Recruiting in the Big Ten had a bit of a down year. Only two teams, Michigan and Penn State, are in the top 10 as of now, sitting at eighth and 10th. Usual powerhouse Ohio State is at No. 12.
The bottom of the class isn’t too hot, with three teams coming in at 60th or below. Those schools are Rutgers, Illinois, and Maryland. Maryland is found all the way at 83rd and has 11 members in the class, only six of which signed yesterday.
Still, there was a lot of talent brought in to the conference as a whole. Seven 5-stars and 15 players in the top 100 were signed collectively. With all of this talent, I decided to throw together a 2019 All-Big Ten recruiting team.
My one rule was every team in the conference had to have at least one player in the first team. That’s why there are some positions where lower ranked guys are put ahead of more touted players. You’ll see the usual suspects are still well represented on the teams.
1st-team: Graham Mertz (Wisconsin)
2nd-team: Isaiah Williams (Illinois)
In a weak year across the country at the quarterback position, only two players signed to Big Ten teams are ranked above 250th in the composite. Despite interest from bigger programs, Mertz, who is a teammate of Amauri Pesek-Hickson, stuck with the Badgers through signing day.
Williams is a former Michigan target, but one who the staff wanted to convert to wide receiver. Illinois isn’t really in a position to turn away a player of his caliber, so they’re trying him out as a signal caller.
1st-team: Sampson James (Indiana), Aaron Young (Rutgers)
2nd-team: Zach Charbonnet (Michigan), Devyn Ford (Penn State)
This position features two players who flipped from other Big Ten schools and are the highest ranked players in their school’s class. James flipped from Ohio State and Young flipped from Michigan State on signing day. No, I did not include Young just so I could mention that Rutgers flipped a MSU commit. There’s no proof, you can’t prove it.
The second team is actually the two highest rated players at the position, but fell victim to the one player per team rule. You know about Charbonnet already. Ford had a Michigan offer but has been committed to Penn State for a while.
1st-team: Garrett Wilson (Ohio State), Isaiah Hazel (Maryland), Genson Hooper-Price (Northwestern)
2nd-team: , John Dunmore (Penn State), Jameson Williams (Ohio State), Milton Wright (Purdue)
This is another position that’s mostly filled from the lower ranked classes. But there’s still plenty of quality on the first team.
A 5-star from Texas, Wilson is the best wide receiver in the conference. Hazel flipped to Maryland from West Virginia after Mike Locksley was hired and is 600 spots higher than their next closest signee. Hooper-Price is also from Texas and an insane athlete whose SPARQ score is 42nd in the country.
The second team features Dunmore, who was a former Michigan target that Penn State held off Miami for. Ohio State keeps their skill position talent rolling with Williams. Wright could end up as Purdue’s second best receiver if they sign David Bell like everyone expects them to.
1st-team: Erick All (Michigan)
2nd-team: Brenton Strange (Penn State)
All just edges Strange here, who are the only two 4-star tight ends signed in the conference. It’s the Big Ten though, so there’s going to be some underrated guy who becomes an All-American from Wisconsin or Iowa’s class.
1st-team: Logan Brown (Wisconsin), Devontae Dobbs (Michigan State), Harry Miller (Ohio State), Caedan Wallace (Penn State), Bryce Benhart (Nebraska)
2nd-team: Trevor Keegan (Michigan), Doug Nester (Ohio State), Nolan Rumler (Michigan), Saleem Wormley (Penn State), Ezra Miller (Iowa)
This is where the talent really shines. The first-team line includes three 5-stars. Michigan fans are familiar with Benhart, who the staff pursued heavily until he signed with Nebraska. Wallace is a top 100 guard from New Jersey.
Honestly, I could have put four Michigan players on the second team line, but wanted to represent the conference more. I put Rumler at center, as he could easily end up there at some point during his career.
1st-team: Zach Harrison (Ohio State), George Karlaftis (Purdue)
2nd-team: Adisa Isaac (Penn State), Beau Robbins (Indiana)
This position is especially painful for Michigan fans. Both of the first teamers could have easily ended up in their class if certain events broke the right way. Needless to say, both Harrison and Karlaftis are elite talents.
Robbins racked up a bunch of accolades at Indiana powerhouse Carmel. Isaac had a Michigan offer but I don’t think there was much interest from him.
1st-team: Chris Hinton (Michigan), Mazi Smith (Michigan)
2nd-team: Rashad Cheney (Minnesota), Stephen Faucheux (Purdue)
This is a pretty weak position for the conference overall, but Michigan clearly has the best two. Minnesota could have had both spots on the second team, but 4-star Kristian Williams didn’t sign and potentially could not end up in the class.
1st-team: Brandon Smith (Penn State), Cade Stover (Ohio State), Nick Henrich (Nebraska), Jestin Jacobs (Iowa)
2nd-team: Anthony Solomon (Michigan), Lance Dixon (Penn State), Tommy Eichenberg (Ohio State), Charles Thomas (Michigan)
Both teams include two players listed at inside and outside linebacker each. There’s plenty of former Michigan targets in here, including Smith, Jacobs, Dixon and Eichenberg. The talent drops off quickly after these guys, as is the theme for the defensive positions.
1st-team: Julian Barnett (Michigan State), Tyler Nubin (Minnesota)
2nd-team: Jalen Perry (Michigan), Joey Porter Jr. (Penn State)
Both first-teamers were Michigan targets, with the staff doing a good job identifying Nubin early. He’s now a borderline 4-star. Penn State has three cornerbacks ranked virtually the same, I chose the one with the most recognizable name.
1st-team: Daxton Hill (Michigan), Ronnie Hickman (Ohio State)
2nd-team: Tyler Rudolph (Penn State), Marvin Grant (Purdue)
Hill is head and shoulders above the rest of the field here. Hickman is the next closest, ranked just outside of the top 100. Grant is from Detroit and was all but packed up for Ann Arbor before the staff cooled on him. The Michigan staff really liked Rudolph, but the Nittany Lions won out there.
1st-team: Marquez Beason (Illinois)
2nd-team: Wandale Robinson (Nebraska)
I had to put Beason as 1st-team so Illinois would fit my rule, but I’m more excited for Robinson’s career. He’s so electric and under Scott Frost’s system he’s the easy choice to be next year’s Rondale Moore.
Still, Beason is no slouch. He’s a top 100 athlete from Texas who will probably play in the slot for Illinois.
Here’s how the total number of players for each team adds up. First teamers are in parenthesis.
Michigan: 10 (4)
Penn State: 10 (2)
Ohio State: 8 (5)
Purdue: 4 (1)
Nebraska: 3 (3)
Michigan State: 2 (2)
Wisconsin: 2 (2)
Illinois: 2 (1)
Indiana: 2 (1)
Iowa: 2 (1)
Minnesota: 2 (1)
Maryland: 1 (1)
Northwestern: 1 (1)
Rutgers: 1 (1)
There’s a clear top tier consisting of Michigan, Penn State and Ohio State, then everybody else. Based on the rankings, the future is bright in Ann Arbor.
Think I made a wrong choice or missed somebody? Let me know in the comments!