of that discrepancy.
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* Kickers, Long Snappers and Punters not included.