The February signing day is gone. Time to move on to the Class of 2019.
Well, not quite yet. There’s still the debriefing from this class, specifically where it ended up being ranked.
From December, and the early signing period, to this week, Rutgers only signed one additional player. Other schools added significantly more, and those larger numbers do add to their ranking. So, to a degree, where Rutgers scored early, other schools added more recruits in February and scored late. You can see our post on the December ranking here.
Bottom line is that Rutgers, which was a top 40/50 class at the time of the early signing period in December, ends up as a top 60 class when all is said and done. It also fell from the ninth best recruiting class in the B1G to 13, just ahead of Northwestern.
Minnesota also did not add any players in February, holding at 26. They dropped ten and seven spots nationally in 247’s and Rivals’ rankings respectively, and dropped one spot among Big Ten teams.
Illinois benefitted from signing players late. The Illini added eight players in February and moved up from 64 to 50 on 247 Sports list. It moved them up two spots to 12 in the conference.
Now, everyone! Calm down. Take a breath! That’s an order. To the best of my knowledge, the world has not come to and end, despite Rutgers’ finish in the recruiting ranks. Let’s look at history.
In 2004, Greg Schiano’s fourth recruiting class, Rutgers was 67 on Rivals, 49 on 247, and 45 on Scout for an average of 53.7. This year’s class - Ash’s third - ends up somewhat comparable.
And look at Northwestern. Northwestern added two recruits from December to this week, and went from the 13th spot to the 14th spot among Big Ten teams. That’s a team that went 10-3 in 2017 and won its bowl game against Kentucky, the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl.
Pat Fitzgerald didn’t forget how to recruit. He pulled in one 4-star and 17 3-stars in his 18 player class. What happens next is what makes Fitzgerald a good coach. It’s player development. To a large degree, that is what most of the teams in the B1G and in the country need to do: coach up the kids they get. Look at the top five classes in the Big Ten. There are 115 players and of that number, only six are 5-stars and another 49 are 4-stars. That’s less than half that are “blue chippers”. And a full third of those top kids are going to Ohio State and Penn State.
The top programs will consistently get the blue chip players. The rest of the pack gets a one or two, or gets them occasionally. Among the top twenty classes under 247 Sports, ten of them didn’t sign one 5-star player; Michigan, the third ranked team in the B1G, signed zero 5-stars. Rutgers didn’t get any 4- or 5-star players, either, in the 2018 class. It will fall on Chris Ash and his staff to make - and make up - the difference.