Ohio State Football: 2011 Recruiting Class Overview

David ThurmanCorrespondent IFebruary 9, 2011

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 04:  Head coach Jim Tressel of the Ohio State Buckeyes looks on against the Arkansas Razorbacks during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Louisiana Superdome on January 4, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
Dave and Drew Thurman (8:38 pm)

It's a tradition here at The Silver Bullet for us to break down all the players in the incoming class and give you our two cents. We are a few days late getting it out, but hey, it's better late than never. Enjoy...

Michael Bennett (DT, Centerville HS)

Dave: This talented big guy has me very excited because OSU has had trouble getting elite defensive linemen in recent years.  Bennett actually played more on the o-line in high school and is very good there but the Bucks are counting on him to be a devastating defensive tackle.  He is explosive and has quick feet, and I look for Michael to earn playing time right away.  Has star written all over him!

Drew: Bennett has tons of accolades coming in. Not only was he one of the top rated defensive lineman by all the national recruiting services, but was a Division I All-Ohio and USA Today All-USA team selection. That's not even to mention his presence in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. I think all of that speaks for itself. All I will add is that I think he is a superstar in the making, and may even see the field very early in career.

Brian Bobek (OL, Inverness, IL William Fremd HS)

Dave: Another player that is pretty much guaranteed to be in the two deep from day one due to lack of depth.  However, that is no slam on Bobek, he is an excellent lineman, who is slotted to take over center when Michael Brewster leaves, but is talented enough to slide down the line to other spots if needed.

Drew: Bobek was a huge get in the class, and honestly, the only offensive lineman that doesn't appear to be a long-term project. Like Bennett, Bobek also played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, while also being named a Parade All-American. The guy is a very solid prospect, and his video shows you why he is one of the best centers in the country. He has very quick hands, which is crucial at the center position, while also showcasing quick feet and great lower body strength.

Tommy Brown (OL, Firestone HS)

Dave: There is nothing wrong with bringing in a big kid each class who is a project, and I think Brown qualifies.  He is smart and works hard, and you can't teach size, so I have hopes that Tommy will be able to contribute down the road, but it may be later rather than sooner.  He is the only player in this class recruited to play tackle so the coaches need him to develop.

Drew: Brown is the only offensive lineman in this class who projects to the tackle spot at the next level. At 6-5 320 pounds, the guy has incredible size, and of course, power. He has work to do in terms of technique and footwork, but Brown definitely has lots of potential. The nice thing is that he is enrolling in the spring quarter at Ohio State, which could put him ahead of the curve.
Chris Carter (OL, John Kennedy HS) 

Dave: You know this kid better have thick skin because he is going to hear it from opposing fans, whether fair or not.  He is another big body to throw out there on the line, probably at guard, and supposedly has a nasty streak which you like to hear.  Like Brown, though, I think he is a project who will not see the field for a couple of years.

Drew: As you've already mentioned, he's a big body that has a ton of work ahead of him. I don't think he is just some fat lineman with no potential though. Carter is extremely physical and moves really well for a guy his size. While I obviously don't think he sees the field for a few years, don't give up on this kid, Buckeye fans.

Jeremy Cash (S, Plantation, FL Plantation HS)

Dave: You always love getting athletes out of Florida and it is a double bonus that he plays safety, a position in which Ohio State has struggled recently to get top players.  Cash has nice size, good speed, and loves to hit, so I would expect him to contend for special teams duty this year and develop into a solid safety in the future.   

Drew: Cash has me excited because he embodies the two qualities that every Buckeye safety should have, intelligence and hitting ability. He is also enrolling early, which always seems to have a positive outcome for players. While the recruiting services haven't quite shown him the respect I think they should have, his offer list alone shows that the kid can flat play. I think he's a future star for Ohio State.

Conner Crowell (LB, North Point HS, Waldorf, MD)

Dave: Conner was kind of lost in the shuffle after the Buckeyes bagged Shazier, Price and Grant, but he was a huge get at the time of his verbal since because the need at linebacker was glaring.  And he isn't exactly chopped liver, either.  Crowell goes about 220 pounds, has decent speed, and attacks the ball sideline to sideline.  Probably will have to bide his time but I look for him to have a nice career in Columbus.

Drew: I still don't understand how this kid isn't a top 150 player by the recruiting services; he does it all. He's been a four year varsity starter, is very intelligent, and has some sick combine results. If he recovers from his broken ankle successfully, Crowell has a very bright future ahead of him in Columbus.

Chase Farris (DT/DE, Elyria HS)

Dave: If you are looking for a guy who could fly under the radar straight onto the field this year, Farris wouldn't be a bad choice.  Although he may need to fill out a little bit, Chase could eventually play end or tackle on defense, and features nice quickness for someone 6'6".  Like Bennett, there is a chance he could be forced to move to offense if there are multiple injuries, but his future is definitely in attacking quarterbacks and ball carriers. 

Drew: This guy is out of the same mold as Cameron Heyward, a guy that could play both inside and out on the defensive line. He's easy to forget about with guys like Bennett and Miller in this class, but Farris is a big time player. He was the defensive MVP of the Offense-Defense Bowl, and continues to receive great reviews from all who watch him play. Personally, I can't wait to see this kid in scarlet and gray.

DerJuan Gambrell (CB, Rogers HS)

Dave: I love tall corners, which is why I'm excited about Gambrell, who stands 6'2".  Although not a finished product, his speed and rangy frame are promising, and I look for DerJuan to throw his hat into the corner mix in a year or two.  Considering the lack of depth at the position, he was a nice early verbal last March. 

Drew: With Doran Grant in this class it will be easy to overlook Gambrell, but don't. He's fast, has great height, and has all the intangibles to be a big time corner. In fact, Bill Kurelic has said he may just be the "dark horse" in this class, which is enough for me.

Curtis Grant (LB, Richmond, VA Hermitage HS)

Dave: Good things do sometimes come to those who wait, as Curtis pledged to OSU on signing day.  He is a big, strong, athletic linebacker who knows how to shed blocks and get to the ball carrier.  Could play in the middle or on the outside, and might be the most physically talented linebacker in scarlet and gray since Andy Katzenmoyer.  

Drew: Some experts are saying this is the best linebacker recruit in Tressel's tenure, and it is hard to argue. He was a Parade All-America and on the USA Today All-USA team. He also was the leading tackler for the East in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Grant has phenomenal speed and closes on guys in the open field. He also has great instincts and intelligence, and seems to have a nose for the football. Like Sabino, it's hard to guess whether the staff will want to play him inside or out, but the guy has all the tools to play either.

Doran Grant (DB, St. Vincent - St. Mary HS)

Dave: Count me as ecstatic that the coaching staff was able to wrestle Grant away from Michigan State.  He is an athletic corner who has excellent coverage skills  Looking at his tape, he appears to easily be the fastest kid in this class, and should compete for playing time right away, although he may need to get more physical.  

Drew: Grant is another guy in this class with tons of accolades, including playing in the Under Armour All-American Game. His speed and athleticism help make him a true cover corner, something that is very hard to find. He also demonstrates the ability to turn on a dime, and is very elusive in the open field with the ball in his hands. He very well could be a return man besides playing in the defensive backfield for OSU.

Joel Hale (DT, Center Gove HS Greenwood, IN)

Dave: How often do you get an eighteen-year-old who weighs 300 pounds, but is agile enough that the coaching staff is talking about him playing some at end?  Hale may not be as well known as some of the other defensive lineman in this class, but he strikes me as a guy who will quietly have a very nice career.

Drew: Like Farris, Hale is athletic and very versatile, and has the ability to play defensive tackle or defensive end at the next level. He's got great size, is physical, and never gives up on a play. From all accounts he has a great work ethic, which always seems to bring about success under Tressel. He also enrolled in this spring semester, which means he will get a head start.

Kenny Hayes (DE, Whitmer HS)

Dave: The first player to verbal in the 2011 class, Hayes has the ideal size and quickness you look for in an end, and is a solid pass-rusher.  His high school stats don't blow you away, but I believe this is a guy who gets coached up and becomes an excellent lineman after a couple of years in Columbus.

Drew: Hayes is a player whose potential excites me. The guy is very physical, which combined with his speed could make him a great strong side defensive end. His speed doesn't really stand out on film, but his strength to overpower opposing offensive lineman, and ability to help in run support does. I also love the way he covers ground quickly.

Bryce Haynes (LS, Cumming, GA Pinecrest Academy)

Dave: Long snappers don't get offered scholarships out of high school—they have to earn them.  That is until Haynes came along and sent his video to the coaches who could not believe his accuracy and quickness in snapping the ball.  I will be surprised if he ever sits the bench, although it would behoove him to add some weight and muscle.  

Drew: There isn't a ton to say about long snappers except the fact that they're majorly important. Special teams is vital to Tressel and Haynes comes at a position of need. Hopefully we never hear his named called besides senior day.

Jeff Heuerman (TE, Naples, FL Barron Collier HS)

Dave: Just the ideal tight end for Tressel's Buckeyes, as Heuerman is 6'5", 240 pounds, with the frame to add another 20 pounds easily, and he comes from a run-oriented high school system.  He kind of reminds me of a little shorter version of Jake Ballard, and I would be happy to see him have a similar career.  

Drew: Straight out of the Jake Ballard mold, Heuerman is both skilled as a blocker and as receiver. Obviously to see the field as a TE at Ohio State you need to be able to block, but let's hope the staff continues to throw their way like in 2010. He has very nice hands, and while not a burner like Stoneburner, he is a playmaker.

Cardale Jones (QB, Glenville HS)

Dave: I think every Buckeye fan felt sick when it looked like the coaches would pass on this guy.  For one thing, he is talented enough to become a star at OSU, and besides, it was a nightmare to think he might go to another Big Ten school and come back to haunt us.  While he has some academic work to take care of before enrolling, I believe Jones is the steal of the class with size, speed and a cannon for an arm.  It would not shock me if he winds up more succesful than Braxton Miller.  

Drew: I think it was huge for the staff to find a way to fit him into this class. Jones is a winner, he's a playmaker, and has some freakish athletic ability and size, not to mention that he comes from Glenville. He showcased his skills nicely at the Offense-Defense Bowl, where he was the MVP of the game, after throwing two TD's. The future at QB looks nice.

Braxton Miller (QB, Wayne HS)

Dave: I don't ever remember anyone coming to Ohio State who played so much on national TV as Miller did, so we know what he has to offer.  Although he isn't real big, Miller has a fabulous arm and can make all the throws.  He is also quick but what seperates him is his shiftiness, as Braxton makes people miss.  In addition, he seems to have excellent leadership ability. The fact that he enrolled early gives him a chance to play right away but I worry about his thin frame and penchant for injuries.  

Drew: Miller is one of top recruits in the country, and is the definition of a dual-threat quarterback. While everyone drools over his speed and shiftiness, his arm is pretty impressive too. Like all young quarterbacks, he needs to work on his consistency, but the guy is a very underrated passer. Add his ability to take over the game with his feet, and you have a phenom. If he stays healthy, Braxton will be a winner, as he has all the other intangibles.

Steve Miller (DE, McKinley HS)

Dave: One of the gems of this class, Miller is similar in some regards to Kenny Hayes, but may not be quite as athletic.  What he does have, though, is a strong work ethic, and I like the fact that Miller plays smart, assignment football. I look for him to wind up at the LEO position, allowing him to use his pass-rushing abilities.

Drew: Easily the best defensive end in this class, and one of the better recruits at the position the staff has brought in for several years. The guy is explosive coming off the end, and wrecks havoc when left one-on-one with an offensive lineman. While he needs to add a few pounds, which his frame appears to be able to handle, the guy still has solid size and plays very physical. Like Hayes, he plays great against the run and pass, which isn't always the case with defensive ends. 

Ejuan Price (LB, Pittsburgh, PA Woodland Hills HS)

Dave: Like Brian Rolle, Price has not been ranked even higher because he of his lack of stature.  However, he is much thicker than Rolle, though not quite as quick.  What Price does best is find the ball and then hit with bad intentions.  Should be a fine middle linebacker.  

Drew: Besides the fact that Price is 5-11/6-0 tall, I'm not sure what there isn't to like. The young man is an excellent tackler and has great instincts. He also is a phenomenal athlete, with some serious jets. He's a heat seeking missile when coming on a blitz, while also showing great lateral movement going to either sideline. This was a great steal out of PA. 

Ryan Shazier (LB, Pompano Beach, FL Plantation HS)

Dave: When you recruit linebackers out of Florida, what you desire most is speed, and Shazier has it.  His best attribute at present may be rushing the quarterback, and he attacks like shot out of a cannon.  However, with good coaching, I think he can become the complete package, including falling back into pass coverage.  Does need to bulk up, but even so, I think he plays this year. 

Drew: While it is a possibility that he plays OLB at OSU, I think it's only a matter of time before he gets moved to the LEO spot. If you watch his film, he finds himself at defensive end most of the time, where he seems very natural. He has some of the quickest hands you will see, which combined with his top end speed make him an animal coming off the edge. His film is so exciting to watch, and I can't wait to see what he does in scarlet and gray.

Devin Smith (WR, Washington HS)

Dave: If you are searching for a guy in the class of 2011 who could play a major factor this season, then look no further.  Smith is fast, has excellent leaping ability and can make big plays.  I am not sure what his true height is because I have seen different figures given, but he plays tall, and runs with long strides.  I love this kid.

Drew: Smith doesn't receive near the respect he should for his speed and playmaking ability. Not only is he a down field threat, but is also dangerous in space, often making one cut and taking it to the house. The guy is an athlete off the football field too, as he was a long jump state champion and a state qualifier in the high jump and 4x200 relay.

Evan Spencer (WR, Vernon Hills, IL Vernon Hills HS)

Dave: Another receiver who can go get the ball and make plays, Spencer is actually rated higher by most of the recruiting servcies than Smith.  He seems to have good hands, and could also see the field this season, especially considering how thin Ohio State is at the position.  

Drew: Spencer is big time athlete with a football pedigree. He also has great speed, and seems to be able to get going very quickly. What separates him from other fast player is his shiftiness. He cuts so effortlessly and makes people miss while he is still at top speed. His film is a blast to watch.

Ron Tanner (S, Eastmoor Academy)

Dave: A prototypical Tressel player, Tanner is a great student and plays smart, too.  He has solid size, good speed and a nose for the ball, which is pretty much everything you look for in a safety.  I expect him to have a very nice career, and Tanner could certainly qualify for some special teams action right away.  

Drew: Much like Cash, Tanner does very well for himself in the classroom. That alone can never be underestimated for a safety prospect. On the field, he's a hitter who doesn't seem to be afraid of anyone. He can also handle himself in coverage. He demonstrates great awareness and closing speed.

Antonio Underwood (OL, Shaker Heights HS)

Dave: I don't know that I am totally sold on Underwood, but I like him slightly more than the other two "projects", Brown and Carter.  On his tape he looks pretty strong and physical and I have hopes Antonio will work hard and become a solid guard down the road.  

Drew: Underwood, like Carter and Brown, has lots of work ahead of him at OSU. While he plays with a mean streak and is very powerful (using great leverage), his technique and flexibility remain a big question mark. His tenacity is what grabs you on film, though, and that goes a long way on the football field. I'll take a mean offensive lineman that needs some work over a "soft," gifted one any day.

Nick Vannett (TE, Westerville Central HS)

Dave: What's not to like about this local kid from Westerville?  He is tall, has nice hands, isn't afraid to block and is an excellent student, too.  It has been awhile since OSU has had a guy at tight end who combines physical blocking and down the field pass catching ability, but that dearth may have come to an end with the signing of Vannett.   

Drew: Honestly, I should just copy everything I wrote about Heuerman and paste it here. There really isn't much difference between the two guys. Vannett blocks extremely well for a tight end, while still showcasing the ability to be a receiving threat. He's got the ideal size for a tight end prospect, and has good hands. I'm interested to see if one of these two TE's can separate themselves from the other.


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