Recruiting 2012 - Big Ten Leaders Needs
Posted Jan 30, 2012

What does each Big Ten Leaders team need, and what are the concerns this offseason?

Recruiting 2012

Big Ten Leaders Needs

Recruiting 2011 | Recruiting 2010 | Recruiting 2009 

CFN Top Prospects for 2012
- No. 1 to 50 | No. 51 to 100 | No. 101 to 150
- No. 151 to 200No. 201 to 250 | No. 251 to 300
- Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Receivers
- Tight Ends | Off. Tackles | Guards & Centers 
- Def. Ends | Def. Tackles | Linebackers | Corners | Safeties 


- Big Ten Legends

1. Ohio State | Scout List

2012: What's Needed Now: Welcome to Urban being Urban. Meyer appears to have a renewed energy, and it shows with a typically great Ohio State recruiting class. Even with almost no time to work, he's getting just about everyone he wants from Ohio and has been able to get a few key players from outside the state. In just a short time he's putting together a monster that's as good as any class in the country, particularly on the defensive front where he's loading up with the best prospects for any line in America. The skill positions aren't being ignored, but the Buckeyes need to keep building up the defense. Meyer will go more for the offensive side next year.

Team Concerns For 2012: How quickly will the offense adjust to what Meyer wants to do? Top receiver DeVier Posey is gone, as is RB Dan Herron, but Braxton Miller might be the perfect quarterback for Meyer's attack. The problem is on the offensive line with three starters gone including both tackles and center Mike Brewster. The defense should be experienced up front, but the most talented linemen will be in coming in the fall.


The 2011 Class Was Heavy On … the defensive front seven. All eyes will be on Braxton Miller, who might be the quarterback and the key to the start of the 2011 season, but the Buckeyes will be loaded for years to come thanks to the pickup of several amazing defensive players. The Signing Day coup of Curtis Grant, the nation’s top outside linebacker, was the icing on the cake for a class that came up with NFL talents in Michael Bennettat defensive tackle and Steve Miller on the outside. Ejuan Shazier will be the team’s next great inside linebacker, while brother Ryan Shazier will be a star on the outside.

2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 20. That Class Was Heavy On ... Receivers. Predictably, Ohio State didn't come up with its normal jaw-dropping haul of NFL talents after coming up with the nation's top class last year. But that didn't mean that a few key prospects weren't signed led by superstar offensive tackle prospect Andrew Norwell, who'll be great once he hits the weight room. The receivers aren't the sure things of past classes, but Corey Brown, James Louis and Tyrone Williams can move. Roderick Smith is a freakishly talented running back who could've gone anywhere in the Big Ten and got a big push from Georgia and Oklahoma.

2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 1. That Class Was Heavy On ... everything. Name the position and about 100 other teams would be ecstatic to do as well overall as Ohio State did in any one area other than quarterback (and Kenneth Guiton isn’t a bad prospect). Running back? Jaamal Berry and FB Carlos Hyde are the stars of a good group. The receiving corps, led by Cris Carter’s son, Duron, is special, the offensive tackles are all prototypes, the defensive tackles big and quick, the linebackers fast, and the defensive backs even faster. This class has it all.

2. Penn State | Scout List

2012: What's Needed Now: Whatever head coach Bill O'Brien can get. A few prospects have said they wanted to come to Penn State no matter what, but for the most part, the top players are staying away from the mess. This is hardly a disastrous recruiting season considering all the problems with few good receivers signing on and the defensive line is getting a few three-star types, but this isn't nearly the type of class the program is used to getting.

Team Concerns For 2012: It's all about getting through the transition. The offense needs the most help, especially for the passing game. The quarterbacks in place simply can't play, but at least Matt McGloin and Rob Bolden are veterans. The defensive line has to replace Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Devon Still and end Jack Crawford, and all four starters are gone from the secondary. The offensive line loses four starters from a group that was fine, but merely above-average at best.


The 2011 Class Was Heavy On … Offensive linemen. Not since the Derrick Williams class of 2005 has Penn State brought in a group of receivers like this with Bill Belton, Matt Zanellato and Allen Robinson all good enough to be the No. 1 target. The defensive front should be stronger with Shawn Oakman and Deion Barnes on the end and Ben Kline at linebacker, but the focus is on the offensive front as Donovan Smith leads a phenomenal group of talents. Angelo Mangiro is one of the nation’s best guards, and Anthony Zettel isn’t far behind. Tackle Anthony Alosi might start right away.

2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 14. That Class Was Heavy On ... Linebackers. Are top prospects worried about the Joe Paterno era ending any time soon? Hardly. Only three linebackers were signed, but it would've be a stunner if Mike Hull in the middle and Khairi Fortt and Dakota Royer on the outside form the nation's best corps going into the 2013 season. Hull was the nation's top inside prospect and he should be the program's next great linebacker. DaQuan Jones and Evan Hailes are ready-made 300-pounders for the inside of the line, while C.J. Olaniyan is a speed rusher for the outside. Offensively, Paul Jones is one of the nation's best quarterback prospects, but that didn't stop Robert Bolden, a passer who'd make the recruiting season for about 100 other programs, from also signing.

2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 11. That Class Was Heavy On ... receivers. The strength of the class is at offensive tackle, but the immediate need was at receiver with Derrick Williams, Deon Butler and Jordan Norwood gone. Joe Paterno and his staff aren’t going to ask the incoming freshmen to step in and start right away, but it would be nice if Justin Brown, Shawney Kersey, Brandon Felder, Devon Smith and Christian Kuntz were able to push for potential playing time. Brown is the star of the bunch, but Kersey and Smith are the speedsters who could make a more immediate impact.

3. Illinois | Scout List

2012: What's Needed Now: Receivers. Tim Beckman is known for being a defensive coach, but his Toledo teams lived on a high-octane offense. It's Illinois, so the passing game is going to get plenty of attention with the receiving corps getting new prospects to play around with. The defense is getting a few nice linebackers, and kicker Ryan Frain will get a shot at the job right away, but across the board this class pales in comparison to the monsters Ron Zook brought in when he first started up in Champaign.

Team Concerns For 2012: Key offensive performers. QB Nathan Scheelhaase is back for two more years, but his top target, A.J. Jenkins, is gone, as are top backs Jason Ford and Troy Pollard. Losing left tackle Jeff Allen could be the biggest problem early on next season; there are more good skill players waiting in the wings. Defensively, who's going to be the next great defensive lineman? Tackle Corey Liuget was the main man two years ago, and last season Whitney Mercilus was the best defensive end in college football. The hope is for tackle Akeem Spence to be the next big thing.


The 2011 Class Was Heavy On … The passing game. The Illini defensive front got an influx of talent for the inside with Chris Jones and Clint Tucker two active big bodies who fit the team team perfectly. Ends Darrius Caldwell and Chris O’Connor are dangerous pass rushing prospects. While running backs Joshua Ferguson and Donovann Young going to shine, the offensive class is about the passing game with Reilly O’Toole the quarterback for three years from now and receivers Dondi Kirby and Kenny Wright two big, strong targets. The big coup was tight end Jon Davis, who turned down Notre Dame and UCLA.

2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 50. That Class Was Heavy On ... The middle of the defensive back seven. Quarterback Chandler Whitmer is the star of the class and wide receiver Darius Millines is a good one to step in and potentially produce early on, but Illinois needed to do something about its defense ... and now. Jonathan Brown, Mark Wilson, and Jay Prosch are all built to play inside linebacker, and they might provide instant depth. Safety Earnest Thomas is the best defensive prospect brought in, while JUCO transfer Trulon Henry has to find a spot somewhere in the secondary immediately.

2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 38. That Class Was Heavy On ... defensive linemen. Lost in the Ron Zook era amidst the publicity around the offense has been a defense that’s been consistently strong. This year’s recruiting class helped the defensive front more than any other area with promising pass rushers Cornellius Carradine and Michael Buchanan for the outside with Lendell Buckner and Akeem Spence for the inside. Buckner has the body and the upside to be special.

4. Wisconsin | Scout List

2012: What's Needed Now: The offensive line. The Badgers don't need to come up with a big class, going after quality over quantity. Bret Bielema is going outside of the state for some of the key prospects, including getting guard Dan Voltz out of Illinois. More good ones are on the way. Bielema has mostly focused on getting the type of defenders who fit what the program likes to do by developing overachievers, but this year, more top players are giving UW a look.

Team Concerns For 2012: Quarterback, quarterback, quarterback. It's Wisconsin, so the offensive line will be fine with a little bit of time, and the defense has enough great prospects from the last few recruiting classes to be ready to fill in the gaps, but Russell Wilson was a special quarterback who bailed out a bad situation when he signed on. The offense will continue to work around Montee Ball and the running game, but a third straight Rose Bowl is out without an efficient passer. Both kickers – PK Philip Welch and P Brad Nortman – have to be replaced.


The 2011 Class Was Heavy On … Outside linebackers. Wisconsin might be Tight End U. with the success of players like Travis Beckum, Lance Kendricks, and others over the last few seasons, and there’s more talent on the way with Sam Arneson, Austin Maly, and Eric Staffes three good pass catchers. Overall, this is a typical Badger class with no real superstars, but plenty of midlevel prospects who fit the team’s mold. The one top pickup was Jake Keefer, local product with great range. Michael Caputo and Jordan Fredrick are just two of the several other good outside defenders brought in.

2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 27. That Class Was Heavy On ... Defensive linemen. Overall, this was a diverse and strong class that made up for a few years of subpar Signing Days. Wisconsin might recruit to fit the program, but this class also has talent. The Badgers signed a ton of defensive linemen last season and kept bringing in the talent this year with six excellent prospect. 292-pound DT Beau Allen was the key piece to the puzzle, while Sherard Cadogan and Konrad Zagzebeski fit the UW mold of smallish, lightning quick speed rushers on the outside. Jeff Lewis and James White will have a few years to work into the running back rotation.

2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 53. That Class Was Heavy On ... defensive linemen. The Badgers have been surprisingly soft up front over the last few years. Poor tackling has been part of the problem; injuries have been the other part. This year’s class addressed the needs up front led by tackle Jordan Kohout, arguably the state’s top recruit. Pat Muldoon and Shelby Harris are strong pass rushing prospects who have to come through and shine sooner than later.

5. Indiana | Scout List

2012: What's Needed Now: FBS players. Head coach Kevin Wilson openly groused about the talent level after coming over from Oklahoma, and now he has had a full recruiting season to change things around. While he lost top quarterback prospect Dusty Kiel to Notre Dame, he's getting a few passers and some strong receivers. The defense has to be far better, and it starts up front with JUCO transfers Jaccari Alexander and David Cooper for the linebacking corps, and enough talent for the depth on the line to get an immediate upgrade.

Team Concerns For 2012: The offense has to start producing on a consistent basis. Tre Robertson is a fun quarterback to work around, and Stephen Houston is a promising, pounding back, but Wilson's passing attack needs a deep threat and the line has to be night and day better. There's experience, but the skill level is lacking.


The 2011 Class Was Heavy On … Defensive backs. New head coach Kevin Wilson wants receivers to be able to move the ball vertically even more than Bill Lynch did, and he loaded up with three excellent targets from the tiny but quick Shane Wynn to the 6-5 Jay McCants. Defense got plenty of help, especially in the secondary, with big safeties Forisse Hardin and Mark Murphy, potentially seeing time right away, while Kenny Mullen bring speed at corner and Nick Stoner and Michael Hunter are versatile options for the outside.

2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 64. That Class Was Heavy On ... Help for the defensive back seven. The Hoosiers need to go with the strength-in-numbers theory to find enough bodies to come up with a solid and steady defense. Five strong linebacking prospects were signed led by Matt Zakrzewski, a safety-sized guided missile for the outside, and Chase Hoobler for the middle. Shaquille Jefferson will be a starting safety in the near future, while JUCO transfers Andre Kates and Lenyatta Kiles will provide instant help on the corners.

2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 681. That Class Was Heavy On ... quarterbacks. IU was more than just competitive with Kellen Lewis was on, and it showed just how much the program needs a strong quarterback to carry the rest of the team. The Hoosiers might have picked up two with Edward Wright-Baker and great athlete, and Dustin Kiel a nice passing prospect. These two will get a little bit of time to develop with the future of the program to eventually ride on one of their shoulders.

6. Purdue | Scout List

2012: What's Needed Now: After years of mostly going after the defensive side, the coaching staff is trying to improve the offense. Danny Hope has a few nice quarterback prospects about to sign on, while the receiving corps is loaded with as many good options as the program has had in several years. Tight end will be the strength with Ryan Morris and JUCO transfer Greg Latta good enough to play right away. Ryan Watson is a terrific guard prospect and a huge get for down the road, while JUCO transfer Devin Smith is expected to see time at tackle now.

Team Concerns For 2012: Safety will require the most work with both Logan Link and Albert Evans gone, but big recruiting classes from 2009 and 2010 should boost up the secondary. The offensive line has to come up with two new starters on the left side and Nick Mondek at right guard. Carson Wiggs could be the rare drafted placekicker, but Paul Griggs is's No. 3 ranked prospect.


The 2011 Class Was Heavy On … Defensive linemen. The skill positions got some instant depth with JUCO transfer Akeem Shavers at running back and JUCO transfer tight end Sterling Carter, and Akeem Hunt ill be the team’s star back in the near future. Defensively, the success of recent Boilermaker linemen helped get Robert Kugler, the star of the class and a dangerous pass rushing prospect, while Randy Gregory could be a good one with time in the weight room. 315-pound Michael Rouse will someday be the anchor of the defensive front.

2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 48. That Class Was Heavy On ... Defensive backs. Head coach Danny Hope went big on the defensive linemen last year, and this year he came up with a big class of defensive backs signing seven including Ricardo Allen, a good corner who might be too good to keep on the bench as a freshman. Out of all the defensive backs brought in, only one true safety, E.J. Johnson, was signed. It's Purdue, so the offense is never going to be ignored and Hope brought in QB Sean Robinson, a big, athletic passer, and a good receiver in O.J. Ross.

2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 64. That Class Was Heavy On ... defensive linemen. Purdue hasn’t stopped anyone’s running game in a few years, and now it’s time to give it a try. That’s not to say there haven’t been good linemen flowing through the program, but most of the stars have been pass rushers. JUCO transfer Kris Cooke should be an instant upgrade for the interior, while Eric McDaniel and Brandon Taylor will be the foundation for future defenses. Xavier Melton and Cody Davis aren’t bad tackle prospects, either.

- Big Ten Legends