Last year, I wrote an article on Ohio State's senior class that was signed in February 2005. In a similar vein, I am writing on the twenty players Ohio State signed in February 2006.
The twenty players signed by Ohio State in February 2006 were ranked by both scout.com and rivals.com behind Penn State within The Big Ten. USC was graded as having the top recruiting class in the nation by both services.
Comparable to the class signed in 2005 by Ohio State, Head Coach Jim Tressel and his staff redshirted nine players from the 2006 recruiting class during the 2006 season. As you will see below, the number of players who have two years of eligibility remaining allows this recruiting class' legacy to be determined by their collective play on the field for the next two seasons.
Jake Ballard: Underutilized as a receiving TE, Ballard earned playing time in 2006 and could possibly be a captain for Ohio State this season.
Bryant Browning: Redshirted in 2006, Browning has two years of eligibility remaining. Browning will move from ORT to ORG, with Jim Cordle moving to ORT. Browning's strength is run-blocking, and the move to an interior position will help him and the team.
Chimdi Chekwa: A late addition to the recruiting class as a sleeper prospect out of Florida, Chekwa has played primarily as a nickel defensive back the last few seasons. Chekwa has outstanding speed and has two years of eligibility remaining, as Chekwa was redshirted in 2006.
Kurt Coleman: Coleman earned playing time as a true freshman in 2006 and could be a captain for Ohio State at the safety position this season. Coleman thought of entering the NFL Draft last season, but decided to return to Ohio State for his senior season.
Thaddeus Gibson: Gibson was redshirted in 2006 and has two years of eligibility remaining. Recruited as a LB, Gibson has been moved to DE and is possibly Ohio State's best pass rusher on the roster. If Gibson has a strong season, he may declare for the NFL Draft after the season.
Larry Grant: A JUCO player out of CC San Francisco, Grant was originally going to Florida but was denied admission. Grant started for Ohio State in 2006 and 2007, was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the seventh round of the 2008 NFL Draft, and is currently a member of the St. Louis Rams.
Ross Homan: While Homan earned playing time in 2006, Homan suffered injuries early in the 2007 season and was redshirted. With two years of eligibility remaining, Homan should be starting this season as the Will linebacker this season.
Dexter Larimore: Larimore redshirted in 2006 and has two years of eligibility remaining. Larimore is part of a continual rotation along the interior defensive line with Doug Worthington and Todd Denlinger.
Chris Wells: The star of the recruiting class, Chris Wells earned considerable playing time in 2006. Wells battled injuries in 2007 and 2008, and declared for the NFL Draft after last season. Wells was selected by the Arizona Cardinals in the 1st round of the 2009 NFL Draft.
Aaron Gant: Gant earned playing time on special teams in 2006. While Gant is a backup free safety, Gant's primary contributions come on special teams play.
Andy Miller: Redshirted in 2006 and recruited as a TE, Miller was moved to OT in 2007. Miller is battling Mike Adams for the starting OLT position and should see considerable action the next two seasons. It is entirely possible Miller could be moved up to the starter category this season.
Tyler Moeller: Moeller redshirted in 2006 and was scheduled to be a starter at one of the OLB positions this season until he was injured while on a family vacation. Moeller will miss the entire 2009 season due to his injury, but Ohio State will petition the NCAA for an additional year of eligibility. Moeller should be able to return to playing for Ohio State for the 2010 season.
Robert Rose: Rose earned playing time as a true freshman in 2006. Rose suffered through injuries to both shoulders in 2007, and had playing time as a rotational defensive lineman in 2008. Rose recently was cleared for the 2009 season after well-publicized academic issues had him initially suspended for fall camp. It will be interesting to see how Rose plays during his final season at Ohio State.
Grant Schwartz: Schwartz redshirted in 2006 and has two years of eligibility remaining. Schwartz was a quarterback in high school, was recruited as a defensive back, and moved to wide receiver during the 2007 season. Schwartz's primary contributions have come through special teams play.
Ray Small: Small played as a true freshman in 2006. To say that Small's career has been star-crossed would be an understatement. Small may have an opportunity to contribute as a punt or kickoff returner for Ohio State this season, but his academic troubles have continually tested the patience of the Ohio State coaching staff. Like his high school teammate Robert Rose, it will be interesting to see how Small concludes his career at Ohio State this season.
Connor Smith: Connor Smith was redshirted in 2006 and has two years of eligibility remaining. Smith is on the two-deep at guard but may not earn substantial playing time with the emergence of other players on the offensive line.
Walter Dublin: Dublin redshirted in 2006 but had some grade issues that contributed to his departure from Ohio State. Dublin spent some time playing in the AFL and also signed to play in the CFL.
Antonio Henton: Henton was redshirted in 2006 and was widely considered to be the quarterback of the future for Ohio State. A well-publicized arrest in 2007 for solicitation began a downward spiral for Henton that eventually led to a transfer last summer to Div 1AA Georgia Southern. Henton has since left Georgia Southern. I seem to recall someone saying it was in Henton's best interests to stick it out at Ohio State last summer.
Mark Johnson: Johnson redshirted in 2006 and played sparingly in 2007. Moved to DE during the 2008 season, Johnson left Ohio State and transferred to the University of Findlay last year. I do not believe Johnson is still on Findlay's roster for this upcoming season.
Aram Olson: A fullback out of South Carolina recruited to block for Chris Wells, Olson had to give up football due to injuries. Olson redshirted in 2006 and never was able to play for Ohio State due to injuries that ended his football career.
CONCLUSION: Out of 20 players, Coach Tressel and his staff signed nine starters, seven contributors, and only four players who are neither playing or contributing. To have 16 of 20 signees playing or contributing, a 80 percent success rate, is a tribute to Coach Tressel and his staff's talent evaluation and talent development. Keep in mind—several of these players will be playing for Ohio State in not only 2009, but also in 2010.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!