Ohio State came within one game of playing for the national championship last season. Although the Buckeyes fell short and went on to lose the Orange Bowl to Clemson, they are putting together a top-notch recruiting class to bolster an already strong roster.
Head coach Urban Meyer built a reputation of being an elite recruiter throughout his college coaching career. His time with Ohio State certainly hasn't been any different. The Buckeyes had top-five classes in both 2012 and 2013, according to 247Sports.
With that in mind, let's check out how the 2014 class is shaping up. Below is a chart with all the committed recruits along with some of the targets still on Ohio State's radar on national signing day. It's followed by a look at some intriguing prospects heading to Columbus.
|Hard Commit||Damon Webb||CB||4|
|Hard Commit||Marshon Lattimore||CB||4|
|Hard Commit||Dante Booker||OLB||4|
|Hard Commit||Erick Smith||S||4|
|Hard Commit||Jalyn Holmes||DE||4|
|Hard Commit||Demetrius Knox||OG||4|
|Hard Commit||Parris Campbell||WR||4|
|Hard Commit||Kyle Berger||OLB||4|
|Hard Commit||Sam Hubbard||ATH||4|
|Hard Commit||Noah Brown||ATH||4|
|Hard Commit||Terry McLaurin||WR||4|
|Hard Commit||Malik Hooker||ATH||3|
|Hard Commit||Dylan Thompson||DE||3|
|Hard Commit||Brady Taylor||OT||3|
|Hard Commit||Jamarco Jones||OT||4|
|High Choice||Roderick Johnson||OT||4|
247Sports' Composite Rankings
Malik McDowell (DE)
McDowell opted not to attend Ohio State in favor of another school in the Big Ten, per the Detroit Free Press:
Malik McDowell picks Michigan State— Freep Sports (@freepsports) February 5, 2014
Derrick Nnadi (DT)
Nnadi snubbed the Buckeyes for the most dominant team in the ACC, the recruit announced on Feb. 5:
I DECIDED TO SPEND THE NEXT 4-5 YEARS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA STATE #NOLENATION— D_Nnadi (@DerrickNnadi) February 5, 2014
Raekwon McMillan (ILB)
Raekwon McMillan is a prototypical inside linebacker. The Georgia native has solid size (6'2'', 242 lbs.) for an incoming freshman and is a textbook tackler with plenty of power. His natural tools and high school performance was enough to make him to top player at the position in 247Sports' composite rankings.
He made the decision to choose Ohio State back in December. Martin Rickman of Sports Illustrated passed along comments he made during the announcement on the NBC Sports Network, in which he talked about creating a bond with the Buckeye staff:
It was just something special about Ohio State University. Every time I visited the school. Every time I talked to coach [Urban] Meyer on the phone. Every time I talked to coach [Luke] Fickell. Every time we sat down to talk. We just had a special bond.
McMillan is a player who's capable, if called upon, to play on the early downs right away. He's a terrific run-stopper. He'll need to work on his cover skills to become a true three-down option, but he has the size and the athleticism to make that happen once he gains some experience at the collegiate level.
Damon Webb (CB)
Damon Webb has played both cornerback and wide receiver, using speed and ball skills to excel at both positions. He projects as a corner at the college level. He's a reliable tackler when called upon in run support and isn't afraid to get physical at the line.
247Sports' composite rankings slot him inside the top 40 nationally and No. 5 overall as a cornerback. The accolades go beyond the high rating as Jeff Svoboda of Buckeye Sports Bulletin notes he was also named Defensive Back of the Year at the Army Bowl back in January:
And if you missed it last night, Damon Webb was named Army Bowl's national DB of the year #OhioState— Jeff Svoboda (@JeffSvoboda) January 4, 2014
Looking ahead, Webb is like a lot of natural athletes. He's been able to shine using his instincts and base skill set to this point. To reach expectations at the next level, however, the biggest key for him will be learning the finer points of the position. But the talent is there for him to become a star.
Johnnie Dixon (WR)
Johnnie Dixon sports good speed and intriguing playmaking ability. What makes him stand out is his combination of route running and soft hands. He has illustrated an advanced ability to run any pattern—even the tough routes over the middle.
Where would you rank Ohio State's 2014 class?
A lot of young receivers reach this point because they have elite speed, and coaching staffs believe they can develop them into all-around wideouts. Dixon is a step ahead of that group thanks to his route running, which helps explain why he's inside the top 10 at the position in 247Sports' composite rankings.
It will be interesting to see how quickly he gets involved in the offense. Ohio State has substantial depth on both sides of the ball, so any freshman who wants to make an immediate impact will have to earn it. But Dixon is worth looking out for at the very least.