The Big Ten featured two of the premier recruiting classes in the nation with Ohio State and Michigan, and fast-rising Michigan State will go down as one of the nation's biggest recruiting surprises. From top to bottom the Big Ten produced some very solid efforts in 2009. Check out the breakdown of National Signing Day in a special edition of the Big Ten Blitz.
Headliner: Linebacker Dorian Bell is the type of headhunter who has the speed to excel in the Big Ten.
Sleeper: Offensive tackle Sam Longo is a three-star player, but his frame and upside make him one of the best steals out of Ohio this season.
Overview: The Buckeyes jumped out of the gate early, securing a majority of their commitments before the season even got into high gear. As always, Ohio State did a lot of its damage in its own backyard, plus the Buckeyes went national to score some other key prospects such as Bell and his five-star teammate Corey Brown. More skill help is also on the way with star receivers Duron Carter and running back Jaamal Berry. The defensive backfield also got a major injection of speed.
Headliner: Five-star defensive tackle William Campbell was one of the biggest headline grabbers nationally. He flirted with other teams before picking Michigan at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
Sleeper: Running back Teric Jones didn't get as many headlines as his other Detroit Cass Tech teammates, but he has the speed and style of play to fit perfectly into the Michigan offense.
Overview: While it was a disappointing season on the field for the Wolverines, there were only a few disappointments in the recruiting front. Rich Rodriguez was able to scour the nation for the type of offensive skill players – led by quarterback Tate Forcier and athlete Jeremy Gallon – who should help out immediately. He also brought in offensive linemen and defensive linemen who are highly athletic, which definitely will help because of the Wolverines' style of play. Much-needed help was also brought in on the defensive backfield. The Wolverines were also able to turn WR Je'Ron Stokes from Tennessee on Signing Day.
Headliner: Quarterback Andrew Maxwell has all the tools to be a star and lead the Spartans' program in the future. He's smart, he's got moxie and he has a strong and accurate arm.
Sleeper: Spartans coaches are really excited to get their hands on offensive lineman Micajah Reynolds. The 6-foot-5, 310-pounder moves really well for a big guy.
Overview: The Spartans not only were one of the nation's biggest surprises, but they also surprised a lot of local observers with their dominating in-state class. Led by recruiting coordinator Mark Staten and ace recruiter Dan Enos, MSU scored some major head-to-head wins against rival Michigan. Then MSU was able to snag top-100 national prospect David Barrent away from Iowa and add plenty of depth at the offensive skill positions. The line class also will go down as one of the best in the conference. Center Nate Klatt is one of the nation's best at his position.
Headliner: Quarterback was a monster priority for the Nittany Lions, so that's why landing four-star dual-threat quarterback Kevin Newsome was vital. He might not be ready to step on the field from Day One, but he's got the tools to be the leader of the future.
Sleeper: Cornerback Mike Wallace did have some nice offers on the table, but his senior season helped him earn an offer from Penn State. It was one he didn't take long to accept. He's a smart and athletic corner.
Overview: Penn State hasn't drawn the type of national headlines that Ohio State or Michigan have this recruiting season, but the group heading to Happy Valley definitely will keep the Nittany Lions on the right track. There are plenty of headliners to go along with Newsome. The group is heavy on the offensive line and there are some great ones in the group, led by Eric Shrive. The group of defensive backs is also special with four-stars Derrick Thomas and Darrell Givens at cornerback.
Headliner: Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase was one of the nation's top-ranked quarterbacks, and he's expected to be the heir apparent to Juice Williams for the Illini. He's athletic and heady, and players rally around him. He has a chance to be a good one for Illinois.
Sleeper:Receiver Steve Hull isn't as flashy as some other nationally ranked receivers, but he's a steady, sure-handed receiver who could become a dependable offensive weapon in the future for Illinois.
Overview: It was a wild season both on and off the field for the Illini. There were plenty of recruiting ups and downs for Illinois. Landing Scheelhaase, running back Bud Golden and offensive lineman Leon Hill early in the process were the ups. Then losing in-state defensive end Craig Drummond to Ole Miss was one of the downs. Then there was the roller-coaster rides with East St. Louis teammates Kraig Appleton and Terry Hawthorne. The Illini lost Appleton to Wisconsin on Signing day, but in the end they did a nice job of meeting needs on the offensive and defensive line, which was the biggest key in this year's class.
Headliner: Running back Hasan Lipscomb was a major get from one of the top high school teams in the state of Texas. The 5-10, 201-pounder not only has the speed of a home-run back, but he's also tough enough to be an everyday, carry-the-load type back.
Sleeper: An early commitment to Minnesota, in-state athlete Nick Rengel could be a jack-of-all-trades player for the Gophers. At 6-3 and 225 pounds, he could project at linebacker, defensive line, fullback or even tight end.
Overview: While this Gophers class didn't grab as many national headlines as the 2008 class, this is another solid all-around effort by coach Tim Brewster. Along with Lipscomb, the Gophers offense will get a major boost from four-star receiver Hayo Carpenter from the junior college ranks. The Gophers are also excited about quarterback Moses Alipate and the solid offensive line group that will be blocking for him. Athlete Bryant Allen was also a major steal out of Missouri. He's one of the nation's top two-sport athletes.
Headliner: Running back Montee Ball should be able to carry on the great Wisconsin running back tradition. His physical running ability is perfect for what the Badgers want in their offense, but he does have nice explosion, which could allow him to be a home-run threat, too.
Sleeper:Jacob Pedersen will be playing tight end in Madison, but his versatility is intriguing. At 6-5 and 215 pounds, he could also play slot receiver or he could even bulk up and be a defensive end in the future. It's that athletic ability that caused the Badgers coaches to offer him a scholarship late in the process.
Overview: This Badgers class fills holes at almost every position. Wisconsin coaches are excited about quarterback Jon Budmayr, four solid offensive linemen, an elite defensive end group led by David Gilbert and Shelby Harris and some athletic defensive backs. The Badgers not only did a nice job locally, but they also did plenty of damage in Ohio and in Florida. Landing Gilbert, who was heavily recruited by SEC programs, was a major coup. Landing WR Kraig Appleton on Signing Day was icing on the cake.
Headliner: Four-star offensive lineman Patrick Ward was a major get for the Wildcats for a number of reasons. Not only is he one of the best blockers in the nation, but he was also a major recruiting victory close to home.
Sleeper: The Wildcats coaches are really excited about Cooper Gerami, a hard-hitting safety from Louisiana. He's always around the football on film, and he was a three-year starter on one of the top teams in Louisiana.
Overview: The Wildcats have to recruit a different type of player than the rest of the teams in the conference, but they capitalized on an Alamo Bowl appearance with one of their better recruiting classes in recent memory. Quarterback Evan Watkins has the tools to be the starter in the future, running back Arby Fields was a steal out of California and the offensive line class is really stout. Help was also added with a very deep linebacker group and some solid defensive ends.
Headliner: The Hoosiers are excited about the playmaking receiver they landed with Duwyce Wilson. The 6-4, 190-pounder has the speed to be a home-run threat, and he has good hands - which could allow him to be a possession receiver.
Sleeper:Nick Zachery was a three-star prospect, but he was a small-school star, which kind of kept him under wraps nationally. He led his team to three Class 1A championships as a quarterback, but the athlete is speedy and athletic enough to contribute at a number of different positions.
Overview: Even though Indiana finished toward the bottom of the Big Ten, this class was another solid step forward for the Hoosiers. They'll finish in the top 65 nationally, which is something that never used to happen. Indiana went hard and heavy after offensive players in this class and it had some tremendous success. They scored playmakers at quarterback – two actually with Dustin Kiel and Edward Wright-Baker – running back, receiver and on the offensive line. Lawrence Barnett is a nice in-state get at cornerback, and Adam Replogle is a stout defensive tackle.
Headliner: Receiver Keenan Davis was a national prospect who just happened to be right in the Hawkeyes' backyard. The 6-3, 200-pounder is a physical pass-catcher who has enough speed to be a deep threat, too. He was a must get because Iowa needs offensive playmakers.
Sleeper: Hawkeyes coaches say they got a steal from Joshua Brown from St. Petersburg, Fla. The Hawkeyes are getting a versatile player who could play several positions in college. While the Hawkeyes initially talked to him about being a defensive back, they are now looking at him on offense - possibly at quarterback or slot receiver.
Overview: Iowa fans knew it was going to be a smaller-than-normal class signed by coach Kirk Ferentz this season. It's tough to have a highly ranked recruiting class when you sign around 20 players, but this is still a nice haul for the Hawkeyes. Along with Davis, the Hawkeyes reeled in star running back Brandon Wegher. Brad Rogers has a shot to be a real steal as a big, bruising back. Help was added along the offensive line, and Iowa went heavy at linebacker.
Headliner: Landing Al-Terek McBurse from Winter Springs, Fla., was no easy task. He was one of the most heavily courted prospects in the Sunshine State, and the four-star back is already on campus in the spring. He could immediately see the field for the Boilers. Yes, he's that good.
Sleeper:Najee Tyler only had one offer, but the quarterback from Brooklyn, N.Y., has a big body (6-5, 213) and matured a lot as a senior.
Overview: It's a new era in West Lafayette, Ind., and the change in coaches brought a major, major chance in recruiting philosophy. Instead of sticking to the Midwest, which had been kind to the previous staff, Purdue went hard and heavy to Florida in hopes of luring in more speed. It paid off. Twelve players from the Sunshine State are heading to Purdue, and the Boilermakers landed a major upgrade in speed with those players. Purdue coaches are excited about quarterback Rob Henry, plus help on the interior defensive line is on the way with four defensive tackles signed.