Urban Meyer is searching for his next crop of playmakers.
Ohio State hired Urban Meyer for his teams' on the field success. In his previous three head coaching gigs Meyer won two national titles, two SEC titles, two Mountain West titles and over 80 percent of his games.
However, Buckeye fans as well as college football fans around the nation knew that Meyer's greatest exploits as a coach may be his abilities off the field. During his time at Florida Meyer earned the distinction as one of the best recruiters in college football, for example Meyer landed commitments from Tim Tebow and Cameron Newton in back-to-back seasons, while it took former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel three years to get another high-profile QB to come in behind Terrelle Pryor.
After he finished the 2012 recruiting class with a flurry of recruits right after his hiring in late November the new Buckeye head coach set out to bring in more talent in the 2013 class. The biggest thing Meyer has mentioned since taking over as Ohio State's head coach is the team just doesn't have the play-makers he is used to having and he has clearly made it a priority to rectify that situation.
I am not a talent scout and I am not arguing rankings, this ranking is based solely on which highlight reels are more eye-opening.
Alright so I'm not buying Johnny Townsend can run the 4.5 40-yard dash his highlight video claims, but he does look like a pretty good athlete for the punter position. In his highlights he is shown making tackles as a member of the kick coverage team. However, it is hard to blow me away with six minutes of punter highlights. That is not to disrespect Townsend, who is ranked by Rivals as the 12th best kicker/punter in the country.
Comparison: A.J. Trapasso, Ohio State
Buckeye fans should remember Trapasso, who played from '04-'08 for the Buckeyes. Like Townsend in high school, Trapasso was not just a punter, he also played some running back for Pickerington Central High School and was always a threat to take off on a fake.
Timothy Gardner is listed at 6'5'' 340 lbs. by Rivals. His rated as a 3-star guard and the 20th best player in the state of Indiana. In his video, Gardner is shown repeatedly running over helpless defensive players that he towers over. The video shows a big, strong kid that looks like quickness could be an issue once he gets to Ohio State.
Comparison: Bryant Browning, Ohio State
The gargantuan former Buckeye guard/tackle that struggled with quickness while playing on the edge, but went on to have a good senior season once he moved inside to guard where he was more comfortable. As with Browning I don't expect to see Gardner play much his first couple years and if he is forced to play outside he might have issues. But I wouldn't be surprised at all to see him have a solid career at guard.
Jayme Thompson's highlight video shows a long, athletic defensive back that isn't afraid to make plays anywhere on the field. While the video shows Thompson is a solid defensive back, it lacks the presence of any jaw-dropping plays. However, Thompson has earned the ranking as the 19th best safety in the country according to Rivals.
Comparison: Nate Salley, Ohio State
Both Salley and Thompson are 6'3'' lanky safeties who are better making plays against the pass, but are capable against the run. Just don't expect either of them to deliver many knockout blows.
Tracy Sprinkle is one of the few 2013 Buckeye commits that hasn't received national attention, according to his Rivals profile, Arkansas is the only team outside of the Midwest to offer him a scholarship. But that hasn't stopped the 6'4'' 245 lbs. defensive end from having a great season for Elyira.
Comaprison: Darrion Scott, Ohio State
Scott was a member of the defensive line that helped bring Ohio State the 2002 National Championship. He was the jack-of-all-trades on the defensive line and ended up earning All-Big Ten honors that season. Sprinkle may not go on to have the same sterling career Scott had in Columbus, but their style of play is similar. Both are guys who can play inside and out and have relentless motors.
Darron Lee is a 6'2'' 195 lbs. and the 34th ranked athlete nationally in this class. He doesn't have the eye-popping offers that some of the other players in this class have, but he is a very versatile players that will likely end up at safety, but could slide over to wide receiver depending on the team's needs.
Comparison: Corey Brown, Ohio State
Lee's highlights showed a rangy center fielder type free safety that could go up and intercept the ball and then have the athleticism to take it back for six. Although Corey Brown has never won the job as a deep safety that is what fans expected him to be when he came to Ohio State from Monroeville, PA.
Lee also bears a striking resemblance to former Buckeye basketball All-American Evan Turner.
Evan Lisle plays in a run-heavy offense, so Buckeye coaches won't ever have to worry about his ability to clear holes for the running game. However, since Lisle, the eighth ranked tackle by Rivals, doesn't have much experience in pass protection and there might be a learning period before he will be able to be a starter. But the talent and size is there.
Comparison: Jack Mewhort, Ohio State
Mewhort broke into Ohio State's starting lineup as a guard, but has since moved to tackle for the 2012 season. I wouldn't be surprised to see the same thing happen to Lisle because his run-blocking ability is so good that Ohio State will want him on the field as soon as possible. Giving him time at guard will give him a chance to work on his pass protection before putting him on the edge against premier pass rushers.
I found out pretty much all I needed to know about Billy Price from his first highlight. Price is strong, quick and smart, although he clearly lacks breakaway speed.
Price is a guy that could end up at either guard or defensive tackle, after watching his highlights it seems to me defensive tackle is his better position.
Comparison: Quinn Pitcock, Ohio State
Price and Pitcock are similar in several different ways. They have similar abilities at the defensive tackle position and both have high motors. Price's ranking (14th defensive tackle) is right around where Pitcock was ranked coming into Ohio State as well.
If I were ranking the players by their ability, Cameron Burrows would be much higher on this list, but the highlight video I found of him was short and didn't have many plays on it. All you have to do is look at Burrows' ranking (27th overall by Rivals) and his offers list to see that he has a legit chance to be Ohio State's next Thorpe Award winner—that is if a guy like Bradley Roby doesn't win one first.
Comparison: Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio State
His Rivals profile compares him to Nnamdi Asomugha, but I'm trying as hard as I can to stick to a Buckeye theme. Jenkins was not a highly rated prospect when he came to Ohio State but he quickly blossomed into a star in Columbus. While Jenkins played cornerback throughout his college career, he is now a safety for the New Orleans Saints, likewise Burrows could play either safety or cornerback for the Buckeyes. But the other thing I noticed about Burrows—besides the no. 2 jersey like Jenkins—was his swagger, the type of swagger Ohio State's secondary hasn't seen since Jenkins' graduation.
Tyquan Lewis is the most recent commit for the Buckeyes. Lewis is a 6'3'' 225 lbs. defensive end/outside linebacker that loves to get after the opposing QB. Something Urban Meyer and the Ohio State coaching staff has made a priority since he took over in November. Lewis plays mostly as a standing defensive end in high school and will likely play a similar role in Ohio State's multi-front defense.
Comparison: Nathan Williams, Ohio State
Not only are these two players similar in size but next fall Lewis, will likely be competing for time at Williams' vacated spot on the Ohio State defense. Both are primarily pass-rushers that can put a hand down or stand up and both have experience playing some linebacker as well.
Marcus Baugh's highlights showed a wide receiver in a tight end's body. Baugh showed good hands, good athleticism, great speed for a tight end and also some physicality. Basically the 6'4'' 230 lbs. tight end is exactly what Urban Meyer looks for at the position.
Comparison: Edward Dickson, Oregon
The temptation to compare Urban Meyer-coached tight ends to Aaron Hernandez will always be there, but lets be honest, Hernandez is special. The guy lined up at running back for the New England Patriots last season. Dickson played and was successful in the spread at Oregon due to his above average athleticism and speed. Look for Baugh to have a similar impact early in his career at Ohio State since the tight ends on the roster now weren't recruited for Meyer's system.
Michael Hill's highlights being at seventh is more of a testament to the six above him than a indictment of him. The 6'3'' 315 lbs. defensive tackle is bigger, quicker and stronger than anyone he lined up against in his video. Hill is the eighth ranked defensive tackle by Rivals and the 103rd ranked player overall and this video shows why.
Comparison: Jared Odrick, Penn State
The reason the SEC has been so successful winning championships lately has been their talent on the lines. Guys with size, strength and quickness, like Odrick and Hill, are few and far between in the Big Ten. If Ohio State is going to compete nationally, their highly-rated defensive linemen will have to live up to the hype.
Having only seen pictures of Eli Woodard when I clicked on his highlight reel, I expected to see a cornerback who excelled in pass coverage but wasn't overly physical...BOOM!
In the first highlight, the 6'0'' 180 lbs. corner slammed into a running back on a screen pass and I immediately reconsidered. Woodard's video continued to show that he is good in pass coverage and has great speed, but Woodard's physicality impressed me.
Comparison: Antoine Winfield, Ohio State
Maybe I am overreacting to a couple of big hits in his video, but after what Ohio State fans have watched on defense for the Buckeyes this season, it can't hurt to dream. I'm not saying Woodard will have the career Winfield has had, but if he brings that physicality to Columbus next season, Buckeye fans might see him get a lot of playing time.
Taivon Jacobs might be the least-known player in the Buckeyes' recruiting class. That probably has a lot to do with him being a low-rated prospect (by Ohio State's standards anyway) and his is also an out-of-state recruit that has had a rather quiet recruitment.
Jacobs is ranked as the 45rd best receiver in the country by Rivals, but has an offer list that few other recruits could look down on. Notre Dame, West Virginia, Nebraska and basically the whole ACC has offered this 5'11'' playmaking wide receiver/return specialist.
Comparison: Corey "Don't call me Philly" Brown, Ohio State
Brown was rated higher by the recruiting services out of high school, where he played running back and returned kicks. While Jacobs is a wide receiver/safety/return man for his high school team. But these two have similar builds and abilities and despite playing the position in high school Jacobs, like Brown, will have to learn how to really play receiver once he gets to Ohio State.
J.T. Barrett is widely considered one of the top five dual-threat QBs in the 2013 class. Don't be surprised if he takes a slight hit in the rankings due to a knee injury that cost him the second half of his senior season, but the kid can play. He is more of a runner than a passer right now, but Urban Meyer has shown he can be successful with run-first QBs.
Comparison: Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech
Neither have the size of Vince Young or Terrelle Pryor and neither have the speed of Robert Griffin III or Braxton Miller, but both are good athletes who can throw. Taylor came is as a runner, but by his final year had progressed into a legitimate passer, I expect much of the same from Barrett at Ohio State.
Joey Bosa is a freak of nature. Standing at 6'5'' and weighing 270 lbs., the young man can do a standing backflip. He can also play a little football, too. Rivals has Bosa ranked as the 25th best player in the 2013 class and has him as their third-rated strong side defensive end.
Comparison: Cameron Heyward, Ohio State
These two defensive linemen are very similar. Both of their fathers played in the NFL, John Bosa a defensive end for the Miami Dolphins in the late 80's and the late Craig "Ironhead" Heyward, a running back who played for five teams in his 11 seasons in the NFL. Both came from the south to be Buckeyes, Bosa from Florida and Heyward from Georgia. Both play everywhere on the defensive line. Lastly, in high school, Bosa wears no. 97 and at Ohio State Heyward wore no. 97.
According to Rivals, Ezekiel Elliot is the ninth best running back in the 2013 class. Listed at 6'0'' 198 lbs. Elliot's game is built around his 4.4 speed. He is the type of running back that can break a huge run in the blink of an eye, something Ohio State has lacked from the running back position due to Jordan Hall's injuries that has forced Braxton Miller to carry the ball more than the coaches would want due to the wear and tear on his body.
Comparison: Jamaal Charles, Texas
These two are similar is size and both are speed backs. Charles' success in the NFL is a bit unexpected, but I expect to see Elliot have a similar college career. Early in Charles' career, he was the speed back, but progressed into an three-down back by his junior year. Elliot will likely contribute in a similar manner for Ohio State.
Jalin Marshall plays quarterback for Middletown's option offense, but will likely find himself in the "Percy Harvin" role during his time at Ohio State. Marshall has garnered high rankings from pretty much every recruiting site and Rivals has him as the second ranked athlete and 53rd ranked player overall
Marshall was clearly one of Urban Meyer's priorities in the 2013 class due to his 4.66 40 time and his ability to leave defenders empty handed. Once Marshall gets to Columbus he will have to learn a new position. But his versatility and obvious talent will make him a threat every time he is on the field, no matter where he lines up.
Comparison: Braxton Miller, Ohio State
Bear with me here, it makes sense. Marshall has been compared to guys like Reggie Bush and Percy Harvin, but while he is a great athlete, those two guys are in a class of their own. Marshall's running style is similar to that of Ohio State's current QB Braxton Miller. He clearly doesn't have the arm or height of Miller or he would be a QB at the college level, but Marshall posses the same type of make-you-miss ability that Miller has used to put himself into the Heisman race. Marshall is shorter and thicker than Miller though, which should make him more durable—something he will need if he plays any running back.