Recruiting 2012 - Big Ten Legends Rankings
Posted Feb 2, 2012

Ranking and analyzing the 2012 Big Ten Legends Recruiting Classes

Recruiting 2012 

Big Ten Legends Rankings

Recruiting 2012

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 
- 2011 CFN Big Ten Rankings

- Big Ten Leaders Rankings

1. Michigan | The Entire 2012 Recruiting Class

The 2012 Class Was Heavy On... Next level talents. Now this is the class Michigan is used to bringing in. This is a class that's the base of a special team. It'll be a total shock if the Wolverines don't have one of the nation's top linebacking corps in a few years after this haul, while the speed and athleticism on the defensive front is as good as any class in over a decade. Head coach Brady Hoke has the offensive tackles for the future, while the defensive line is loaded with top-shelf pass rushers.

Team Concerns For 2012: The defensive line loses heart-and-soul tackle Mike Martin and two other starters. This year's class isn't going to fill in the gaps right away, but a few of the top ones will get a look for the rotation. Center David Molk is a huge loss, as is the departure of right tackle Mark Huyge and tight end Kevin Koger, but the offense will be explosive as long as Denard Robinson is healthy.

Looking Ahead To The 2012 Season: One more year. It might take one more season for Michigan to truly be back to being Michigan, but everything is on the right track with one of the nation's top recruiting classes coming in and a great base of talent in place to work around. Denard Robinson is back for one more season before he becomes an NFL receiver, but he'll lose target Junior Hemingway and he'll have to run– especially in the opener against Alabama – behind a line that has to replace center David Molk and right tackle Mark Huyge. Fitzgerald Toussaint flew under the national radar last season, but he should be among the nation's top running backs this year. The defense that made tremendous strides should go to another level in the secondary that returns three starters. Jake Ryan and the linebacking corps are talented and could be potentially terrific with more help on the way, but the line needs help with Mike Martin and three starters gone.

2. Michigan State | The Entire 2012 Recruiting Class

The 2012 Class Was Heavy On... Skill players. The Spartans have mostly gone after defensive prospects over the last few years, and it shows with few defensive linemen coming in this season. There's a little something for all the skill spots with the emphasis on receiver, and head coach Mark Dantonio is bringing in some strong tight ends to play around with the offense. There aren't any superstar prospects compared to what Michigan is getting, but it'll be a good class full of variety.

Team Concerns For 2012: The passing game loses QB Kirk Cousins and receivers B.J. Cunningham, Keith Nichol, and Keshawn Martin. It's going to take some rebuilding, and a heavy reliance on the running game, but the early loss of RB Edwin Baker won't help the depth. The defense lost anchor Jerel Worthy in the middle and free safety Trenton Robinson, but all the other key parts are back.

Looking Ahead To The 2012 Season: Quarterback Kirk Cousins needs to be replaced and running back Edwin Baker curiously left early for the next-level. Making matters worse for the offense is the loss of receivers B.J. Cunningham, Keshawn Martin, Keith Nichol, and both starting tight ends have to be replaced. On the plus side, four starters are back on the offensive line to pave the way for bruising running back Le'Veon Bell and protect likely new starting QB Andrew Maxwell.

It might take a while for the offense to come around, but the defense should be the best in the Mark Danotonio era. Anchor Jerel Worthy is gone from the defensive line, but William Gholston and Marcus Rush should form one of the Big Ten's best pass rushing tandems. The secondary is loaded with ball-hawkers SS Isaiah Lewis and corners Darqueze Dennard and Johnny Adams, and Chris Norman and Max Bullough headline a terrific-looking linebacking corps.

3. Iowa | The Entire 2012 Recruiting Class

The 2012 Class Was Heavy On... Skill players. The stars of the last two classes were on the defensive line, and this year the stars appear to be the tackles. The offense is set at quarterback for a while, and will have to be addressed next year, but the Hawkeye running back situation that always seems to be full of drama needs more options. The receiving corps might not have any superstar prospects, but there are enough decent ones to develop for 2014.

Team Concerns For 2012: Running back. With Marcus Coker dismissed and backup Jason White gone, the Hawkeyes have to find someone to take the heat off QB James Vandenberg. Iowa always find Cokers, and Shonn Greenes, and backs who can take over and make the offense shine, but the options are slimmer than normal this year. Finding a No. 1 target to replace Marvin McNutt is also a must.

Looking Ahead To The 2012 Season: It could be another down year with a slew of new starters needing to play huge roles. Iowa lost star running back Marcus Coker, top receiver Marvin McNutt, and NFL-bound tackle Riley Reiff, so how is the attack going to be more consistent? It's probably won't be, even though QB James Vandenberg returns and Keenan Davis is ready to fill the role of a No. 1 receiver. Only two starters are back on a shaky offensive line, while the underwhelming defensive front has to replace three starters including tacle Mike Daniels and end Broderick Binns. Leading tackler James Morris returns, but corner Shaun Prater and SS Jordan Bernstine have to be replaced.

4. Northwestern | The Entire 2012 Recruiting Class

The 2012 Class Was Heavy On... Offensive linemen. The last three classes have tried to improve the skill spots, and they're going to need time to work. Led by a great get out of Pennsylvania – guard Adam DePietro – this could be Pat Fitzgerald's best class of linemen yet. He's also getting the best linebacker prospect in his era with Ifeadi Odenigbo out of Ohio, but 2012 is about an O line that should be ready to roll in three years.

Team Concerns For 2012: The defensive line loses both starting tackles, but the big hit comes in the secondary with safety Brian Peters done along with corners Jordan Mabin and Jeravin Matthews. QB Dan Persa might have been special, but Kain Colter got in enough work last year to be ready to go. However, he'll be missing key targets Jeremy Ebert, Charles Brown, and Drake Dunsmore.

Looking Ahead To The 2012 Season: Is Kain Colter ready to be the full-time quarterback without Dan Persa done? He'll be the star of the running game, but help is on the way with top recruits Malin Jones and Traveon Henry ready to help out Treyvon Green. The real star on the way is linebacker Ifeadi Odenigbo, but the corps is already going to be the team's biggest strength with three promising young starters returning. They need to shine with three starters gone from the secondary and both starting tackles done. The O line needs to give Colter time to work with top targets Jeremy Ebert and Drake Dunsmore both finished, but Demetrius Fields has the look of a go-to receiver.

5. Nebraska | The Entire 2012 Recruiting Class

The 2012 Class Was Heavy On... More players. It was a concern when Nebraska joined the Big Ten that it wouldn't be able to fight off the top conference teams for talent in the Midwest, and that appears to be the case with a light class that's painfully lacking in top prospects. The linebacking corps is loading up a bit with some hard-nosed options for the future, and JUCO transfer Zaire Anderson for now, but for an offense that needs more options the class is lacking in skill prospects.

Team Concerns For 2012: Offensive pop in the passing game. There's Taylor Martinez, Rex Burkhead, and a prayer for good field position. The receiving corps is still young and emerging, but Martinez is hardly Tom Brady and the offense isn't going to start pushing the ball down the field more. Most of the top defensive starters are back, but the stars – MLB Lavonte David and CB Alfonzo Dennard – won't be easily replaced. The offensive line has to find three new starters including both tackles.

Looking Ahead To The 2012 Season: Quarterback Taylor Martinez and running back Rex Burkhead return. Now the offense needs a third option. The O line loses three starters, and a wide receiver has to emerge, but as long as Martinez and Burkhead are healthy, the running game will work. The best offensive weapon could turn out to be kicker Brett Maher, possibly the Big Ten's best all-around kicker. The defense will be air-tight with five starters returning to the defensive front, but tackling machine linebacker Lavonte David is done and top corner Alfonzo Dennard is off to the NFL. There's good depth and a few nice options to fill in the gaps, but finding playmakers and stars early on will be a must.

6. Minnesota | The Entire 2012 Recruiting Class

The 2012 Class Was Heavy On... Jerry Kill likes the run the ball, but he's not going after any star backs. He's bringing in quarterbacks to be ready to provide options after MarQueis Gray is done after next year, and he's loading up on receivers to start adding some more punch to the passing game. The secondary is getting an instant infusion of talent from the JUCO ranks with three signed on to make up for key losses while improving the depth.

Team Concerns For 2012: The offensive line has to be better. Kill is building for the future with this class of linemen, but he needs more production out of the ones brought in over the last few years. It'll be a young line that needs time, but the team can't afford another season with so much inconsistency up front. The defense needs a few young tackles to come through, and it needs a middle linebacker to replace Gary Tinsley and a safety to replace Kim Royston.

Looking Ahead To The 2012 Season: Year Two under head coach Jerry Kill should be better and more consistent. QB MarQueis Gray had a rough season, but he's a big-time talent who needs to shine in his final year. The line has to replace two starters, but it should be better with some of the young talents ready to do more for a ground game that should be solid with Gray and RB Donnell Kirkwood. Top target Da'Jon McKnight is done meaning Malcolm Moulton has to become the No. 1 right away. The defense loses both tackles, MLB Gary Tinsley and leading tackler Kim Royston, but seven starters return, led by Mike Rallis at one outside linebacker spot. 

- Big Ten Leaders Rankings