The 14th-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes are off to a 4-0 start and are getting contributions from a fistful of players from Head Coach Urban Meyer's first recruiting class.
Meyer has followed up his 2012 class success by building a healthy list of 17 new commitments to the program for 2013. But even with an unblemished record and an upswing in optimism among Buckeye followers, there are still some key areas where the OSU staff can bolster through added talent in the 2013 class.
This piece will highlight the areas where Meyer and his staff can make gains by continuing to recruit for next year.
Job one for the Buckeyes continues to be to find some playmakers at the wide receiver position. Sophomore Devin Smith and Junior Corey Brown will have time to get better in Columbus, but the depth behind them is untested—at best.
Sophomore Evan Spencer (five) and freshman Michael Thomas (one) are the only other wideouts to catch passes this year, although converted tight end Jake Stoneburner has hauled in three scoring passes from the H-back position.
The Buckeyes are considered to have at least eight wide receivers still on their wish list, including five-star talents Robert Foster (Monaca, PA) and James Quick (Louisville, KY), and are also in on Cleveland's Shelton Gibson as well as the 6'3" Marquez North from Charlotte.
If Urban Meyer wants to run Urban Meyer's offense at the Ohio State University, this is the spot he must fill with talent immediately.
The Ohio State linebackers are a key reason why Ohio State is dead last in the Big Ten in total defense.
Missed tackles and blown containment responsibilities have allowed opponents to gain nearly 400 yards per game and, if not for a conference-high seven interceptions, Ohio State could well be 2-2 instead of 4-0.
The current depth chart features freshmen as the backups at every linebacker spot and, while contributions are to be expected in the future from a Josh Perry, David Perkins or Camren Williams, Ohio State must mine some of the talent that remains unsigned or sophomore Ryan Shazier will be the lone horse in the stable.
OSU is in on a quartet of four-star backers for addition to the 2013 class, but are yet to get any in the boat.
Ohio State's running back depth appears to be wafer-thin heading into 2013 when Jordan Hall leaves the job in Carlos Hyde's hands, with Rod Smith and Bri'onte Dunn becoming the leading candidates to caddy to Hall.
But the much-maligned Smith has had fumble issues and Dunn is as green as the Ohio Stadium turf, while local product Warren Ball has yet to make an impact.
Here is quite possibly where the scholarship reductions hurt Meyer's staff as much as anywhere. The WR and LB positions are must-haves for 2013, and there are still some secondary concerns and the coming departure of punter Ben Buchanan forced Meyer to offer a full ride to Johnny Townsend in the 2013 class.
Ezekiel Elliott is the lone running-back signee for 2013, and at six feet and 200 pounds with a 4.4 time in the 40-yard dash, Elliott could be the Percy Harvin clone that Meyer covets for his H-back spot. But if that is true, it highlights even further the need to ink another ballcarrier for the 2013 class.