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2024 Big Ten Football Recruiting Rankings: Oregon Joins Ohio State At The Top | TheSportsDay 2024 Big Ten Football Recruiting Rankings: Oregon Joins Ohio State At The Top | TheSportsDay

2024 Big Ten football recruiting rankings: Oregon joins Ohio State at the top


When Michigan pummeled Iowa in the Big Ten Championship game earlier this month, the conference’s dreadful run of splitting teams into divisions finally, mercifully ended. A move that was first made ahead of the 2014 season produced 10 championship game wins for the East and zero wins for the West. Five of those games included final margins of at least 20 points.

The introduction of a division-less model for the 2024 campaign coincides with the arrivals of USC, UCLA, Oregon and Washington from the Pac-12 in the latest batch of conference realignment. 

And what better way to punch up a top-heavy league that has been dominated by Michigan, Ohio State, and to a lesser degree Penn State, than by adding four teams with a combined record of 38-12 this season? Let the chaos commence.

But before the Big Ten welcomes its West Coast contingent next summer, the football programs will be doing battle on the recruiting trail for the remainder of the 2024 cycle. 

The first checkpoint arrives on Wednesday when the early signing period opens and prospects across the country can finalize their commitments.

To preview the action, FOX Sports is analyzing the top recruiting classes from the remaining power conferences using data from the 247Sports Composite. Part one looked at the Big 12. Part two examined the ACC. Part three looked at the SEC. Up next, the Big Ten:

(Note: Ranking information is current as of 1:15 p.m. ET on Monday, Dec. 18.)

1. Ohio State
National class ranking: 2
Total commitments: 23
Five-star prospects: 5
Four-star prospects: 13
Three-star prospects: 4
Average rating: 93.08

Highest-ranked player: WR Jeremiah Smith; Chaminade-Madonna College Prep; Hollywood, Florida (No. 1 overall, No. 1 WR)

For all the criticism heaped on head coach Ryan Day after three consecutive losses to Michigan, it’s significantly tougher to quibble with his recruiting. Day has stocked the Ohio State roster with blue-chip prospect after blue-chip prospect from the moment he was named head coach five years ago, and the 2024 cycle is no exception. The Buckeyes will enter the early signing period with more verbal commitments from five-star recruits than any team in the country — even after last month’s decommitment from five-star defensive lineman Justin Scott, who ultimately chose Miami. They are expected to sign eight players rated among the top 100 nationally and 11 from the top 200. They won a hard-fought recruiting battle with Michigan to secure five-star cornerback Aaron Scott, the No. 1 player in Ohio, and have one of the fastest-rising quarterback prospects in five-star Air Noland. The only question mark is Smith, the nation’s best player regardless of position, who has been committed to Ohio State since Dec. 14, 2022. There are rumors swirling that the Florida native might be pondering a flip to Florida State. 

Ohio State impacted by transfer portal: What’s next for Ryan Day?

Ohio State impacted by transfer portal: What’s next for Ryan Day?

2. Oregon
National class ranking: 9
Total commitments: 23
Five-star prospects: 0
Four-star prospects: 19
Three-star prospects: 4
Average rating: 91.58 

Highest-ranked player: Edge rusher Elijah Rushing; Salpointe Catholic High School; Tucson, Arizona (No. 37 overall, No. 4 edge rusher)

A place like Oregon will always have built-in recruiting advantages given its longstanding association with Nike and Phil Knight, the company’s billionaire co-founder. Those two factors alone are enough to get certain recruits on a plane to Eugene. But head coach Dan Lanning, who just completed his second season, is quickly establishing himself as one of the best recruiters in the country, not unlike Kirby Smart, his boss at Georgia from 2018-21. Lanning’s first recruiting class ranked 13th nationally in 2022. His second class improved to ninth nationally in 2023. And his current class could outperform them both with nine players rated among the top 200 prospects in addition to the nation’s No. 2 junior college player in cornerback Sione Laulea, who had his choice of virtually any elite program in the country. The cherry on top came in late October when Lanning and his staff successfully flipped Rushing, the high-level edge rusher, after a brief verbal commitment to Arizona. As the rankings currently stand, Rushing is the 15th-best prospect in school history since 247Sports began collecting data in 2000.

Dillon Gabriel announces his transfer to Oregon

Dillon Gabriel announces his transfer to Oregon

3. Penn State
National class ranking: 13
Total commitments: 25
Five-star prospects: 0
Four-star prospects: 17
Three-star prospects: 8
Average rating: 90.74

Highest-ranked player: ATH Quinton Martin; Belle Vernon Area High School; Belle Vernon, Pennsylvania (No. 56 overall, No. 4 ATH)

Despite enduring a third consecutive season with losses to Michigan and Ohio State, head coach James Franklin is on the verge of securing a top-15 recruiting class for a third consecutive year. In addition to earning verbal commitments from three of the top five players in Pennsylvania — all of whom are four-star prospects — Franklin and his staff capitalized on the coaching turnover at Wisconsin last winter to forge relationships with several elite prospects in a place known for shipping local talent to the Badgers, the state’s only Division I football program. Penn State raided America’s Dairyland for the state’s Nos. 1, 3 and 6 players in four-star offensive tackle Garrett Sexton (No. 163 overall, No. 13 OT); four-star running back Corey Smith (No. 334 overall, No. 26 RB) and four-star interior lineman Donovan Harbour (No. 263 overall, No. 16 IOL). Another noteworthy player in the Nittany Lions’ class is four-star quarterback Ethan Grunkemeyer (No. 97 overall, No. 8 QB), whose stock soared after a strong performance at the Elite 11 Finals earlier this year. Grunkeyemer jumped from No. 625 overall in mid-June to No. 185 by mid-July, and he’s only risen from there.

Best gambling odds for Penn State vs. Ole Miss, more

Best gambling odds for Penn State vs. Ole Miss, more

4. Michigan
National class ranking: 16
Total commitments: 26
Five-star prospects: 0
Four-star prospects: 17
Three-star prospects: 9
Average rating: 90.15

Highest-ranked player: RB Jordan Marshall; Archbishop Moeller High School; Cincinnati, Ohio (No. 83 overall, No. 6 RB)

The level of satisfaction among fans regarding the Wolverines’ 2024 recruiting efforts has cooled considerably since a midsummer night’s dream when Michigan briefly held the No. 1 class in the country. Head coach Jim Harbaugh and his staff got so much of their work done over the first half of the year that nobody in college football could keep pace. Since then, however, the picture has changed significantly. Blue-chip quarterback commit Jadyn Davis, who was a five-star prospect when he committed to the Wolverines in March, has been downgraded to a four-star prospect and tumbled out of the top 100 on three of the four major recruiting services. Four-star edge rusher Elias Rudolph flipped from Michigan to Miami, marking the second time in as many years that the Hurricanes snagged an edge rusher previously committed to the Wolverines. And the package deal of brothers Jerod Smith and Jacob Smith — both defensive players rated among the top 200 nationally — flipped their commitments from Michigan to Kentucky. The Wolverines have only added one verbal commitment since mid-August and slipped to fourth in the Big Ten hierarchy.

Should USC and Lincoln Riley have concerns for the future?

Should USC and Lincoln Riley have concerns for the future?

Program to watch: USC
National class ranking: 17
Total commitments: 20
Five-star prospects: 0
Four-star prospects: 12
Three-star prospects: 8
Average rating: 90.59

Highest-ranked player: WR Xavier Jordan; Sierra Canyon School; Chatsworth, California (No. 66 overall, No. 15 WR)

The desirability of going to school in Southern California and the mystique of playing in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum will always be enough to give USC cachet with some of the nation’s best recruits. Add in the reputation of head coach Lincoln Riley as one of the better offensive minds in college football, and the Trojans should comfortably land among the Big Ten’s top five classes more often than not. Aside from an obvious need to improve USC’s defense, the only lingering concern about Riley’s recruiting efforts is an inability to land some of the state’s top prospects. In 2022, Riley’s first recruiting class included California’s best prospect in five-star cornerback Domani Jackson (No. 15 overall, No. 2 CB) but only three of the state’s top 10 players overall. In 2023, Riley signed 12 players from California but only landed three of the state’s top 15 players. And in 2024, after a disappointing 7-5 season, the Trojans will enter the early signing period having failed to gain a commitment from the top five players in the state. Those prospects are already committed to Oregon, Alabama (x2), Texas and Notre Dame.

Michael Cohen covers college football and basketball for FOX Sports with an emphasis on the Big Ten. Follow him on Twitter at @Michael_Cohen13.

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