Teams win with recruiting. Ask any college football coach, and he will tell you that he is nothing without his players. Games are won in the recruiting battle that takes shape every winter.
This February 6th, one big trend was reinforced. Football players are continuing to sign with warm weather teams, and only a couple of colder climate programs have consistently defied that result. Ohio State is among only three northern schools to finish in the top 16 in recruiting. Michigan and Notre Dame join them.
The hubbub on signing day in Columbus, Ohio was centered around Terrelle Pryor, who remains undecided about his choice of school. Buckeye fans may still be waiting to hear his choice for several weeks yet, as Michigan, Oregon, and Penn State are purportedly all still in the picture.
Lost in the Terrelle Pryor sweepstakes is the fact that Ohio State has signed a tremendous class of players in their own right. Of the 19 players who have officially agreed to play for the Buckeyes, Rivals.com rates three of them as five-star recruits. Nine of the athletes were ranked with four stars, and seven of them with three stars, placing the class ninth in the country.
The highlight of the 2008 class comes on the offensive line. The Buckeyes have enjoyed success in the past with great size up front, and they should continue to see that over the next several years. Ohio State welcomes five-star offensive linemen Mike Adams from Dublin, Ohio, and Michael Brewster of Orlando, Florida. Joining them will be J.B. Shugarts from Klein, Texas, a four-star recruit.
Adams, Brewster, and Shugarts all tip the scales around 300 pounds, and measure 6'7", 6'6", and 6'7" respectively. Expect them to contribute right away, helping pave the way for early Heisman candidate, junior running back Chris "Beanie" Wells.
Helping to bolster the defensive line for the scarlet and gray—a position notable for the absence of Vernon Gholston, who is leaving for the NFL after his junior season—will be a strong group of signees. Willie Mobley, Keith Wells, and Nathan Williams will look to fill the defensive end spot, while Shawntel Rowell and Garrett Goebel will fortify the middle of the line.
The Buckeyes have had a great deal of success recruiting from within the state of Ohio. This has been more evident in past years than the current class—only nine of the 19 recruits are "home grown." They were rather successful in reaching recruits across the nation this year.
The Buckeyes went out of state to look for the next James Laurinaitis, the team's returning Butkus award winner at linebacker. Etienne Sabino of Miami, Florida and Andrew Sweat of Washington, Pennsylvania are both great athletes with size and speed.
The top skill position threat, DeVier Posey, a five-star wide receiver from Cincinnati, Ohio, joins the team with a little controversy of late. Buckeye head coach Jim Tressell agreed to take part in an event at Posey's high school—a major fundraiser for the school—but would only agree to do it after Posey officially signed, indicating he would back out if the recruit changed his mind.
In truth, this is fairly insignificant story, as many coaches have a similar practice. Tressell spoke at current quarterback Antonio Henton's school after he signed as a recruit.
Tressell commented on the 2008 recruiting class, drawing attention to their achievements in the classroom as well as on the field: "We've got a heck of a class with a lot of upside, a lot of character, excellent students. We're really, really pleased."
Notable exceptions from the list of signees at Ohio State are at quarterback (no commitments) and running back (only fullback Jamil Martin). The Buckeyes do have depth at those positions already, so the team is not concerned. They also hope their list is not yet complete.
Expectations will be high in Columbus once again (when are they not?), and anything short of a national championship will be a disappointment for most fans. This is understandable, given the 18 starters back from a team that appeared in the national championship last year, as well as a top recruiting year once again. A lot is riding on their early season matchup with Southern Cal.
Much of the recruiting damage came early for the Buckeyes; they had several of their top prospects commit early in the process. Thus, there was not too much excitement on signing day.
The Buckeye faithful hope to have one late splash, though. What do you think, Terrelle?