Dienhart: All of the best from 2014 Signing Day

Dienhart: All of the best from 2014 Signing Day

Here’s a look at the biggest and best of Signing Day 2104. We won’t know the true results on these players for two-to-three years. Still, let’s enjoy the speculation and analysis.

[ MORE: Read Tom Dienhart’s 2014 Big Ten Signing Day Notebook ]

Biggest surprise: Indiana. Kevin Wilson continues to add talent to this roster. In fact, this is his best class yet. IU inked several good recivers, led by Dominique Booth. And Tim Gardner is a top offensive lineman. But the Hoosiers need to improve on defense. Bottom line: Wilson is closer to delivering Indiana its first bowl since 2007.

Biggest disappointment: Iowa. The Hawkeyes didn’t get as much lift from their rebound 2013 season as I thought. But remember this: Kirk Ferentz has made a living developing three-star players into studs. Don’t bet against him now.  The jewel is RB Markel Smith of St. Louis, who could be Iowa’s next great back. Also, keep an eye on QB Tyler Wiegers from Detroit, a 6-4 four-star prospect.

Biggest recruits: Michigan inked the stud of studs in CB Jabrill Peppers, considered by most to be the No. 3 overall prospect in the nation. Ohio State LB Raekwon McMillan is considered the next best. Here’s a look at the top 12 Big Ten recruits, based on Rivals.com rankings:

1. CB Jabrill Peppers, Michigan
2. LB Raekwon McMillan, Ohio State
3. DB Damon Webb, Ohio State
4. RB Jeff Jones, Minnesota
5. OL Demetrius Knox, Ohio State
6. WR Curtis Samuel, Ohio State
7. DB Erick Smith, Ohio State
8. DE Jalyn Holmes, Ohio State
9. LB Dante Booker, Ohio State
10. OL Tanner Farmer, Nebraska
11. OL Mason Cole, Michigan
12. OL Jamarco Jones, Ohio State

Biggest late commitment: Michigan State scored a big coup by securing Malik McDowell on Signing Day. Actually, McDowell verbally committed today, but he has yet to send in his National Letter of Intent. He is a five-star recruit and the top player in Michigan. McDowell also considered Michigan, Ohio State and Florida State. This was a bizarre recruitment in some respects, as McDowell’s mother said disparaging things about MSU leading up to Signing Day.

Biggest flip for a school: Michigan State flipped DT Craig Evans from Wisconsin. Evans is a four-star player and nice get for the Spartans, who continue to build a defensive juggernaut.

Biggest flip against a school: Nebraska saw stud JC DT Terrell Clinkscales flip to Kansas State. Penn State lost DT Thomas Holley to Florida. Iowa lost OL Ross Pierschbacher to Alabama. The No. 2 prospect in Iowa, he flip flopped between schools but ultimately picked Bama even though o-line was a position of need in Iowa City. Nebraska lost a good DE in Blake McClain, who opted late for South Carolina.

Best signees by position, according to Rivals.com rankings:

Pro-style quarterbacks
Michael O’Connor, Penn State
2. Tyler Wiegers, Iowa
3. David Blough, Purdue
4. Chayce Crouch, Illinois

Dual-threat quarterbacks
Clayton Thorson, Northwestern
2. D.J. Gillins, Wisconsin
3. Stephen Collier, Ohio State

Running backs
1. Jeff Jones, Minnesota
2. Justin Jackson, Northwestern
3. Mikale Wilbon, Nebraska
4. Madre London, Michigan State
5. Taiwan Deal, Wisconsin
6. Markel Smith, Iowa
7. Johnathan Thomas, Penn State
8. Matt Domer, Illinois

All-purpose running backs
Nick Scott, Penn State
2. Auston Anderson, Northwestern

Curtis Samuel, Ohio State
2. Drake Harris, Michigan
3. Johnnie Dixon, Ohio State
4. Chris Godwin, Penn State
5. Saeed Blacknall, Penn State
6. Monte Harrison, Nebraska
7. De’Andre Thompkins, Penn State
8. Terry McLaurin, Ohio State
9. Freddy Canteen, Michigan
10. Dominique Booth, Indiana

Tight ends
1. Ian Bunting, Michigan
2. Mike Gesicki, Penn State
3. Gaelin Elmore, Minnesota
4. Freedom Akinmoladun, Nebraska

Offensive tackles
1. Mason Cole, Michigan
2. Jamarco Jones, Ohio State
3. Kyle Trout, Ohio State
4. Nick Gates, Nebraska
5. Jaden Gault, Wisconsin
6. Juwan Bushell-Beatty, Michigan
7. Brady Taylor, Ohio State
8. Nick Stoltenberg, Nebraska
9. Blake Hance, Northwestern
10. Chase Gianacakos, Michigan State

1. Demetrius Knox, Ohio State
2. Tanner Farmer, Nebraska
3. Marcelys Jones, Ohio State
4. D.J. Foster, Nebraska

Brian Allen, Michigan State
2. Nick Allegretti, Illinois
3. Connor Mayes, Minnesota

Defensive tackles
1. Craig Evans, Michigan State
2. Enoch Smith, Jr., Michigan State
3. Bryan Mone, Michigan
4. David Beedle, Michigan State
5. Antoine White, Penn State
6. Jeremy Patterson, Wisconsin

Weak-side defensive ends
1. Jalyn Holmes, Ohio State
2. Gelen Robinson, Purdue
3. Lawrence Marshall, Michigan

Strong-side defensive ends
1. Malik McDowell, Michigan State
2. Garrett Dickerson, Northwestern
3. Peyton Newell, Nebraska
4. Dylan Thompson, Ohio State
5. Billy Hirschfeld, Wisconsin
6. Conor Sheehy, Wisconsin
7. Noah Beh, Penn State

Inside linebackers
1. Raekwon McMillan, Ohio State
2. Dante Booker, Ohio State
3. Michael Ferns, Michigan
4. Greg Gooch, Indiana

Outside linebackers
1. Kyle Berger, Ohio State
2. Chase Winovich, Michigan
3. Byron Bullough, Michigan State
4. Troy Reeder, Penn State
5. Tegray Scales, Indiana
6. Sam Hubbard, Ohio State
7. Chris Frey, Michigan State

1. Jabrill Peppers, Michigan
2. Damon Webb, Ohio State
3. Parrker Westphal, Northwestern
4. Vayante Copeland, Michigan State
5. Grant Haley, Penn State
6. Tim Cason, Purdue
7. Daquan Worley, Penn State
8. Brandon Watson, Michigan
9. Amani Oruwariye, Penn State

1. Erick Smith, Ohio State
2. Montae Nicholson, Michigan State
3. Tony Fields, Indiana
4. Miles Taylor, Iowa
5. Malik Hooker, Ohio State

1. Sean Nurenberger, Ohio State

1. Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State
2. Noah Brown, Ohio State
3. Dareian Watkins, Wisconsin
4. T.J. Harrell, Michigan State
5. Parris Campbell, Ohio State
6. Jay Scheel, Iowa
7. Koa Farmer, Penn State
8. Luke Gifford, Nebraska
9. Jalen Embry, Iowa
10. Tommy Mister, Indiana
11. Trace McSorley, Penn State

About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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