Now that everything is all said and done in the 2023 class, we can now properly evaluate what Michigan has compared to the rest of the Big Ten and the entire country.
The Michigan Wolverines’ 2023 recruiting class ranks 18th in the nation and third in the Big Ten. Michigan made one last splash on National Signing Day by flipping three-star defensive end Cameron Brandt from Stanford. The Wolverines have 10 four-stars and 14 three-stars.
Recruiting rankings in the Big Ten look pretty similar to most years for the 2023 class. Ohio State and Penn State are at the top with four-star heavy classes. The Buckeyes have one five-star (the only five-star coming to a Big Ten school), 18 four-stars and one three-star. The Nittany Lions have 18 four-stars and five three-star recruits.
The rest of the conference ranks as follows: Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Maryland, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Northwestern, Rutgers, Wisconsin, Purdue and Indiana.
While the order of teams is relatively close to what it is most years, there are still some things worth noting. Michigan State and Nebraska both had dreadful seasons last year but still find themselves in the top-five of the conference.
Mel Tucker has shown he can make some noise on the recruiting trail since he arrived in East Lansing, and he has one of the Spartans’ better classes in recent years this year. It’ll be interesting to see what he can do with the talent.
Nebraska now has Matt Rhule as their head coach, and he has a decent first recruiting class to work with, even though he’ll be judged more based on the 2024 and beyond recruiting classes. Even when the Huskers aren’t performing well, players still want to go to Lincoln. It’s a program with rich history that is bound to bounce back at some point. Maybe Rhule will be the guy to do that.
It’s also interesting to see teams like Wisconsin and Purdue near the bottom of the conference’s rankings.
Wisconsin is usually one of the best teams in the West so even though it didn’t win the division last year and are going through a coaching change, it’s surprising to see the Badgers all the way near the bottom. It was expected they’d would lose some recruiting momentum when Paul Chryst was let go, but I doubt Wisconsin fans expected to be 12th in the conference.
As for Purdue, this is a program on the rise. The Boilermakers have certainly gotten better since Jeff Brohm arrived, and just won the West. Obviously, Brohm left for Louisville and that doesn’t help, but the class wasn’t too hot before he left anyways. We’ll see if Purdue can build on last season’s success and start to get better on the recruiting trail.
As for Michigan’s class, if you’re worried the Wolverines are only third in the conference after two straight Big Ten titles, don’t be. Jim Harbaugh has proved these last two seasons that Michigan doesn’t need a better recruiting class than the Buckeyes to beat them and compete with the best teams in the country.
Rival fans will say it’s embarrassing Michigan isn’t having more success at recruiting, but the reality is Harbaugh and his staff have developed players as good as any program and that he isn’t star chasing. He’s finding athletes who fit the culture and who want to get better. There’s a reason the NFL wants Harbaugh every year and the other coaches in the Big Ten don’t get those calls.