How are Big Ten Football Programs Faring with 2018 In-State Recruiting?

Big Ten Football B1G

For any college football program to be successful, the best in-state recruits generally need to stay in state.

Not every state produces the same amount of talent, so the in-state pool isn’t always that deep, but it is still important to keep other states’ programs out of your pool.

How are the Big Ten schools doing as lifeguards?

Well, it’s early, but some trends are already beginning to emerge.

For instance, in the state of Illinois, Lovie Smith has zero control of things at the moment.

Nine of the top 10 prospects in the state have already committed, but none of them have committed to Illinois.

Here’s the rundown of where the top 10 players in the state have committed.


No. 1 – Uncommitted
No. 2 – Northwestern
No. 3 – Wisconsin
No. 4 – Notre Dame
No. 5 – Virginia Tech
No. 6 – Minnesota
No. 7 – Northwestern
No. 8 – Northwestern
No. 9 – Penn State
No. 10 – Iowa

While Northwestern is doing well enough, the Illini are nowhere to be seen. In fact, using 247’s Composite rankings, you have to go all the way to the No. 22 player in the state to find an Illinois commitment.

Could Lovie Smith turn things around? Sure, but if he doesn’t turn it around off the field in recruiting, how is he going to do it on the field?

Next, let’s head to Indiana, where only three of the state’s top 10 players are committed.


No. 1 – Michigan
No. 2 – Notre Dame
No. 8 – Iowa

Neither the Hoosiers or Purdue have a verbal commitment from Indiana’s top 10. The talent in the state isn’t deep, but there are generally some very talented players in the top five or so. Purdue’s first verbal commitment from in state comes at No. 19, and Indiana’s first comes at No. 26, behind players who are committed to Ball State, Toledo, Miami, Ohio, and Boston College. Did the Hoosiers want any of those players? Maybe, maybe not, but they should have landed at least one commitment from one of the top 25 players in state by now.

Let’s stay in alphabetical order here and go to Iowa next. We shouldn’t expect there to necessarily be 10 Power 5 prospects here, but it’s close. Here is the Iowa rundown at the moment.


No. 1 – Uncommitted
No. 2 – North Dakota State
No. 3 – Iowa State
No. 4 – Iowa
No. 5 – Iowa
No. 6 – Uncommitted
No. 7 – Miami (OH)
No. 8 – Iowa State
No. 9 – Uncommitted
No. 10 – Iowa State

Right now, North Dakota State has more commitments from the top 12 (3) than Iowa does (2). That doesn’t mean that Iowa wanted all of the players that have committed to NDSU, but it’s an interesting situation regardless.

The state’s No. 2 player is running back/athlete Saybein Clark. He committed to North Dakota State with an offer from Iowa in hand. Why? Maybe Iowa just has too much offensive firepower and he doesn’t see himself ever getting on the field. Or maybe he does see himself getting on the field and would just rather do it in North Dakota. The state’s No. 3 player was a battle with Iowa State, which the Hawkeyes lost. Can Iowa get back in it with Clark? Can they secure the state’s No. 1 player — defensive end John Waggoner — who has Big Ten and SEC interest? Don’t get your hopes up. They’ve landed the top player in state just once since 2011.

Now let’s move way east and see how things are in Maryland.

Only five of the state’s top 10 players have committed.


No. 1 – Ohio State
No. 2 – Florida State
No. 4 – Maryland
No. 7 – Maryland
No. 10 – Maryland

This is the kind of result that you want to see from the Terps. Eventually, they need to start landing the top guys in state, but Maryland is deep enough that they can do pretty well with just the back half of the top 10. Other national programs are always going to recruit this area hard, so keeping the top guys home will be difficult.

Next we move west.

Eight of the top 10 prospects in the state of Michigan are currently committed, and for the second time in as many years, none of them are committed to Ohio State.

Here is how the state up north looks.


No. 1 – Kentucky
No. 2 – Uncommitted
No. 3 – Michigan
No. 4 – Michigan
No. 5 – Michigan
No. 6 – Syracuse
No. 7 – Michigan State
No. 8 – Kentucky
No. 9 – Notre Dame
No. 10 – Uncommitted

Firstly, don’t get too worked up about Kentucky at the top of that list. Instead, wonder how Michigan State is going to fare by being so uninvolved with in-state recruiting. They have just three total commitments from Michigan prospects. There is always Ohio, however, which is usually pretty good to MSU.

Before we get to Ohio, however, let’s row the boat on over to the state of Minnesota, where the Gophers have commitments from five of the top 10 players in state, including three of the top five. The other bit of good news for Minnesota is that no other Big Ten teams are currently swimming in the Gophers’ pool. I could give you the list, but it just features BYU and North Dakota State.

Maybe we should think about putting North Dakota State in the Big Ten? They recruit like they’re already here anyway.

So now we move to Ohio, where things are moving a little slower than Buckeye fans would like. Here’s where the top 10 stands right now.


No. 1 – Uncommitted
No. 2 – Ohio State
No. 3 – Uncommitted
No. 4 – Uncommitted
No. 5 – Ohio State
No. 6 – Uncommitted
No. 7 – Michigan State
No. 8 – Kentucky
No. 9 – Uncommitted
No. 10 – Kentucky

Currently, Ohio State has only offered six of the top 10 players, and may only be looking to take five of them. Those five are the top five players in the state, and all five are expected to end up Buckeyes.

Michigan State has a commitment from Pickerington tight end Trent Gillison (No. 7), as well as two others in Ohio’s top 20, one other in the top 50, and four others in the top 76. The Spartans need to add some more players, and they may be battling Kentucky to make that happen. The rest of the Big Ten apparently doesn’t know where Ohio is.

I realize I skipped the state of Nebraska, but that’s what the Big Ten does as well, so… Actually, since we’re here, let’s at least mention how things are going. I’d give you a top 10, but 247Sports only lists four prospects from the state. The top two, happily, are committed to Nebraska. The No. 3 player is committed to Wisconsin, and the No. 4 player is committed to Colorado State. Any time you can land the top two players in your state, you’re doing well.

Let’s stay in the Big Ten West and head to Wisconsin, where the Badgers and the Iowa Hawkeyes are in an apparent bloodfeud.

Check it out.


No. 1 – Wisconsin
No. 2 – Iowa
No. 3 – Wisconsin
No. 4 – Iowa
No. 5 – Iowa State
No. 6 – Iowa
No. 7 – Wisconsin
No. 8 – Wisconsin
No. 9 – Uncommitted
No. 10 – Uncommitted

I don’t know how Iowa State got in there. The state of Wisconsin isn’t going to produce huge numbers, but the numbers they do produce will usually have some huge players. With the Badgers landing half of the top eight to this point, that’s a pretty good place to be in July. If they can flip somebody, that would be big as well.

Maryland and Rutgers have been tied together since they entered the Big Ten hand-in-hand a few years back. With the way recruiting is going, however, the Terps might be on the verge of distancing themselves greatly from the Scarlet Knights.

What do I mean?

Here’s where the top 10 prospects in the state of New Jersey are committed.

New Jersey

No. 1 – Penn State
No. 4 – Notre Dame
No. 5 – Penn State
No. 7 – Florida
No. 8 – North Carolina State
No. 9 – Vanderbilt

Nobody is headed to Rutgers so far. A scan down the state’s rankings finds the first Rutgers commit at No. 24. Maryland even has a commitment inside the top 20. Admittedly, there is a chicken/egg situation here for Rutgers. Do they need to win first to get the commitments, or do they need to get the commitments first in order to win? If it’s the latter, Rutgers appears to be in trouble. Chris Ash did sign two of the top five players in the state in 2017, however.

The Scarlet Knights haven’t landed the top player in state since Darius Hamilton in 2012.

I believe that leaves us with just one state remaining — Pennsylvania.

Currently, only four of the top 10 players are committed.


No. 2 – Notre Dame
No. 3 – Penn State
No. 8 – Notre Dame
No. 10 – Penn State

Pretty amazingly, Penn State is the only Big Ten school with a Pennsylvania commit in the top 30. That will eventually change, however.

It might start with the No. 1 player, defensive end Micah Parsons. Parsons is a top Buckeye target, and many believe that is where the former Penn State commitment will end up. Ohio State is also after a number of other PA prospects in (No. 4) receiver Jahan Dotson and (No. 7) offensive lineman Frederick Scruggs.

So there you have it.

It’s only July, so things are still very early. However, there are already a few not-so-pretty pictures being painted.

No, it’s not earth-shattering to say Indiana, Illinois, and Rutgers need to pick up the pace, but it does give you an idea of why there are some problems back at home for those schools.

Perhaps the most troubling thing is that Illinois and Rutgers have two very good recruiting bases, and yet neither program is taking advantage of it this year. If that doesn’t change, the coaching staffs will.

There is still plenty to be determined, so we’ll revisit things later this fall.

Maybe by then, Rutgers, Illinois, Indiana, MSU, and Ohio State can have some better luck in state.