Here's a look at how programs in the Big Ten are faring on the recruiting trail.
ESPNU 150 commitments: 0
Who they have: Usually known for his recruiting prowess, Fighting Illini coach Ron Zook hasn't been able to persuade recruits into picking Illinois through the early parts of this recruiting season. The Illini don't have much room for another big class, but even the recruits currently on board don't bring the same type of excitement as previous classes. Three-star linebacker Tajarvis Fuller (Fort Meyers, Fla./Dunbar) leads the current class, and the Illini have scored a trio of three-star skill position players in defensive backs Zach Jackson (Snellville, Ga./Brookwood) and Cody Quinn (Middletown, Ohio/Middletown) and receiver Jason Robertson (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East). The most troubling part about the Illini's current class is that Robertson is the lone recruit from the Land of Lincoln, and he's the No. 17 prospect overall in Illinois. Zook has even allowed Florida to invade Illinois; it's usually the other way around.
Who they still want: The Illini want a lot of players, but none more than ESPNU 150 offensive tackle Jordan Diamond (Chicago/Simeon). The 6-foot-6, 291-pound prospect is the No. 14 offensive tackle and has a laundry list of schools from all over the country that have offered. Despite his being an in-state recruit, the chances the Illini land Diamond aren't promising. Same goes for ESPNU 150 defensive end Faith Ekakitie, who will not take an official visit to the in-state Illini. They are still in the running for Sunshine State prospects Orlando David (Hollywood, Fla./Chaminade-Madonna) and Kenneth Bynum (Jacksonville, Fla./Raines). They also will look to try to lock down the remaining players in Illinois beginning with defensive tackles Vincent Valentine (Edwardsville, Ill./Edwardsville) and Vontrell Williams (Chicago/Mount Carmel).
ESPNU 150 commitments: 1
Who they have: Maybe other than Michigan and new coach Brady Hoke, no team has been more of a surprise so far than Indiana, not just in the Big Ten, but nationally. The Hoosiers raised eyebrows across the country when Indiana's top prospect, Gunner Kiel (Columbus, Ind./Columbus East), No. 20 in the ESPNU 150 and the No. 2 quarterback, elected to stay in state back in July. It's the first time the Hoosiers grabbed one of the top three players in the state since snagging Edward Wright-Baker in 2009. After coming over from Oklahoma this offseason, coach Kevin Wilson has breathed new life into a program that spends most of its time focusing on the hardwood rather than the gridiron. The Hoosiers already have 11 commitments ranked three stars or higher, surpassing their 2010 total of 10, which included no four-star prospects. Throughout the spring, Wilson talked about changing the culture, and nothing does that like instilling a little toughness. Wilson has gone heavy on the big boys, bringing in three-star linebackers Jordan Wallace (Indianapolis/Warren Central), Nick Mangieri (Dunlap, Ind./Dunlap) and Mike Cotton (O'Fallon, Ind./O'Fallon). Also coming in are four interior offensive linemen, most notably Wesley Rogers, No. 14 among centers.
Who they still want: The Hoosiers fell behind with a couple of their top out-of-state targets in linebacker Jamie Willis (Fort Meade, Fla./Fort Meade) and receiver Brandon Shepard (Chesterfield, Mo./Parkway Central), but they still are at the top for a pair of Illinois prospects. A potential sleeper, receiver Tevin Coleman (Oak Forest, Ill./Oak Forest) is high on the Hoosiers and they will have to fend off a handful of other Big Ten teams for him. Athlete David Smith (Midlothian, Ill./Bremen) is also in the mix.
ESPNU 150 commitments: 0
Who they have: Consistently forced to go outside their own state for recruits, the Hawkeyes' top three recruits all reside in neighboring Illinois. In addition, Iowa is always known for its hogs up front, and two of its top three recruits thus far are along the offensive line. Four-star recruit Ryan Ward (New Lenox, Ill./Providence Catholic), rated No. 34 among tackles, and Jaleel Johnson (Lombard, Ill./Montini), No. 15 among guards, lead the Hawkeyes' class. They brought in only two high school recruits along the offensive line last year, so it should be an emphasis in this class. Iowa is rarely known for offensive playmakers, but No. 38 athlete Maurice Fleming (Chicago/Curie) could end up at receiver along with fellow recruit Cameron Wilson (Dublin, Ohio/Dublin Jerome).
Who they still want: Right at the top of the Hawkeyes' list is ESPNU's 30th-ranked athlete, Greg Garmon (Erie, Pa./McDowell). Garmon visited the Hawkeyes two weeks ago and will officially visit in the fall. Garmon projects as a running back and would give the Hawkeyes another bruising back, but he also has the speed to get on the edge. Faith Ekakitie (Lake Forest, Ill./Lake Forest), rated No. 26 among defensive ends, is also considering the Hawkeyes and visited Iowa City this summer. Much of the Hawkeyes' dominant 2010 defensive line is gone, and Ekakitie definitely would help build the Hawkeyes' line back up in a few years. Outside linebacker Quanzell Lambert (Sicklerville, N.J./Timber Creek) will visit Iowa this fall and is one of the highest guys on its board.
ESPNU 150 commitments: 3
Who they have: Much to the chagrin of their top two rivals, they have most of the top committed talent from the states of Ohio and Michigan. Under new coach Brady Hoke, the Wolverines have invaded Buckeyes territory, and stolen four-star prospects Kyle Kalis (Lakewood, Ohio/Saint Edward), Joe Bolden (Cincinnati, Ohio/Colerain), Chris Wormley (Toledo, Ohio/Whitmer) and Jarrod Wilson (Akron, Ohio/Akron Buchtel) from Ohio State as it deals with impending NCAA sanctions. The Wolverines also have locked down their own state despite their lack of success and in-state rival Michigan State's recent rise. Michigan's top five prospects are heading to Ann Arbor, most notably ESPNU 150 players and Cass Tech teammates from Detroit Terry Richardson and Royce Jenkins-Stone. Despite a switch in offensive philosophy, Hoke is focusing on fixing the defense first and rightfully so. Fourteen of the Wolverines' commitments are on the defensive side of the ball. Now a more traditional-style offense, seven of the remaining commits are either an offensive lineman or tight end. Recruits are buying into the switch back to "Michigan-style" football, as evidenced by the Wolverines' fifth-ranked recruiting class.
Who they still want: The Wolverines don't have many spots remaining and at this point are in the running for the top uncommitted players who will make their announcements following the season. Their top target is cornerback Yuri Wright (Ramsey, N.J./Don Bosco), No. 41 in the ESPNU 150. Wright has made it clear Michigan has always been his dream school and will officially visit in the fall. Cincinnati Taft teammates Adolphus Washington and Dwayne Stanford have both visited Michigan, but there might not be any room for Washington along the defensive line. The Wolverines also are near the top for ESPNU 150 offensive tackle Jordan Diamond (Chicago/Simeon).
ESPNU 150 commitments: 1
Who they have: The Spartans, coming off an 11-1 season and co-Big Ten championship, are off to their hottest recruiting start yet under coach Mark Dantonio. Se'Von Pittman (Canton, Ohio/McKinley), No. 100 in the ESPNU 150, leads a class that already has three four-star recruits committed, the most the Spartans have had since 2009. With three-star prospect Josiah Price (Greentown, Ind./Eastern), the Spartans have a nice two-player tandem coming in off the defensive edge. The class is heavy on offensive and defensive skill players, led by receiver Aaron Burbridge (Farmington Hills, Mich./Harrison). More than half of their 14 commitments come in at skill positions, six of which are on offense. Three-star quarterback Tyler O'Connor (Lima, Ohio/Lima Central Catholic) has the potential to turn into a starter a few years down the road.
Who they still want: After signing only four offensive linemen last class and with only two in this class at the moment, the Spartans need to address their needs up front before signing day. The top remaining lineman on their board is Adam Bisnowaty (Pittsburgh/Fox Chapel), a four-star tackle with the Spartans still on his long list of choices. Four-star running back William Mahone (Youngstown, Ohio/Austintown Fitch) has the Spartans in his final four and will see the Spartans play at Notre Dame when he officially visits the Irish; he hasn't set a date for an official visit to Michigan State. Four-star defensive back Demetrious Cox (Jeannette, Pa./Jeannette) also recently cut his list to 10 teams, and Sparty was included among them.
ESPNU 150 commitments: 1
Who they have: New coach Jerry Kill probably hasn't gotten off to the start he hoped for with his first full recruiting class, which is not surprising considering Minnesota's recent lack of success. The Golden Gophers did land the top player in the state, ESPNU 150 recruit and No. 6 guard Isaac Hayes (Mendota Heights, Minn./Saint Thomas Academy). The current class is pretty balanced throughout, and the Gophers are hoping one of their two quarterback recruits -- Mitchell Leidner (Lakeville, Minn./Lakeville) and Philip Nelson (Mankato, Minn./West) -- will turn out to be their future signal-caller. Kill's 18 commitments appear to be a strong number on the surface, but 12 of the prospects are rated as two stars or lower and another is from junior college.
Who they still want: The Gophers made the cut with one of their top prospects two weeks ago when four-star receiver Jamel Harbison (Charlotte, N.C./Mallard Creek) placed them in his top four. At 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, Harbison could be a real threat on the inside early on before the addition of more weight will allow him to play more on the outside. However, the Gophers might have lost in-state four-star receiver Andre McDonald (Minnetonka, Minn./Hopkins) two weeks ago. The Gophers are still in his top four following his decommitment but trail new leader Iowa. The Gophers are reaching out to the East Coast for another top target, Jazzmar Clax (Freehold, N.J./Freehold), ranked No. 21 among inside linebackers. In-state tight end Will Johnson from Osseo is also high on the Gophers. Minnesota already has two tight ends committed, but if the three-star prospect Johnson wanted to commit, Minnesota would take him. The Gophers would love to land in-state four-star tackle Nick Davidson, but he moved to Minnesota a few months before his senior season and doesn't have many ties to the area. He also is not planning on officially visiting Minnesota, although he has unofficially visited.
ESPNU 150 commitments: 1
Who they have: As their commitment list of only six would indicate, the Cornhuskers don't have a whole lot in this class at the moment. A big question mark regarding the Huskers' move to the Big Ten was how it would affect recruiting. It's far too small of a sample size to make any assertions, and it will take a few years for Midwest recruits to become familiar with and get a chance to check out the Huskers, but the lack of commitments has to be frustrating for coach Bo Pelini and his staff. The good news is that of those six commits, two are four-star and three are three-star prospects. Michael Rose (Kansas City/Rockhurst), an ESPNU 150 member and No. 4 among inside linebackers, leads the 2012 class. Offensive tackle Paul Thurston (Arvada/Arvada West) is the other four-star recruit. Five of the six recruits are big bodies, with receiver Jordan Westerkamp (Lombard, Ill./Montini) the lone recruit coming in at less than 200 pounds.
Who they still want: The good news for Nebraska is that it is still in the running for a number of ESPNU 150 prospects. Huskers fans are hoping the old cliche "blood is thicker than water" rings true because that might be enough to get one of those ESPNU 150 members, No. 3 offensive tackle Andrus Peat (Temple, Ariz./Corona Del Sol) to Lincoln. Peat's brother Todd is a defensive tackle for the Huskers. Four-star athlete Devin Fuller (Old Tappan, N.J./Northern Valley Regional), also an ESPNU 150 member, has the Huskers in his top 11. Dual-threat QB Anthony Alford, No. 98 in the ESPNU 150, has the Huskers among his final schools as well.
ESPNU 150 commitments: 9
Who they have: One look at the Wildcats' list of commitments, and it's pretty clear where the staff put the emphasis for the class of 2012. Coach Pat Fitzgerald could field an entire offensive line with his top five commits, having secured three tackles and two guards, all of whom are three-star prospects. Fitzgerald has hit Pennsylvania hard, and why not, considering Heisman hopeful quarterback Dan Persa is from Allentown. The Wildcats' top recruit, No. 50 offensive tackle Adam DiPietro (Lancaster Catholic), is from nearby Lancaster. Fellow three-star Pennsylvania recruits include Upper Saint Clair's Ian Park and Jack Schwaba and Malvern's Connor Mahoney. Three-star end Dean Lowry (Rockford, Ill./Boylan Central Catholic) is the team's top defensive recruit.
Who they still want: A pair of four-star defensive ends tops the Wildcats' wish list, one of whom is ESPNU 150 member Ifeadi Odenigbo (Centerville /Centerville), Ohio's top prospect. Academics are important to Odenigbo, who also has offers from California and Stanford. Faith Ekakitie (Lake Forest, Ill./Lake Forest), No. 26 among defensive ends, said in a blog post dated Aug. 1 that Northwestern is in his top five, gave academics as his first reason and called Northwestern a "program on the rise." Three-star St. Louis receiver Jehu Chesson (Ladue Horton Watkins) has the Wildcats near the top of his list, too. The 6-foot-3, 182-pound Chesson has expressed an interest to play in a spread offense, which the Wildcats use.
ESPNU 150 commitments: 0
Who they have: Just how badly did the fallout from the Ohio State scandal and Jim Tressel's resignation hurt the Buckeyes' recruiting efforts? Well, a school that traditionally is almost a certainty to have the best class in the Big Ten currently has no ESPNU 150 commitments. The Buckeyes have just three four-star recruits, two of whom committed prior to Tressel's resignation. A program that also is usually able to pluck players nationally, the Buckeyes do not have a commitment from a recruit outside the Ohio borders. Ohio State does have a pair of bruising running backs on board in No. 12 back Bri'onte Dunn (Canton/GlenOak) and Warren Ball (Columbus/Saint Francis De Sales). Ohio State legacy Jacoby Boren (Pickerington/Pickerington Central) will join both his brothers in Columbus as part of the class of 2012.
Who they still want: Ohio State's first priority is keeping the remaining top in-state prospects in state after rival Michigan came in and plucked a couple from right under the Buckeyes' nose. Four-star Taft (Cincinnati) teammates Adolphus Washington and Dwayne Stanford II are both high on the Buckeyes, although the impending NCAA sanctions will heavily influence Stanford's decision. (He recently crossed Miami off his list.) Washington, an ESPNU 150 member much like Stanford, probably would have been a Buckeyes commit already had the NCAA investigation not occurred. Ifeadi Odenigbo (Centerville, Ohio/Centerville), the state's top-ranked player, has the Buckeyes among his favorites. ESPNU 150 tackle Jordan Diamond (Chicago/Simeon) also places the Buckeyes among the laundry list of schools he's still seriously considering.
ESPNU 150 commitments: 2
Who they have: This time last year, there was a sense of panic around Penn State's recruiting class. Cries that Joe Paterno is too old to connect with the latest generation of recruits and that his refusal to visit recruits was setting the program back were everywhere. This summer has been a different story, with the Nittany Lions climbing to No. 17 in the latest class rankings after locking down eight recruits during the summer months, seven of whom are at least three-star prospects. The Lions even were able to save a scholarship by getting Bryton Barr to commit to coming in as a walk-on. ESPNU 150 offensive tackle Joey O'Connor (Windsor, Col./Windsor) leads a class with a number of committed prospects along the offensive line, which has been a primary source of frustration for Lions fans over the past several years. J.J. Denman (Fairless Hills, Pa./Pennsbury), a monster at 6-foot-6, 310 pounds, and Brian Gaia (Baltimore/Gilman) are fellow four-star offensive line recruits. ESPNU 150 defensive tackle Tommy Schutt landed at Penn State after Notre Dame pulled his offer hours before Schutt planned to commit. The Lions could have their dynamic QB-WR combo for the next few years with quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg (Philadelphia/Saint Joseph's Prep) and receiver Eugene Lewis (Plymouth, Pa./Wyoming Valley West) also on board.
Who they still want: The Lions' top remaining target is without question Noah Spence (Harrisburg, Pa./Bishop McDevitt), a five-star defensive end and No. 4 overall in the ESPNU 150. Spence visited Penn State a few weekends ago, and the trip couldn't have gone any better, said his father, Greg. Spence said his top seven schools are all equal, but it's hard not to like the Lions' chances after Spence's last visit and the fact that the Lions' best recruiter, Larry Johnson Sr., is Spence's lead recruiter. The Lions also are in No. 14 running back William Mahone's (Youngstown, Ohio/Austintown Fitch) final four, Demetrious Cox's (Jeannette, Pa./Jeannette) final 10, and No. 4 tight end and ESPNU 150 member Kent Taylor's final list. The Lions are hoping ESPNU 150 tackle Jarron Jones (Rochester, N.Y./Aquinas Institute) comes back on board after decommitting.
ESPNU 150 commitments: 0
Who they have: The Boilermakers got some good news two weeks ago when Texas offensive tackle Jordan Roos (Celina, Texas/Celina), rated No. 51 at his position, committed. It hasn't been a hot start for coach Danny Hope's crew, with only a handful of three-star prospects currently on board and most of those recruits playing non-premium positions. Among the three-star commits are a kicker, two tight ends and a safety. However, Hope was able to snag signal-caller Austin Appleby (North Canton, Ohio/Hoover), who at 6-4 and 225 pounds has the prototypical size and strength wanted for a pocket passer. A potential sleeper is two-star back B.J. Knauf (Lakeland, Fla./Santa Fe). Undersized at only 5-10, 172 pounds, Knauf isn't much of a between-the-tackles runner but has breakaway speed.
Who they still want: Purdue is targeting a couple of new pieces to add to its backfield before February. Two-star Aloyis Gray (Indianapolis/Pike) has Purdue among his top schools. The 6-3 quarterback has the ideal size for a pocket quarterback, but at only 175 pounds, it's unlikely he'd be able to take the pounding required at the position. He has the frame to add more weight, though. Midlothian, Ill., running back David Smith (Bremen) hasn't trimmed his list yet, but the Boilermakers are still on it. Smith has the potential to switch to safety as well.
ESPNU 150 commitments: 0
Who they have: This class is shaping up to be the best recruiting haul under coach Bret Bielema. The prize of the Badgers' 2012 class so far is without question Bart Houston, a four-star quarterback from national powerhouse De La Salle in Concord, Calif. After failing to bring in a quality quarterback recruit in 2011, the Badgers needed to land one in 2012. They usually aren't known for getting elite quarterbacks to come to Madison (especially from California), so the Houston commitment has Badgers fans excited and rightfully so. The Badgers have recruited a handful of guys to protect Houston, too, and perhaps no school is better known for its offensive linemen than Wisconsin. Dan Voltz (Hoffman Estates, Ill./Barrington), No. 24 among tackles, leads a group of three tackles already committed. In-state outside linebacker Vince Biegel (Wisconsin Rapids/Lincoln) is the Badgers' top-rated prospect, coming in as the No. 13 outside linebacker. Four-star prospect D.J. Singleton (Jersey City, N.J./St.Peter's), ranked No. 18 among safeties, gives the Badgers four four-star recruits at premium positions.
Who they still want: The Badgers could be getting a commitment soon when three-star athlete Ruben Lile (Detroit/Cass Tech) announces his decision following his team's first game Aug. 27. Wisconsin is in his top three along with Iowa and Toledo. Not surprisingly, three of the Badgers top targets are along the offensive line, including massive tackle and ESPNU 150 member Jordan Diamond (Chicago/Simeon). A four-star prospect and No. 13 among guards, Daniel Isidora (Weston, Fla./Cypress Bay) is down to the Badgers and Miami. And No. 25 guard Kelby Latta (Battle Creek, Mich./Harper Creek Community) previously said the Badgers were his favorite.
Corey Long has been covering high school football and recruiting in the Sunshine State since 1995. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.