The Cleveland area has always been fertile ground for college football recruiters, and Ohio State has benefited greatly from this Northeast Ohio hotbed over the years.
Since last Friday, the Buckeyes have added three players from this part of the state, two for the current recruiting class and one for the 2016 group. The commitments of Jerome Baker and Rashod Berry bring the 2015 recruiting to 19 members, and previous commits Dre'Mont Jones and Alex Stump make it four from the greater Cleveland area.
What do each of the newest commits bring to the table, and how will each impact the Buckeye roster going forward?
Jerome Baker is the biggest get of the three in terms of star rating and position significance. He is an outside linebacker with great speed, and a three-down player in an era of specialization. Baker will add weight and strength to his 210-pound frame, and be the type of linebacker than will stop the run on first down, and cover a back out of the backfield on third down. His impact on the program would be as a similar player to current starter Darron Lee. Baker is also one of the top overall prospects in the state of Ohio, and Urban Meyer does not want to lose any in-state recruits. An added bonus could be Baker playing runningback, and he has the skill set to do that should the Buckeyes choose to play him on offense.
Rashod Berry should take the spot of former tight end commit Josh Moore, who is now headed to play at Kansas. In the old days when Jim Tressel recruited three categories: power, speed and big speed, Berry would fall under the third grouping. Although Berry could play defensive end or linebacker and is being brought in as an athlete, Ohio State has mentioned playing tight end to him and his head coach. Regardless, Berry is a big athlete and Ohio State will figure out his position when he arrives on campus.
Kierre Hawkins would be a similar athlete to Berry, but the 2016 prospect's future appears to be set on the offensive side of the football. Whether it be as a traditional tight end, or in the slot as an H-back, Hawkins has a skill set that translates to offense. Ohio State has also offered two other in-state junior tight end prospects, so there is a clear emphasis being made at this position.
Who might be next to commit to Ohio State from the Cleveland area? While it would appear the Buckeyes would be finished in the area for the class of 2015, there are certainly a few juniors they would love to land.
Demario McCall. North Ridgeville. Athlete. This four-star jet would be yet another player recruited to play slot receiver/runningback, and would be a similar talent as Dontre Wilson, Jalin Marshall and Curtis Samuel. The Buckeyes would appear to be the favorite to land McCall, who does hold an Ohio State offer.
Liam Eichenberg. St. Ignatius. Offensive tackle. Another four-star prospect, Eichenberg would fill a need on the offensive line, one of the position groups that needs bulked up with top talent. Right now, Ohio State is in a battle with Notre Dame for this in-state talent, and both schools have offered.
Justin Layne. Benedictine. Wide receiver. Yet another four-star talent, Layne holds an Ohio State offer as well as offers from several major programs. He fills a need at the outside receiver spot, and the Buckeyes should be looked at as the favorite to sign Layne.
Other prospects that could earn an Ohio State offer down the road from the area would include runningback Chawntez Moss (Bedford), wide receiver Tyler Tupa (Brecksville-Broadview Heights), runningback Cole Gest (Lakewood St. Edward), safety Ralph Davis (Glenville) and linebacker Demann Wilson (Glenville).