The 5 Recruits That Will Make or Break Ohio State's National Signing Day
The Ohio State Buckeyes are closing in on yet another spectacular recruiting class.
As of the date of this publication (Jan. 25), Ohio State is currently sitting at No. 2 overall, via 247Sports team rankings. The school is listed as having 22 total commitments, including one 5-star and 15 4-star prospects.
If the Buckeyes can remain in the top five, it will be their fourth straight class ranked No. 6 or better.
But with national signing day (Feb. 5) quickly approaching, there’s still time for Ohio State to rise or fall.
Here are five recruits that could make or break the team’s Class of 2014.
ATH, TE David Njoku
247Sports’ Composite: 3-star (84.78)
Location: Cedar Grove, N.J. (Cedar Grove)
Status: Crystal Ball (90%)
It’s been another disappointing offseason for talented freshman tight end Marcus Baugh.
The latest incident came earlier in the week when the former 4-star Class of 2013 prospect was suspended indefinitely after being arrested for an underage consumption charge, per Elevenwarriors.com’s Kyle Rowland. It’s Baugh’s second such run-in with the law in less than a year.
Although the Buckeyes have two other tight ends on the roster—senior Jeff Heuerman and junior-to-be Nick Vannett—the team will look to bring on a younger player at the position.
That just so happens to be David Njoku, who Ohio State recently made an offer to, via Scout’s Derek Young.
Njoku won’t be expected to make a push for any immediate playing time. However, he certainly has the potential and is being viewed as a project.
It would be a nice grab, depthwise, if the Buckeyes can pull him in.
OT Roderick Johnson
247Sports’ Composite: 4-star (94.15)
Location: Florissant, Mo. (Hazelwood Central)
Status: Crystal Ball (0%)
It came as a shock when offensive lineman Roderick Johnson made an official visit to Columbus on Jan. 17.
Before last weekend, it was almost a guarantee that the 4-star prospect would wind up with Florida State. However, the allure of early playing time has made Johnson rethink.
With openings on its offensive line, Ohio State has really been chasing players to fill that position.
Johnson has yet to state who his front-runners are or who the favorite might be. It’s expected he waits till signing day to make an announcement.
Bringing in Johnson would go along way in the team’s quest to fill the void on the line.
DT Derrick Nnadi
247Sports’ Composite: 4-star (95.14)
Location: Virginia Beach, Va. (Ocean Lakes)
Status: Crystal Ball (0%)
The Buckeyes would love to add another defensive lineman. Earlier last week, the team hosted one of its coveted targets: 4-star defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi.
Ohio State became just the third school the 6’1”, 305-pounder has visited thus far. He also made official visits to Penn State and Florida State.
An advantage the Buckeyes have is that recently hired defensive line coach Larry Johnson spent the most time recruiting Nnadi when he was speaking with the Nittany Lions.
Although there is hope that the team can somehow reel him in, Nnadi is highly expected to stay in-state and play at Virginia Tech. He’s set to visit the school over the weekend.
It’s a long shot, but as we’ve learned before, never say never.
OG Demetrius Knox
247Sports’ Composite: 4-star (95.18)
Location: Fort Worth, Texas (All Saints Episcopal)
Status: Committed (Ohio State)
With four starters departing from the offensive line, this is a position of desperate need for the Buckeyes.
Thus far, the team has three commits and two enrolled from the position. However, one of those commits—Demetrius Knox—could be in danger of flipping.
The 6’4”, 294-pounder originally committed to Ohio State last July. But he’s started looking around lately, with an official visit to UCLA planned on Jan. 31, via ESPN Big Ten reporter Tom VanHaaren.
Losing Knox would certainly be a huge blow for the Buckeyes, as he is currently the school’s highest-rated offensive lineman.
Still, with four other high quality recruits at the position, head coach Urban Meyer and the coaching staff will be able to manage.
SDE Malik McDowell
247Sports’ Composite: 5-star (98.43)
Location: Detroit, Mich. (Southfield)
Status: Crystal Ball (4%)
The Buckeyes are looking to add another defensive lineman to this class. The team currently only has two commits at the position.
Newly hired defensive line coach Larry Johnson hasn’t wasted any time in that process. He reportedly made a trip to Detroit where he checked in with Malik McDowell, via Scout.com (subscription required).
The 5-star prospect recently visited Michigan State on Friday. The school currently holds a 61 percent chance of snagging McDowell according to 247Sports’ crystal ball.
Johnson’s reputation should aid Ohio State’s chances of stealing McDowell’s commitment from under its Big Ten rival's nose.
It would certainly be a major boost that could have ripple effects across the recruiting landscape.
All stats and rankings used in this article are courtesy of CFBstats.com unless otherwise noted.