Michigan signs top-rated class in Big Ten

Wire reports
Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh during the first half of the NCAA football game between Ohio State and Michigan at Ohio Stadium on Saturday, November 24, 2018. [Jonathan Quilter/Dispatch]

Michigan finished the football recruiting cycle with the top class in the Big Ten, and four other conference programs were ranked in the top 25 in the nation Wednesday.

Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh added one player on the second letter-of-intent signing day to a 26-man class that was No. 1 in the Big Ten and No. 8 nationally, according to the 247Sports composite rankings. It was Michigan's first top ranking in the Big Ten since 2007.

Penn State coach James Franklin assembled a 23-man class made up of players from 11 states, including three from Florida and one from Oregon. The Nittany Lions were ranked No. 2 in the conference and No. 13 nationally.

Ohio State was next, ranking No. 14 coming out of the coaching transition from Urban Meyer to Ryan Day. Nebraska and Purdue had the top two classes in the Big Ten West, coming in at Nos. 4 and 5 in the conference and Nos. 20 and 25 in the nation, respectively.

Four-star safety Quinten Johnson out of St. John's College High in Washington was the only player to sign with Michigan on Wednesday. He's drawn comparisons to ex-Wolverines star Jabrill Peppers, who played both defense and offense in 2015-16. Johnson has said he would be willing to do the same.

Kansas City-area three-star athlete Amauri Pesek-Hickson de-committed Monday over a disagreement about Harbaugh's request that he delay his enrollment and go to prep school. Pesek-Hickson signed with Kansas, which is in its first season under Les Miles, a former Michigan assistant.

Florida State and Miami were hoping signing day could help put to the negativity of 2018 to rest and provide a push toward better times.

Coming off a 5-7 record in their first season under coach Willie Taggart, the Seminoles landed a top-20 class but struck out on a much-needed quarterback. Lance LeGendre selected Maryland over Florida State.

Miami, coming off a 7-6 season and coach Mark Richt's surprising retirement, managed to finally provide some good news for Hurricanes fans. New coach Manny Diaz bolstered the 'Canes recruiting class with some high-profile transfers, including former Ohio State quarterback Tate Martell.

This is the second year for college football's early December signing period, and it's made the traditional signing day in February something of an afterthought. More than 80 percent of the scholarships in FBS were scooped up in December, and the vast majority of the highly touted prospects were off the board.

Alabama, which had already pretty much locked up another recruiting national title, had a couple of four-stars flip to other schools, but the Tide also pulled 330-pound defensive tackle Ishmael Sopsher out of Louisiana and away from LSU.

Georgia had the day's biggest surprise, getting five-star receiver George Pickens to drop his Auburn verbal commitment to sign with the Bulldogs.

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