Ranking the Big Ten: National Signing Day Approaches

Pat Lovell-US PRESSWIRE

How does Purdue's 2013 recruiting class rank compared to the rest of the conference?

Let me be the first person to say that I don't believe in the hype that's come to surround national signing day and the stock that people put into recruiting services. The whole system is baseless; you try to compare thousands of kids all across the country playing different positions and different levels of competition, and then attempt to rank them in an exact order based on talent. The fact of the matter is you will miss on evaluating a player just as often as you'll evaluate him correctly. It is an inexact science. Finding players that fit your system and your coaching ideology are the real keys to success at the college level. Just ask Northern Illinois, who hadn't had a recruiting class ranked higher than #90 in the 4 years leading up to their improbable run to the Orange Bowl. And yet as much as I tell myself rankings don't mean anything...I still find myself checking them every year because that's what sports are all about. So here are your 2013 Big Ten recruiting rankings leading up to National Signing Day on Feb. 6.

Note: Number in italics is the average national ranking of the 3 services. The numbers in parenthesis is the Big Ten rank of each recruiting class, by recruiting service.

1. Ohio State - 3.00
Scout: #2 (2)
Rivals: #4 (1)
247 Sports: #3 (1)

Nothing can stop Urban Meyer so far as the Buckeyes continue to bring in top talent to Columbus. Arguably the only team recruiting better than the Buckeyes is Alabama, a team coming off its third BCS National Championship in four years. The most intriguing prospect for the Buckeyes in my eyes is Jalin Marshall, a high school quarterback who will be making a position change once he arrives on campus. Marshall has the speed and versatility that Urban Meyer used to love while at Florida, à la Percy Harvin. Marshall will likely see most of his time in the slot and in the return game. For my money, the Buckeyes have the best shot at ending the SEC's stranglehold on the national championship (6-1 odds for those of you keeping score at home).

2. Michigan - 3.67
Scout: #1 (1)
Rivals: #6 (2)
247 Sports: #4 (2)

As most Big Ten fans have come to expect, Michigan and Ohio State again are battling for the top class in the conference. Michigan's class was bolstered by the recent commitment of RB Derrick Green, who is ranked as the top running back in the 2013 class and one of the top 10 players overall. Along with Green, Brady Hoke is bringing in five 4-star offensive linemen to help shore up needs along the offensive line.

3. Nebraska - 16.67
Scout: #13 (3)
Rivals: #16 (3)
247 Sports: #21 (3)

The Cornhuskers defensive unit has some work to do to earn back the Blackshirts nickname after the team's 70-31 loss against Wisconsin in this year's conference title game. Help is on the way to Lincoln as Nebraska brings in a number of highly ranked defensive recruits. One of their best, JUCO DE Randy Gregory, committed to Purdue out of high school but decided to reevaluate his commitment after a year in JUCO, eventually deciding on Nebraska.

4. Penn State - 31.67
Scout: #36 (5)
Rivals: #37 (5)
247 Sports: #22 (4)

Even after all the turmoil the Penn State program endured throughout the past year, they find themselves with one of the better recruiting classes in the Big Ten. Bill O'Brien and the Nittany Lions are coming of a surprising eight-win season and have a nice recruiting class that will help usher in a new era in Happy Valley. QB Christian Hackenberg is widely regarded as the best player in Penn State's class and is considered one of the top quarterback recruits in the country, playing in the Under Armour All-American game and attending the Elite 11 camp. Something to keep in mind: Penn State faces an uphill battle as a result of NCAA sanctions that limit their recruiting classes to no more than 15 signees a year for four years, 10 less than other teams. Depth will be an issue in the coming years.

5. Michigan State - 34.00
Scout: #39 (7)
Rivals: #33 (4)
247 Sports: #30 (5)

After wrapping up a disappointing 7-6 season, the Spartans bring in a good recruiting class. The two players Spartans fans are most excited for are Damion Terry, a consensus 4-star QB, and inside linebacker Shane Jones who also had offers from Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Nebraska, and Michigan.

6. Wisconsin - 36.33
Scout: #33 (4)
Rivals: #44 (7)
247 Sports: #32 (6)

The Badgers will enter the 2013 season without Bret Bielema and the NCAA all-time leader in touchdowns, Montee Ball. Badgers fans believe they've found the man to fill Bielema's void in Gary Andersen from Utah State, and fans are also hoping they've found someone to help fill Ball's shoes at the running back position. Corey Clement, a running back out of New Jersey, leads the Wisconsin 2013 class. Clement features the same power and size that has become a staple of the Badgers downhill running attack and he also has a nose for the end zone that may help Badger fans get over the loss of Montee Ball. Clement scored 69 rushing touchdowns in his final two seasons of high school football.

7. Illinois - 43.33
Scout: #42 (8)
Rivals: #39 (6)
247 Sports: #49 (8)

Even after a disastrous 2012 campaign that saw the Illini win zero conference games, Tim Beckman still managed to attract a decent class to Champaign. As is, the current Illinois class is at 25 players, therefore assuming everything goes as planned leading up to signing day (which in the world of college football is highly unlikely), Illinois is already sitting at a full class. Although lacking many big names, Illinois' class is buoyed by 19 3-star prospects. One player to keep an eye on is Aaron Bailey. The dual-threat quarterback has been clocked at a 4.4 40-yard dash, and as of now it appears the Illini coaching staff will keep him at quarterback. However some teams believe his best position is elsewhere.

8. Northwestern - 45.67
Scout: #37 (6)
Rivals: #47 (8)
247 Sports: #53 (9)

Quarterback Matt Alviti headlines Northwestern's 2013 recruiting class. The 6'0" 176 pound Alviti is undersized, but he shows great accuracy and also had offers from Notre Dame and a handful of Big 10 schools, including Purdue. Alviti is a dual-threat quarterback who will likely draw comparisons to former Wildcat quarterback Dan Persa.

9. Indiana - 50.67
Scout: #57 (10)
Rivals: #49 (9)
247 Sports: #36 (7)

Kevin Wilson and his staff put together a solid class this year while also making their mark in central Indiana. Arguably the three best players in their class, Darius Latham, Antonio Allen, and David Kenney, all hail from central Indiana high schools. Latham, a defensive tackle out of North Central HS, had originally committed to Wisconsin and Allen, a safety out of Ben Davis HS, had committed to Ole Miss. However in the end, both decided to stay in their home state and helped make this Wilson's best class since his hire in 2010.

10. Iowa - 56.00
Scout: #52 (9)
Rivals: #59 (11)
247 Sports: #57 (10)

Fans in Iowa City are getting restless as Kirk Ferentz and his Hawkeyes continued to underperform in 2012, going 4-8. However thanks to possibly the worst contract in college football, Ferentz will continue to be one of the highest paid coaches in the nation for the foreseeable future (for more reading on Ferentz's laaaaarge buyout and contract, click here). The Hawkeyes have some depth in this class but they come up short in the quality department, signing less 4-star recruits than only Minnesota.

11. Purdue - 63.00
Scout: #68 (11)
Rivals: #55 (10)
247 Sports: #66 (11)

It took some scrolling, but you've finally made it down to Purdue's class. The Boiler's 2013 class is highlighted by Danny Etling, a 4-star quarterback out of Terre Haute. Etling has been on the rise, moving up to #167 on the Rivals250 list and also finds himself as the #9 pro-style quarterback in the country. Running back Keyante Green of McDonough, Georgia will also be joining the team in West Lafayette. Green has perhaps the most impressive offer list of all the recruits, receiving offers from Georgia, Florida State, and South Carolina among others. Unlike Etling who will most likely redshirt, expect Green to factor into the running back rotation this upcoming season.

The biggest concern for Purdue's class is the lack of offensive linemen. As it stands, Purdue only has one verbal commitment on the offensive line, a 2-star tackle that new coach Darrell Hazell had also offered while at Kent State. Purdue loses two starters from last year's line, a line that wasn't a strong point to begin with.

12. Minnesota - 77.67
Scout: #84 (12)
Rivals: #72 (12)
247 Sports: #77 (12)

Minnesota currently has the lowest amount of verbal commitments in the Big Ten, with only 15.

Finally, since by the time 2013 recruits are upperclassmen Rutgers and Maryland will be in the Big Ten, here is how those two schools would match up this year.

Maryland - 36.00 (6th, behind Michigan State)
Rutgers - 36.33 (7th, tied with Wisconsin)

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