Recruiting focus: Big Ten and Independents

Gone are the good ol' days of "three yards and a cloud of dust" in the powerful Big Ten conference as the speed of the game both within the conference and with nonconference opponents have forced its members to recruit players with speed and athleticism and who can create mismatches in space.

The influence of the four- and five-wide receiver formations brought into the conference by Joe Tiller at Purdue more than eight seasons ago has forced the rest of the Big Ten to keep up. Randy Walker's version of the spread offense at Northwestern has made it a conference contender again. When it comes down to it, however, stingy defense is a staple of this league and it always has been.