football Edit

Report Card: Breaking down the early signings in the Big Ten

RANKINGS: 2019 Rivals150 | 2020 Rivals150 | 2019 Team Rankings

E.J. Liddell
E.J. Liddell (Jon Lopez/Nike @NikeEYB)

The dust is settling on the Early Signing Period, and while some Big Ten programs cleaned up, others have more work to do in the spring.

Eric Bossi breaks down the Big Ten’s best and worst of the early period.



In his second year on the job at Ohio State, Chris Holtmann has put together the Big Ten’s best recruiting class. Five-star point guard D.J. Carton headlines the group that also includes four-star combo forwards E.J. Liddell and Alonzo Gaffney. The signings of Carton and Liddell were made even sweeter by the fact that the Buckeyes had to defeat stiff competition from conference rivals to land each of them.


For whatever reason, it always looked like high-scoring combo guard Mark “Rocket” Watts would leave his home state of Michigan for college. As things wound down in his recruitment he appeared to be on his way to Florida State. Then, out of nowhere he put the brakes on things with Florida State and made a surprise commitment to Tom Izzo and Michigan State, giving the Spartans an explosive scorer who ranks in the top 50 nationally.


Minnesota really took a bad beat when combo forward Tray Jackson backed out on it. He committed to the Golden Gophers after the summer and the four-star looked to be the best possible replacement for senior Jordan Murphy. Then, out of nowhere he decommitted from the Gophers and committed to Missouri within a few hours.


All eyes are turning to Indiana, where the Hoosiers once again find themselves battling with some very successful big-name programs to keep homegrown five-star talent home. Last year Archie Miller and his staff pulled it off with shooting guard Romeo Langford, and this year they’ve got their eyes on a pair of five-stars in big man Trayce Jackson-Davis and forward Keion Brooks. Landing at least one is a must and would make for recruiting success. Both would be cause for a party in Bloomington.


Illinois: C-

Watching E.J. Liddell select Ohio State was tough and they came up just short on some others. Big man Antwan January does have a lot of upside if he can fully tap into his potential.

Indiana: C-

The Hoosiers have landed a Rivals150 combo guard in Armaan Franklin, but this class can’t really be judged until the answers are in from Trayce Jackson-Davis and Keion Brooks.

Iowa: C+

Once Fran McCaffrey’s son, Patrick McCaffrey, adds Big Ten strength his skill and versatility will make him a problematic matchup.

Maryland: B

All three of the Terps signees rank among the Rivals150, and twins Makhel Mitchell and Makhi Mitchell are soft-handed space eaters who play with an edge to them.

Michigan: B

Both four-stars Jalen Wilson and Cole Bajema look to be good fits in Ann Arbor because of their skill and versatility. They give the Wolverines a top 30 class.

Michigan State: B+

Given that neither Rocket Watts or Malik Hall was expected to land at Michigan State for much of their recruitment, it’s a nice haul. The Spartans are still very much in it for No. 1 Vernon Carey Jr. and top 5 center Isaiah Stewart.

Minnesota: C-

The Gophers rallied late for three-star wing Tre Williams, but losing Tray Jackson was a huge blow.

Nebraska: C

Combo guard Mika Adams-Woods is the most intriguing player in the Huskers' three-man class.

Northwestern: C+

Versatile combo forward Robbie Beran has size and can shoot. Jared Jones is inconsistent, but he has the talent to be a quality pickup.

Ohio State: A-

The Buckeyes have the highest-ranked class in the conference, and D.J. Carton will likely start at the point from the minute he arrives on campus.

Penn State: B-

Pat Chambers and his staff have put together a solid group. Seth Lundy is a tough wing scorer, while Abdou Tsimbila has upside as a shot-blocking and rebounding big man.

Purdue: B

Missing out on Malik Hall was a tough blow, but Brandon Newman is undervalued. If the Boilermakes can land top 40 Zeke Nnaji, their class will rise from No. 31 to the top 15.

Rutgers: C-

The lone signee for Rutgers, Paul Mulcahy, is a Rivals150 guard capable of playing multiple backcourt spots.

Wisconsin: C-

The Badgers have only signed Minnesota forward Tyler Wahl. A good athlete who can play the three or the four, he’ll contend for early minutes in Madison.