Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Big Ten [Print without images]

Thursday, February 5, 2009
Top five signing day story lines in Big Ten

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

National signing day is in the books, and dozens of high school prospects have pledged to Big Ten teams. The Big Ten signed only one Top 25 prospect in Ohio State running back Jaamal Berry, but the league had reason to feel good about many of its recruits.

As we begin to digest the day, here are five key developments from the league.

1. Michigan's profits outweigh losses in return to top -- The Wolverines had an eventful signing day, which included a few defections but more key additions, and the end result was a top 15 class that keeps Michigan among the nation's recruiting elite. As expected, Michigan added a second quarterback (Denard Robinson) on signing day and also landed top wide receiver Je'Ron Stokes. Though the team lost two defensive tackle commits, Michigan did well in Florida and seemed to build momentum toward signing day. After the worst season in team history, Michigan responded very well on signing day.

2. Illinois breaks even with East St. Louis wideouts -- Rumors had increased leading up to signing day that high school teammates and Illinois commits Terry Hawthorne and Kraig Appleton would sign elsewhere. Turns out, Illinois went 1-1 with the East St. Louis, Ill., products, as it retained Hawthorne but saw Appleton sign with Wisconsin, giving the Badgers a much needed boost at the wide receiver spot. Keeping Hawthorne on board and convincing Justin Green to drop Ohio State for the chance to play running back in Champaign offset several decommitments late in the recruiting process. 

3. Minnesota lands cornerback Carter -- The Gophers' 2009 class doesn't rival last year's haul in terms of size and overall talent, but Minnesota reminded the Big Ten that it remains a major player in recruiting by landing cornerback Michael Carter. The Florida native had committed to West Virginia but switched Wednesday to Minnesota, giving the Gophers an impact player in a secondary that made major strides last year with takeaways but still had a long way to go. 

4. Ohio State reaffirms recruiting dominance -- The Buckeyes have dominated Big Ten play on the field this decade and continue to do so on the recruiting trail. Despite losing Green to Illinois and not landing wideout Marlon Brown, Ohio State welcomed a top-5 class that easily ranks as the best in the Big Ten. Berry and linebacker Dorian Bell headline a group that includes seven players ranked in the ESPNU 150. 

5. Spartans quietly ink stellar class -- There was no drama Wednesday in East Lansing, just the affirmation of an excellent recruiting class that should continue to raise Michigan State's profile under head coach Mark Dantonio. The Spartans brought in a Top 25 class and had no late detractors from a group that addresses needs at offensive line, linebacker and wide receiver/tight end. Dantonio is very high on running backs Edwin Baker and Larry Caper, both of whom will compete for the starting job vacated by All-American Javon Ringer.