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Big Ten Signing Day Blitz

Ranking each conference team's 2007 recruiting class

Posted: Thursday February 8, 2007 5:23PM; Updated: Thursday February 8, 2007 5:23PM
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Ryan Mallett should fill in nicely at quarterback for Michigan after Chad Henne graduates.
Ryan Mallett should fill in nicely at quarterback for Michigan after Chad Henne graduates.
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By Jeremy Crabtree, Special to SI.com, Rivals.com

Michigan was knocked for most of the recruiting season for not landing all of the top 10 players in the state. However, by the time Signing Day arrived many of those fears were erased. The Wolverines landed five-star cornerback Donovan Warren and ended up with the top class in the conference.

1. Michigan

Headliner: Five-star quarterback Ryan Mallett is one of the nation's best. He was the top overall player in Texas. He fits what Michigan does on offense perfectly, and could be the star of the future for the Wolverines.

Sleeper: Michigan offered Mark Huyge of Grand Rapids (Mich.) Catholic Central midway through his senior season. After watching him in 2006, it was clear that he is good enough to play on the Big Ten level.

Overview: Landing five-star cornerback Donovan Warren was huge because of his ability to play immediately. Late additions like Renaldo Sagesse at defensive tackle helped fill some open holes. Michigan did well at three positions: receiver, linebacker and especially defensive back.

2. Ohio State

Headliner: Running back Brandon Saine has a great shot at being the next great playmaker for the Ohio State offense. He's a tough runner inside, but his track speed and ability to catch the ball out of the backfield will allow him to be used in a number of different ways for Ohio State.

Sleeper: Toledo (Ohio) Central Catholic three-star receiver Dane Sanzenbacher is a solid all-around player. He impressed at the Buckeyes' camp, and he could play a role at receiver or even safety.

Overview: Coming in, everybody knew this wasn't going to be one of Ohio State's biggest classes in terms of numbers. While the Buckeyes did miss out on a few guys that would have bumped this class up much higher, this is still a very solid group. Saine and safety Eugene Clifford are the headliners, but even three-stars like Sanzenbacher and Rocco Pentello are good players.

3. Illinois

Headliner: Local standout Martez Wilson of Chicago Simeon is about as big as it gets for the Illini. The 6-foot-4, 230-pounder is a quarterback's worst nightmare. He also continues the trend of high quality Chicago Public League kids heading to Illinois, joining Juice Williams.

Sleeper: People haven't talked a lot about junior college running back Daniel Dufrene. The 5-11, 205-pounder has some runs on his highlight tape that are simply amazing. He wasn't that heavily recruited, but the Illini got themselves a good one. In addition to running back, Dufrene envisions himself as a punt and kick returner, too. He'll be a sophomore at Illinois when he enrolls.

Overview: Illini coach Ron Zook continues to prove that he can recruit with the best of them. After doing a great job at Florida and producing immediate results in his first year at Illinois, Zook did it again in this year's class. Star receiver Arrelious Benn has a shot at seeing the field early for Illinois, plus the Illini added depth at important positions like offensive line, defensive tackle, linebacker and defensive back. Also watch for big things from defensive tackle Josh Brent and offensive lineman Mark Jackson.

4. Penn State

Headliner: After impressing at the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl and the State College NIKE Training Camp, it's clear that Chaz Powell is going to be a special player for the Nittany Lions. The 6-1, 184-pounder has the tools to be a very good safety. He can support the run and also does well in coverage situations.

Sleeper: Chimaeze Okoli came on strong late and was a nice recruiting victory for the Nittany Lions. The 6-foot-5, 275-pound defensive tackle wasn't a household name for most of the process, but he eventually picked PSU over offers from Clemson, Michigan State, Virginia Tech and others. Schools are intrigued by his potential.

Overview: The Nittany Lions went a different direction this season and took two junior college players for the first time in more than 15 years. The additions of Nerraw McCormick and Ako Poti were needed to help bolster the offensive line. The other major strength of this class is at linebacker. Guys like Chris Colasanti, Nathan Stupar and Andrew Dailey should help carry on the great tradition and Linebacker U.

5. Iowa

Headliner: Des Moines (Iowa) Lincoln four-star safety Jordan Bernstine not only was the top player in Iowa, he was one of the highest ranked players to come out of the state in more than 10 years. The 5-10, 200-pounder was a great addition for the Hawkeyes. He was a nice recruiting victory for Iowa over Nebraska, Pittsburgh, Texas A&M and UCLA. Bernstine is a rangy safety that can make plays on the run and in passing situations.

Sleeper: When Brian Smith bolted for Notre Dame, an offer was extended to Bruce Davis of Cleveland Glenville. It was an offer Davis jumped on despite making an earlier commitment to Ball State. Davis might be undersized for some schools, but the 5-11, 230-pounder can hit like a load of bricks.

Overview: Kirk Ferentz dominated his home state, grabbing almost all of the top players in Iowa. Bernstine is a special player and could be a guy that contributes early and often for the Hawkeyes. Offensive lineman Bryan Bulaga also is one of the nation's elite offensive linemen.

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