Meyer has managed to secure commitments from 24 total recruits thus far, including 18 of the 4-star variety. And while Ohio State is the future destination of a lot of quality high school players, it has yet to land a marquee 5-star prospect.
With national signing day right around the corner, the Buckeyes have the opportunity to finish this year’s recruiting process strong, and there would be no better way to do so than by swaying 5-star safety Vonn Bell.
OSU’s highest-rated commits this season (Eli Apple and Cameron Burrows) leave high school as two highly coveted cornerback prospects. The Buckeyes also managed to swing safety Jayme Thompson and cornerback Gareon Conley—both solid 4-star prospects.
While many incoming freshman don’t see much playing time during their first year, that’s not what this recruiting class is about. The Buckeyes already boast one of the most impressive secondaries in the Big Ten, led by standout sophomore cornerback Bradley Roby, who finished the season as one of the most consistent defenders in the conference.
With an exceptional 2013 class, Meyer has established a rock-solid foundation on which to build, just as he did last year by signing 25 new Buckeyes to the roster. If he can sway Bell and add to an already impressive defensive back class, Ohio State could boast the best passing defense in the Big Ten for the next three or four years—just from this class alone.
We’ll take a look at the latest buzz on Bell as he prepares to make his decision on Feb. 6, and also highlight the Buckeyes’ top defensive back prospects this year.
*All rankings courtesy of 247Sports.
Vonn Bell: 5-star Safety
At 5’11” and 180 pounds, Bell has the ideal frame to play the safety position at the college level. He has some room to add bulk with a college weight-training program, but his size and aggressive playing style give him the ability to potentially see some action early in his career.
While Bell has yet to make a final decision, he’s set to decide on national signing day at 10:05 a.m. EST. According to Brandon Castel of The-Ozone.net, it looks like Tennessee, Ohio State and Alabama are the programs most anticipating his decision:
5-star DB Vonn Bell making his public commitment Wed. morning at 10 am ET on ESPNU. Picking between OSU, Bama and Tenn.— Brandon Castel (@BCastOZone) February 4, 2013
A lot can change in a couple days, but this is what Rivals.com analyst Mike Farrell has to say on the decision on Feb. 2:
Landing Bell would be huge for the future of Ohio State’s football program. A versatile athlete with the ability to play at multiple positions in the secondary, Bell could be an impact player almost immediately in OSU’s defensive backfield. Paired with the propensity for aggressive run support and above-average ball skills, he certainly has the ability to transition quickly to the college game.
Here’s a look at the high school All-American in action:
Eli Apple: 4-star Cornerback
Rated a 96 overall by 247Sports, Apple was on the radar of several major programs.
At 6’1” and 185 pounds, Apple has the tall, slender frame to match his quick feet and fast tempo. He’s a quick-twitch athlete that could be a shutdown corner at the college level, especially with a little coaching and work in the weight room.
Apple is one of the most athletic prospects Ohio State has signed this year, and while he lacks elite straight-line speed for the position, he makes up for it with his physicality in press coverage and ability to play both man and zone coverage as well as any cornerback in this class.
Apple has a chance to see some immediate playing time this year on special teams and potentially as a nickel or dime package corner in the slot. He also shows great willingness to play support against the run, and it’s only a matter of time before he earns a starting role on OSU’s defense.
Cameron Burrows: 4-star Cornerback
As good as Apple is in coverage, Burrows may be even better in man-to-man schemes. He’s tall and physical (6’0”, 195 pounds) with a frame to add a little more bulk, and he’s already terrific in press-man coverage at the line of scrimmage.
Burrows has the physicality and athleticism to develop into a shutdown corner at the next level, and could also garner some attention at the safety position in the future. Ohio State’s class oozes with versatility, and Burrows has as much as any other recruit in the 2013 group.
Burrows will need some time to develop and establish a position, but he’s by no means a raw prospect. He could easily contribute on both special teams and the defensive side of the ball in his freshman campaign.