(AP) – Ohio State hasn’t played in the Big Ten championship game in three years, but it remains the top recruiting program in the conference.
The Buckeyes signed five of the six five-star recruits Wednesday in the 247Sports Composite rankings who are headed to Big Ten schools — including No. 1 national recruit Jeremiah Smith. The class was ranked No. 4 nationally.
Penn State (14th) and Michigan (15th) are second and third, respectively, in the Big Ten among teams participating in the conference in 2023.
Oregon, one of four Pac-12 schools to enter the league in 2024, assembled the sixth-ranked class in the nation, which would have tied for second in the Big Ten.
The Buckeyes landed two five-star receivers — Smith, who is from Hollywood, Fla., and Milan Graham, of New Haven, Connecticut — and one of the top tight ends in the nation in Edric Houston of St. Louis. Smith announced his intention to sign with the Buckeyes at a press conference at noon, but Ohio State did not receive a letter of intent from him until nine hours later.
Kyle McCord’s entrance into the transfer portal shines a spotlight on four-star quarterback Air Noland of Fairburn, Ga., who could compete for the starting job against Devin Brown and Lincoln Kienholtz if coach Ryan Day doesn’t go through the portal to find an experienced signaller.
THE BEST OF THE REST
Penn State, Michigan, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Purdue are ranked Nos. 2-6 by 247Sports among teams that were in the Big Ten in 2023.
The Nittany Lions landed the #1 TE prospect in Luke Reynolds, Cheshire, CT. Michigan loses four starting offensive linemen and signed four, led by 6-foot-8, 295-pound tackle Andrew Sprague of Kansas City, Missouri. The Wolverines also signed four-star QB Jadyn Davis from Charlotte, North Carolina.
Nebraska coach Matt Rhule scored a huge win when he got No. 2 prospect QB Dylan Raiola off Georgia and kept No. 2 TE Carter Nelson of Ainsworth, Neb., at home. After Braelon Allen declared for the draft, Wisconsin filled a big need by signing four-star RB Dylan Jones from Olney, Maryland. Purdue signed three four-stars, including QB Marcos Davila from Midland, Texas.
UNDER THE RADAR
Iowa likes to call itself Tight End U and will try to keep the tradition alive with four-star Gavin Hoffman of Overland Park, Kansas. … Minnesota fended off a delay from Ohio State to sign top-100 recruit S Koi Perich, of Esko, Minn. … New Michigan State coach Jonathan Smith signed 18 high school players with five transfers. … Rutgers signed seven of its 23 Florida recruits. … Maryland signed 21 players, Illinois 19, Indiana 16 and Northwestern 15.
STAR OF THE CLASS
Smith committed to Ohio State a year ago but continued to visit, and Florida State and Miami made late offers to get him to back out. Day, during his signing day news conference, smiled and let out an audible deep breath when told Smith had announced he would stay with the Buckeyes. The 6-foot-3, 198-pound Smith had 90 catches for 1,389 yards and 19 touchdowns for undefeated Chaminade-Madonna College Prep.
THE BIGGEST SURPRISE
Raiola, the No. 6 prospect in the 247Sports composite, is considered Nebraska’s best recruit since national championship quarterback Tommy Frazier signed in 1992. Raiola had previously committed to Ohio State and Georgia, but the Huskers secured his signature after made an official visit last weekend. His father, Dominic Raiola, was an All-America center for the Huskers in 2000 and a 14-year pro with the Detroit Lions.