The playing field isn't exactly level when it comes to football recruiting in the Big Ten.
The league's "Big Two" of Ohio State and Michigan start out ahead of the game thanks to their tradition, their facilities and the accident of geography that allows them to tap into the rich Ohio talent base.
But don't underestimate the power of personality, either, especially as it's wielded by the program's head coaches. Ohio State's already good class got better this week when Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer persuaded four-star running back Dontre Wilson from DeSoto, Texas, to flip from his previous commitment to Oregon.
Michigan's Brady Hoke also showed he has the charisma to bring in big-time players when he delivered a folksy keynote speech at CBS College Sports recruiting analyst Tom Lemming's All-Area dinner a few weeks ago at Soldier Field.
It doesn't hurt to have a capable staff, either. "Jeff Hecklinski has done a great job of organizing everything," Lemming said of the former Palatine star who's now a key assistant to Hoke.
Both Lemming and Rivals.com Midwest analyst Josh Helmholdt agree that Ohio State and Michigan are clearly the class of the Big Ten and will be among the top 10 classes in the country when the dust settles.
After that, it gets interesting.
"Three to 12 is so close," Lemming said. "Parity will definitely be coming to the Big Ten. From Nebraska down to Minnesota, there's not that much difference."
What does separate the Cornhuskers from the Gophers — third and 12th, respectively, in Lemming's league rankings — is quantity as well as quality. Nebraska has 25 recruits in this class, six more than Minnesota.
Helmholdt likes the Cornhuskers' class, which includes five four-star prospects. He also is impressed with the effort of one school not traditionally known for its ability to land blue-chip players.
"This is Indiana's best recruiting class since I've covered them — 10 years," Helmholdt said, citing the four four-star players in the group.
Another strong class belongs to Pat Fitzgerald. "I like what Northwestern did," Helmholdt said. "They brought in a lot of versatile players who could project to fill a lot of holes. [Maine South quarterback Matt] Alviti is the cornerstone. He's got some good, versatile athletes around him."