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February 11, 2011
Ranking the Big Ten by position
MORE POSITION RANKINGS: SEC | National offense | National defense
Rivals.com analyst Mike Farrell ranks the Big Ten 2011 recruiting classes by position.
The combination of Braxton Miller and Cardale Jones gives Ohio State the nod here, but Nebraska has Jamal Turner who could play a few different positions. Bubba Starling doesn't factor in here as he's in the athlete category but he will obviously give the Huskers a boost there. Connor Cook is a good one for the Spartans and Reilly O'Toole could be the steal of the Big Ten at quarterback if he continues to improve. Not a strong group overall, but there are some future leaders in here and Miller will certainly be needed early.
Michigan's 1-2 punch of Justice Hayes, who can be used all over the field, and Thomas Rawls, the perfect big back for the Wolverines' offense, is tough to beat. Nebraska's Aaron Green is the highest-rated back in the conference and has the most star potential. Melvin Gordon could be the next big back for the Badgers. Iowa and Purdue also did well with three backs of their own in this class.
An interesting group at the top here as the Hoosiers, Wildcats and Gophers all land in the top four with many of the usual suspects way down the list. Indiana's last-second grab of Glenville stud Shane Wynn puts it over the top as he's teamed with Cody Latimer. But Northwestern did well in landing receivers out of New Jersey, Texas and Florida, and the Gophers pulled in three stars from Minnesota, Texas and Arizona. Michigan State also landed three stars from different parts of the country in Juwan Caesar from Florida, Andre Sims Jr. from Georgia and Roger Williamson from Ohio, but Wynn's high ranking in the receiver category puts Indiana over the top.
With four-star Nick Vannett and three-star Jeff Heuerman, the Buckeyes top the charts at tight end. Wisconsin and Iowa are not too far behind and Michigan's late grab of Chris Barnett pushed it to the top four. Four-star Austin Traylor is a huge get for the Badgers while four-star Ray Hamilton is the leader of a strong group for Iowa.
Nebraska is the clear winner in the Big Ten with commitments from four-star studs Tyler Moore, Ryne Reeves and Zach Sterup while Penn State did a nice job as well with Donovan Smith and three different three-stars. Iowa boasts in-state stud Austin Blythe and Illinois standout Jordan Walsh, while Michigan State landed Brandon Clemons down the stretch to solidify its set of linemen. Ohio State has the best center in the Midwest in Brian Bobek.
Michael Bennett is enough for Ohio State to take this battle over the rest of the Big Ten, but don't forget about Joel Hale who was also coveted by many schools. Nebraska pulled an upset for Todd Peat Jr., shooting the Huskers nearly to the top of this list. Illinois and Michigan State both hit the position hard with multiple three-stars. Iowa boasts a nice grab in Darian Cooper from Maryland while five schools didn't take a defensive tackle at all this year.
Despite a small class, Penn State checks in at No. 1 because of a very impressive haul at defensive end. It pulled one of the upsets of the year in luring Anthony Zettel away from Michigan and also landed four-stars Deion Barnes and Shawn Oakman at the position. Ohio State isn't far behind with three players ranked as four-stars, led by Kenny Hayes. Michigan made up for the loss of Zettel with four-star Brennen Beyer and good depth at the position. Wisconsin defensive end James Adeyanju could be one of the steals of the class.
Luring the nation's No. 2 prospect in linebacker Curtis Grant to Ohio State gives the Buckeyes the top class in the conference and the No. 2 linebacker class in the nation overall. He is joined by four-star Ryan Shazier and a couple of talented three-stars. Not too far behind is Michigan State, led by stud Lawrence Thomas and multiple three-stars. Michigan checks in next, followed by Wisconsin and Iowa, all with multiple three-stars. The Badgers also kept in-state star Jake Keefer home and eight of the 12 teams in conference placed in the national top 50 at linebacker.
Ohio State owns its fifth position at defensive back led by in-state standout Doran Grant, who is flanked by three prospects ranked as three-stars. Nebraska is not far behind, led by four-stars Charles Jackson and Daimion Stafford, while Michigan keeps it close with four-star Blake Countess and good depth. Dondi Kirby helps Illinois check in at No. 4 while Wisconsin has five players ranked as three-stars in the defensive backfield. This is a star-studded group for the conference but some schools are lacking in depth.
Bubba Starling puts Nebraska over the top here and Ameer Abdullah is a late-riser from Alabama. But Iowa is a close second with Rodney Coe and two three-stars. Bill Belton is enough to keep Penn State in the top three while Michigan stole Raymon Taylor away from Indiana, which vaulted the Hoosiers to the top half of the conference. Illinois and Purdue also have multiple three-star athletes in their respective classes.