Season 20 BIG 10 Recruiting Recap

LightningDragon · April 8, 2024


By: Cole Mantell (@lightningdragon)

National Signing Day has passed, teams have restructured, and we have a good idea of what each roster will look like in the CFSL heading into Season 20. There’s a lot to talk about with each team revamping in different ways. Some teams are either expansion teams who needed 26 scholarship players, or teams with very few graduations and only need a few scholarship players. Thus, we will not be grading each team on the same scale. Instead, we’ll simply go through each conference, recap each team’s strengths and weaknesses in recruiting, and point out some underrated signings for the talent coming in.

Next up after the ACC is the BIG 10. The BIG 10 welcomed a new expansion team in Michigan State for Season 20. They’ll go up against some returning powerhouses in Illinois and Penn State, not to mention other contenders such as Michigan and playoff surprise USC. Teams are listed in alphabetical order, and signings are current as of April 6, 2024. “Total Signings” refer to both transfer and freshman recruits.

Illinois Fighting Illini

Total Signings: 7

Biggest Signing: 5-star DE Buck Bolden

Underrated Signing: 5-star MLB Timmy Britt

Illinois may have won the team’s first-ever Conference Championship last season, but that doesn’t mean much after an early playoff exit. The team started by getting younger this offseason. All seven signees so far are freshman recruits. That includes some big talent. The highlight of the class is the Generational Talent in Buck Bolden. Bolden hails from Crestview, FL, and is the younger brother of former CFSL star Deuce Bolden. Adding to the defense is another big piece in Timmy Britt. Britt also has relations with former CFSL stars Owen and Rocko Britt. He also happens to have maybe the best hometown name of any recruit this cycle in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. He represents one of a few rare talents to come from the state recently and is a big catch for the Illinois staff. Expect both players to start Day 1.

Michigan Wolverines

Total Signings: 9

Biggest Signing: 5-star CB Amarion Xander Martel

Underrated Signing: 5-star WR Timothy Richardson

Michigan went for the much more balanced approach to recruiting compared to rival Illinois. The Wolverines signed five transfers and four freshmen at the time of writing. The headliner for this season’s class for Michigan is Amarion Xander Martel. Xander Martel is the younger brother of former CFSL players Norman and Blake. Blake in particular was a former Michigan standout. Now that connection continues with Amarion. As for the underrated signing, I chose WR Timothy Richardson. The Wolverines needed depth on offense, and along with Robert Ivory, the team got it in spades this cycle. Richardson played his freshman season right down the road in Ypsilanti for Eastern Michigan, then last season at Washington. He comes over as a big piece on offense to start immediately for the Wolverines.

Michigan State Spartans

Total Signings: 22

Biggest Signing: 5-star QB Cole Mantell

Underrated Signing: 5-star MLB Maddux Sammons

Welcome to the first of two expansion teams this season to discuss. At the time of writing, no team has signed more players than Michigan State, with the team needing to fill all 26 scholarship spots. Every expansion team needs everything, and Michigan State has built its new offense around Generational Talent QB Cole Mantell. Mantell, hailing from Clearwater, Florida, is not the only Generational Talent from Florida heading to the Big 10. He’ll be key to the new Michigan State’s offense, however. Where he goes, they go. On defense, an under-the-radar later signing for the Spartans was MLB Maddux Sammons. Sammons hails from Alpharetta, Georgia. Longtime viewers know the talent of his older brother Duane. Maddux is hoping to continue that legacy.

Ohio State Buckeyes

Total Signings: 7

Biggest Signing: 5-star QB Jaylen Tyree

Underrated Signing: 5-star WR Eden Ballard

Ohio State’s conference just keeps getting tougher and tougher. But the Buckeyes have done well to keep up in recruiting. They know the ultimate goal of beating Michigan stands tall. In need of a new QB this offseason, the Buckeyes lead their class with the signing of 5-star Jaylen Tyree. Tyree is a local kid, having grown up in Columbus. As an Ohio State fan his whole life, it will be his job to lead Ohio State to greatness now. He’s joined by another huge signing on offense in 5-star WR Eden Ballard. Hailing from Sun Tan Valley, Arizona, the WR nicknamed “Eclipse” will be a huge weapon for the freshman QB to rely on. The Buckeyes will have a new look on offense this season, and that could be the difference they need.

Oregon Ducks

Total Signings: 7

Biggest Signing: 5-star CB Theo Markos

Underrated Signing: 5-star FS Phoenix Steele

Welcome to the new (permanent) job at Oregon AD Gavin Lussier. Oregon did a good job keeping up with their BIG 10 rivals, taking so far seven guys to keep up with the competition. The class includes a Generational Talent as well in Theo Markos. Markos is a local product from Beaverton, Oregon. Oregon did a great job and kept him in state. He’s the standout player from the Oregon class. Joining him are a few 5 stars. I want to highlight 5 Star FS Phoenix Steele. Steele had an active recruitment, and it was a big statement for the Oregon staff that they could land Steele. It is often tough for freshman ADs to win big recruitment competitions, but Lussier did just that for Phoenix Steele. As a reward, Steele will be a fantastic addition on Day 1 to the Oregon defense.

Penn State Nittany Lions

Total Signings: 8

Biggest Signing: 5-star OLB Admiral Lasky

Underrated Signing: 5-star FS Benjamin Carter

Penn State’s flashy expansion season turns into a second season with expectations. The Nittany Lions did well to keep infusing talent, starting with their two massive transfer wins. First is OLB Admiral Lasky. Lasky was a star for Auburn, and now moves north to anchor the Penn State defense. He’s joined by another less flashy transfer Benjamin Carter. Carter not only is a great player, but he transferred into the conference from USC. While that’ll sting for USC, it is a big piece now for the Penn State defense. The sophomore has room to grow, and Penn State made a living of good defense in their expansion season. That is a trend looking to continue into Season 20.

USC Trojans

Total Signings: 9 

Biggest Signing: 5 Star QB Jamesyn Golde

Underrated Signing: 5 Star WR Kevin Davis

USC might’ve lost a guy or two to the transfer portal, but they’ve reloaded just as well. The Trojans centered their recruiting class around their new QB, Jamesyn Golde. Jamesyn joins Cole Mantell as the two big QB recruits this cycle from Tampa Bay, Florida. Golde and Mantell landed in the same conference as well, guaranteeing a yearly meeting. To build offense around the new QB, USC also did well. They landed two 5-star WRs in Kevin Davis and Ty Wolfe, along with 5-star freshman TE Seiji Matsumura. I chose to highlight Kevin Davis, just because he’s the most well-known talent of the three. He’s spent the past two seasons at the juggernaut in Kentucky and moves west to join a star freshman QB and attempt to try to repeat some magic.


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