Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, February 10, 2016

Lots of recruiting questions in my mailbag this week, with some hoops sprinkled in. So, let?s get right to it!

I was wondering if you put together a list of "best signees by position" in the Big Ten for the 2016 recruiting season. – Hal Morely

Nope, but I?ll do one for you.

DT Rashan Gary, Michigan (No. 1 player in nation by 247Sports)
DE Nick Bosa, Ohio State (8)
RB Miles Sanders, Penn State (20)
OT Michal Menet, Penn State (28)
APB Demario McCall, Ohio State (44)
QB Brandon Peters, Michigan (61)
CB David Long, Michigan (65)
TE Devin Asiasi, Michigan (74)
WR Austin Mack, Ohio State (76)
S Lamar Jackson, Nebraska (81)
G Michael Onwenu, Michigan (88)
LB Keandre Jones, Ohio State (89)
C Connor McGovern, Penn State (270)

Michigan had the top player at five positions; Ohio State had four; Penn State three. So, the lesson here: Those crazy tactics by Jim Harbaugh must be working.

You also may like this: I put together an ?All-Big Ten Signee? Team.


If the limit for recruiting classes each year is 25 per NCAA rules, how was Michigan able to sign 28 recruits? Three-star player Dytarius Johnson committed to Michigan. Did he not sign an offer sheet so that Michigan didn't exceed 28 recruits? – Gary Gusin

Jim Harbaugh's 2016 group was his first full class. As for grayshirts, Harbaugh has said he will not use any this season. He also explained that all seven of the program's early enrollees were back-dated to the 2015 class (which was small at 14) to allow the Wolverines the possibility of exceeding NCAA limits in this year's class. So, there you go. As for three-star linebacker Dytarious Johnson, he has not yet signed. Per Rivals, he's still working on issues with the NCAA Clearinghouse.


Don't you think the bottom half of the Big Ten is as weak as it has ever been? And that may hurt a Big Ten bubble team? – Douglas Mack

The league has some heft at the top in Iowa, Maryland, Indiana, Michigan State, Purdue and Michigan. And Wisconsin is coming on. But, as you note, the bottom half of the league is waning. Two teams still don?t have Big Ten wins in Minnesota and Rutgers. The weakness at the bottom may have some impact on bubble teams, but the NCAA tourney committee judges each team on its own merits. As for bubble teams at the moment, Wisconsin is the closest thing to one. But Michigan soon may slip onto the bubble if it keeps struggling.


Is Bill Cubit the long-term answer at Illinois? – Richard

I think Cubit would do a good job long-term. He?s a smart coach who has cut his teeth on the offensive side of the ball. Cubit also showed his coaching acumen at Western Michigan, where he went 51-47 from 2005-2012 with three bowl bids. He led the Illini to a 5-7 mark last year as the interim head coach. Now, he?ll get a chance to show his stuff as the full-time boss, basically auditioning for the job at a school that?s still in the market for an A.D.


Just a comment: Carter Coughlin will be the star of this Golden Gopher recruiting class! – Rostovgold

It was impressed with Minnesota?s signing class, especially the ability of Tracy Claeys to keep some top talent at home led by Coughlin, who is from Eden Prairie. He?s the type of kid the Gopher program needs to keep home. Coughlin was ranked the No. 1 player in the state by 247Sports and the No. 9 linebacker in the nation. Other top in-state talent that Claeys landed was ATH Tyler Johnson; OT Sam Schlueter; ATH Kamal Martin; ATH Phillip Howard; WR Drew Hmielewski; LB Thomas Barber.


What wins do the Badgers need to get in the tournament? – Joe Anderson

First, know this: Much is out of Wisconsin?s control. No one knows how teams from other leagues will do down the stretch ? and how that will impact the Badgers? NCAA hopes. So, Wisconsin can control what it can control. When the week dawned, the Badgers were No. 65 in with a 14-9 overall record and 6-4 mark in the Big Ten. Wisconsin also has a good strength of schedule, ranking No. 18. So, this team is sitting poised to move off the bubble and into the tourney.

Here?s a look at the grueling slate of games left for UW:

At Maryland
At Michigan State
At Iowa
At Minnesota

Not an easy road. I think the Badgers probably need to go 4-3 (which is doable) and then win one Big Ten tourney game just to be safe. Do that, and UW has a good shot to get into the NCAA tourney.


Email Tom Dienhart using the form below.

And if you want to leave a comment on this post, use the box below. All comments need to be approved by a moderator.