The Illinois Fighting Illini have secured their first recruiting class for new head coach Tim Beckman, and while the program didn't benefit from any of the 2012 National Signing Day fireworks, others around the Big Ten conference continued to get stronger. Bud Elliott of SB Nation put together a top 25 list for college football recruiting, and both the Ohio State Buckeyes (No. 4) and the Michigan Wolverines (No. 6) represented the Big Ten. He also collected rankings from 247Sports, ESPN, Rivals and Scout, all of which agreed with the top-10 status of the OSU and Michigan classes.
Nobody expected Illinois to churn out elite recruiting class after making a critical change in the program's hierarchy at the end of the season, but where do the Illini stand now in comparison to their competition within the conference? According to Scout, Illinois brought in the No. 67 class in the nation, which is less impressive than classes of the Wisconsin Badgers (No. 62), Indiana Hoosiers (No. 52), Purdue Boilermakers (No. 51), Nebraska Cornhuskers (No. 50), Penn State Nittany Lions (No. 49), Northwestern Wildcats (No. 48), Iowa Hawkeyes (No. 41), Michigan State Spartans (No. 36) and of course the top-10 classes at OSU and Michigan.
Does anyone really know the value of these players yet? Of course not, but the projections certainly say the Illini will be operating at a disadvantage in the Big Ten.