We have reached that point again. Signing Day is upon us, and we submit to you our final rankings as these players sign and move forward to their college careers. Some already have, as we have a handful of early enrollees for this class.
I often get asked, who are the early impact guys? That is a natural question, as I think, for as much as these kids get hyped, fans want quick pay off and quick reassurance that their top recruits are going to turn out. The truth is, impact guys as true freshmen are rare. Of last year's 150, only 11 started at least one game last year. Early impact has as much to do with depth chart as it does with talent.
That said, I think we have guys who should play early right at the top. Jaylon Smith is as high ranking a guy we've had in the Midwest since Seantrel Henderson was number one a few years back. Fast, athletic, and most importantly, versatile, he may be too talented for Notre Dame to keep off the field.
Louisville has a nice young receiving corps, but James Quick should have a chance to play next year. He's polished and college ready should they need him to be. Ole Miss does not graduate any receivers, but Laquon Treadwell still has a chance to see the field. He has size, ball skills and competitive attitude.
Ohio State landed several top guys last year, and top prospects like Adolphus Washington, Brionte Dunn, Tommy Schutt and Taylor Decker all saw the field. Jalin Marshall has natural playmaking ability and I see him getting a handful of touches next year.
Michigan also made use of last year's highly ranked class. James Ross, Joe Bolden, Devin Funchess, Dennis Norfleet are among the Midwest guys who saw significant field time. This year, highly ranked players like Dymonte Thomas and DeVeon Smith are expected to push for time. Highly ranked quarterback Shane Morris will likely have to wait his turn behind Devin Gardner.
I find, and some of my colleagues do as well, that our first few three-stars, the highest ranked three-star prospects that we have, often have a high rate of success. Why is that? Well, those are usually the guys we move up to the top, but don't have room for in the four-star range.
That held true last year, when the first two three-stars in the Midwest, Wes Lunt and Antonio Morrison ended up making significant impacts as true freshmen.
So who are the first few this year? Ohio State commit Tracy Sprinkle, Wisconsin commit Garret Dooley and Miami (FL) commit Alex Gall. If history holds true, look for those guys to do well at the next level.
1. Adolphus Washington - Ohio State
Appeared in ten games, recording three sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss. Forced a big fumble against rival Michigan.
2. Brionte Dunn - Ohio State
Finished the season with 133 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries.
3. Kyle Kalis - Michigan
4. Gunner Kiel - Notre Dame
5. Jordan Diamond - Auburn
Redshirted. Was injured at the end of preseason practice. Expected to be full healthy for this year.
6. Tommy Schutt - Ohio State
Played in ten games with one start, recording four tackles and one quarterback hurry.
7. Sheldon Day - Notre Dame
Played in all 13 games, including the national title game. Finished with 23 tackles (three for loss) and two sacks.
8. Se'Von Pittman - Ohio State
9. Aaron Burbridge - Michigan State
Played in 11 games, starting seven. Caught 29 passes for 364 yards and two touchdowns.
10. Joe Bolden - Michigan
Played in all 13 games. Recorded 31 total tackles (four for loss) and one sack.
12. Taylor Decker - Ohio State
Played in eight games and is expected to push for a starting job this year.
13. James Ross - Michigan
Started two games, played in 13. 36 total tackles (2.5 for loss) and half a sack.
19. Mario Ojemudia - Michigan
Played in nine games. Had nine tackles (2.5 for loss), a sack and an interception.
20. Dennis Norfleet - Michigan
Lead the team with 827 kickoff return yards (23.6 average).
30. Devin Funchess - Michigan
Caught 15 passes for 234 yards and five touchdowns.
40. Zeke Pike - Auburn
Dismissed by the Tigers and is currently at Louisville as a tight end.
42. Pharaoh Brown - Oregon
Played in all 12 games and caught two passes for 42 yards.
48. Wes Lunt - Oklahoma State
Earned the starting quarterback job in preseason and passed for 1,108 yards and six touchdowns with seven interceptions.
50. Dwayne Stanford - Oregon
Played in all 13 games and caught 11 passes for 106 yards.
52. Antonio Morrison - Florida
Played in all 13 games. Recorded 34 tackles (two for loss), a sack and a forced fumble.
60. Patrick Towles - Kentucky
Played in five games. Completed 19 of 40 passes for one touchdown and an interception.
70. Andre McDonald - Minnesota
Played in eight games, started one. Caught 10 passes for 121 yards.
72. Tevin Coleman - Indiana
Played in all 12 games, starting two. Rushed for 233 yards and a touchdown. Caught 10 passes for 49 yards. Returned a kickoff for a touchdown.
90. Gehrig Dieter - SMU
Played in nine games, starting three, Caught 10 passes for 168 yards and a touchdown. Transferred to Bowling Green following the season.
91. Mason Monheim - Illinois
Played in 12 games, starting ten. Lead the team in tackles with 86 including six for loss. Had 1.5 sacks, one interception and two forced fumbles.
96. Jason Spriggs - Indiana
Coverted tight end started all 12 games at tackle and gave up only two sacks. Made honorable mention All-Big Ten and lead the team with 80 knockdowns.
110. Dean Lowry - Northwestern
Played in all 13 games recording 14 tackles, a sack and three tackles for loss.