Ohio State Football: 10 Key 2014 Recruits Urban Meyer Must Prioritize
In a smaller class due to NCAA sanctions and only 14 scholarship seniors, it will be even more vital for the Buckeyes' coaching staff to evaluate talent and get their top targets because recruiting misses in a small class stick and are more painful.
The recruits who made this list were chosen under three criteria: Need, talent and geographic importance.
Need is self-explanatory. Meyer will have to focus on positions that the Buckeyes are weak in or are losing players. For example, the offensive line, which will likely start four seniors in 2013.
Even if there wasn't a great need at a position, a top-rated player with interest in Ohio State always needs some focus.
Lastly, geographical importance is keeping Ohioans in-state, but also taking advantage of the opportunity to stake claim on other talent hotbeds like Georgia.
The list isn't in any particular order, just a list of the Top 10 players that Meyer should focus on.
Ohio State already has the inside track on Raekwon McMillan, a Top 50 overall prospect in the 2014 class.
McMillan, a top-notch inside linebacker, would add talent and depth at what could be Ohio State's weakest position on the defensive side of the ball.
Although that isn't condemning when you consider the strength of the last two defensive line and defensive back classes Urban Meyer has brought in.
Nonetheless, Ohio State needs star linebackers like McMillan in every class. Mike Mitchell and Trey Johnson are great pickups in the 2013 class, but the 2014 linebacker class has the potential to be special if the Buckeyes can land any or all of McMillan, Dante Booker and Clifton Garrett.
Another reason McMillan should be a focus is he seems to be the ring-leader of a handful of Georgia recruits considering moving north to Columbus, getting him could open the floodgates.
Urban Meyer made it clear after signing the 2013 class that the one position where they didn't achieve their goal was the offensive line and that would change in the 2014 class.
Ohio State already has two commits along the offensive line, so it's clear that Meyer isn't messing around.
Jones is a big, powerful tackle who has offers from all over the country. But Meyer has proved throughout his coaching career that it's never smart to bet against him.
Marshon Lattimore is the best player from Cleveland's Glenville High School. The school that produced Donte Whitner, Troy Smith, Ted Ginn Jr. and the list goes on.
The streak of Tarblooders becoming Buckeyes has already been extended with the commitment of Marcelys Jones, but even though offensive linemen are the number one priority for Urban Meyer, Lattimore is the most important Glenville recruit.
Ohio State can't let a playmaker like Lattimore to get out of the state, let alone leave the state from the school's top pipeline.
Ridiculous comparisons of Lattimore to Ginn Jr. will undoubtedly occur, as they did with Ray Small. The fact remains Ginn Jr.'s speed isn't something that comes along often.
But if Lattimore, the 2014 top-rated player in the state of Ohio, makes anything close to the impact Ginn did at Ohio State he will be well worth the recruitment.
Ohio State's roster is loaded at running back for the 2013 season. The Buckeyes have a handful of power-backs and because of that Urban Meyer brought in smaller, quicker running backs in the 2013 recruiting class.
Jalen Hurd is the Buckeyes' best option to fill that role in the 2014 class. Pulling Hurd from Tennessee would not only cement Meyer's ability to recruit in SEC country, but it would give the Buckeyes a big, fast and versatile ball-carrier.
There is some concern that Hurd, who is listed at 6'3'', could outgrow the running back position. However, he has shown the ability to catch the ball and could move to the half back or tight end spot if needed. Either way he will be a playmaker in college.
Dante Booker is an in-state star, Urban Meyer has placed a high level of importance on keeping players like him in the state.
Booker is one of the top rated linebackers in the country as well as the 2nd-best prospect in Ohio for 2014. The Akron Saint Vincent Saint Mary's star already has a high school teammate committed to Ohio State and is considered a Buckeye lean.
Ohio State's coaching staff is still uncertain with what they have at the linebacker position other than Ryan Shazier. And Shazier may go to the NFL after the 2013 season so the Buckeyes will need to continue building depth.
That makes it pretty clear that Urban Meyer has made him a priority, along with coaches throughout the nation, because Peppers is rated as one of the Top 10 players in the 2014 class.
Peppers is a two-way star that could end up playing receiver or defensive back, both positions Meyer has made a priority in getting speed and play making ability.
After getting New Jersey's 2nd-rated prospect in 2013, Eli Apple, Meyer and the Buckeye coaching staff could continue to plant the flag in New England. An area of the country that could be more important to the Big Ten with the upcoming addition of Rutgers.
Deshaun Watson is the Buckeyes' top priority at the quarterback position for the 2014 class.
Watson is a Georgia native who is the No. 2 Dual Threat QB according to 247 Sports.
The problem for Ohio State is that Watson is committed to Clemson, despite having shown interest in the Buckeyes' program.
One of the keys in this recruitment for Urban Meyer and Ohio State could be whether or not Clemson's Offensive Coordinator Chad Morris stays at Clemson after the 2013 season or takes a head coaching job elsewhere.
Because of Ohio State's limited scholarships for the 2014 class, it is unlikely that the Buckeyes will take two QBs, so Meyer will have to decide whether to hold out for Watson or take another prospect.
Attempting to get a player like Malik McDowell out of the state of Michigan could be one of the tougher tasks Urban Meyer has taken on in his tenure at Ohio State.
But considering Meyer got three of Texas' top players and a couple stars from SEC country in 2013, getting the top player out of "that state up north" could be possible.
The SEC has proven the importance of dominating the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and Meyer has clearly made building an SEC-caliber defensive line will always be the goal at Ohio State.
McDowell would certainly fit the bill of a top defensive lineman. He is big, strong and quick and could play inside or outside in college.
Add to his value as a player to the fact the Buckeyes stick it to Michigan by taking another top player from their state.
Damian Price is a behemoth offensive tackle, a type of player extremely important if an offense wants to play power football, just ask Alabama.
Price, out of Maryland, has offers from just about every national power and will be a tough battle for Urban Meyer and the Buckeye coaching staff.
But with two offensive linemen already in the fold, Ohio State can focus in closer on its remaining top targets on the offensive line.
Drake Harris is considered one of the top wide receivers in the country. Ohio State is in good shape with its receiving core with the addition of Jalin Marshall, Dontre Wilson and James Clark in the 2013 class.
That's where a player like Harris could be vital.
Harris is listed at 6'4'' and is also a high-level basketball recruit, so size and leaping ability will be his strengths.
The problem with Harris is he is currently committed to Michigan State, but has shown an interest in looking at other schools and we all know Urban Meyer has a track record of taking advantage of situations like that.