Ohio State Football Recruiting: What You Need to Know for National Signing Day

David RegimbalFeatured ColumnistJanuary 12, 2014

Ohio State Football Recruiting: What You Need to Know for National Signing Day

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    Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

    With national signing day nearing, Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes are looking to close out one of the top recruiting classes in the country.

    The Buckeyes have secured pledges from 21 prospects, seven of which are already on campus. With graduating seniors and players leaving early for the NFL, Ohio State likely has just three or four remaining scholarships to offer.

    Who will wind up accepting those offers? Which first-year players have the best chance of contributing early? 

    Here's everything you need to know about Ohio State's 2014 recruiting efforts leading up to national signing day.

     

    All recruit rankings per 247Sports.com.

Top Remaining Targets

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    Solomon Thomas

    Despite a lot of young talent along the defensive line, Meyer and the Buckeyes are looking to build depth by bringing in three more big guys up front. Ohio State already has two commitments from 4-star defensive end Jalyn Holmes and 3-star defensive end Dylan Thompson, but they're looking to get 5-star standout Solomon Thomas to join the fold.

    As a strong-side defensive end, Thomas would bring a lot of speed to the Ohio State defense. The Buckeyes are in a three-way battle with Stanford and the home-state Texas Longhorns. Thomas will take his last official visit to Ohio State on January 30.

     

    Brady Taylor

    Ohio State's biggest need in the 2014 recruiting cycle was for offensive linemen. The Buckeyes have four commits so far, but Meyer wants a fifth.

    Ohio State will have the best shot at landing Brady Taylor, a 3-star offensive tackle from Columbus, Ohio.

    Taylor is currently committed to Virginia Tech, but a recent offer from the Buckeyes shook things up. A number of recruiting analysts believe Taylor will flip to the Buckeyes after his official visit to the campus on January 17.

Current Commits

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

    Raekwon McMillan: 242-pound LB, Hinesville, Ga.

    Curtis Samuel: 185-pound ATH, Brooklyn, N.Y.

    Johnnie Dixon: 187 pound WR, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. 

    Damon Webb: 180-pound CB, Detroit

    Dante Booker: 212-pound LB, Akron, Ohio

    Noah Brown: 212-pound WR, Sparta, N.J.

    Jalyn Holmes: 225-pound DE, Norfolk, Va.

    Kyle Trout: 300-pound OT, Lancaster, Ohio

    Terry McLaurin190-pound WR, Indianapolis

    Jamarco Jones: 290-pound OT, Chicago

    Marshon Lattimore: 175-pound CB, Cleveland, Ohio

    Parris Campbell: 184-pound WR, Akron, Ohio

    Sam Hubbard: 225-pound LB, Cincinnati

    Demetrius Knox: 294-pound OG, Fort Worth, Texas

    Erick Smith: 185-pound S, Cleveland Ohio

    Kyle Berger: 215-pound LB, Cleveland, Ohio

    Dylan Thompson: 260-pound DE, Lombard, Ill.

    Marcelys Jones: 325-pound OG, Cleveland, Ohio

    Malik Hooker: 185-pound WR, New Castle, Pa.

    Stephen Collier: 208-pound QB, Leesburg, Ga.

    Sean Nuernberger: 220-pound K, Buckner, Ky.

Players Who Could Contribute as Freshmen

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    4-Star Wide Receiver Johnnie Dixon
    4-Star Wide Receiver Johnnie DixonPhoto via 247 Sports

    A trio of first-year players who enrolled early at Ohio State will have a chance to earn some playing time.

     

    Raekwon McMillan

    The Buckeyes just lost their best linebackerRyan Shazierto the NFL. That was a big blow to a unit that underperformed in 2013.

    Raekwon McMillan, a 5-star standout out of Hinesville, Ga., could provide a boost for that group in 2014.

    McMillan is an aggressive, run-stopping linebacker—the kind of prospect that usually thrives at Ohio State. If he grasps the defensive scheme early, he's talented enough to see the field.

     

    Johnnie Dixon

    Ohio State needs to replace Corey Brown, who was the most consistent receiver over the past two years.

    Johnnie Dixon, a 4-star wideout, possesses the hands and the route-running ability to fill the void.

    Being with the team through winter conditioning and spring practice gives Dixon an inside track to early playing time. If he builds a chemistry with Braxton Miller, that could pay off in the fall.

     

    Sean Nuernberger

    The first-year player with the best chance of nabbing a starting job is Sean Nuernberger

    With senior kicker Drew Basil's departure, Nuernberger is the likely replacement. While the Buckeyes don't kick many field goals due to the success of the offense and the aggressiveness of Meyer's play-calling, it's still a pivotal role that needs filled.

Storylines to Watch

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    5-Star Safety John "Juju" Smith
    5-Star Safety John "Juju" SmithPhoto via 247 Sports

    The Hunt for 5-Star Pledges

    A pair of 5-star recruits—defensive end Solomon Thomas and safety John "Juju" Smith—are getting a lot of attention from the Buckeyes.

    As one of the best recruiters in the country, Meyer will need to work his magic to gain a commitment from either standout.

    According 247 Sports' "Crystal Ball Predictions," Thomas is likely Stanford bound while Smith is favored to land at either USC or Notre Dame

     

    Signing-Day Surprises

    On signing day last year, Meyer secured pledges from 4-star wide receiver James Clark and 5-star safety Vonn Bell. The Buckeyes also lost a pledge when punter and verbal-pledge Johnny Townsend spurned Ohio State for Florida.

    Will there be similar drama this year?

    Of the 14 commitments who have yet to send in their letters of intent (seven of Ohio State's 21 commitments enrolled early), none have shown any signs of wavering on their verbal pledges. Of course, no one saw Townsend's flip coming, proving that signing day can be as unpredictable as it is exciting.

     

Fun Facts

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    4-Star Wide Receiver Parris Campbell
    4-Star Wide Receiver Parris CampbellPhoto via 247 Sports

    Teammates Sticking Together

    Five of Ohio State's 21 commitments will be coming from two high schools.

    The Buckeyes snagged three commitments from Glenville High School in Cleveland, Ohio. Cornerback Marshon Lattimore, safety Erick Smith and offensive guard Marcelys Jones were all Tarblooders.

    Wide receiver Parris Campbell and linebacker Dante Booker were also high school teammates. The pair played for St. Vincent-St. Mary in Akron, Ohio, the same school LeBron James attended.

      

    The Lacrosse Star

    Before Sam Hubbard became one of the hottest recruits in the country, he was a lacrosse star who was committed to Notre Dame.

    That changed after his junior year when he earned a starting role on the Cincinnati Moeller football team. Colleges showed interests, and when Meyer showed up at his school, it changed Hubbard's future.

     

    The Young Gun

    Campbell, the 4-star wide receiver out of Akron, Ohio, will soon be graduating as a 16-year-old senior. The 6'0", 184-pound youngster played with the big boys at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, helping the Irish win back-to-back state titles.