Dienhart: A look back at Big Ten's last four recruiting classes

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Dienhart: A look back at Big Ten's last four recruiting classes

Signing Day is a day when rosters are stocked and every recruit looks like a can’t-miss prospect. I took a look back at the last four years of recruiting in the Big Ten to see which schools have lived up to hype generated on National Signing Day as compared to their record over that same span.

Scout.com was the source of the recruiting data. Schools are ranked based on won-loss records.

Editor’s note: Figures for Maryland and Rutgers are for just the two seasons they have been in the Big Ten.

1. Ohio State 50-4 overall 31-1 Big Ten
Average rank: 1
Highest rank: 1
Lowest rank: 1
5 stars: 9
4 stars: 59
Comment: What more can you say: The Buckeyes have parlayed top classes into the top program in the conference. This is the Big Ten gold standard.

2. Michigan State 43-11 25-7
Average rank: 4
Highest rank: 3 (2015 and 2012)
Lowest rank: 8th (2013)
5 stars: 1
4 stars: 22
Comment: The Spartans have been one of the nation’s top programs. And they have done it with just one five-star recruit in the last four years, winning a pair of league titles with a playoff berth.

3. Wisconsin 37-15 23-9
Average rank: 6
Highest rank: 4th (2013 and 2015)
Lowest rank: 12th (2012)
5 stars: 0
4 stars: 15
Comment: The Badgers have had three coaches the last four seasons. No matter. Wisconsin consistently extracts more out of less than most other Big Ten programs.

4. Nebraska 34-19 20-12
Average rank: 5
Highest rank: 3 (2013)
Lowest rank: 6 (2012 and 2014)
5 stars: 0
4 stars: 22
Comment: The Huskers have outperformed their recruiting ranking. Alas, they have no league titles to show for it.

5. Iowa 31-21 19-13
Average rank: 8
Highest rank: 4 (2012)
Lowest rank: 10th (2015 and 2013)
5 stars: 0
4 stars: 8
Comment: Go ahead and call this a “developmental” program. Few programs do it better, turning three-stars into big-time players year after year.

6. Michigan 30-21 18-14
Average rank: 4
Highest rank: 2 (2012 and 2013)
Lowest rank: 7 (2015)
5 stars: 6
4 stars: 43
Comment: The results haven’t matched the recruiting rankings. But, Jim Harbaugh probably will change that over the next few years. Underachieving is over.

7. Northwestern 30-20 15-17
Average rank: 8
Highest rank: 5th (2012)
Lowest rank: 11th (2014)
5 stars: 0
4 stars: 8
Comment: Pat Fitzgerald knows how to unearth gems, notching two double-digit win seasons in the last four years. Not bad for having no five-stars and just eight four-stars.

8. Penn State 29-21 16-16
Average rank: 5
Highest rank: 2 (2015)
Lowest rank: 7 (2012)
5 stars: 2
4 stars: 20
Comment: NCAA sanctions limited the scholarships the last four seasons. The Nittany Lions have not suffered a losing season, but recruiting rankings say the record should be better.

9. Minnesota 28-24 13-19
Average rank: 11
Highest rank: 9th (2014)
Lowest rank: 12th (2013 and 2015)
5 stars: 0
4 stars: 2
Comment: Jerry Kill knew what he was looking for in a player to fit his “system.” The proof is in the overachieving results.

10. Maryland 10-15 5-11
Average rank: 10
Highest rank: 8th (2015)
Lowest rank: 12th (2014)
5 stars: 0
4 stars: 8
Comment: More talent needs to be infused in the program, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

11. Rutgers 12-13 4-12
Average rank: 11
Highest rank: 10th (2014)
Lowest rank: 11th (2015)
5 stars: 0
4 stars: 1
Comment: This program is the ultimate work in progress. And that’s why Chris Ash is at the helm, looking to tap into the vast talent well in New Jersey.

12. Indiana 19-30 8-24
Average rank: 10
Highest rank: 9th (2012 and 2013)
Lowest rank: 13th (2015)
5 stars: 0
4 stars: 6
Comment: Year after year, Kevin Wilson has upped his recruiting at a place where procuring talent is a challenge.

13. Illinois 17-29 6-26
Average rank: 9
Highest rank: 5th (2013)
Lowest rank: 14th (2014)
5 stars: 0
4 stars: 5
Comment: There has been more talent in Champaign than meets the eye over the last four years.

14. Purdue 12-36 5-27
Average rank: 12
Highest rank: 8th (2012)
Lowest rank: 14th (2015)
5 stars: 0
4 stars: 2
Comment: Twelve wins in four years, just two four-star recruits … there is a reason why Purdue sits in the Big Ten basement. The talent deficiency is alarming.

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Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer

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, and send him questions to his weekly mailbag.

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