Ohio State Football: Ranking Buckeyes' Top 5 Recruiting Targets for 2017
When national signing day is in the books for the 2017 recruiting cycle, the Ohio State Buckeyes could have as many as six 5-star recruits in the fold.
The Buckeyes currently have a stranglehold on the nation's No. 1 recruiting class, leading the country with two 5-star and nine 4-star prospects for their '17 class. But with the high-level targets still left on the board, Ohio State's grasp on the top spot could be unbreakable when it's all said and done.
With the class filling up quickly, Urban Meyer and Co. will need to be selective with their remaining scholarships. These five players are pivotal not only because of their high ranking and ratings, but because they'll fill positions of need, keep chief rivals from getting stronger and open up huge pipelines to talent-rich high schools across the country.
No. 5: Lamont Wade
The Buckeyes have absolutely loaded up on cornerbacks over the last few recruiting cycles, and they're well on their way to doing that again in 2017 with verbal pledges from 5-star Shaun Wade and 4-star Marcus Williamson.
Meyer is trying to round the group out with a commitment from 4-star Lamont Wade.
The 5'9", 185-pound standout from Clairton, Pennsylvania, is rated the No. 5 cornerback and the No. 37 prospect nationally for 2017. He holds major offers from programs such as Auburn, Michigan, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Penn State, but Ohio State is the clear-cut leader, according to 247Sports' "crystal ball" predictions.
Landing his commitment would solidify its depth for years at cornerback, and it would take one of Pennsylvania's top recruits away from James Franklin and Penn State.
No. 4: Joshua Kaindoh
Much like the cornerback position, Ohio State has stocked up on defensive ends over the last few recruiting cycles, headlined by 2016 5-star defensive end Nick Bosa.
This year, Ohio State is prioritizing another 5-star standout in Joshua Kaindoh.
Kaindoh is a 6'6", 256-pound nightmare coming off the weak side of the line. Hailing from Bradenton, Florida, Kaindoh has offers from a host of SEC and ACC schools, but he's recently expressed an interest to explore northern schools, including Ohio State.
“[I want to get to] schools up north in the Big Ten, schools like Ohio State, Notre Dame, Penn State, Maryland and Michigan,” Kaindoh said, according to Bleacher Report's Sanjay Kirpalani.
According to 247Sports, Ohio State is the leader in Kaindoh's recruitment with a 50 percent chance to land his commitment over Florida State and Penn State. His pledge would be huge, because his high school—IMG Academy—is annually the single greatest source of recruiting power in the country.
No. 3: Jeffrey Okudah
Ohio State has an enormous need at safety, and they're closing in on the best prospect in the country in Jeffrey Okudah.
Rated a 5-star recruit from Grand Prairie, Texas, Okudah is the class's No. 1 safety and the No. 8 recruit overall. His offer sheet includes major players in college football such as Alabama, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Miami, Notre Dame and a host of others, in addition to top in-state schools Baylor, TCU, Texas and Texas A&M.
But Ohio State is surging to the front in the race for his commitment, according to 247Sports, leading the way over Baylor and Texas. Adding Okudah would not only continue Ohio State's great success in the state of Texas (Dontre Wilson, J.T. Barrett, Demetrius Knox), but it would give the Buckeyes an instant-impact player at a position of need.
Ohio State is short on safeties this spring with the early departures of Vonn Bell and Tyvis Powell to the NFL. With lingering injuries to Cam Burrows and Erick Smith, the Buckeyes have two safeties who are full speed in spring practice.
Okudah's commitment would provide instant depth the moment he arrived in Columbus.
No. 2: Donovan Peoples-Jones
With Meyer at the helm, Ohio State has taken pride in robbing Michigan of its top talent.
It started in 2013, when the Buckeyes snatched 4-star cornerback Damon Webb from the Wolverines. A year later, they stole 4-star running back Michael Weber and 3-star defensive end Joshua Alabi from the Mitten State.
This year, they're trying to do the same with Michigan's top prospect—Donovan Peoples-Jones.
The 5-star stud is rated the No. 1 wide receiver and the No. 6 recruit overall, and he has 23 offers from high-level programs. Michigan and Michigan State are two huge contenders for his commitment, but Ohio State has an even chance to land the talented pass-catcher, per 247Sports.
Getting a commitment from Peoples-Jones wouldn't just bolster the Buckeyes roster, it would also put another major crack in Michigan's top in-state pipeline.
No. 1: Trevon Grimes
Trevon Grimes is a 5-star wide receiver just like Peoples-Jones, and while he's rated No. 2 at his position, his commitment would be a bigger coup for the Buckeyes.
Grimes and Peoples-Jones are separated by five spots in the overall 2017 recruiting rankings, but Grimes hails from Florida powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas—the high school that produced standouts Joey Bosa and Nick Bosa.
Ohio State has made the high school located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a recruiting priority, similar to the Cleveland Glenville pipeline that the Buckeyes utilize on a yearly basis. St. Thomas Aquinas churns out blue-chip recruits with regularity, which is why Ohio State wants to maintain a strong presence there.
That presence is coming up strong in Grimes' recruitment, as the Buckeyes currently have a 91 percent chance of landing his commitment, per 247Sports, with Florida a distant second.
If the Buckeyes somehow manage to sign both Grimes and Peoples-Jones, they'd have one of the most devastating one-two punches on the perimeter in college football for years to come.
All recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports.