Ohio State Football Recruiting: Players to Watch in High School All-Star Games

David Regimbal@davidreg412Featured ColumnistJanuary 1, 2014

Ohio State Football Recruiting: Players to Watch in High School All-Star Games

0 of 14

    Photo via 247Sports

    The Under Armour All-America Game and U.S. Army All-American Bowl—widely regarded as the two premier high school all-star games—will kick off this week, giving college football fans an opportunity to see the nation's top prospects in action.

    Ohio State fans will get a good look at a number of future Buckeyes. Of the 19 recruits Urban Meyer has secured for Ohio State's 2014 class, nine will be suiting up to play in the two nationally televised games. Some of the Buckeyes' top remaining targets will also hit the field, and a number of those recruits will be announcing their commitment during the broadcast.

    Here's a complete guide to the action ahead.

    Game: Under Armour All-America Game

    Date: Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014

    Time: 4 p.m. ET

    Place: Tropicana Field (St. Petersburg, Florida)

    Television: ESPN

    Game: U.S. Army All-American Bowl 

    Date: Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014

    Time: 1 p.m. ET

    Place: Alamodome (San Antonio, Texas)

    Television: NBC

    All recruit rankings and stats per 247Sports.com.

    For additional updates, follow David Regimbal on Twitter.

Raekwon McMillan, 5-Star Linebacker

1 of 14

    5-star linebacker Raekwon McMillan
    5-star linebacker Raekwon McMillanPhoto via 247Sports


    Urban Meyer plucked this 5-star linebacker out of the heart of SEC country. Raekwon McMillan, from Hinesville, Ga., chose the Buckeyes over offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State and Georgia (among many others). 

    Under Armour All-America Game: Jan. 2, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN

    McMillan had an outstanding senior season, recording 158 tackles, 35 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks. That hard work paid off in December when he was named the high school Butkus Award winner. The 6'2", 242-pound linebacker is a heat-seeking missile who has a knack for making plays in the backfield.

    The Buckeyes are thin at linebacker, and with the expected departure of Ryan Shazier, McMillan will give Urban Meyer instant depth when he reports to campus as an early enrollee this January.

Dante Booker, 4-Star Linebacker

2 of 14

    4-Star linebacker Dante Booker
    4-Star linebacker Dante BookerPhoto via 247Sports


    Dante Booker committed to Ohio State last May, choosing the Buckeyes over Louisville, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Tennessee. 

    U.S. Army All-American Bowl: Jan. 4, 1 p.m. ET, NBC 

    At 6'3" and 212 pounds, Booker has incredible speed and length for an outside linebacker. JC Shurburtt of 247Sports, who's in San Antonio watching the teams practice, says Booker looks the part of an elite linebacker. 

    Booker certainly played like an elite linebacker this year. Suiting up for the state-champion St. Vincent-St. Mary Irish, Booker recorded 116 total tackles and two interceptions. After his remarkable senior season, he was named Ohio's Mr. Football.

Tony Brown, 5-Star Cornerback

3 of 14

    5-Star cornerback Tony Brown
    5-Star cornerback Tony BrownPhoto via 247Sports


    Tony Brown, a 6'0", 188-pound standout from Beaumont, Texas, is one of the hottest recruits in the country. He has offers from programs such as Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, LSU, Texas, USC and, of course, Ohio State.

    Under Armour All-America Game: Jan. 2, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN 

    One of the top uncommitted prospects in the country, Brown is a blazing cornerback who runs a reported 4.35 40-yard dash. He has exceptional coverage skills and is terrific in run support, which is supported by the 96 tackles, three interceptions and 16 pass breakups he recorded during his senior season.

    Brown is a heavy LSU lean, per 247Sports, but with Meyer leading the charge for Ohio State, the Buckeyes still have a shot.

Curtis Samuel, 4-Star Athlete

4 of 14

    4-star athlete Curtis Samuel
    4-star athlete Curtis SamuelPhoto via 247Sports


    Curtis Samuel, a Brooklyn, N.Y., native, committed to Ohio State in August over Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Notre Dame and USC.

    U.S. Army All-American Bowl: Jan. 4, 1 p.m. ET, NBC  

    Samuel, who runs a 4.36 40-yard dash, is the kind of athlete Meyer looks for to make his offense as explosive as possible. He has the moves to make defenders miss and the breakaway speed to run away from a defense when he breaks free.

    During his senior season, Samuel averaged 11.5 yards per carry, running for 1,047 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also hauled in 12 receptions for 187 yards and three touchdowns, showing a versatility that makes him a great candidate for the "pivot" position Percy Harvin made famous in Urban Meyer's offense at Florida.

Solomon Thomas, 5-Star Defensive End

5 of 14

    5-star defensive end Solomon Thomas
    5-star defensive end Solomon ThomasPhoto via 247Sports


    Solomon Thomas, another Texas product from the city of Coppell, is one of the top-rated pass-rushers in the country. He has offers from such as Alabama, Clemson, LSU, Notre Dame and Oklahoma, but Ohio State, Stanford and Texas are in the lead.

    U.S. Army All-American Bowl: Jan. 4, 1 p.m. ET, NBC 

    The Buckeyes are absolutely loaded along the defensive line, but that isn't stopping Meyer from pursuing one of the top defensive ends in the country.

    Thomas, who had 89 tackles, 18 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks his senior season, is an explosive pass-rusher. His speed will be put on display during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Saturday.

    Stanford is considered the favorite to land Thomas, per 247Sports, but Urban Meyer and the Ohio State staff are recruiting the 5-star standout hard. Thomas is scheduled to visit Ohio State on Jan. 31—which will be his last official visit—so the Buckeyes will have a great chance to impress him before he makes his final decision.

Johnnie Dixon, 4-Star Wide Receiver

6 of 14

    4-star wide receiver Johnnie Dixon
    4-star wide receiver Johnnie DixonPhoto via 247Sports


    Johnnie Dixon, Ohio State's most recent commit, chose the Buckeyes over Alabama and Miami.

    U.S. Army All-American Bowl: Jan. 4, 1 p.m. ET, NBC

    Dixon is one of the most sure-handed receivers in the country, something he put on display during the first practice session after a slow start in San Antonio this week.

    The 5'10", 187-pound receiver recorded 33 receptions for 610 yards during his senior season, six of which went for touchdowns. His reliability will be an asset to Urban Meyer's offense, especially after the Buckeyes lose senior Corey Brown to graduation.

    Brown was Braxton Miller's go-to target because of his consistently clean routes and sure hands. Dixon will offer both of those qualities to the Ohio State offense for the foreseeable future.

Damon Webb, 4-Star Cornerback

7 of 14

    4-Star cornerback Damon Webb
    4-Star cornerback Damon WebbPhoto via 247Sports


    Damon Webb, a Detroit native, committed to Ohio State last January over schools such as Alabama, LSU and home-state Michigan.

    U.S. Army All-American Bowl: Jan. 4, 1 p.m. ET, NBC

    With Ohio State set to lose three of the four season-opening starters in the secondary, Urban Meyer wants to bring in a minimum of three defensive backs. As it stands now, Webb is the only addition to the secondary.

    Fortunately for Meyer and the Buckeyes, Webb is one of the most talented cornerbacks in the country. He has outstanding coverage skills and uses his speed to blanket receivers. During his senior season, Webb recorded 42 tackles, eight interceptions and 14 pass breakups.

    The 5'11", 180-pound standout has the potential to be a shutdown corner, something the Buckeyes desperately need. Ohio State, which ranked 103rd in the country after allowing 260 passing yards per game, will gladly welcome Webb to the fold.

Malik McDowell, 4-Star Defensive End

8 of 14

    4-star defensive end Malik McDowell
    4-star defensive end Malik McDowellPhoto via 247Sports


    Malik McDowell out of Detroit is still considering Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State. 

    U.S. Army All-American Bowl: Jan. 4, 1 p.m. ET, NBC

    At 6'7" and 290 pounds, McDowell is a monster defensive end prospect. The 4-star standout recorded 89 tackles, seven sacks and three forced fumbles during a breakout senior season.

    According to 247Sports, the Buckeyes are a long shot to land McDowell, but with Michigan and Michigan State leading for his services, he'll be one Ohio State fans will want to watch. The Wolverines have a greater need for an impact defensive lineman like McDowell, but the Spartans' impressive run to the Rose Bowl could sway him to East Lansing.

    Wherever McDowell winds up, it's a good thing for the Big Ten to keep talent like this in the Midwest.

Jamarco Jones, 4-Star Offensive Tackle

9 of 14

    4-star offensive tackle Jamarco Jones
    4-star offensive tackle Jamarco JonesPhoto via 247Sports


    Jamarco Jones committed to Ohio State in June over Florida, Florida State, Michigan, Notre Dame and Oklahoma.

    Under Armour All-America Game: Jan. 2, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN

    Jones was a big get for Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes. Ohio State will be losing four of its starters along the offensive line to graduation this year, and because of that, depth is an issue.

    The 6'5", 290-pound tackle from Chicago is one of four linemen who have verbally pledged to Ohio State. Jones is the highest-rated member of that group, and for good reason, as he is an excellent pass-protector and brings a mean streak to the run game.

Marshon Lattimore, 4-Star Cornerback

10 of 14

    4-star cornerback Marshon Lattimore
    4-star cornerback Marshon LattimorePhoto via 247Sports


    Marshon Lattimore will announce whether he will be joining Ohio State or Alabama during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl according to Bill Greene of Scout.com (subscription required).

    U.S. Army All-American Bowl: Jan. 4, 1 p.m. ET, NBC

    Lattimore is arguably Ohio State's top remaining target, and as an elite cornerback, he plays a position of huge need for the Buckeyes.

    The 6'0", 175-pound standout played both offense and defense for Glenville High School in Cleveland, Ohio, which is Ohio State's top in-state recruiting pipeline. The Buckeyes, though, have plenty of receivers, and Lattimore's elite coverage skills make him a better cornerback prospect regardless.

    Lattimore will show off those skills on Saturday before announcing his college decision. According to 247 Sports' Crystal Ball Predictions, Ohio State is the unanimous favorite.

Erick Smith, 4-Star Safety

11 of 14

    4-star safety Erick Smith
    4-star safety Erick SmithPhoto via 247Sports


    Erick Smith, a 6'1", 185-pound safety, will announce his college decision live during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl according to Rivals.com's Josh Helmholdt (subscription required).

    U.S. Army All-American Bowl: Jan. 4, 1 p.m. ET, NBC

    Smith, a teammate of Marshon Lattimore's at Glenville High School, is another big target for the Buckeyes. 

    Ohio State had big issues at safety this year, and those issues were compounded when senior Christian Bryant suffered a season-ending broken ankle in Week 5 against Wisconsin. The Buckeyes went on to struggle greatly against the pass, which inevitably led to the first loss in the Urban Meyer era against Michigan State in the Big Ten title game.

    Smith is a rangy athlete, and he would provide a huge boost to Ohio State's beleaguered secondary. Like his fellow teammate in Lattimore, Smith is a unanimous pick to select the Buckeyes.

Marcelys Jones, 3-Star Offensive Guard

12 of 14

    3-Star offensive guard Marcelys Jones
    3-Star offensive guard Marcelys JonesPhoto via 247Sports


    Marcelys Jones became the first member of Ohio State's 2014 class when he committed to Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes on Christmas Day in 2012.

    U.S. Army All-American Bowl: Jan. 4, 1 p.m. ET, NBC

    Jones, who also played his high school football at Glenville High School, was a key commit for Meyer, and not only because Ohio State desperately needs offensive linemen.

    Landing the 6'5", 325-pound guard was pivotal in Meyer's recruitment of teammates Marshon Lattimore and Erick Smith. The Glenville trio have taken a number of recruiting trips together, including journeys to the South to schools such as Alabama.

    Jones is a versatile prospect who can play any interior position along the offensive line, but he's projecting as a guard at the collegiate level.

Jalyn Holmes, 4-Star Defensive End

13 of 14

    4-star defensive end Jalyn Holmes
    4-star defensive end Jalyn HolmesPhoto via 247Sports


    Jalyn Holmes committed to Ohio State in June over offers from Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Notre Dame and USC.

    U.S. Army All-American Bowl: Jan. 4, 1 p.m. ET, NBC

    Urban Meyer secured commitments from 10 4-star defensive linemen in his first two recruiting classes at Ohio State, building incredible depth for the Buckeyes in the trenches.

    That didn't scare Holmes away, and the 6'5", 225-pound pass-rusher is set to join the Buckeyes in 2014.

    Holmes is an explosive and disruptive defender. During his junior season, more than half of his total tackles (40 of 79) came behind the line of scrimmage. He uses his speed to beat defenders off the snap, but his strength allows him to be a nightmare for opposing offenses, especially when he gets into the backfield.

Demetrius Knox, 4-Star Offensive Guard

14 of 14

    4-star offensive guard Demetrius Knox
    4-star offensive guard Demetrius KnoxPhoto via 247Sports


    Demetrius Knox committed to Ohio State over Texas, UCLA and TCU in July. 

    U.S. Army All-American Bowl: Jan. 4, 1 p.m. ET, NBC 

    Knox, a one-time Texas commit who reopened his recruitment over the summer, was one of Urban Meyer's primary offensive line targets. The Fort Worth, Texas, product grew up in Columbus, Ohio, as an avid Buckeyes fan, and he'll be suiting up for his home-state team on Saturdays.

    Rated the No. 11 guard prospect in the country, per 247Sports, Knox will provide instant depth to the interior of Ohio State's offensive line. The Buckeyes are so thin up front that Knox could crack the two-deep rotation as a freshman.