Big Ten schools scoured far and wide for talent for their 2016 recruiting classes, with some teams traveling farther than others.
We wondered where all that new talent came from, so we analyzed every team's signing class and determined the geography behind the recruiting. There were 18 different states to bring at least five signees into the league. Here's a look at the Top 10 states from where the Big Ten schools landed 2016 recruits:
T-1. Ohio: 41
T-1: Florida: 41
3. Maryland: 27
T-4. Illinois: 20
T-4. New Jersey: 20
6. Michigan: 19
T-7: Minnesota: 15
T-7. Texas: 15
9. Georgia: 14
T-10. Indiana: 10
T-10: Wisconsin: 10
Some thoughts on this data:
It's no surprise to see Ohio on top of this list, as the Buckeye State has fed talent into the Big Ten for decades. Ohio State has become much more of a national recruiter under Urban Meyer, but still inked 10 players from its home state this year. Michigan State, which has thrived in Ohio under Mark Dantonio, landed eight players from that state this year.
Florida tying Ohio isn't terribly surprising, either, as the Sunshine State has enough prospects to allow dozens of college programs to regenerate their rosters. No wonder Jim Harbaugh wants to spend part of spring practice there; the Wolverines got six players out of Florida this year. Other programs fattening up on Floridians included Illinois (seven), Maryland (seven) and Indiana, Purdue and Wisconsin (four each).
Is there any question why the Big Ten wanted to expand into Maryland and New Jersey? Counting Maryland, Virginia and Washington D.C., Big Ten schools grabbed 30 total prospects from the DMV area. Meanwhile, New Jersey and New York combined to contribute 25 recruits. Michigan cleaned up in New Jersey, while Ohio State enjoyed raiding Maryland for a few top prospects, including quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr.
If Illinois could ever figure out a way to keep most of its top prospects home, it could take a major step forward. Then again, many of the recruits in the Chicago area don't identify strongly with the Illini, and several other Big Ten schools recruit the state well, including Michigan State (five Illinois recruits in the 2016 class).
It was an unusually strong year for the state of Minnesota. The Golden Gophers signed 11 homegrown players (including a couple of natives who moved out of state for a year or two). That Minnesota produced as many Big Ten signees as Texas is surprising and probably out of the ordinary.
Noticeably absent from this list: Pennsylvania. That state, which used to be such a fertile recruiting ground, produced nine Big Ten signees in 2016, including only four who went somewhere besides Penn State -- or as many non-Nittany Lions signees the league got from Arizona. That's kind of hard to believe.
Leaving Indiana and its split allegiances out of things, here are the total number of recruits from Big Ten East states vs. Big Ten West ones. East (New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Maryland): 116. West: (Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Minnesota): 55. Even if you were to split Indiana's 10 signees evenly between the division, you can see the East has a massive advantage in the available local talent.
The award for most territory conquered goes to Purdue, which brought in recruits from a league-high 16 different states. But Nebraska might have put in the most total miles, with signees from places as far-flung as California, Washington, Louisiana, New Jersey and Florida. No single signee will travel farther, however, than Maryland kicker Wade Lees. He's from Melbourne, Australia.