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John Cooper. Jim Tressel. Urban Meyer.

During the BCS era, Ohio State has had a trio of outstanding recruiters lead the program. All three brought in talent that elevated the Buckeyes on the field, helping Ohio State win conference and national championships.

Which recruiting class was best?

Of course, ranking the success of a recruiting class isn't a science, but using on-the-field results provides an outstanding measuring stick.

With that in mind, here are Ohio State's five best recruiting classes of the BCS era.

5. 2013

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Stars of the Class: Joey Bosa, Dontre Wilson, Ezekiel Elliott, Vonn Bell

With just one year under its belt, the 2013 recruiting class Urban Meyer brought in looks very impressive.

First-year players lining up as skill-position players typically have the most success early, and that was certainly the case for Dontre Wilson and Ezekiel Elliott.

On a team stacked with talent, Wilson and Elliott combined to run for 512 yards and three touchdowns to complement 233 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Both are primed for much bigger roles in 2014.

Safety Vonn Bell is on the verge of stardom for the Buckeyes. Bell broke out in his first start against Clemson in the Orange Bowl, giving Ohio State fans a glimpse into the future.

No one was better in their first year than Joey Bosa. The talented defensive end forced his way into a starting role midway through the season and rewarded the staff by recording seven-and-a-half sacks, which ranked second on the team.

That effort was good enough to land Bosa on two freshman All American teams, according to Ohio State's official website.

Highly touted players such as linebackers Trey Johnson and Mike Mitchell, defensive backs Eli Apple and Cameron Burrows and quarterback J.T. Barrett could grow into outstanding players.

4. 2008

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Stars of the Class: Terrelle Pryor, Mike Adams, Mike Brewster, DeVier Posey, Jake Stoneburner, Andrew Sweat

Despite the tattoo scandal that eventually cost Tressel his job, the players from the 2008 class responsible were outstanding talents.

Terrelle Pryor was the No. 1 overall prospect in the country, and it didn't take him long to see the field. Pryor was named the starting quarterback over Todd Boeckman, who had led the Buckeyes to a national title game appearance the year before, just four games into his freshman season.

Pryor would go on to accumulate a 30-4 record in his three seasons with the Buckeyes, including two BCS victories, but his final season with Ohio State was vacated due to NCAA violations.

Mike Adams anchored the Buckeyes offensive line at left tackle, and Mike Brewster was solid at center. DeVier Posey was Pryor's favorite target in the passing game, and he finished his career with 1,955 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns.

3. 1999

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Stars of the Class: Mike Doss, Craig Krenzel, Matt Wilhelm, Tim Anderson, Ben Hartsock, Bryce Bishop, Adrien Clarke

A number of key players from Ohio State's national championship team in 2002 came from the 1999 class.

Safety Mike Doss was the most pivotal. 

It's hard to imagine a college player enjoying more success than Doss during his time in Columbus. The hard-hitting, playmaking safety was named a first-team All-American three years in a row, piling up 331 tackles, eight interceptions and eight fumble recoveries with the Buckeyes.

It wasn't just Doss, though. Quarterback Craig Krenzel was just as important to the offense. His calming presence and clutch play led Ohio State through a number of tense games, and without him, it's safe to assume the Buckeyes wouldn't have won it all his junior season.

Key defenders such as Tim Anderson and Matt Wilhelm fueled a potent front seven for the Buckeyes in the early aughts. 

2. 2000

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Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Stars of the Class: Will Smith, Michael Jenkins, Will Allen, Darrion Scott, Robert Reynolds, Alex Stepanovich

The recruiting class of 2000 was just as important to Ohio State's title run as the year before.

The defensive line got a huge boost from Will Smith and Darrion Scott, both of whom were named first-team All-Big Ten players during their careers. 

Will Allen was a key member of a ferocious secondary, Robert Reynolds was a force at linebacker and Alex Stepanovich anchored an aggressive offensive line.

Michael Jenkins was the key addition to the offense.

Jenkins finished his collegiate career as one of the most dominant receivers to wear the scarlet and gray. He was Ohio State's big-play threat and finished his career with 165 receptions, a school-record 2,898 yards and 16 receiving touchdowns.

1. 2002

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Stars of the Class: Troy Smith, Maurice Clarett, A.J. Hawk, Santonio Holmes, Nate Salley, Nick Mangold, Mike Kudla, Quinn Pitcock, Jay Richardson, Doug Datish

Of all the recruiting classes between 1998 and 2013, only the 2002 class produced a Heisman Trophy winner.

That year, many would have assumed that player would be Maurice Clarett. The hard-nosed running back led Ohio State to a national championship, running for 1,237 yards and 16 touchdowns during his freshman year.

Four years later, quarterback Troy Smith was hoisting the most prestigious award in college football.

Smith threw for 5,720 yards and 54 touchdowns (30 of which came during his senior season, a school record) while throwing just 13 career interceptions during his career at Ohio State. He also ran for 1,154 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Overall, the class was ranked No. 2 nationally, and for good reason. All-Americans littered the roster, and players such as A.J. Hawk, Santonio Holmes and Nick Mangold—all of which had brilliant collegiate careers—went on to have a lot of success in the NFL.

 

All recruiting information via 247Sports.comAll stats via Ohio State's official website

David Regimbal is the Ohio State Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. 
Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.

 

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