Big Ten team-by-team capsules

OHIO STATE BUCKEYES

NATIONAL CLASS RANK: 6

The national champion Buckeyes got off to a slow start with their 27-member 2015 recruiting class, but it picked up once Ohio’s top prospect — Cincinnati-St. Xavier five-star OLB Justin Hilliard – committed in July. Ohio State got a big grab Wednesday in four-star OT Isaiah Prince – the seventh player from 247Sports.com’s Top 100 – and signed three of the top four recruits in Ohio.

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The Buckeyes already have some great young talent at linebacker, but Hilliard, the No. 2-ranked player at his position, could factor in early. DT Jashon Cornell has the physical tools to add much-needed depth to a line that has some holes to fill.

PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS

NATIONAL CLASS RANK: 14

The Nittany Lions addressed their needs with a quality group of 25 recruits, as they try to build depth after playing less than 45 scholarship guys last year. Coach James Franklin took back the state this recruiting cycle, claiming six of Pennsylvania’s top seven recruits in the 247sports.com composite ratings, including RB Saqnon Barkley at No. 2, and 10 of the top 20. Barkey was once a Rutgers commit.

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OT Paris Palmer — the nation’s No.2 JUCO player at his position — already is adding to his 6-foot-8, 305-pound frame as an early enrollee and is expected to start at left tackle. Barkley should push for immediate playing time behind Akeel Lynch, with two spots opening in the backfield.

MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS

NATIONAL CLASS RANK: 22

The Spartans have gotten a lot of value on the recruiting trail the past few years, evidenced by the fact they are coming off back-to-back top 5 finishes in the nation despite turning in top 30 recruiting classes, according to the rankings. This class should be no different. They landed five four-star recruits, highlighted by Ohio’s No. 2 prospect in Hubbard RB L.J. Scott – Michigan State’s only Top 100 player in the class of 2015.

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The loss of Jeremy Langford in the backfield opens a window for Scott, a powerful downhill runner. Top in-state recruits like OG Kyonta Stallworth (No. 3 recruit in Michigan) and DT Raequan Williams (No. 4) could add depth in the trenches.

NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS

NATIONAL CLASS RANK: 31

The Cornhuskers signed three four-star recruits and nine players who ranked among the top 10 prospects for their state, including Colorado’s No. 1 and 2 players, DBs Eric Lee and Avery Anderson. Nebraska also made offensive linemen a priority and grabbed ESPN Top 300 guard Jalin Barnett. Ten of the Huskers’ 19 recruits committed after Mike Riley was hired to replace Bo Pelini.

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As an early enrollee, Dedrick Young has an edge in the competition for openings at linebacker. His experience at running back could help him as well. Lee, the most touted recruit in the group, is expected to push for playing time at corner, and the 6-foot-4, 315-pound Barnett could fill either a tackle or guard spot.

MICHIGAN WOLVERINES

NATIONAL CLASS RANK: 38

The Wolverines started the day at the bottom of the Big Ten rankings, but climbed the charts after landing four-star TE Tyrone Wheatley Jr. (the top player in New York), beating out FSU for DE Sheldon Johnson (rated a four-star player by 247Sports) and flipping Iowa four-star RB Karan Higdon. Jim Harbaugh’s 14-member class includes six four-star recruits but just two from in-state – one of whom ranks as the class’s top prospect, ATH Brian Cole (No. 1 in Michigan, No. 73 overall).

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Zach Gentry, a former Texas commit, is considered the most pivotal pickup for the Wolverines, giving them the eighth-ranked pro-style quarterback in the nation. He could be in the mix to replace Devin Gardner. Wheatley Jr. ranks as the 12th best tight end, and brings more than just good genes as the son of the Michigan legend and current running backs coach Tyrone Wheatley.

WISCONSIN BADGERS

NATIONAL CLASS RANK: 34

New coach Paul Chryst signed 20 players, including Wisconsin’s top prospect in OT Jon Dietzen, but the big news Wednesday was the decision of four-star safety Arrington Farrar to join the Badgers. RB Jordan Stevenson is the only other four-star recruit in the class, which has five early enrollees. Kettering-Alter DT Kraig Howe followed Chryst from Pittsburgh, and Badger fans are hoping he is the next Chris Borland.

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With Melvin Gordon graduated, Stevenson (No. 17-ranked running back) could compete for carries, bringing a unique blend of strength and speed running between the tackles. Kyle Penniston, ranked by 247Sports as the nation’s No. 4 prospect at tight end, could be a valuable asset to the passing attack in a position the Badgers tend to get production from.

ILLINOIS FIGHTING ILLINI

NATIONAL CLASS RANK: 45

The Illini’s stock moved up with RB KeShawn Vaughn choosing Illinois on Signing Day. He joins OT Gabe Megginson as the 24 member class’ two four-star recruits. Megginson is the top high school prospect in the group, ranking 15th at his position and No. 193 overall, and he is one of six in-state recruits, checking in at No. 2 among players in Illinois. DT Jamal Milan also made his decision to stay in-state Wednesday.

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The offensive line was a big need for the Illini, and now they have plenty of options. Megginson should compete for a spot at tackle, but three JUCOs — center Zach Heath, tackle Jordan Fagan and guard Connor Brennan — have the benefit of experience.

MARYLAND TERRAPINS

NATIONAL CLASS RANK: 48

The Terps recruiting class is small compared to some of the other Big Ten schools, with 18 signees, but they got a lot of quality. Quarvez Boulware, the No. 18-rated guard in the nation, committed on Tuesday night, pushing Maryland’s class rankings up several spots and giving Maryland a second four-star recruit. Everyone else rated as a three-star prospect.

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Boulware had enough options on signing day that he must have felt the Terps would give him some early playing time. The 6-foot-2, 285-pound lineman ranks as the No. 256 player overall and was the second-highest rated recruit for the Terps, behind DT Adam McLean. McLean was the No. 2 prospect out of Maryland.

NORTHWESTERN WILDCATS

NATIONAL CLASS RANK: 52

The Wildcats had four players de-commit from the Class of 2015 recruits but inked 20 prospects on the promise the program is on the rise after winning just 10 games the past two seasons. Northwestern was able to sway former Duke commit Flynn Nagel – one of the most prolific high school receivers in Illinois state history – to stay in-state and flip late Tuesday. Nagel is among the 19 three-star prospects.

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Cincinnati-LaSalle DT Jordan Thompson was the top-ranked player overall in this Wildcats recruiting class, checking in at No. 20 for his position. He could compete for a spot on the defensive line or at least add some depth on a line that seemed to be a big area of concern for the staff. Nagel could add some excitement to the offense.

INDIANA HOOSIERS

NATIONAL CLASS RANK: 51

The Hoosiers managed only to get four of the top 25 recruits from Indiana, including OT Brandon Knight (No. 10). The 22-member class is made up entirely of three-star recruits in the 247Composite ratings, though S Tyler Green — the top overall pickup — garners a four-star 247Sports rating.

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Green, who ranks as the No. 13 player out of Maryland, could help a defense that needs bodies, and in-state defensive ends Jacob Robinson (No. 49 at his position) and Joey Belden (No. 63) bring a physicality that is lacking. JUCO signee Camion Patrick brings experience at wide receiver, which could factor in as the offense takes shape.

RUTGERS SCARLET KNIGHTS

NATIONAL CLASS RANK: 54

Rutgers signed a full class of 25 following a successful first season in the Big Ten, which included a Quick Lane Bowl win over UNC and 8-5 finish. The class is highlighted by its only four-star prospect, DE Marques Ford, who originally committed to Tennessee but lost his offer after being named an All-American.

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Kyle Flood has used 16 true freshmen over his first three seasons as coach, so don’t be surprised to see a few more this fall. Ford, the No. 18-ranked strong-side defensive end, could fill a pass-rush vacancy on the line, and prep school standout Blessuan Austin has a leg-up with a postgraduate year and early enrollment and could fit in with the Knights’ needs for fresh, athletic corners.

IOWA HAWKEYES

NATIONAL CLASS RANK: 60

The Hawkeyes’ 21-member class includes nine players from Iowa, who are all among the state’s top 15 prospects – including OG Landan Paulsen (No. 1) and OT Levi Paulsen (No. 2). They already enrolled their one four-star grab in Warren G. Harding High’s James Daniels, the No. 6-rated center in the country, but the class rankings dropped significantly with RB Karan Higdon flipping to Michigan on Wednesday morning.

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Iowa’s best recruiting came with its offensive line pickups. Daniels has a ton of potential at center and will learn the system as an early enrollee, which should help his chances of earning playing time, and defensive end Brady Reiff (No. 48 at his position) is in the same boat.

MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS

NATIONAL CLASS RANK: 61

The Gophers signed 24 players to its 2015 recruiting class with four already enrolled and two from in-state. S Dior Johnson highlights the group, as the No. 10 prospect from Michigan and No. 49 player at his position, and will join JUCO corner Charlie Rogers as top additions to the secondary.

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Winston DeLattibourdere, the Maryland Defensive Player of the Year, helps fill a major need at defensive end. ILB Jaylen Waters is an aggressive, physically mature, downhill hitter who could thrive in a run-heavy Big Ten.

PURDUE BOILERMAKERS

NATIONAL CLASS RANK: 64

Purdue got a lot of quantity in its recruiting class but not as good of quality as the other schools, as seven players were listed as two-star or unrated prospects. Pro-style quarterback Elijah Sindelar is the top pickup as the third-ranked player out of Kentucky, and OT Larry Wells (No. 55 player in Ohio) was the best addition on signing day.

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The Boilermakers need to replace Akeem Hunt at running back, so that could leave a spot for players like Markell Jones (No. 95 at his position), an early enrollee out of Indiana, and Tario Fuller (No. 87) out of Georgia. OT Matt McCann and ILB Wyatt Cook also are among top recruits that could factor in.

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