Big Ten links: Signing Day reviews rolling in

Big Ten links: Signing Day reviews rolling in

The dust has settled on National Signing Day. Have you recovered from the frenzy? Ohio State was the big winner. No surprise. Urban Meyer has loads of momentum and mojo. In fact, he’s three for three when it comes to winning Big Ten recruiting titles. Now, he just needs to win his first on-field championship. That may be coming this fall.

The cool thing about Meyer: He admits recruiting rankings matter to him. Kinda nice to see a coach publicly say that. And know this: No one finishes like the “Urbanator.” He’s the ultimate deal-closer.

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Michigan State finished as strong as anyone, pulling a huge late commitment from defensive end Malik McDowell. He was the headliner of a terrific collection of defensive talent in East Lansing. And McDowell’s story is intriguing, as he picked MSU against the wishes of his mom.

Adding to the weirdness is the fact McDowell still hasn’t sent in his letter-of-intent. Oh, boy. Regardless, this is an impressive haul of defensive line talent for the Spartans. In fact, the overall haul is the best of the Mark Dantonio era.

Speaking of recruiting hauls, Minnesota had a nice one, as Jerry Kill netted his best collection of talent yet. The gem of the class is in-state running back Jeff Jones, the top player in the state.

This is a guy Kill and Co., can build around. Word of warning: Jones still needs to earn a test score to gain eligibility. He is rated the No. 7 running back in the nation, according to No Big Ten school signed a more touted back.


Despite being on the job for less than a month, new Penn State coach James Franklin had a nice class that focused on skill positions on offense, safety and offensive tackle.

In fact, there were four offensive tackles, four wideouts and three safeties. I can’t wait to see what Franklin will do when he gets fully entrenched. The guy is a terrific recruiter and has a great product to sell.


Is the Iowa quarterback spot open? I find any thought of that difficult to believe. But this piece in the Cedar Rapids Gazette makes it sounds like there’s a chance Jake Rudock could have some competition.


Want an idea of what direction the Wisconsin offense is going under Gary Andersen? Look no further than new quarterback signee D.J. Gillins, an athletic signal-caller who can run and pass.

Tom Oates of says the idea is to become more athletic and less predictable, giving UW more potential home run hitters and making it hard for defenses to draw a bead on UW based on down-and-distance situations or personnel groupings. In short, Andersen wants an offense that has big-play ability all over the field. I like it.

Not happy where your school is ranked by recruiting services? No worries. Wisconsin has proven over time that they mean little, as time and again they turn three-star (or no star) talent into NFL players.


No one denies the enthusiasm of Illinois coach Tim Beckman. It is impressive. But to take a shot at Northwestern yesterday was a bit bold.

In case you missed it: “We signed four football players out of the state of Chicago, as we call it, and that’s more than the actual team that’s in Chicago signed,” Beckman said. “So we’re proud.”

I’d rather see Beckman speak with actions, not words. After all, his team lost—again—to a NU team last season that was riding a seven-game losing skid.


I’ll leave you with this nice feature on MSU big man Adreian Payne, who has become the ultimate role model.



My take: It’s all a matter of fit.

My take: Huskers got whacked at Michigan.  Nebraska is 0-7 on the road, the only Big Ten team without a victory away from home.

My take: Stifled.

My take: He better demand defensive improvement. The unit was horrible too often last season.

My take: No doubt, lots of momentum in East Lansing.

My take: Nice factoid from Gary Andersen.

My take: A good coach who will be missed.

My take: Nice to take the show on the road in the spring.

My take: Don’t know how a team hits just 9-of-23 free throws and still wins. Amazing. Getting 23 offensive rebounds helped Purdue.


About Tom Dienhart senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, 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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