Ohio State Football Recruiting: Top Players Buckeyes Must Land

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistFebruary 4, 2014

Jan 3, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer reacts during the first half in the 2014 Orange Bowl college football game against the Clemson Tigers at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports
Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

For the most part, Ohio State's work in this year's recruiting is over. According to 247Sports.com, the Buckeyes have 22 players committed to join the program next season and currently boast the No. 2 class overall behind only Alabama.

That class includes 5-star linebacker Raekwon McMillan and 4-star additions like athlete Curtis Samuel, cornerbacks Damon Webb and Marshon Lattimore, and linebacker Dante Booker. The Buckeyes have done well.

There is always more work to be done, though, and Ohio State is no exception in that regard.

The biggest name still on Ohio State's radar is 5-star (composite rankings) defensive end Malik McDowell. Chris Johnson of SI.com provides the skinny on the highly regarded recruit:

After visiting Michigan State and Florida State last month, McDowell made his final official visit to Ohio State over the weekend. Michigan is the other program in McDowell’s top four, and although he didn’t make an official visit, he has been to Ann Arbor, unofficially, numerous times. McDowell had 89 tackles and seven sacks as a senior, and scouts love his initial burst off the line of scrimmage. Opinions are mixed as to which school is the favorite to earn his signature.

The Buckeyes haven't added big numbers at defensive end in this recruiting class, so adding a gem like McDowell would be huge. The uncertainty around him has probably left folks in Columbus with frayed nerves, but Ohio State has been known to pull out a surprise or two on national signing day.

Plus, signing McDowell ensures that he doesn't end up with Michigan or Michigan State. Snagging a key player and keeping him away from two rivals would be a double win.

However, will they be able to hold on to one of their own? According to JC Shurburtt of 247 Sports (for CBSSports.com), Michigan State is making a major push to steal offensive tackle Jamarco Jones from the Buckeyes.

Much like gaining McDowell would stick it to a Big Ten rival, losing Jones would hurtespecially to the team that kept Ohio State out of the BCS National Championship Game this season. Michigan State has a lot of recruiting momentum right now and watching Jones switch his commitment would really sting.

Those are the two players Ohio State has been regularly linked to leading up to national signing day, but again, the Buckeyes can surprise folks. They made offers to defensive end Solomon Thomas, safety Steven Parker and defensive tackle Travonte Valentine—all top targets still available—and could yet surprise folks by signing one of them.

It seems unlikely, but you never know.

For now, however, landing McDowell and keeping Jones are huge priorities. Ohio State isn't going to catch Alabama's top-rated recruiting class, but it should remain the class of Big Ten recruiting by a long shot if it brings those two on board.


Unless otherwise noted, recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.com.

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