The Early Signing Period is approaching in a hurry with teams losing opportunities to close on targeted recruits. Here are five teams in the Midwest that need to close the 2023 recruiting class strong.
The good news for Missouri is that the program continues to make strides recruiting in state with half of the Tigers’ current commits coming from within the Missouri borders. The bad news for program is they only have 12 players committed and just lost the state’s top remaining uncommitted prospect to Ole Miss in Marvin Burks over the weekend.
Not all is lost in Columbia as the prospects they currently have in the boat are of high quality and a number of them could also be considered underrated. They have key pieces in four-star recruits Logan Reichert, Brett Norfleet and Joshua Manning. This class is only a couple of difference makers away from being really solid, and although they aren’t likely to top last year’s No. 12 overall class, with a strong finish they should end up with enough pieces to set a really good foundation moving forward.
Bret Bielema and the Illini are 6-1, ranked No. 17 overall and in sole position of first place in the Big Ten West. While success on the recruiting trail hasn’t totally caught up to their success on the field, things are trending in the right direction with an opportunity to do something special with a strong finish.
Illinois already has its first top five in-state commit in years with Illinois’ No. 4 overall prospect athlete Kaden Feagin. The Illini are also trending in the right direction for recently uncommitted receiver Malik Elzy and defensive back Jyaire Hill who are currently the No. 3 and No. 7 ranked prospects in Illinois. Should Illinois close strong and sign all three, this class will be considered a massive success no matter where they end up ranking nationally.
The Badgers are in an interesting situation with interim head coach Jim Leonhard still having the interim tag as part of his title. While it is likely he ends up being named the full-time head coach at Wisconsin, the uncertainty surrounding who the Badgers next head coach will be isn’t doing them any favors on the recruiting trail. Major teams are offering their commits left and right, but remarkably Wisconsin has managed to hang onto the class for the time being.
A strong finish here would simply mean holding on to the current commits, especially players like Roderick “Trey” Pierce and Chris Terek who have become hot commodities on the recruiting trail. Should Wisconsin name Leonhard head coach sooner rather than later the goal should go from simply holding on to the Badgers’ current commits to going out and trying to flip players committed elsewhere. No matter how you cut it, Wisconsin needs to name a head coach as soon as they can in order to finish strong and have a solid class.
The Hoosiers currently sit with the nation’s No. 86 ranked class and only have eight commits in total. Adding to the frustration on the recruiting trail is Indiana‘s slow start on the field which doesn’t appear to be making things any easier when it comes to landing big name prospects. This 2023 recruiting class is a far cry from last year’s class that ranked No. 19 overall, so Hoosiers need to find a way to finish strong in order to salvage a respectable class.
I can only speculate on this for now, but this appears to be a situation where the Hoosiers may opt to go hard in the transfer portal to fill current needs, but either way they are going to have to flip some players committed elsewhere or find some hidden gems to make noise with their high school signing class. This coaching staff has proven capable of landing top tier recruits and with two months until signing day they are going to need to put their recruiting chops on display to land the class they want and need.
Michigan is having another amazing year on the field and although their 2023 class of commits is high in terms of quality, it is also low in terms of the number of players currently committed. The Wolverines currently have 15 players committed with eight of them carrying an impressive four-star rating. Current three-star commits Brooks Bahr, Evan Link and Deakon Tonielli are potential four-star candidates as well.
When you take a deep dive into this class you see that the only thing missing is a five-star prospect and the overall number of players currently committed. Should the Wolverines land a player like five-star Nyckoles Harbor and then add some additional pieces that are the same caliber of their current commits, this class could jump from their current No. 31 ranking to inside the top 15. This is all about the finish for Jim Harbaugh and if they can manage to close the way they are capable of closing, this class has a chance to be special.