Who will new dead period impact most in Big Ten?
On March 13, the NCAA returned recruiting to a dead period, eliminating in-person contact between member institutions and prospective student-athletes. The cessation of recruiting visits has affected every college football program in the country, but it has affected some more than others. Today we take a look at which Big Ten teams are most and least affected by the recruiting visit shut down.
This is usually the time of year Penn State’s recruiting machine starts to kick into a higher gear, and that was certainly needed after a slow start to 2021 recruiting. The Nittany Lions had visitors lined up throughout March, but they were heavily concentrated in the last half of the month. Those visits are now all postponed, as is the momentum James Franklin and his staff were hoping to generate as spring kicked off. A perennial top 20 recruiting program under Franklin, Penn State sits idle during this shut down with just a pair of three-star commitments and the No. 10 ranked class in the Big Ten.
With head coach Mel Tucker coming on board just last month, Michigan State is definitely one of the most impacted programs in the Big Ten. From a recruiting standpoint, though, it may actually help the Spartans in the long run. Tucker and his staff were juggling preparations for a very-important first spring football session with trying to play catch-up in a 2021 class where they are the only Big Ten program without a commitment.
Now that spring football has been postponed, however, Tucker has been able to put more attention into recruiting and we have seen a noticeable uptick in offers from the Spartans in the last week.
The cancelling of spring games affects every school nationwide because those events are the only opportunities to host recruits on your campus and simulate a game setting outside of the season. At Nebraska, however, the spring game is no simulation. The Cornhuskers regularly draw close to 90,000 fans for their annual Red-White Game at Memorial Stadium, creating an atmosphere unlike you will find elsewhere in the spring. That is a powerful recruiting tool for Nebraska that will no longer be deployed by Scott Frost and his staff after the official announcement that it was cancelled came down from athletic director Bill Moos last week.
With completion of the Ryan Fieldhouse and Walter Athletic Center prior to the 2018 season, Northwestern had arguably the most talked-about football facilities in the Big Ten. Paired with its prestigious academic reputation and a coaching staff that has been largely intact for over a decade, expectations were for the Wildcat’s recruiting to be positively impacted.
In order for Northwestern to leverage those new facilities, though, prospects need to see it. Four-stars Jordan Dingle, T.J. Bollers and Zakee Wheatley were among those who were expected to visit Evanston this spring, but those visits have now all been canceled.
One could make the case that this recruiting shut down has actually helped Ohio State. It was always going to affect the Buckeyes less than most because they were off to such a fast start in 2021, and had a good foundation for the class laid. However, the Buckeyes flipped the tables on this shut down by landing four prospects in the week immediately following the cessation of recruiting visits, including Rivals100 members Jakailin Johnson and Evan Pryor. Those latest additions allowed the Buckeyes to take over the No. 1 spot in the Rivals team rankings for the 2021 class.
Kirk Ferentz and his staff in Iowa City are among the least concerned about the shut down negatively impacting their recruiting efforts, in part because they are off to a strong start in 2021 with eight commitments, and also because of a deep in-state talent pool. Iowa picked up its sixth in-state commitment last week with athlete Cooper DeJean. There are three more in-state prospects they have offered who remain uncommitted. This stoppage of recruiting visits could help Iowa in those recruitments because all three are already very familiar with the Hawkeyes program, and now are not able to get out and visit other schools for the next month, at least.