Ohio State Football: The 5 Most Underrated Recruits in the Class of 2013

Tim BielikSenior Analyst IJanuary 17, 2013

Ohio State Football: The 5 Most Underrated Recruits in the Class of 2013

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    Ohio State has one of the best recruiting classes in the country with plenty of big-name recruits in tow. But what about the recruits that people either forgot about or have slid under the radar?

    What made the Buckeyes special in the last decade was their ability to make superstars out of little-known recruits, namely A.J. Hawk who went from a one-star recruit to a great NFL linebacker.

    So what makes a recruit underrated?

    He may be an underrated guy because he wasn't ranked as high as others at his position or because he plays an unheralded position. That doesn't mean they won't be good, but for different reasons, they're not quite as talked about as the blue-chippers.

    Here are five of those players.

P Johnny Townsend

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    The punter is sort of like an offensive lineman in terms of recognition: he usually gets noticed only when he does something bad unless he's really, really good.

    OSU's former punter Ben Buchanan was inconsistent and slow at getting the ball off his foot, resulting in a lot of blocked punts in the last three years.

    Freshman Johnny Townsend is one of the top punters in the country and showed it at the Army All-American Bowl week in San Antonio this month.

    He will start from day one and will hopefully give the Buckeyes one of the best field-position changers in the country.

DE Tracy Sprinkle

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    It's pretty surprising for the Ohio High School Defensive Player of the Year to fly as far under the radar in the recruiting world as Tracy Sprinkle has.

    Sprinkle, an early enrollee, recorded 19 sacks and 103 tackles as a defensive end for Elyria High School outside of Cleveland.

    He stands out on the defensive line due to his size and strength, but also has an exceptional motor and can play at either end or—in pass-rush situations—tackle.

    That versatility can give him a shot to get on the field in what's quickly becoming a crowded defensive line.

WR Taivon Jacobs

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    Ohio State's offense lacked the explosive gamebreaker from both the RB and receiver positions. It has tried to improve it by recruiting Ezekiel Elliott and Jalin Marshall.

    However, don't sleep on Taivon Jacobs either.

    Jacobs may be undersized at 5'10" and 160 pounds, but he makes up for it with pure speed. He can be an instant difference-maker in the return game ala Brandon James at Florida.

    He may need some time to get stronger and could redshirt in 2013, but can be an impact player with the ball in his hands, something the Buckeyes don't have a lot of outside of Braxton Miller.

S Darron Lee

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    Ohio State not only has the ability to pull players from across the country, but they usually find room for the hometown kids, especially ones like Darron Lee.

    Lee, who played quarterback at New Albany (outside of Columbus), is an explosive athlete with the size to play safety but could also convert to a linebacker later on.

    He needs some time to learn the nuances of the position, but the natural athleticism and speed he has is something that can't be taught.

    Lee can still make a big impact on kickoff coverage early on, and if he makes big plays there this year, he should become a fan favorite early on.

S Jayme Thompson

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    Urban Meyer landed a true winner at the safety position when he got S Jayme Thompson to flip his commitment from West Virginia.

    Thompson was one of the stars of a team that won the Ohio Division II State Championship and allowed less than 14 points in each of its five playoff games.

    Unlike Lee, Thompson is a more natural safety with a good mix of run support skills, as well as the ability to drop back into coverage.

    OSU needs some depth at the safety position, and Thompson can slide in and provide support very quickly.

     

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