Ohio State football has seen its peaks and valleys over the past two seasons.
Troy Smith winning the Heisman Trophy, the signing of phenom quarterback Terrelle Pryor, and key players returning for another National Championship run in ’08 highlight those peaks.
On the other hand, back-to-back shellackings in successive years for all the marbles provide the low-lights.
This hasn’t deterred prospective recruits from giving Ohio State some serious attention. In fact, it has had quite the opposite effect.
In the 2008 recruitment period, the Buckeyes arguably netted the top recruiting class of the season, and perhaps Jim Tressel’s most talented group during his tenure as head coach.
The 2009 class is bringing much of the same. With a full allotment of 25 scholarships believed to be available, coupled with anticipated early enrollees to count against the ’08 class, the magic number has been pegged at 27, and could possibly be as high as 30.
The Buckeye coaching staff has a method to the madness known as recruiting. Any prospect worth garnering a verbal or written offer from this staff before the season starts is considered a high impact and high priority athlete. The coaches also tend to hold a few schollies for late bloomers and surprise players for later in the process.
This year? Not so much.
Any other year, Ohio State may have, at most, a handful of verbal commitments by this time. Taking a look back to 2003, only one player had committed pre-camp. In ’04 and ’05? A total of five per year. In ’06 and ’07? Only three. In the '08 class? A total of eight.
Fast forward to the '09 class and the morning of June 20, and the Buckeyes already had 17 verbal commitments—and that was BEFORE the Senior Advance Camp held this past weekend.
Let’s take a glance at who’s in the fold already, as it includes some very gifted players:
- Dorian Bell, WLB, Monroeville, PA - Arguably the top linebacker in the nation. Is considered a complete player who has all the tools necessary to play any of the three linebacker positions. A true impact player.
- Jordan Whiting, MLB, Louisville, KY
- Storm Klein, SLB, Newark, OH
- Johnny Simon, DT, Youngstown, OH - Explosive interior lineman who has exceptional strength for his age. May have reached his cap in terms of physical maturation, but has more than enough athleticism to downplay any concerns.
- Adam Bellamy, DT, Aurora, OH
- Melvin Fellows. DE/LB, Garfield Heights, OH - Coveted athlete who de-committed from Illinois. Will most likely be groomed as a Vernon Gholston type, a pass rusher who can drop into coverage.
- Jamie Wood, S, Pickerington, OH
- C.J. Barnett, CB, Clayton, OH
- Dominic Clarke, CB, Frederick, MD
- Jack Mewhort, OT, Toledo, OH
- Corey Linsley, OG, Youngstown, OH
- James Jackson, WR, Grand Ledge, MI - A true burner with the ability to run right by defenders. Fearless for his size as shown by blocking and willingness to go over the middle.
- Chris Fields, WR, Painesville, OH
- Reid Fragel, TE, Grosse Pointe, MI
- Jordan Hall, RB/WR, Jeannette, PA
- Zach Boren, FB, Pickerington, OH
- Adam Homan, FB, Coldwater, OH
As the dust settled from the advanced camp, the Buckeyes made out like bandits. Physical wide receiver out of Florida Duron Carter, son of Buckeye Legend and surefire Hall-of-Famer Cris Carter, followed in his father’s footsteps and became commitment No. 18.
While he isn’t the flashiest wideout, a phrase once coined for his father best describes Duron: “All he does is catch touchdowns."
Fellow Floridian Carlos Hyde also pulled the trigger, giving the Bucks a running back in the mold of current player Chris “Beanie” Wells. That is quite a lofty comparison, and if Carlos can convey half of what Beanie brings to the table, smiles will abound in Columbus.
Verbal No. 20 came somewhat out of left field, as versatile Kentucky athlete Justin Green, younger brother of former Ohio State player Marcus Green, shocked the Buckeye faithful and threw his hat into the ring.
Green had said he wanted to take his time with the process and would not let Ohio State’s crowding class speed up his decision. But speed is Justin’s game, as he proved by pulling a fast one.
Defensive back Corey Brown held a press conference today to become commit No. 21. Corey hails from Pennsylvania and joined high school teammate Dorian Bell as a future Buckeye. He adds to the glut of DBs in the ’09 class, but also brings the versatility to play on offense as well.
Rumors are also swirling that Bradley McDougald, an athlete out of Ohio, has decided on Ohio State as well. McDougald had many people talking with his performance at camp and may be one of those proverbial “diamonds in the rough” that Ohio State has had so much success with in the past.
That's five verbals within a four-day span. Jim Tressel and Co. are making it evident that they are approaching this year with a different game plan. They want this class filled as quickly as possible as to focus on the upcoming season with minimal distractions.
All I know is that room is running out. Any recruit that wants in better not blink, because this train will roll right on through. This sort of success for recruiting is unprecedented in Ohio State history, and added to the 2008 class, it seems as if the Buckeyes will be near the top of the college game for many years to come.