Grading The Buckeye Recruiting Class

The 2014 Ohio State recruiting class is in the books, and on the surface it would seem like another home run for the Buckeyes. With the number-five ranked class in America, there is certainly talent, but did they hit their needs?

In looking at building a national title contender, there's certainly more to it than adding great talent year after year. A team could add the top-ten wide receivers and top-ten linebackers every year, and have highly-ranked classes. BUT WOULD YOU WIN WITH ALL THOSE HOLES IN YOUR ROSTER? No, you wouldn't.

To get to the top it's more about filling holes and turning weaknesses into strengths throughout the roster. How did Ohio State address positional needs with their 2014 recruiting class? How will it affect future teams?

OFFENSIVE LINE: To me, this is the weakest area of the team, and at one of the most important position groups in football. So how did they address this area of the team? They wanted five, and brought in five, and it was pretty darn close to the RIGHT FIVE. I do not see Brady Taylor as the weakest of the group, but he's either #4 or #5, and that's pretty good. I DO see Kyle Trout, Jamarco Jones and Demetrius Knox as sure things, if there are such things in recruiting and I think there are. Had they landed Damien Prince or Alex Bookser it would be better, but really by how much? This is a great group, and after last year's poor effort recruiting offensive linemen, this is a group you would take every year for the next decade and sleep well. POSITION GRADE: A.

RUNNINGBACK: With Brionte Dunn, Warren Ball and Ezekiel Elliott all having three years of eligibility, this was not an area of concern. But they added a potential game-breaker in Parris Campbell. That's adding SEC depth, unlike what you have on the offensive line which is average Big Ten depth at best prior to this class. POSITION GRADE: A.

TIGHT END: They probably needed one, and put all their eggs into the Mike Gesicki basket. They really are counting on Marcus Baugh to be a winner, and they will probably need two next year. To their credit, they did not reach on a PLAN-B. POSITION GRADE: F.

WIDE RECEIVER: Another big area of need, considering there's a lot of average talent in backup roles right now. They brought in four wideouts for a reason, and I see two of them hitting the depth chart off the bat. I think Johnnie Dixon could start next year, and at the least hit the depth chart. Curtis Samuel could push Dontre Wilson for playing time, or take his spot if Wilson falls by the wayside. The other two are probably developmental guys, and probable redshirts. With Devin Smith and Corey Smith set as starters, there is a chance for Dixon and Samuel to leapfrog the rest of the group. After redshirting, Jalin Marshall is like another rookie and also should make an impact on the field. POSITION GRADE: B.

QUARTERBACK: This was absolutely an area of need and they knew it going into this class. They chased Deshaun Watson and Jarrod Heard for a few months too long, then fell back to Kyle Allen and Brandon Harris as the PLAN-B guys, but waited too long for them too. They got smoked on all four, before settling for three-star Stephen Collier. There's no doubting Collier's talent, but there's also no doubt he was not the guy they wanted in this class until things totally fell apart for them. I don't think we will see open tryouts in June for quarterbacks this year at camp, and they should have a big-time commit fairly soon. Then they can go chase Torrance Gibson all the way until Signing Day of 2015. POSITION GRADE: C.

LINEBACKER: This was the second biggest area of concern, and this was the grand slam to win the game. They brought in four studs, the likes of which Alabama, Florida State or LSU would love to have. Kyle Berger, Dante Booker, Raekwon McMillan and Sam Hubbard will all challenge some pretty average upperclassmen for playing time. Love the fact that Mike Mitchell and Trey Johnson are also still freshmen, and these six are how you build championship depth. Everyone else should be worried about seeing the field, even returning starters. POSITION GRADE: A++.

SAFETY: They landed two beautys in Malik Hooker and Erick Smith, with the latter having a chance to start. Vonn Bell is a returning starter in my book, and a deserving one. After that, a lot of question marks. Devan Bogard and Jayme Thompson are coming off injuries, while Chris Worley and Darron Lee have to prove they aren't the proverbial tweeners. Ron Tanner and Tyvis Powell have had moments, but they better get better, although Powell is still a young player. Powell could still also factor into the mix at the star, unless they go with a true cornerback at that spot under Chris Ash. POSITION GRADE: B+.

CORNERBACK: Meyer wanted better coverage defensive backs, and he landed two potential future starters. Both Damon Webb and Marshon Lattimore have limited experience playing cornerback, and now they get to devote all their time to playing the position. These are two cover corners. Added to talents like Gareon Conley, Cameron Burrows and Eli Apple, and now you are talking real depth as these guys mature. Doran Grant was above average last year, and figures to take a leap in 2014. Armani Reeves has experience, but not the talent of the others and could be recruited over by now. The cornerback position is an area where you can play youngsters if they're talented, and even though this group will be young other than Grant, this is the type of talent you need going forward. POSITION GRADE: A.

DEFENSIVE END: They added three players, and I only think two of them stay at the position. I love Jalyn Holmes after seeing him daily at Army, and think he has star potential down the road. Darius Slade has a good film, and Larry Johnson wanted him, so that's good enough for me. Returning Joey Bosa and Noah Spence is big time, and with Jamal Marcus and Steve Miller as backups, this area is a strength. That doesn't even include Tyquan Lewis or Tracy Sprinkle, so no worries with these guys at all. This is a championship group. POSITION GRADE: B.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE: I see Dylan Thompson as a depth-provider, and an inside guy along the lines of Joel Hale. Do not forget Donovan Munger and Michael Hill coming off injury, because these two have big-time skills especially Hill. With Michael Bennett a senior, and Adolphus Washington and Tommy Schutt juniors, this WILL be an area of need for 2015. They might target two or three inside power players in the next class. Depth is a big question mark in the future, and maybe they should have grabbed Thomas Holley or Daniel Cage in this class. Landing two studs next year will be up there with linebacker recruiting in 2014.POSITION GRADE: C-.

CLASS ANALYSIS: Ohio State is at the point where the overall recruiting ranking really doesn't matter. It's now more about filling in the gaps in talent, far more than adding more talent. They nailed the two biggest needs in linebacker and offensive line, and this was crucial. The defensive back haul was ultra-impressive. THIS is how you get to the level of Florida State and Alabama, and Ohio State is not there yet. But the last two classes are exactly how you get there, and as average players are run through the system and replaced by better, more talented prospects, Ohio State can realistically start talking about a national championship-type roster. OVERALL CLASS GRADE: A.


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