Sean Merriman, web editor, February 7, 2015

The 2015 version of college football's National Signing Day is in the books. Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan State owned the day in the Big Ten, all bringing in top-20 national classes.

Overall, the Big Ten signed a total of 310 prospects in the 2015 recruiting class. Of those 310 prospects, 68 were ranked as four-star prospects, according to

One of the top selling points when it comes to recruiting is early playing time. High school stars are often swayed by the prospect of getting on the field early on in their collegiate careers.

So, we ask, who are some of the top candidates in the Big Ten when it comes to earning early playing time?

Here is a look at one "instant impact" commit from every Big Ten school.

ILLINOIS: RB Dre Brown: This four-star running back prospect is a huge score for Tim Beckman and this Illinois football program. Not only is he an in-state prospect, but he is also the No. 1-ranked running back coming out of the state of Illinois. With Donovonn Young gone and Josh Ferguson used as a pass-catching back, Brown has a good shot to break into the running back rotation.

INDIANA: WR Leon Thornton: This 6?2?, 190 pound wide receiver has great size and speed. He is the No. 3-ranked receiver out of Illinois and the No. 7-ranked receiver prospect in the Midwest. The Hoosiers' top two receivers from last season, Shane Wynn and Nick Stoner, are gone. That means a guy like Thornton could help out a young, talented wide receiving unit in Bloomington next year.

IOWA: OL James Daniels: This is a kid who is projected as a center at the collegiate level and is the lone Scout 300 prospect in the Hawkeyes? 2015 class. He is the No. 1-ranked center out of Ohio and the No. 3-ranked center prospect in the nation. The Hawkeyes graduate three offensive linemen this year, which means there will be a chance for this newcomer to break into the two-deep.

MARYLAND: DL Adam McLean: This guy was a huge score for Randy Edsall. McLean is the top-ranked defensive lineman prospect in the state of Maryland. The Terps graduate three starters on the defensive line from this past season. There are holes to fill in that unit and McLean has the talent to come in and make an instant impact in the trenches for this Maryland team.

MICHIGAN: QB Zach Gentry. It is no secret that Jim Harbaugh loves big quarterbacks, and Gentry fits the bill, standing at 6'6", 232 pounds. He was originally committed to Texas, but flipped to the Wolverines less than two weeks before signing day. With questions surrounding the quarterback position in Ann Arbor, Gentry will have every chance to prove he can run the show.

MICHIGAN STATE: RB L.J. Scott. This is a kid who could be the next great Spartan back, following in the footsteps of Javon Ringer, Le'Veon Bell and Jeremy Langford. With the graduation of Langford, running back becomes one of the few question marks for this Spartan team in 2015. Do the Spartans have another 1,000 yard back waiting in the wings? Scott will get his chance to play early and often as this running back position battle figures to be one of the best in the Big Ten this offseason.

MINNESOTA: S Ace Rogers. Rogers is a top 100 JUCO transfer, according to He has good size at 6'1", 205 pounds, and even more important, he already has experience playing at the collegiate level. This is a guy who can come in and work his way into the two-deep rotation.

NEBRASKA: CB Eric Lee. This four-star prospect is the top ranked cornerback out of the state of Colorado, and the No. 18 CB in the nation, according to Lee is the gem of Mike Riley's first recruiting class at Nebraska and has all the tools to be a big-time player in Lincoln. Josh Mitchell and Corey Cooper are both gone from the Huskers' secondary. That means there are openings to be filled, and with the ultra-talented Lee waiting in the wings, it wouldn't be surprising to see this youngster get a chance to play early and often in the Huskers' secondary.

NORTHWESTERN: WR Flynn Nagel. This is a kid who committed to the Wildcats late in the process, one day before signing day, to be exact. When Grant Perry decommitted from Northwestern and flipped to Michigan, Nagel became an even-bigger score for the Wildcats. Northwestern struggled to find consistency at the wide receiver position last season, which is why Nagel has the chance to make an instant impact in Evanston next fall.

OHIO STATE: LB Justin Hilliard. Coming off a national championship season, the Buckeyes return a ton of talent to the field in 2015. To say there aren't many voids on this roster would be putting it lightly. However, it you had to choose one prospect to play early for the Buckeyes, it would probably be Hilliard. This kid already has a college body and is the No. 2-ranked MLB prospect in the nation, according to

PENN STATE: OT Paris Palmer. Palmer is one of the top JUCO commits in the nation. He has college experience and exceptional size, standing at 6'8", 284 pounds. This is a Penn State offensive line that struggled throughout all of last season. Getting a guy like Palmer to help keep QB Christian Hackenberg on his feet should help.

PURDUE: RB Markell Jones. Akeem Hunt and Raheem Mostert combined to rush for 1,478 of Purdue?s 1,886 rushing yards last season. That?s more than 78 percent of Purdue?s rushing production from 2014. Both have now graduated. Jones is an elite-level talent who set the Indiana single-season rushing record with 3,536 yards and 60 touchdowns in his senior season.

RUTGERS: DE Marques Ford. Kyle Flood and the Rutgers' coaching staff hit a home run with Ford, the No. 5-ranked defensive end prospect in the state of Florida. Ford is the type of player that Rutgers needs to land in order to compete in the trenches in the Big Ten. When it comes to prospects who could earn early playing time, Ford gets the nod here not because it necessarily fills a void, but because he is the most ready-to-play-now prospect in this class. Could you imagine Ford and Kemoko Turay lining up opposite of each other? That would be a joy to watch.

WISCONSIN: RB Jordan Stevenson. Wisconsin is not known as a team that plays many true freshman early on. If there is one newcomer in this class that could see early playing time, it's Stevenson. This kid could be the next great back to play at Wisconsin. He has great speed and could make a nice compliment to Corey Clement in 2015.