The Urban Meyer era is looking awfully bright right now.
After finishing the 2012 season with a spotless record, Ohio State now turns its sights on more than a perfect finish. The Buckeyes’ one-year bowl ban has passed, and now becomes the time to prepare for a possible national championship run in 2013.
According to 247Sports, Ohio State has the second-best recruiting class in the nation behind Nick Saban’s Alabama squad. The Buckeyes have secured commitments from 22 total recruits, including 16 of the 4-star variety.
Meyer made a strong push this offseason, securing commitments from linebackers Mike Mitchell and Trey Johnson at the Under Armour All-American Game. The Buckeyes also landed 4-star cornerback Eli Apple, who enrolled at OSU as of January 7 (via 247Sports).
Ten of the Buckeyes’ top recruits play primarily on the defensive side of the ball, and will all have an impact on OSU’s defense in the near future.
Meyer is recruiting a new breed of defensive playmakers that may well reshape Big Ten defenses going forward. We’ll take a look at some of the top defensive recruits Meyer brought in this offseason.
Eli Apple: 4-star cornerback
Apple is a 6’1”, 185-pound cornerback with explosive athleticism and the potential to be a shutdown corner in college (via ESPN).
Ohio State needs to continue building its defensive secondary, and Apple will be a key piece for the revival of OSU’s pass defense. He has the size and skillset to play in a number of defensive schemes, and is well-suited for both man and zone coverage.
Apple compares his game to that of former Buckeye Malcom Jenkins, and talks about his expectations in the following video:
Trey Johnson: Four-star inside linebacker
With Meyer likely molding his new-look Buckeyes defense in more of an SEC-style, Johnson has a chance to make an immediate impact in Columbus.
Johnson is a fast, heady and aggressive inside linebacker with a nose for the football. At 6’1”, 215 pounds, Johnson has the frame to add some bulk to compete at the collegiate level, but fits the prototype for Meyer’s quick and aggressive defense.
During his announcement at the Under Armour All-American Game, Johnson chose Ohio State over Tennessee, Florida and Penn State. The Georgia native and No. 3 inside linebacker prospect in the country (via 247Sports) garnered interest from several SEC schools, but chose OSU because of the “atmosphere and coaching staff.”
Given Meyer’s affinity for fast and aggressive defensive players, Johnson should see some immediate work on special teams, and could be in contention for playing time at linebacker early in his OSU career.
Joey Bosa: 4-star defensive end
Meyer may have brought a new style of defensive football to the conference, but he hasn’t forgotten the roots of Big Ten football.
Bosa is one of OSU’s top new defensive linemen, and his tough, physical and explosive style of defensive football is a perfect fit for the Buckeyes defense.
Ohio State will lose Johnathan Hankins and John Simon to the NFL draft this offseason, and Bosa represents a changing of the guard on the defensive line. He has the frame (6’5”, 270 pounds) to make an immediate impact at multiple positions on the defensive line, and with a high motor and aggressive style well-suited for Big Ten football, Bosa should make a quick transition to the college game.
Because of Bosa’s versatility and size, the Buckeyes have an opportunity to line him up at several positions. He has the chance to see playing time very early in his career.
*Rankings and figures courtesy of 247Sports.com.