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Colleges

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Big Ten

Buckeyes’ class among nation’s best

– Two minutes before Rossville, Ga., defensive back Vonn Bell stepped before the cameras Wednesday to declare where he would go to school, he dialed Ohio State coach Urban Meyer’s cellphone.

Too anxious to sit still, Meyer had gotten on a treadmill to burn off his pent-up energy.

“(Bell) said, ‘You know I’m in, right?’ ” Meyer said. “I said, ‘No, I didn’t know you were in. Congratulations.’ ”

Bell’s commitment to the Buckeyes was the crowning piece to a strong recruiting class for Meyer, who was hamstrung a year ago in his first year at Ohio State because he wasn’t hired until late November.

Most major recruiting experts and publications rate the Buckeyes in the top five in the nation – some even have them No. 1.

The group he brought in was rich in wide receivers along with help up front and in the secondary on defense.

If there was an area where the Buckeyes came up short, it was offensive linemen. They lost one senior from last year’s team (right tackle Reid Fragel) and will lose starters Jack Mewhort, Andrew Norwell, Corey Linsley and Marcus Hall after the upcoming season. Yet they signed just Tim Gardner, a 6-5, 320-pounder from Indianapolis, and Evan Lisle, 6-6 and 290 from Centerville, Ohio.

Michigan

Running backs Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith give the Wolverines a pair of additional options in the backfield.

The 5-foot-11, 220-pound Green is the nation’s top-ranked running back recruit, according to Scout.com. The Richmond, Va., product scored more than 20 touchdowns as both a junior and a senior.

Smith, who is from Warren, Ohio, is the same height and almost the same weight as Green. He ran for 6,750 yards in his high school career.

Michigan announced a class of 27 signees.

Michigan State

Spartans coach Mark Dantonio announced the Spartans signed 18 recruits to national letters of intent.

Michigan State has some voids because running back Le’Veon Bell, tight end Dion Sims and defensive end William Gholston chose to skip their senior seasons to enter the NFL draft.

The class includes three running backs: Michigan’s Gerald Holmes, Pennsylvania’s Delton Williams and Wisconsin’s R.J. Shelton; tight end Dylan Chmura of Waukesha, Wis.; and Chicago’s Demetrius Cooper seems to have the best shot to play as a freshman at defensive end.

Nebraska

Cornhuskers coach Bo Pelini has announced a 26-player recruiting class that analysts consider more talented the one he signed in 2012 and perhaps the best of the six he’s assembled.

The Huskers added depth at linebacker and running back and have their quarterback of the future in Johnny Stanton of Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.

Scout.com has the Huskers’ class ranked 11th in the nation after listing Nebraska 50th a year ago. Rivals.com ranked Nebraska 17th and ESPN.com and 247sports.com each have the Huskers 23rd.

The Huskers are a consensus third in the Big Ten behind Ohio State and Michigan.

Northwestern

The Wildcats added a pair of highly ranked players to its offense as part of its 19-member class. They include quarterback Matt Alviti of Maine South High School in Park Ridge, Ill. Rivals.com and Scout.com consider him a four-star recruit.

Running back Godwin Igwebuike from Pickerington North High School in Pickerington, Ohio, is also considered a four-star recruit by Scout.com.

Penn State

The Nittany Lions’ first recruiting class since the NCAA hammered the program with sanctions includes a potential quarterback of the future and a promising pass-rushing defensive end.

Penn State received commitments from coveted Virginia quarterback Christian Hackenberg and highly rated New Jersey defensive end Garrett Sickels. Recruiting analysts are commending coach Bill O’Brien for being to keep the core of this recruiting class intact amid the sanctions.

Wisconsin

Badgers coach Gary Andersen’s first recruiting class is highlighted by a pair of defensive ends from suburban Milwaukee. Alec James of Brookfield East and Chikwe Obasih from Brookfield Central are among six players from Wisconsin who signed national letters of intent with the Badgers.

Illinois

The Illini landed a 20-player recruiting class that includes two four-star recruits. Among them is the player the Illini believe is their quarterback of the future.

Quarterback Aaron Bailey is considered a four-star recruit by Rivals.com and will likely replace Nathan Scheelhaase, who is entering his final season.

Iowa

The Hawkeyes’ 21-player class is ranked 52nd nationally by Rivals.com and Scout.com. Rivals has the class slotted eighth in the 12-school league while Scout ranks it 10th.

Minnesota

This year’s recruits for Minnesota include only one in-state scholarship player, linebacker Chris Wipson from Wayzata. Most analysts have ranked the Gophers near or at the bottom of the Big Ten in terms of the perceived quality of the new class.

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