National signing day has come and gone, and the future of each Big Ten program will be shaped by how coaches can develop their newly-inked recruits. Some players will contribute far sooner than others, based on both talent and areas of need for specific teams. Most recruits, however, will not see the fruits of their labor materialize into meaningful snaps for a few years.
Below is an updated way-too-early Big Ten power rankings for 2016, with an emphasis on how each team fared on the recruiting trail. Keep in mind this is not a ranking of the best overall recruiting classes, though the best teams did tend to fare quite well.
1. Ohio State: The Buckeyes finished with the fifth-best class nationally, according to ESPN's recruiting rankings, which led all Big Ten programs. The rich got richer here, with 13 players who ranked in the ESPN300, including No. 1 defensive end Nick Bosa. Urban Meyer expects many of his newcomers to play in 2016, which will only add to his returning talent.
2. Michigan: When Michigan nabbed defensive tackle Rashan Gary, the No. 1-ranked prospect in the country, it really put this class over the top. Other key pickups include running back Kareem Walker, offensive tackle Ben Bredeson, quarterback Brandon Peters and linebacker Devin Bush. Some may not like coach Jim Harbaugh's methods, but he sure knows how to recruit. Now, we'll see whether his program can win the Big Ten East.
3. Michigan State: Wide receiver Donnie Corley is a name to remember from this class, as he could help out the Spartans immediately. But the team also added depth at the position with Cameron Chambers and Justin Layne. Michigan State also did well in the front seven with defensive end Josh King and defensive tackles Naquan Jones and Mike Panasiuk.
4. Iowa: There isn't a single four- or five-star player in the bunch, but the Hawkeyes have relied on the development of unheralded players to get where they are. That won't change with this class, which still has plenty of quality pieces. Tight end Noah Fant is the highest-rated prospect, but other players such as quarterback Nate Stanley, linebacker Kyle Taylor and defensive end Brandon Simon will be heard from down the road. Enough talent remains to keep Iowa as the Big Ten West favorite in 2016.
5. Wisconsin: Coach Paul Chryst had a full year with a recruiting class for the first time in Madison, and he and his staff addressed areas of need at punter, defensive back and wide receiver. Offensive tackle Cole Van Lanen and defensive tackle Garrett Rand highlighted the class. Receiver A.J. Taylor and safety Eric Burrell are other names to watch.
6. Northwestern: Half of the Wildcats' 20 prospects came from Ohio and Texas, and Northwestern showed it would scour the country to find players who meet the academic demands of the school. Wide receiver Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Bowman and defensive end Tommy Carnifax could play in 2016, though Northwestern may struggle to match the 10 wins it attained a season ago.
7. Nebraska: The Cornhuskers signed five four-star players, led by athlete Lamar Jackson. Nebraska improved on the offensive line with John Raridon and Matt Farniok, and quarterback Patrick O'Brien could be the future at the position. Coach Mike Riley has reason to be proud, and he surely hopes his five-win regular season will be a thing of the past.
8. Penn State: Based on rankings, Penn State finished with the third-best recruiting class in the Big Ten, behind only Ohio State and Michigan. James Franklin signed 10 four-star prospects, including quarterback Jake Zembiec, center Connor McGovern and guard Michal Menet, who will protect Zembiec for years to come. Still, as long as Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State keep playing at a high level, it may be tough for Penn State to catch up in the Big Ten East.
9. Minnesota: Linebacker Carter Coughlin and quarterback Seth Green are the headliners in the class, representing the Gophers' only four-star prospects. Minnesota also signed four junior-college transfers whom the coaching staff expects to make an instant impact, led by tailback Kobe McCrary.
T10. Illinois: The Illini finished with the lowest-rated class in the league, at No. 71 in the national recruiting rankings. Ten prospects are from Texas or Florida, including quarterback Eli Peters, tight end Zarrian Holcombe and offensive guard Darta Lee.
T10. Indiana: A bowl game appearance in 2015 has the Hoosiers riding high. So should this recruiting class. Quarterback Richard Lagow and safety Jayme Thompson are early enrollees from the junior-college ranks. Lagow and incoming freshman Peyton Ramsey will be among those vying to succeed record-setting QB Nate Sudfeld.
12. Rutgers: Quarterback Tylin Oden is the only player who ranks in the top 20 at his position in Rutgers' class. Coach Chris Ash also filled spots at wide receiver with K.J. Gray and Taysir Mack. Ash has a mountain to climb from the Big Ten East basement.
13. Maryland: D.J. Durkin put together a nice class, led by offensive guard Terrance Davis and receiver Tino Ellis, who played together at DeMatha Catholic. Cornerback Antwaine Richardson and tailback Laderrien Wilson are among the recruits who could play as freshmen, with Maryland trying to improve on a 3-9 season.
14. Purdue: Darrell Hazell went after junior-college prospects, and he found at least three who are likely to contribute next season: offensive tackle Jalen Neal, defensive end Austin Larkin and cornerback Kamal Hardy. Hazell needs positive momentum in Year 4, and he likely doesn't have time to wait on the development of this entire recruiting class.