Ohio State Football: Grading the 2013 Recruiting Class by Position

Cory McCuneContributor IIIFebruary 7, 2013

Ohio State Football: Grading the 2013 Recruiting Class by Position

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    Urban Meyer continues to add to his coaching legend with one of the nation's top recruiting classes. A class so good that it even exceeded Meyer's expectations on national signing day.

    In his second recruiting season in Columbus, Meyer continued to build Ohio State's roster into one of the most talented in America.

    Now any real grading of this class, positional unit or individual player won't be completely accurate until their time at Ohio State is done—just ask the 2008 class.

    But on paper this is one of the finest classes in the country and possibly, the most talented in Ohio State's storied history. 

    To grade these units, I looked at what the Ohio State Buckeyes needed, the rating of the commits from the four main recruiting services (Scout, Rivals, 24/7 Sports and ESPN) and whether or not the commit was the player Ohio State's coaches targeted first—because I trust the coaches perception more than the recruiting services'.

    If each positional unit is counted the same then the final overall grade for the Buckeye's 2013 recruiting class is 3.54.

    Ohio State did lose Johnny Townsend, a punter who signed with Florida. So the Buckeyes might have to find a punter.

Quarterback

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    Grade: B+

    Commit: J.T. Barrett 

    Ohio State had three QBs on their roster in 2012—Braxton Miller, Kenny Guiton and Cardale Jones.

    Miller, a 2013 junior, will again be the engine that moves the Ohio State Buckeye offense. Guiton, a senior, will once again be Miller's backup while Jones will try to work his way into the mix.

    Ohio State's staff wanted one QB in this season's recruiting class and they got the one they wanted—J.T. Barrett.

    Barrett was a consensus 4-star and top-15 QB. He is a skilled dual-threat QB from Texas and is already enrolled at Ohio State.

    However, he is coming off a serious knee injury and is yet to fully recover. That relative uncertainty knocks the QB class from an A- to a B+.


Runningback

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    Grade: A

    Commit: Ezekiel Elliott

    As is the case with the QB position, Ohio State got the runningback that they wanted but not without a little drama.

    Ezekiel Elliott verbally committed to Ohio State early in the recruiting process, but Missouri made a late run to take him away from the Ohio State Buckeyes.

    However, Elliott signed with Ohio State and is bringing his talents to Columbus. He gives Urban Meyer a home-run threat in the backfield that the current runningbacks haven't proven themselves to be.

    The Buckeyes had a deep backfield and needed a pure runningback that possessed great top-end speed. That is what they got in Elliott and that gives them an 'A.'

Hybrid/Slot Receiver

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    Grade: A+

    Commits: Jalin Marshall and Dontre Wilson

    Due to the fact that Urban Meyer continually brings up the hybrid or Percy Harvin role, I separated this position from runningback and receiver.

    Jalin Marshall was the second commit in the class and therefore didn't receive as much national attention as Dontre Wilson did. But both are extremely talented and explosive athletes with the ball in their hands.

    Marshall, a high school option QB, is used to having the ball in his hands, but also showed in the Under Armour All-American game that he can also play receiver.

    Judging from his high school highlights, Wilson was used in a role like this in high school. Wilson is more of a speedster and will likely make an immediate impact in the return game.

    Had Ohio State received a commitment from just one of these players, then they would have gotten an A, the fact Meyer got commitments from both gives him extra credit.

Wide Receiver

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    Grade: B

    Commits: Corey Smith and James Clark

    Corey Smith is a junior college transfer who is an Ohio native. James Clark is a speedster out of the state of Florida.

    Both Clark and Smith weren't the receivers that Ohio State's coaching staff focused on originally, but both have the type of speed and ability that could allow them to contribute early in their Ohio State Buckeye careers—Smith has two years of eligibility remaining.

    Because Ohio State didn't land their original targets these two aren't as highly-rated as the other skill-position players. But they still give the Buckeyes an above-average receivers class.

Tight End

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    Grade: B+

    Commit: Marcus Baugh

    I thought about adding tight ends with receivers, but with the way Urban Meyer has used his athletic tights ends in the past, it is clear that this is a position of great importance.

    Ohio State seemingly had options in Ohio and Pennsylvania, but instead took a commitment from Marcus Baugh.

    Baugh has the athletic ability necessary to be a playmaking threat from the tight end position as Meyer continues to change Ohio State's personnel from a pro-style offense to a spread offense. 

    Baugh may not become Aaron Hernandez, but has more speed and agility than any of the other tight ends currently on the roster.

Offensive Line

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    Grade: C+

    Grades: Evan Lisle and Timothy Gardner

    This has to be the lowest-rated position in Ohio State's recruiting class and Urban Meyer said on signing day that in the 2014 class depth on the offensive line will be the focus.

    Evan Lisle is a powerful run-blocking tackle that made the Under Armour All-American team. He is a consensus 4-star and one of the top-10 tackles in the country.

    The other offensive lineman, Timothy Gardner, is not as highly-regarded. Although, Gardner did garner All-State recognition for his success in Indiana.

    Two is a low number for an offensive line class, but because one of the two is a solid prospect and Ohio State only graduated one offensive linemen, I still give this class a slightly above-average grade.

Defensive Tackle

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    Grade: B+

    Commits: Donovan Munger, Billy Price and Michael Hill 

    The SEC has shown that national titles are won in the trenches. Urban Meyer saw that first-hand while coaching in the nation's toughest conference.

    The Ohio State Buckeyes are bringing in two Ohioans and Rivals' top prospect from South Carolina.

    Donovan Munger and Billy Price are big physical athletes that have both been rumored as players that could switch over to offense, if the Buckeyes need more depth there.

    Michael Hill is bigger than Price and Munger and is likely to play the nose guard instead of the defensive tackle.

    The Buckeyes certainly brought in depth for their defensive line, but this years' defensive line recruits lack the star power Tommy Schutt and Adolphus Washington brought in 2012.

Defensive End

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    Grade: A-

    Commits: Joey Bosa, Tyquan Lewis and Tracy Sprinkle

    In 2013, Ohio State will have to replace all four starters the defensive line. Most of those spots will be filled by players already on the Ohio State Buckeye's roster, but if one freshman could come in and start on the defensive line, then it's Joey Bosa.

    Bosa already has a college-level build and comes from one of the best high school football programs in the country at St. Thomas Aquinas.

    Like Bosa, Tracy Sprinkle is a big, versatile athlete that will play strong-side defensive end and could slide inside to defensive tackle on passing downs or if he grows.

    Tyquan Lewis is the weak-side pass rusher in this class. He isn't as highly-touted as Noah Spence was last season, but he's fast and athletic, nonetheless.

    This group is talented, but after the defensive line class of 2012, it's hard to give the 2013 class anything higher than an A-.

Linebacker

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    Grade: A

    Commits: Mike Mitchell, Trey Johnson and Christopher Worley

    Ohio State's weak link on their defense for much of the 2012 season was the linebacker position. The young linebackers struggled so much that fullback Zach Boren had to move to linebacker.

    That meant Ohio State's need for linebackers went beyond building depth when three seniors graduated. The defense needed guys that could play or at least push for playing time.

    It took just one weekend to achieve that goal. On Friday, Jan. 4 at the Under Armour All-American game, Ohio State received a commitment from Trey Johnson, an athletic outside linebacker from the state of Georiga.

    The next day at the U.S. Army All-American Game, Mike Mitchell followed suit. Mitchell figures to play the middle linebacker position and, due to his SPARQ title, is considered the best athlete of all 2013 recruits.

    Christopher Worley rounded out the linebacker class, but could end up becoming a safety/linebacker hybrid that Ohio State likes to use as their nickelback.

    It's hard to imagine that this class of linebackers could have turned out much better, but there were a couple misses.

Cornerback

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    Grade: A+

    Commits: Gareon Conley, Cameron Burrows and Eli Apple

    I'm not sure what can be said about this trio of stars that hasn't already been said.

    If Ohio State's 2012 defensive line class was the best class ever for a unit at Ohio State, then I'd have to say its reign at the top was short-lived because, on paper, this secondary class is ridiculous. 

    Gareon Conley, Cameron Burrows and Eli Apple were all invited to play in one of the two main high school All-American games.

    The three average a 4-star rating combining the four main sites—Apple is a 5-star on ESPN and Conley is a 3-star on Rivals.

    Apple is more of a pure cover-corner that will also come up and play physical against the run game.

    Conley is a long, rangy cornerback that could also end up playing wide receiver during his time in Columbus.

    Burrows is the biggest of the three in terms of build and could grow out of the cornerback position and become a safety.

    As I said to begin with, this trio is great.

Safety

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    Grade: A+

    Commits: Vonn Bell, Jayme Thompson and Darron Lee

    Ohio State's secondary was really good heading in to national signing day. Then Vonn Bell joined it and took the group over the top.

    Bell is a consensus top-50 player overall and a 5-star according to Scout and 24/7 Sports. Despite being from the south, Bell spurned Alabama and Tennessee to be a part of Urban Meyer's recruiting class.

    Jayme Thompson is long athlete that led his team to a state title and is rated as a 4-star by all four recruiting services.

    Darron Lee is the least-heralded of the six defensive backs in Ohio State's class, but is also the biggest. Lee is listed as being bigger than Christopher Worley and was mentioned as a linebacker by Luke Fickell, so he could change positions.

    Once again, I see no way that this unit could be graded any lower than perfect.