Big Ten recruiting rankings and projections, June 2

James Franklin and Penn State are reaping the rewards in recruiting from their Big Ten title.

One of our new recruiting features at The World-Herald will be a monthly Big Ten recruiting rankings update.

We’re going to track the current progress of Big Ten teams according to 247Sports, Rivals and Scout recruiting service rankings, briefly recap the work done by each school to that point and project where the class will land in February’s final rankings. Though the projection is fluid, you’ll notice that the projections don’t necessarily match with current rankings.

Not surprisingly, Ohio State is on top. Not surprisingly, the Big Ten East dominates the top five.

But Nebraska is holding strong.

Before we get into the details, here’s a snapshot of our projected rankings, broken down into tiers.

National projections

Ohio State: Top 5

Penn State: Top 10

Michigan: Top 15

Nebraska: Top 15

Northwestern: Top 30

Maryland: Top 30

Minnesota: Top 40

Michigan State: Top 40

Wisconsin: Top 40

Rutgers: Top 50

Iowa: Top 50

Indiana: Top 60

Illinois: Top 60

Purdue: Top 70

Big Ten projections

Top 2: Ohio State, Penn State

Top 5: Michigan, Nebraska, Northwestern

Top 10: Maryland, Minnesota, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Rutgers

Bottom four: Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Purdue

Team-by-team breakdown

OHIO STATE

Commits: 11

247Sports composite ranking (national/conference): 2/1

Rivals ranking (national/conference): 3/2

Scout ranking (national/conference): 3/1

Consensus Top 100 commits: 8

Top commit: Taron Vincent, 6-2/285, DT, IMG Academy

Skinny: The rich remain rich. The Buckeyes have their quarterback — Emory Jones — and two running backs in the class, plus the usual pick of the litter at other positions.

Class projection (national/conference): Top 5/Top 2

PENN STATE

Commits: 13

247Sports composite ranking (national/conference): 3/2

Rivals ranking (national/conference) 2/1

Scout ranking (national/conference): 4/2

Consensus Top 100 commits: 5

Top commit: Justin Fields, 6-3/220, QB, Kennesaw (Georgia) Harrison

Skinny: The Nittany Lions are capitalizing off of their Big Ten title and going heavy on offense with two tight ends and three offensive linemen already in the fold. Quarterback commit Justin Fields has similar size and skill set to Cam Newton. He even plays for Newton’s 7-on-7 team near Atlanta.

Class projection (national/conference): Top 10/Top 2

NEBRASKA

Commits: 11

247Sports composite ranking (national/conference): 8/3

Rivals ranking (national/conference): 7/3

Scout ranking (national/conference): 9/4

Consensus Top 100 commits: 1

Top commit: Brendan Radley-Hiles, 5-10/185, CB, IMG Academy

Skinny: The only thing that will hold back the Huskers’ class appears to be its small size (15-18). Otherwise, NU’s done what it had hoped to do, especially on defense: Three defensive backs, all four-star prospects, and two defensive linemen. 

Class projection: Top 15/Top 5

MICHIGAN

Commits: 10

247Sports composite ranking (national/conference): 10/4

Rivals ranking (national/conference): 10/4

Scout ranking (national/conference): 7/3

Consensus Top 100 commits: 1

Top commit: Emil Ekiyor, 6-3/330, OL, Indianapolis Cathedral

Skinny: The Wolverines are already all loaded up on offensive linemen — two in-state tackles and the gigantic Ekiyor, who needs to shed pounds but moves a pile. Myles Sims, a 6-3 corner from Atlanta, could be special.

Class projection: Top 15/Top 5

NORTHWESTERN

Commits: 13

247Sports composite ranking (national/conference): 16/5

Rivals ranking (national/conference): 16/5

Scout ranking (national/conference):  16/5

Consensus Top 100 commits: 0

Top commit: Devin O’Rourke, 6-6/240, DE, Frankfort (Illinois) Lincoln-Way East

Skinny: The Wildcats always recruit volume before the season begins. Good work so far on the defensive side of the ball with two defensive linemen, two corners and an outside linebacker.  One corner, Greg Newsome, may be the best in the Midwest. Northwestern is building its best class in years in part because it can pitch its new, palatal lakeside practice facility.

Class projection: Top 30/Top 6

MINNESOTA

Commits: 12

247Sports composite ranking (national/conference): 17/6

Rivals ranking (national/conference): 19/6

Scout ranking (national/conference): 20/6

Consensus Top 100 commits: 0

Top commit: Elijah Teague, 6-2/295, DT, Chicago Marist  

Skinny: New coach P.J. Fleck’s first full class should be a big one, and needs to be ranked inside the top 40, if possible. Look for that to happen if Fleck can win some of the bigger recruiting battles in the Midwest and swipe some three-star talent from the south. The state of Minnesota supplied very little top-shelf talent in 2017.

Class projection: Top 40/Top 10

WISCONSIN

Commits: 10

247Sports composite ranking (national/conference): 24/7

Rivals ranking (national/conference): 25/7

Scout ranking (national/conference): 23/7

Consensus Top 100 commits: 0

Top commit: Jack Sanborn, 6-2/210, LB, Lake Zurich (Illinois)

Skinny: Typical Badger class thus far. Lots of big boys from the Upper Midwest, plus skill players that don’t turn your head too much. No running back in the class yet.

Class projection: Top 40/Top 10

MARYLAND

Commits: 7

247Sports composite ranking (national/conference): 32/8

Rivals ranking (national/conference): 32/8

Scout ranking (national/conference): 32/9

Consensus Top 100 commits: 1

Top commit: Austin Fontaine, 6-2/315, DT, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Maryland) Catholic

Skinny: The Terrapins are on the recruiting rise after a solid top 40 class last season. Expect little change in that; in fact, look for an improvement if Maryland returns to a bowl, which I expect.

Class projection: Top 30/Top 6

MICHIGAN STATE

Commits: 6

247Sports composite ranking (national/conference): 37/9

Rivals ranking (national/conference): 33/9

Scout ranking (national/conference): 24/8

Consensus Top 100 commits: 0

Top commit: Xavier Henderson, 6-0, 190, CB, Pickering (Ohio) Central

Skinny: MSU took it on the chin last season with a 3-9 record, and I expect more of the same in 2018. The class isn’t bad right now, but, with 6-6 in sight, prospects will have to decide whether they think the operation is trending up.

Class projection: Top 40/Top 10

IOWA

Commits: 6

247Sports composite ranking (national/conference): 43/10

Rivals ranking (national/conference): 46/10

Scout ranking (national/conference): 40/10

Consensus Top 100 commits: 0

Top commit: Tyrone Tracy, 6-0, 185, WR/RB, Indianapolis Decatur Central

Skinny: The Hawkeyes are destined for a small 2018 class — not quite as small as Nebraska, perhaps, but maybe under 20 commits. Iowa is in the mix for several top Midwestern prospects; will it win any of those battles?

Class projection: Top 50/Bottom four   

INDIANA  

Commits: 3

247Sports composite ranking (national/conference): 70/11

Rivals ranking (national/conference): 68/11

Scout ranking (national/conference): 59/11

Consensus Top 100 commits: 0

Top commit: Kristian Pechac, 6-0/200, RB, Bloomington (Indiana) South

Skinny: Big “regime change” class for new coach Tom Allen. It’s safe to say Allen lacks Fleck’s recruiting acumen. Just three commits at the start of camp season. Allen and Co. better get on their horse.

Class projection: Top 60/Bottom four

ILLINOIS

247Sports composite ranking (national/conference): 77/12

Rivals ranking (national/conference): 73/12

Scout ranking (national/conference): 69/12

Consensus Top 100 commits: 0

Top commit: Coran Taylor, 6-3/195, QB, Peoria, Illinois

Skinny: Illinois has already had its fanny kicked in in-state recruiting this cycle. If Lovie Smith can’t win there, it’s hard to see him winning much in surrounding states.

Class projection: Top 60/Bottom four

RUTGERS

Commits: 2

247Sports composite ranking (national/conference): 79/13

Rivals ranking (national/conference): 73/13

Scout ranking (national/conference): 80/13

Consensus Top 100 commits: 0

Top commit: Jalen Chatman, 6-0/170, QB, Harbor City (California) Narbonne

Skinny: The Scarlet Knights are off to a slow start which, considering an ugly 2016, isn’t that surprising. Rutgers will be much better this season and it’ll eventually pay off with better recruits from a talent-rich region. Coach Chris Ash can recruit, and his new offensive coordinator, Jerry Kill, is an expert evaluator.

Class projection: Top 50/Top 10

PURDUE

Commits: 0

247Sports composite ranking (national/conference): 98*/14

Rivals Ranking (national/conference): NR/14

Scout Ranking (national/conference): NR/14

Consensus Top 100 commits: 0

Top commit: None.

Skinny: *247Sports lists City College of San Francisco defensive tackle Raymond Ellis as a 2018 signee, but he’s playing in 2017 for the Boilermakers. So PU doesn’t have a commit. The rebuild here for new coach Jeff Brohm is significant and will take multiple steps.

Class projection: Top 70/Bottom four 

Reporter - Nebraska athletics

Sam covers Nebraska football, recruiting, women's basketball and more for The World-Herald. Follow him on Twitter @swmckewonOWH. Email: SMcKewon@owh.com

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