Ohio State Buckeyes: A Look at Past Recruiting Classes Since 2002

Matt BarkerContributor IFebruary 5, 2010

PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 20:  Santonio Holmes #10 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs with the ball against the Green Bay Packers during the game on December 20, 2009 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

First of all, I want to start out by saying that I really don’t get into recruiting that much.

I know.  I am sure that breaks some sort of commandment since I am a blogger.  I do not subscribe to premium Buckeye websites, nor do I gossip around the water cooler wondering if “Player A” is going to commit to Ohio State or if “Player B,” who already verballed, is going to make a huge impact right away.

I am quite surprised, however, about some of the comments made in reference to Ohio State’s 2010 recruiting class.

If you browsed through the Buckeye message boards over the last few days, you would have read things questioning head coach Jim Tressel's style of recruiting compared to many other coaches that were not nearly as “soft.”

I'm not sure why there’s such “doom and gloom.”  There are still two recruits out there that have yet to sign and, even though I don’t expect them to sign with Ohio State, they still have the Buckeyes on their short list.

With that being said, I still think that the 2010 class is solid, if not spectacular.

I realize there are a lot of message board jockeys who have nothing better to do than post whatever ridiculous thoughts they have in their tiny head, and that they make up a small percentage of the general consensus among Buckeye Nation.  But, as Chicken Little once said, “the sky is falling!”  That’s how most of these so called fans feel.

As I said earlier, I am not a fan of the whole recruiting process. It’s far from an exact science. There are some kids that get so hyped-up during their high school years that you think their enshrinement in Canton is imminent.

Of course, they start out as big fish in a little pond.  Once they hit a college campus, however, they find that life is not easy and their careers don’t pan out as they had hoped. Then you have kids who get very little attention on the recruiting front and, yet, they become All-Americans.

With that being said, I want kids to come to Ohio State because they want to be Buckeyes and want to play for National and Big Ten championships.  I want kids who enjoy singing “Carmen Ohio” after every victory.  I want kids who want to come to Columbus to do their work, both on and off the field.

There have been some very good recruiting classes under Tressel’s tenure. Then there have been other years when things have not gone according to plan. Sure, there were several five-star linemen who decided to go elsewhere for 2010 and that’s fine, but life goes on.

Tressel was hired in January of 2001 and had just weeks to pull together that year’s recruiting class. It was rather small with just 15 signees.

While most of the credit belongs to the prior regime, here are some of the impact players Tressel got to sign on the dotted line: DB Dustin Fox, DE Simon Fraser, WR Chris Gamble, RB Maurice Hall, TE Ryan Hamby, K Mike Nugent, RB Lydell Ross, FB Brandon Schnittker and WR Chris Vance. This class was rated in the top 20, nationally.

With Tressel’s first full season and year under his belt, he reeled in a great class that was ranked No. 5 by Rivals.com .  Recruits included: LB Bobby Carpenter, RB Maurice Clarett, OL Doug Datish, OL T.J. Downing, DB Tyler Everett, WR Roy Hall, LB A.J. Hawk, WR Santonio Holmes, DE Mike Kudla, OL Nick Mangold, DT Quinn Pitcock, DE Jay Richardson, DB Nate Salley, OL Rob Sims, and QB Troy Smith.

Interestingly, Smith was ranked a four-star quarterback/athlete by Rivals and eventually won the Heisman Trophy, while A.J. Hawk and Santonio Holmes garnered just three stars. This class saw 12 players drafted into the NFL—Carpenter, Hawk, Holmes, and Mangold were first-round picks.

In 2003, Ohio State dropped down to No. 41 nationally according to Rivals , though it was a rather small class with just 16 signees. Among those were: OL Kirk Barton, WR Anthony Gonzalez, S Donte Whitner, and CB Ashton Youboty.

Gonzalez, Whitner, and Youboty were all tagged with four stars.  The one thing you can’t teach, however, is speed.  All three ran 40 times in 4.45 or under, and they were all eventually selected in the first round of the NFL draft.

In 2004, Ohio State hauled in 24 recruits, the second-largest class so far during the Tressel era.  The class ranked ninth nationally and included DT Nader Abdallah, DE Alex Barrow, QB Todd Boeckman, LB Marcus Freeman, DE Vernon Gholston, WR Ted Ginn, TE Rory Nicol, RB Antonio Pittman, OL Steve Rehring, and P A.J. Trapasso.

The only five-star recruit in that class was Ted Ginn, though four-star recruits Antonio Pittman, Vernon Gholston and Marcus Freeman had mighty fine careers donning scarlet and gray. Ginn and Gholston were first round picks in the NFL draft.

The most surprising class during Tressel’s tenure just might the one from 2005, which was ranked 12th in the nation according to Rivals .   The 18 commitments from that class featured OL Alex Boone, OL Jim Cordle, DT Todd Denlinger, WR Brian Hartline, CB Malcolm Jenkins, LB James Laurinaitis, WR Brian Robiskie, and DL Doug Worthington.

Boone was tagged with five stars, while Hartline, Robiskie, Jenkins, and Laurinatis had three-star rankings. All five are currently in the NFL, and one is playing in the Super Bowl this Sunday.

The 2006 class, also ranked No. 12, had 20 signees which included TE Jake Ballard, OL Bryant Browning, CB Chimdi Chekwa, DB Kurt Coleman, LB Thaddeus Gibson, LB Larry Grant, LB Ross Homan, DT Dexter Larimore, LB Tyler Moeller, DE Robert Rose, WR Ray Small, and RB Chris Wells.

Of those above, nine became starters. Rose and Wells were the only five-star recruits. Wells was the top-rated player in the state of Ohio, as well as being the third-best prospect in the country.

Slipping to No. 15 in the nation for 2007, Ohio State hauled in just 15 recruits that featured several players who played significant roles in 2009.  They included RB Dan Herron, DT Cameron Heyward, DB Jermale Hines, LB Brian Rolle, RB Brandon Saine, WR Dane Sanzenbacher, and DB Devon Torrence.

All of the players above received a four-star ranking except for Sanzenbacher, who garnered three stars.

Arguably the best class put together by Tressel since taking over as head coach came in 2008 and was ranked fourth nationally.  Those 20 signees included OL Mike Adams, OL Michael Brewster, P/PK Ben Buchanan, TE Nic DiLillo, S Zach Domicone, DT Garrett Goebel, CB Travis Howard, DB Orhian Johnson, RB Jermil Martin, DE Willie Mobley, WR DeVier Posey, QB Terrelle Pryor, DT Shawntel Rowell, LB Etienne Sabino, WR Jake Stoneburner, LB Andrew Sweat, WR Lamaar Thomas, DE Keith Wells, and DE Nathan Williams.

Six of the above players were either starters or played significantly in 2009. The others will have the chance to be in the starting lineup in 2010.  Two players, though, have transferred out.

The class of 2009 was the largest ever put together by Tressel. It was also the highest ranked, coming in third in the nation, but it’s still too early to tell how these players will pan out.

Out of the 25 that signed, this group featured: DB C.J. Barnett, LB Dorian Bell, DT Adam Bellamy, RB Jaamal Berry, FB Zach Boren, DB/WR Corey Brown, WR Duron Carter, DB Dominic Clarke, DE Melvin Fellows, WR Chris Fields, TE Reid Fragel, QB Kenny Guiton, RB Jordan Hall, OL Marcus Hall, FB Adam Homan, WR James Jackson, LB Storm Klein, OL Corey Linsley, OL Sam Longo, OL Jack Mewhort, DE Jonathan Newsome, DT John Simon, LB Jordan Whiting, and DB Jamie Wood.

Several saw action in 2009 (Boren, Hall, Carter, Hall, and Simon), while others saw some action on special teams or were redshirted.

So regardless of how you think Tressel fared in recruiting for 2010, it’s all about coaching once these kids are on campus. Some of these three-star recruits just may end up being named MVP in a future Super Bowl, too.