2002 Recruiting Class Grade: A++

The 2002 recruiting class still stands as former head coach Jim Tressel's most productive group in his history at Ohio State. Who comprised that now famous recruiting class?

The 2002 Ohio State recruiting class was ranked as the number-three class in America, trailing only Texas and Oklahoma. The 24-man class featured an overall star ranking of 3.5, with several glaring omissions.

The rankings were not done as they are today, as the Scout.com work force has multiplied greatly since 2002, and very few of these players were actually seen in person. But overall, it's hard to argue with the final ranking, unless you insist it's too low, which it definitely was.

Who made up the class that went on to win Big Ten titles, BCS bowl games, and one national championship?


Mike D'Andrea. Avon Lake. Linebacker. Injuries wrecked what could have been a promising career for this monster. Had all the tools to succeed at the college level, and possibly in the NFL. Ranked as the number-one linebacker in the country. How big was his commitment? It made the crawl on television on a Saturday night.

Mike Kudla. Medina Highland. Defensive end. Had a solid career at Ohio State, but certainly not what was expected out of the number-two ranked defensive end in the country. Certainly looked the part coming out of high school, and the testing numbers were off the charts.

Maurice Clarett. Warren Harding. Tailback. Was ranked way too low as the number-five runningback in the country, and I don't need to look to see who was listed ahead of him. The best high school offensive player I've ever seen in Ohio. He was the best football player on the national championship team, and every defense was geared to stop him. What could have been, as he left Buckeye fans wondering?


Stan White. Gilman (MD). Tight end. Was a solid contributor at several spots in his Buckeye career, but was overrated as a prospect. Was originally thought to be a possible linebacker early in his career, but was behind guys named D'Andrea, Hawk and Carpenter in this class alone. Listed as the number-nine tight end.

Brandon Mitchell. Atlanta Mays. Safety. A starter for Ohio State, Mitchell was a solid player and a key contributor to a lot of Buckeye victories. Listed as the number-26 safety in America.

Nate Salley. Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas. Safety. Nice to see the St. Thomas connection was alive a decade ago. Salley was a starter in the defensive field, and known as a big hitter. Listed as the number-19 safety.

Santonio Holmes. Glades Central (FLA). Wide receiver. What a career he ended up having at Ohio State, and in the NFL. Was listed as the number-13 wideout in America as a senior, and more than exceeded his ranking.

Bobby Carpenter. Lancaster. Linebacker. Just a great career for this versatile playmaker, and he lived up to his listing as the number-22 linebacker in the country. People might not remember how sound and efficient Carpenter was in his career, and he is an all-time linebacking great.

Troy Smith. Glenville. Quarterback. Props to Scout.com for nailing this one, as Smith went on to a legendary career at Ohio State. Was thought to be a career backup, or possibly move to another position, but Smith left as arguably the greatest quarterback in Ohio State history. Heisman Trophy winner. Period. The number-15 ranked quarterback.

E.J. Underwood. Hamilton. Cornerback. Was a solid contributor and sometime starter at Ohio State, but never lived up to the hype as the number-13 ranked cornerback in America as a senior.

Tyler Everett. Canton McKinley. Safety. Ended up having a solid career with the Buckeyes, and was a starter for his final season. Played both safety and cornerback. Listed as the number-16 safety prospect in America coming out of high school.

Tim Schafer. Upper Arlington. Defensive end. Never lived up to his four-star status, eventually shifting to the offensive line in his career. Ranked as the number-21 defensive end in the country.

Quinn Pitcock. Piqua. Defensive tackle. Totally lived up to his billing as the number-seven defensive tackle in the country. Was a long-time starter and extremely productive player for the Buckeyes.

R.J. Coleman. Clarksburg (WV). Tight end. One of the few non-contributors in the class. Listed as the number-seven tight end coming out of high school.

Roy Hall. Brush. Wide receiver. Had all the physical tools, and was a solid contributor throughout his Ohio State career. The number-24 wide receiver prospect.

Justin Zwick. Massillon. Quarterback. Was a starter on occasion before Troy Smith took the job permanently. Had his moments, but never lived up to the hype as the number-14 quarterback prospect in the country. Did establish himself as one of the earliest player "recruiters" in Buckeye history, and was quite successful.


A.J. Hawk. Centerville. Linebacker. One of the great recruiting misses of all-time, but was injured as a senior and missed some time. Left Ohio State as one of the greatest linebackers in the school's storied history. Ranked as the number-32 linebacker in America, and left as an All-American.

Joel Penton. Van Wert. Defensive end. Properly ranked as a three-star recruit, and the number-37 ranked defensive end. Moved to defensive tackle and was a contributor.

Rob Sims. Nordonia. Offensive line. Ranked way too low, as he became a freshman starter on the national championship team and had an impressive career. Listed as the number-37 offensive lineman coming out of high school.

Doug Datish. Warren Howland. Offensive line. Another player that exceeded his ranking, and started several games at Ohio State. Listed as the number-43 offensive lineman in America.


T.J. Downing. GlenOak. Offensive line. A clear miss by Scout.com, as Downing became a starter and had a solid career for the Buckeyes. Listed as the number-121 offensive lineman coming out of high school.


Michael Roberts. Ontario Central. Cornerback. Never contributed, and the non ranking was probably due to no film being available.

Jay Richardson. Dublin Scioto. Defensive end. I have no idea why a Columbus area prospect was not rated at this time.

Nick Mangold. Kettering Alter. Offensive lineman. The biggest miss by Scout.com of the class other than Hawk, and I have no answer for why he received no ranking.

CLASS OVERVIEW: One of the greatest recruiting classes of all-time when you look at on-field production, games won, championships won, and NFL careers. We might never see a class produce like this one did again in our lifetimes. The hit/miss ration is almost unbelievable.

Buckeye Sports Top Stories