[NOTE: Heiko will be bringing you a report from the presser soon. Due to unexpected Hello post for Norfleet and Alex Kozan's vision quest extending the liveblog, a couple promised posts are pushed off until tomorrow.]
You are aware of Michigan, and you're likely aware that a combination of Urban Meyer apotheosis and the total implosion of the Penn State program has rescued what was looking like a very shaky Ohio State class in spectacular fashion. Those two classes are neck and neck for the top in the league. OSU class fear factor is 10.
Moving on, there's… well… there's… er.
The Huskers have a couple of four-star JUCOs at LB and DB plus a few low four-stars out of high school: OH DE Greg McMullen, CO OL Paul Thurston, and IL WR Jordan Westerkamp were all vaguely on Michigan's radar early in the year without much else developing. They grabbed a four-star ATH out of LA on signing day as well. The rest of their small class (14) is composed of three stars with decent but not great offer lists.
Guy Michigan could use: Thurston. He's probably a guard but he's a highly-rated one.
All-name teamer: UT LB Jared Afalava.
Fear factor: 5. Cycling through those jucos on a yearly basis gives Nebraska a leg up on most Big Ten teams, and they managed to squeeze into the top 25 classes on Rivals as of publication. But where are the people?
Yes, Purdue. The Boilers grabbed a couple of four stars, most intriguingly 6'7", 215 athlete and spectacular name-bearer Carlos Carvajal. Carvajal is a prep kid from Milford and the "best tight end [they've] ever had" there. Prepare to be annoyed by third down conversions, except Michigan probably won't play him much after Purdue rotates of the schedule next year.
Purdue also grabbed a four-star Good Counsel (Blake Countess's alma mater) DE, Ryan Watson. They filled out the rest of their large class with three star guys.
Guy Michigan could use: Carvajal. Mmmmm 6'7" tight end.
All-name teamer: Also Carvajal.
Fear factor: 3. This qualifies as good for Purdue.
State watched as Michigan pillaged the state (with the Norfleet switch M took 7 of the state top ten with one of the escapees not likely to qualify) and a listing Ohio State snatched up a bunch of sleeper-type Ohio dudes who would have been prime Dantonio targets most years.
Their consolation was big-time DE Se'Von Pittman, who made the world's least-inspiring commitment. He told Rivals "I am making sure I have a place," essentially, and took about six seconds to decommit for OSU once Meyer was hired. This, has started a hilarious recruiting "rivalry" in which MSU will offer Ohio players and OSU will take whichever ones they want.
In the aftermath, their four star haul is WR Aaron Burbridge, the guy with the dodgy grades, Southfield DE Jamal Lyles, and recent addition Demetrius Cox, a safety out of Pennsylvania. Their three star guys are relatively high end as three-stars go, FWIW. They also grabbed DeAnthony Arnett as a transfer.
Guy Michigan could use: OH WR Monty Madaris. Michigan's on-again, off-again pursuit of Madaris seemed to turn him off and he never ended up visiting. Madaris is a three/four star tweener sort who would slightly calm fears about Michigan's post-Stonum WR corps.
All-name teamer: FL WR Macgarret Kings Jr.
Fear factor: 4. If you want to count Arnett (and you probably should somewhere) this is a receiver corps that's the best in the conference. But the lines are a blowout. Michigan State's one DL is a two-star out of Oregon; none of their linemen are even high three-stars on Rivals. Much hinges on Burbridge's ability to show up.
There's some quality at the top as Iowa did its usual mining of the Chicago areeas for a scattering of four-stars: DE Faith Ekakitie, RB Greg Garmon, DT Jaleel Johnson, and OL Ryan Ward. Then it's a blizzard of okay guys before the bottom drops out and you get eight-man football dudes.
It's a typical Iowa class, basically.
Guy Michigan could use: Garmon. Michigan showed some interest but things never got serious.
All-name teamer: IL DE Faith Ekakitie.
Fear factor: 6. Iowa has lived on classes like these forever. They use their superior knowledge of farm boys in and around their state to defy rankings like this on the regular, and this time around their top end guys don't seem like flakes. Unfortunately, Greg Garmon is about to be kidnapped by Colombian drug cartels.
The desolation here is amazing. OSU alone poached Armani Reeves, Camren Williams, Noah Spence (not a commit but widely projected to be PSU-bound), Joey O'Connor, and Tommy Schutt. Other schools sniped a prospect or two along the way and what's left looks more like a Purdue class than… uh… Purdue's class.
There are a couple of four-stars left over in PA WR Eugene Lewis and NJ DT Jamil Pollard. There's a further base of six or so quality three star types. Then it gets desperate. PSU essentially replaced each decommit with a two-star plucked from a non-BCS conference. There are six of them.
Guy Michigan could use: Lewis is a consensus four star who would help Michigan's WR depth in the aftermath of Stonum's departure.
All-name teamer: PA LB Nyeem Wartman.
Fear factor: 0. They'll get some players out of the depths here but there is going to be a major talent deficit bubbling up just as Penn State comes back on the schedule. QB Skyler Mornhinweg's (yes that Mornhinweg) decommitment to Florida is especially painful given the dearth of quarterback options on the Penn State roster. Their only hope is a kid out of Georgia they snatched from Rice. The next Penn State QB to even make an NFL camp is still in high school.
Wisconsin probably has the third-best class in the league in terms of bang for your scholarship slot, but the Badgers don't have anyone in it. They signed just twelve players. Losing OH OL Kyle Dodson on Signing Day was a major blow, and while they acquired a few four-star types signing twelve guys is not good.
I count 16 scholarship seniors on the roster, and it's unlikely Wisconsin has held on to every player they had at last year's signing day. They could have added anywhere from 4 to 8 more players. Instead it's going to be a scholarship festival for walk-ons. Given the Badgers' on-field success, this has to be the most disappointing class in the conference.
Guy Michigan could use: M was a finalist for LB Vince Biegel and wanted him as much or more than any of the guys they actually got.
All-name teamer: FL DB Hugs Etienne, winner of the B10 name of the year by a landslide.
All-name teamer II: QB Bart Houston, who will be called a gunslinger as frequently as Brock Osweiler was noted to be tall.
Fear factor: 3. The next time Michigan plays Wisconsin this class will be their seniors/redshirt juniors. IE: they're going to be really young.
The eternal mystery will always be why WDE Ifeadi Odenigbo had an academics-focused final five including Stanford, Northwestern, and Vanderbilt but never even gave Michigan a sniff. And then the kid picked Northwestern, which… just… man. That kid is serious about academics.
Northwestern's other big catch is DT and Kyle Kalis teammate Greg Kuhar, who probably had a Michigan offer at one point. From there it's Northwestern dudes for Northwestern's offense.
UPDATE: Oh right, and five-star USC transfer Kyle Prater. The transfer takes a some of the shine off that fifth star because Prater couldn't find his way on the field at USC (Arnett did not have that problem)… but not nearly all of it.
Guy Michigan could use: Odenigbo would look pretty sweet on Michigan's commit list as a WDE.
All-name teamer: Odenigbo.
5. 6. Northwestern with a solid to excellent defensive line… alarming. The secondary still seems reliably Northwestern-y, though.
Minnesota, Indiana, Illinois
Guy Michigan could use: MN WR Andre McDonald is a rangy 6'3" and claimed an OSU offer; even if he didn't have that he seems like the guy who you'll think "hey, that guy is pretty good" in the midst of a 58-0 beatdown.
All-name teamer, Minnesota: FL DT Yoshoub Timms and TX DE Lincoln Plsek. Oh, and MN WR Isaac Fruechte.
All-name teamer, Illinois: FL RB Dami Ayoola.
All-name teamer, Indiana: JUCO CB Tregg Waters.
Fear factor: 0.