Ohio State Football Recruiting: What You Need to Know for National Signing Day
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
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.
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.
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 McLaurin: 190-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
A trio of first-year players who enrolled early at Ohio State will have a chance to earn some playing time.
The Buckeyes just lost their best linebacker—Ryan Shazier—to 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.
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.
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
The Hunt for 5-Star Pledges
As one of the best recruiters in the country, Meyer will need to work his magic to gain a commitment from either standout.
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.
Teammates Sticking Together
Five of Ohio State's 21 commitments will be coming from two high schools.
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.