With 23 new recruits already committed to play for Ohio State next season and a couple more who might join the team on national signing day, the future of Ohio State football is looking as bright as ever.
Urban Meyer hit the recruiting trail hard in preparation for a successful run with the Buckeyes. His team’s 12-0 season in 2012 laid the ground work, but it’s Meyer’s track record that has some of the nation’s best high school players ready to take on the Big Ten next season.
Meyer did a terrific job recruiting prospects from all over the country. Ohio State secured commitments from 13 players from outside Ohio, including cornerback Eli Apple (96 rating from 247Sports) and 4-star linebackers Trey Johnson and Mike Mitchell.
While not every new commit will see much action on Saturdays next season, this class will be a solid foundation on which the Buckeyes can build. We’ll take a look at this year’s recruiting class, position by position.
*All rankings courtesy of 247Sports.
Ohio State only secured a commitment from a single quarterback this year, but it isn’t a position of need at the moment. Braxton Miller will be under center in 2013, and the Buckeyes have Kenny Guiton and Cardale Jones waiting in the wings. Next year may be a different story, but for now, Meyer doesn’t need to worry about the quarterback position.
J.T. Barrett is a 4-star dual-threat quarterback recruit who chose OSU this offseason, but he likely won't see any time under center in the near future. He has potential, and he'll have time to develop it from the sidelines.
There’s nothing much to report at the running back position, either. The Buckeyes have tons of depth at the position, and with Jordan Hall, Rod Smith, Bri’onte Dunn, Carlos Hyde, Warren Ball and Darryl Wood all ready to go for the 2013 season, adding to the position wasn’t a necessity this year.
Ezekiel Elliott (4-star all-purpose back) will join the Buckeyes in 2013, but with a logjam at the position, he probably won't see much action early in his career. Elliott was a nice signing, and at 6'0" and 212 pounds, he'll certainly find a fit on the team in the coming years. It just won't be this year.
Wide receiver and tight end
Meyer’s up-tempo offense calls for a little more speed, and the Buckeyes found it in this year’s recruiting class.
Four-star receivers Jalin Marshall and Corey Smith committed to OSU this offseason, and both have a chance to see some action almost immediately. Both are short but speedy, and both are rated a 95 overall by 247Sports.
The Buckeyes had a young receiving corps in 2012, and it will get even younger this year with the addition of Marshall and Smith. Given Meyer’s propensity for fast, versatile skill players, the duo should find a strong fit in Ohio State’s offense in the coming years.
Tight end Marcus Baugh also committed to OSU for next year. At 6’4” and 225 pounds, the 4-star tight end doesn’t exactly fit the mold of Meyer’s former tight ends, but he’s a perfect fit for Big Ten football.
Baugh is big and physical with room to grow, and he’ll prove to be a valuable asset stretching the middle of the field. He’ll need to work on blocking, but with a 95 overall rating, he has incredible potential at the college level.
The Buckeyes’ recruiting class wasn’t all that deep at offensive line positions, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t talented.
Offensive tackle Evan Lisle is rated a 95 by 247Sports, and while he likely won’t see much action in his first year with the team, he has a very high ceiling. Lisle is listed at just 260 pounds, and he’ll have to add some mass to play at the college level. With a strong returning offensive line corps, rushing him into a starting role won’t be necessary.
Ohio State also receiving a commitment from 4-star offensive tackle Timothy Gardner, whose frame is much more suited for a more immediate role with the Buckeyes offense. Gardner is a 6’5”, 310-pound mauler who will fit well in a Big Ten offense. He needs some polish, but Gardner could garner some playing time early in his career.
The defensive line is the strength of this Ohio State recruiting class, and with Johnathan Hankins and John Simon leaving for the NFL draft, adding depth at the position was a necessity.
The Buckeyes added three defensive ends and three defensive tackles this offseason, five of which are of the 4-star variety.
Defensive end Joey Bosa could see immediate playing time with the Buckeyes next season. The 4-star strongside end is versatile, tough and talented, and at 270 pounds, he has the frame to hold up almost anywhere on the line at the college level.
Donovan Munger and Michael Hill are both defensive tackles with 90 ratings from 247Sports. At 315 pounds, Hill could be the big body OSU needs to replace Hankins on the defensive line. He still has to work on his technique, but it won’t be long before Hill is clogging up running lanes and taking down Big Ten running backs.
Ohio State’s linebacker class isn’t deep, but the talent is undeniable. The Buckeyes secured commitments from two of the best linebackers in this year’s class.
Mike Mitchell and Trey Johnson have the potential to be the future of the Buckeyes’ linebacking corp. Each was given a 94 rating by 247Sports, and neither has that far to go before being ready to start at the college level.
Johnson projects as an inside linebacker due to his solid recognition skills and willingness to shoot gaps and take on opposing blockers. He’ll have to bulk up a little, but he has the frame (6’2”, 218 pounds) to be a sideline-to-sideline defender.
Mitchell is one of the Buckeyes’ most highly regarded incoming freshman. With some holes to fill at outside linebacker, Mitchell has a chance to start immediately on Saturdays. He’s quick, intelligent and extremely tough, and he’ll only get better with a little coaching.
As if Ohio State’s defensive recruiting class weren’t strong enough, Meyer managed to secure commitments from several quality defensive backs.
At 96 overall, cornerback Eli Apple is Ohio State’s best incoming freshman. He’s a 6’1”, 185-pound speedster with all the tools coaches look for in a highly versatile pass defender.
The Buckeyes also added cornerback Cameron Burrows, safety Jayme Thompson (both 4-star recruits) and 3-star cornerback Taivon Jacobs. With an infusion of young, talented defensive backs, Big Ten offenses will have trouble passing on the Buckeyes in the coming years.
Meyer also has a chance to land one of the best safety prospects in the nation on national signing day in Vonn Bell. According to Brad Bournival of ESPN, Bell is considering Ohio State as one of his three choices for next season. Tennessee appears to be leading the race, but there is always the chance Bell will change his mind on February 6.