- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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It's still early, but the tide could be turning a little for Big Ten recruiting.
The league undoubtedly has moved down a few pegs on the recruiting ladder in recent years, a drop that can be tied to poor on-field performance, a lack of national titles or plain ol' geography. But the outlook for the 2014 recruiting class looks good for the league, at least on May 17.
Michigan tops RecruitingNation's latest class rankings, rising two spots to No. 1 after securing a commitment from ESPN 150 defensive end Lawrence Marshall last weekend. The Wolverines have eight ESPN 150 commits in the fold in a nine-man class so far.
Ohio State and Penn State hold steady at Nos. 13 and 14 in the rankings. The Buckeyes almost surely will rise as they bring in more recruits, and Penn State, despite the sanctions and reduced scholarships, is well on its way to compiling a strong 2014 class. The Lions have an ESPN 150 prospect in athlete De'Andre Thompkins and two other four-star selections.
The big surprise in the league is Northwestern, which has risen two spots to No. 17 in the class rankings. The Wildcats have 10 commits, the most in the Big Ten, and are more than halfway done with a class that should be the best in coach Pat Fitzgerald's tenure. Northwestern's recent pickups include running backs Justin Jackson and Auston Anderson, as well as offensive lineman Blake Hance.
No other Big Ten teams are currently in the top 25, but Michigan State, Wisconsin and Iowa aren't too far off and should rise once they pick up more pledges.