Many snickered when the Big Ten added Maryland and Rutgers in 2014. The expansion was seen by some as merely a play for greater TV viewership from East Coast fans generated by the conference’s enlarged geographic footprint.
The addition of the schools has paid benefits for the Big Ten in football recruiting, as well. Led by Michigan, the conference now dominates recruiting in Maryland, Washington, D.C., New York and New Jersey.
Historically, ACC ruled the region
From 2006 to 2013, there were a total of 63 ESPN 300 prospects from New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Washington, D.C. The ACC got the biggest portion of those recruits, landing 20. Next, with eight fewer ESPN 300 prospects than the ACC, were the Big Ten and the SEC.
Now, the Big Ten is king of the Maryland-D.C. and New York-New Jersey footprints. The conference has 15 more ESPN 300 commitments from those areas than any other conference from 2014 to 2016 (as of Sunday).
The Big Ten started to reel in prospects from its new footprint with the 2014 class, the one preceding Maryland’s and Rutgers’ first season in the Big Ten.
As of Sunday, the Big Ten has received commitments from 49 percent of ESPN 300 prospects from New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Washington, D.C., in the classes of 2014 to 2016. The conference got 19 percent of such prospects in the eight prior classes.
New members have different results
Maryland has continued its practice of keeping ESPN 300 talent at home. The Terrapins nabbed five of 27 ESPN 300 prospects from Maryland and Washington, D.C., from 2006 to 2013 and have received commitments from five of 26 in the classes of 2014 to 2016 (numbers through Sunday).
Rutgers’ recruiting success in its backyard has fallen off since it joined the Big Ten. The Scarlet Knights got four ESPN 300 prospects in the three classes before it joined the Big Ten, all from New York or New Jersey. As of Sunday, they have one in the three classes beginning with the 2014 recruiting class, and that player was from Florida.
Michigan capitalizing on expanded conference boundary
Which school is taking advantage of the expanded Big Ten footprint? In a word, Michigan.
The Wolverines are making Michigan Men out of Jersey Boys. From 2006 to 2013, Michigan got one commitment from an ESPN 300 prospect from New Jersey. As of Sunday, the Wolverines’ ESPN 300 commitments from New Jersey in the classes of 2014 to 2016 number six.
Michigan’s recruiting success in New Jersey is especially telling in the 2016 class. Four of this year’s eight ESPN 300 prospects from New Jersey are committed to Michigan, and the Wolverines are among the leaders for No. 1 prospect Rashan Gary, from Paramus, New Jersey.
Penn State is also recruiting the new footprint well.
Beginning with the class of 2014, the Nittany Lions as of Sunday have commitments from more ESPN 300 prospects from New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Washington D.C., than any other school.