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Early National Signing Period 2018: The Big Ten Rankings

Where do the Badgers stand?

Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images

Happy (Early) Signing Day Big Ten football fans.

Because the sports blogosphere cannot get enough hot, hot National Signing Day action, the wise and true sages at the NCAA have gifted us not one but two NSDs.

With the brand-spankin’-new Early National Signing Day keeping us warm this chilly holiday season, let’s take a stroll through the Big Ten’s first foray into a December NSD.

Here is the breakdown of Big Ten team rankings from ESPN, 247Sports Composite, and Rivals (all rankings as of Wednesday at 6 p.m. ET).

2018 Big Ten Early Signing Day Rankings

School ESPN 247Sports Composite Rivals
School ESPN 247Sports Composite Rivals
Illinois NR 61 69
Indiana NR 41 34
Iowa NR 34 37
Maryland 21 19 19
Michigan 11 12 16
Michigan State 28 25 18
Minnesota 22 29 28
Nebraska 35 46 59
Northwestern 37 50 57
Penn State 4 4 3
Purdue NR 47 43
Ohio State 2 1 2
Rutgers NR 40 42
Wisconsin 33 37 31

Here are some of the Early NSD highlights from around the conference:


  • The Illini had the worst day of any Big Ten school, failing to break the top 60 in any rankings (this on top of some lost talent that transferred out of Champaign this offseason).
  • Lovie Smith’s crew did manage to snare four-star defensive tackle Calvin Avery, though. That’s something.


  • The Hoosiers had a pretty good day, breaking the top 45 in two of the three team rankings.
  • On the way, Indiana landed four-star running back Ronnie Walker, who some think has a chance to be a special talent.


  • Iowa had a Wisconsin kind of day, landing in the mid-to-high 30s in two of three rankings.
  • The Hawkeyes did manage to grab some high-end talent, landing both four-star quarterback Spencer Petras and four-star running back Dallas Craddieth.


  • The Terps made some noise Wednesday, landing in the top 20 in two of three rankings.
  • Maryland got some big help on the transfer front as well, landing former five-star Auburn defensive end Byron Cowart. Unfortunately, despite frequent requests, the Terps were not transferred to the Big Ten West.


  • The Fightin’ Khakis did not match rival Ohio State in terms of national profile, but still had themselves a pretty good Early NSD, breaking the top 15 in two of three rankings.
  • Jim Harbaugh’s Groucho glasses managed to flip four-star defensive end and German schnitzelhammer Julius Welschof and added athlete Ronnie Bell late.

Michigan State

  • The rankings had Sparty all over the place, with ESPN going as high as 28 and Rivals putting them at 18.
  • Some, however, think the Class of 2018 may be Mark Danotonio’s best ever.


  • FLECK has always had a positive reputation as a recruiter and Wednesday was no exception, as the Gophers landed a consensus top-30 class.
  • Always one to avoid the spotlight, though, FLECK managed to give introductory remarks for approximately 1,472 minutes at his NSD presser.


  • New head coach Scott Frost did OK holding the Huskers’ class of ‘18 together, though the rankings did not know quite what to make of it. ESPN had Nebraska as high as 35, Rivals as low as 59.
  • The Huskers did lose a high-profile flip to Ohio State, however.


  • The Wildcats broke the top 50 in two of three rankings, with ESPN particularly high on them (No. 37).
  • Northwestern landed in-state four-star defensive end Devin O’Rourke, who, for reasons that remain unclear, passed on offers from basically the entire Big Ten West to spend four-ish years in Evanston.

Ohio State

  • Despite finishing near the top of the national rankings, the Buckeyes missed out on a few big-time national prospects, mostly because of Kirk Herbstreit.
  • Seriously, though, Urban Meyer’s staff brought some serious talent to Columbus, with the Buckeyes neck-and-neck with Georgia for the nation’s top class.

Penn State


  • Coach Jeff Brohm continued the Boilermakers’ rebuild project, pulling in a top-50 class.
  • Purdue’s class rankings may rise further after the February National Signing Day, with Texas decommit Rondale Moore expected to sign with the Boilermakers late.


  • Hey! Good job, Chris Ash! The Scarlet Knights landed in the top 40-ish on both 247Sports and Rivals!
  • It was a solid class across the board for Rutgers, as these things go in New Jersey, with the Scarlet Knights grabbing the top athlete in the Garden State, Daevon Robinson.


  • Wisconsin was even more Wisconsin than Iowa was Wisconsin, with the Badgers hanging out in the 30s (NSD scheduled tweet).
  • If you have read this far, one suspects you have already digested the copious B5Q Early NSD content. If not, get to it.