Nati Harnik/Associated Press
Big Ten East
Power in the Big Ten is heavily weighted to the East Division until Wisconsin, Purdue, Iowa and Nebraska can change it.
A trio of elite programs on that side of the league continued to roll up with marquee playmakers Wednesday, with no end in sight to the dominance from the East.
Michigan, Penn State and Ohio State continued to flex their muscle, finishing as the top three ranked programs in that conference at Nos. 8, 10 and 12, respectively.
Those teams pulled dynamic players too. Michigan got one future superstar (more on that later) to go along with an impressive 15 4-star players. Though Ohio State lost some playmakers like Dwan Mathis, the first Ryan Day-led class was strong.
The Buckeyes capped Wednesday with a pledge from 5-star defensive end Zach Harrison to go along with fellow elite players like receiver Garrett Wilson and offensive lineman Harry Miller. Reinforcements abound on the defensive side, and OSU has the highest average star rating in the league.
Finally, PSU continued to impress with 5-star linebacker Brandon Smith, and the Nittany Lions’ 16 4-star players are second only to Alabama.
Michigan and Daxton Hill
Kudos to Michigan’s Daxton Hill, the nation’s top-ranked safety.
Yes, there was plenty of drama after Hill decommitted from Michigan and flipped to Alabama just 11 days before early signing period following a secretive visit to Tuscaloosa.
Even though all’s fair in recruiting and it happens every year, when a kid does that to a program at this juncture, there’s little time to rally. But Hill and the Wolverines stayed in contact the following couple of weeks, and he flipped back to the Wolverines and signed.
Hill’s original decision to decommit from Michigan was stunning in its own right.
“It caught everyone by surprise,” 247Sports recruiting analyst Steve Lorenz said, according to Nick Baumgardner of the Detroit Free Press. “Since I’ve been doing this, I’d probably accurately say that’s the first time the Michigan staff found out about a kid decommitting when we all did.”
Alabama, of course, will survive. The Tide responded by flipping Ohio State safety Jordan Battle, because that’s what the Tide do. They’ve got kids lined up to play there.
But Hill did a good thing, recommitting to the program he had been pledged to since September. It’s a huge deal for Jim Harbaugh, who gets arguably the best defensive prospect in the nation.
If there’s a player who’s perfect for a system, it’s all-purpose back Robinson in Scott Frost’s offense at Nebraska.
The Cornhuskers don’t have a player like the former Kentucky commit, who flipped from the Wildcats and became a centerpiece of Frost’s full class. He can catch the ball out of the backfield, get the ball in space and do a lot with it. He’ll be an ideal complement to quarterback Adrian Martinez.
As well, Nebraska could keep athlete Luke McCaffrey at quarterback like brother Dylan at Michigan, or it could get him the ball in creative ways like other brother Christian did at Stanford and still does with the Carolina Panthers.
Frost is an innovative offensive mind, and he needs utility-knife guys like Robinson and McCaffrey to make things tick. These are going to be fun puzzle pieces.