Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, February 1, 2016
Recruiting never ends. Once one class is signed, schools cast their eyes to the next one. Offers are always going out ? and being accepted. Schools are putting the finishing touches on their 2016 classes.
I talked to Allen Trieu, the Midwest Football Recruiting Manager for Scout.com, to get his insights on all things Big Ten recruiting as we head toward Signing Day on Wednesday.
Q: How has the conference been doing heading toward Signing Day?
A: I think the conference has done extremely well. You have five teams in the Top 20, and that should true through Signing Day. You?ll have three teams in the Top 10 in Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State. You?ll have Ohio State and Michigan probably challenging for the top spot on Signing Day, as well.
Q: How has Jim Harbaugh benefitted from being around a full year now?
A: I don?t even think you can truly count last year. It was a scramble at the finish. They shot high on a few kids and didn?t get them toward the end. It was a patchwork class. This year, having a full year under his belt helped, is different. I always say that results during the year don?t matter that much when it comes to recruiting because kids have been recruited for so long and have familiarity with schools by that point. But for Michigan, I think it did make some difference because it was Harbaugh?s first year at Michigan and you had a lot of kids who were considering Michigan but wanted to see the product he produced. Having some of the success they had has enabled them to close out this class pretty strong.
Q: Is Ohio State still rolling?
A: Right now they are. And they look headed for No. 1 in the Big Ten again. A lot of things play into that. They have a staff full of guys who do a great job on the recruiting trail. They have Urban Meyer, who I think is one of the best closers in all of college football. And when you continue to win on the field and put guys into the pros and do the things they have done, you don?t want to say autopilot, but they have that thing to the point where it is really rolling and year after year and you can expect top-five, top-10 national finish from them.
Q: Is Mike Riley doing well in his second year at Nebraska?
A: They have continued to go outside the traditional Big Ten recruiting areas. They have gone to many different states, South Dakota, Louisiana, Washington, California, Florida ? kids from all over the country. They haven?t forgotten about the guys closer to home. But Riley?s willingness to scour the country for kids has produced a lot of quality. It?s a smaller class, so that is why they may not be ranked quite as highly as some other Big Ten schools. But when you look at quality per recruit, Nebraska is right there with the top schools.
Q: Is Michigan State benefitting from its playoff berth?
A: They will finish with their highest-ranked class in the history of Scout. They probably will finish with a top-10 class and may even challenge for a top-five class. It?s a really good class. I don?t think the playoff appearance made a huge difference. A lot of these guys already were committed. I think (this year?s top class) had a lot more to do with the success they have had in prior years. They still haven?t wavered much on their recruiting philosophy. They are bringing in a higher-level talent on paper but they still value bringing guys into camp and evaluating them in person, taking high-character kids and not getting away from the things that have built this program into what it is. When you look at what (Mark) Dantonio and that staff have done with some two- and three-star talent in the past, and you consider they have 13 four-star guys in this class committed, I think it will be extremely interesting to see how this group turns out.
Q: Any surprise teams?
A: Maryland only has 15 kids, so it?s small. But in terms of average ranking per player, they are actually right now sixth in the conference. Their class may seem disappointing on the surface because it?s small. But they are shooting more for quality over quantity. That?s what D.J. Durkin wants. He will bring in the best quality he can. And if he can?t fill a full class, he?ll bank those scholarships and move forward to the next year.
I also think Iowa has a really good class and will be Top 25. Obviously the season they had helped, but I think it helped them keep guys from getting poached more than helped them get players because so many guys already were committed.
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