Bucknuts' Recruiting Report Card
This report is Mr. Bucknuts' unique attempt to coordinate and grade the recruiting process on a dynamic basis between now and the end of recruiting season for the Class of 2004. As players commit - or emerge on the scene - the report will change to reflect that. Your comments are welcome! The report is the opinion of Mr. Bucknuts and not OSU. Send all broadsides to MrBucknuts@yahoo.com
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The days get short as we reach September…
There is never much activity to report (insofar as commitments are concerned…) in an early September report. One reason is that football practice begins with a vengeance in August and the coaches are otherwise consumed. The other reason is that there's a silent period that extends until September 1, during which the coaches can't contact recruits. Thus, not much happens.
Actually, both reasons are related since the Powers To Be want to make sure our coaches are attending to their existing flock and not just dreaming ahead about those yet to be fleeced.
Without appearing too sheepish, we did do quite a bit of work during the past month on recruiting. Let's skip through all the usual foolishness (oops- too late!) and go right to the list of names that were both in the news and have relevance to the Ohio State recruiting picture.
Drew Miller: A new name on the scene; offensive lineman from Sarasota who is reported to have a Buckeye offer.
Robert Reid: Super QB specimen from Texas who committed to Oklahoma State; our OSU is not giving up yet and is still in contact.
Dumatka Atkins: OL from Florida who has offers from virtually every D-I school; says Ohio State is in the top four and he will visit.
Joe Joseph: Yet another Florida OL with a reported OSU offer; he also says he will visit.
Chris Pino: JUCO lineman who flirted with visiting Columbus now indicates he's not coming.
Charlie Jones: Florida running back with a glittering set of offers says he will make us an "official" visit.
Brett Gallimore: Included us on his official visit list by visiting for the San Diego State game. His father told us the top three is OSU, Michigan and Florida State. Officially, Brett says he will still visit Iowa, Florida State, Oregon and UCLA.
David Lonie: An Aussie kicker by way of Iowa Falls; he says he will visit Columbus and is being recruited by the Buckeyes.
DJ Davis: Texas DB says he has 23 offers, one of them coming from Ohio State but hasn't decided on his trip list yet.
Aaron Jones: DL superstar teammate of superstar receiver Kenny Ingram; told us his favorites are Miami, Florida State and Ohio State. Has also listed Auburn and LSU.
Kyle Williams: Scheduled for an official visit this weekend to OSU. Also plans to see Miami, USC, and Oregon.
Brandon Nicolas: Said the decision came down to Ohio State and UCLA and he chose…Notre Dame. It's amazing how much influence an actual offer makes…
Michael Massey: In the same vein as Nicolas, he finally got the offer he wanted from Michigan. That eliminated Pitt. It's our feeling that we might be running second…
Carlos Feliciano: Says his favorites are Maryland, Virginia, OSU, Pitt, Iowa and Boston College, in about that order.
Jeff Byers: Great visit to Ohio State by the nation's best offensive lineman. We are in the top 3-5.
Nick Smith: Duane Long is high on this defensive lineman and OSU
is on the list.
Here are the changes we have made to our master list in the past month since we last visited the overall recruiting questions.
We removed Rory Nicol, a TE who seemed to like a dozen schools better than he liked us. We also removed Chris Pino, a JOCO OL who isn't coming to visit, and Brandon Nicolas, who committed to the Domers.
For the well-respected and oft-quoted Top Twenty list, we dropped Brandon Barrett down simply because wide receiver is not a position of need. We also reduced Brandon Braxton simply because he is off to a slow start for Ursuline. Conversely, Brett Gallimore is coming on and showing interest in the Buckeyes. And we added to our wish list Carlos Feliciano, Kyle Williams and Charlie Jones. We can always dream…
Let's take a quick tour – by position – of one man's opinion of recruiting as it stands and recruiting as we hope it will be…
We have two in the fold: Pittman and Haw. Of the two, I think Haw has the most big time potential while Pittman reminds me of the scatback-Maurice-Hall type. Last year, we had an embarrassment of riches with four good young tailbacks. Remember? Now we have one of those healthy and playing and he's the most diminutive. OSU lives on bruising tailbacks and we don't have one now or in this class. Therefore, I say we will take at least one more tailback. If OSU can't land Charlie Jones or Darius Walker, I think OSU will "take a chance" with Delbert Ferguson. As to fullbacks? We wait until next year.
It's a cafeteria and you can pick one as you move along. Is Boeckman a QB or a TE? Will Bauserman play football or baseball? Is Szep good enough for this level of football? If you can answer those questions and the answers all look like "quarterback", then we won't take anyone not named Xavier Lee or Robert Reid. If the coaches start to question the position, look for them to swoop in on MSU-commit Brian Hoyer, who is doing great things this year up in Cleveland.
We are set at tight end with Hamby and Irizarry as stand-outs and Hoobler coming. Plus, there is always the mercurial Redgie Arden waiting in the wings, plus Stan White. I don't see us further adding to this position this year. At wide-out, we have Miles Williams plus possibilities of a bunch more in the Gonzalez/Hiley mode. I feel confident that we will get both Fred Davis and Ted Ginn, either of who could be an All-American at that position. So, the only ones left are superstuds like Brandon Barrett and Dwayne Jarrett. If they want to come? We want to take them.
We need ‘em. And we've got some of them. With the exception of Brandon Braxton (who hasn't shown much yet this year), we are done in Ohio. But we are in on some of the best O-linemen in the country right now: Byers, Hart, Gallimore, etc. I think we take Braxton and two more if they are of the aforementioned quality. Plus, we have two great Ohio specimens coming out next year: Alex Boone (who has already committed) and A.J. Haas, a dandy. Things are looking up for the future of the offensive line.
We are hopeful on Mike Massey and Vernon Gohlston plus a few of the lesser lights. Duane Long really likes Ohioan Nick Smith. But we haven't closed on any of them. Luckily, the need is not a priority although we lost two "commits" to the DL at the last minute for the 2003 class. So…I expect we will eventually see three new faces behind Buckeye face masks at these positions. Who knows? One might even be Frank Morton!
John Kerr and Anthony Schlegel are next year. Plus, a simmering Reggie Smith will reach a boil then, as well. We have a strong cast of sophomores playing now and a few recruits who will likely end up at linebacker (Curt Lukens, to name one…). The main target is Daytonian Marcus Freeman. But we would also take any of the James Bryant, Willie Williams, Eric Andino and Kyle Williams group. I project we get Marcus and none of the others.
Our safeties are young and powerful and Donte is waiting in the wings. We have already "signed" Sirjo Welch, Shaun Lane and Brandon Underwood. And don't forget the position-switching possibilities of a Tony Gonzalez and a Darius Hiley. Now, landing Ted Ginn is a must (we will). But you don't shut the door on national kids like a Randy Estes or a Terrail Lambert or a Devon Lyons. I don't project any of those will be Buckeyes, however.
We look good for place-kickers with Nugent-Huston and Brian Pierce warming up on the sidelines. Punters? Yech. We need one. A name will pop up in the next 60 days and we will grab him, although I still think we should have taken Adam Graessle…
See you in October!
LATEST RECRUITING REPORT CARD
Red Player:He has already committed
Gray Player:Gray shirt that will be part of the 2004 class
Blue Player:I absolutely want this kid!
Green Player:Great potential; I might want him
Black player: Good potential
TWENTY-FOUR FOR 2004
Y'all have busted me up pretty good in the past for my projections as to how many players we will take in a given year. So this year, I am going to do a more thorough "available scholarship" analysis by position – which should change dramatically, of course, by the end of next season.
Which walk-ons will end up getting schollies next year? Dunno. Who's gonna transfer? No idea. Academic and felonious fallout? Not a clue.
But I do know who will be seniors (even there, we have to assume Ivan Douglas graduates as a fifth year senior and not as a sixth…). And I am excluding Richard McNutt and Jesse Kline (again). I'm putting back in Kyle Andrews as a scholarship player and I'm not falling for the Bryce Bishop rumors. That leaves 22 seniors and one short-of-the-full-85 for this season, or 23 spots. I will go way out on a limb and say we will get at least one more opening somewhere, leaving me projecting 24 scholarships for the 2004 class.
For those of you already firing up your keyboards to flyspeck this analysis, let me give you my version of the 22 graduating seniors (listed alphabetically for your convenience…):
Oh, and no one's going pro early either. Because my model doesn't allow for that variable.
my continuing endeavor to be cutting
or perhaps fearless
it is time to look at the recruiting needs and predictions for the Class of
2004. Note the clever defensive stance here. Most of you will make fun of me at
some point during the next 11 months of recruiting (see message boards for
specifics...). So I am already making fun of myself to take the sting out
of your collective wit. Hah!
We thrive at Bucknuts to be "frequently
wrong but seldom in doubt". That rubs a bunch of you the wrong way, as you
would prefer that we change our motto to "Always perfect all of the
time". Now, where's the fun in that? So we will burnish our
tradition of making bold and broad statements and see how close we get to
reality in the end. Remember, sports fans, perception is not reality.
People who believe that live on the border of madness. Only reality is
reality and that is only revealed over time.
As I tell my children, you can't explain the
meaning of life. It can only be revealed.
With that metaphysical disclaimer behind me,
I plan to talk about the needs of this class - by position - and how many kids
we will take to fill those needs. Tomorrow, in my recruiting column, I will
explain why we will have 24 openings in the Class of 2004 and I will
begin the ponderous listings of the players on the recruiting chart.
I don't plan to update this stuff every week
in the off-season. That is really hubris (chutzpah?). But I will
do a monthly update until the summertime, and then we will go back to the
schedule. Dr. Recruitnik is in his perverse hibernation pattern and will
re-emerge in November to tackle the positions, as we know them at the time.
Until then, enjoy. Discuss amongst
yourselves. And think of me, perhaps as the first of the worst.
OFFENSIVE NEEDS BY POSITION
Unless we lose RB's to injury or transfer, we
have three terrific tailbacks with two years of expected utility ahead of them.
Clarett leads the charge but I am
only counting on him through his junior year and
Hall/Lydell Ross will finish their
eligibility at the same time. There are a few crossover possibilities (like
Guilford) but suddenly, OSU is in a
position of questionable depth at this important position. The old saw about
tailbacks is "a pair and a spare" and we are at the minimum. Expect
the Bucks to take two tailbacks in this next recruiting class.
It's hard to project what the coaches want
from the fullback position because I infer that the coaches have never had their
prototype player for that position.
Schnittker are close, but the former
is a built-up tailback and the latter hasn't seen enough game action to help us
form a conclusion. We lost valuable (and versatile) depth in
Kline's premature retirement and we
lost whatever upside
Stead held so far due to academics.
You've got to love the 300+ pound Andre Tyree experiment (Sian Cotton also
played here in high school!). And we've already got a commitment from
Scott for this class. Plus,
White might still end up on this side
of the ball. Regardless of the Scott and White conclusion, we will take one more
fullback in the next class.
Like the "passing" of
Germaine, we don't realize how much
we'll miss Krenzel until he is gone. Gone with him is back-up
McMullen. On the horizon loom
Zwick (a Krenzel type...) and
Smith (a Mike Vick type...). But we
need two more. One will be
Boeckman, who graciously gray
shirted, giving him some logistical distance from Smith/Zwick. The other one?
Well, we would like it to be
Kentucky but that's unlikely. In
Ohio, we are blessed with three (or more) great candidates:
Turner (a Troy Smith type),
Hoyer (a Justin Zwick type) and
Clark (a Youngstown Ursuline type).
Plus, there's a transfer coming in to Harding from
Engram) and there's five Young Guns
still left in Texas and...well, you get the point. Take two, they're not
I might be the only analyst alive who still
Frost will be a tight end - and that
includes Coach Tressel and Marcel Frost, himself! He's got the speed, power and
hips and he's a tough kid who can block. Meanwhile, we have the sensational
Irizarry as our TE/WR threat. On
either side of that high/low pair, we have the graduating
Hartsock - a possession receiver and
a third offensive tackle. We have a better receiver and good blocker in
Hamby and a very interesting
experiment in big athlete
Caldwell seems to have gotten lost in
the numbers shuffle and RJ Coleman is moving over a couple of feet to tackle.
Stan White? Hey - if the coaches don't know where he's going to play, what am I
supposed to tell you? Although I do predict he will not end up here...normally,
then, we would be well stocked at TE, but in a class of 24, we will take the
best one we can find, anyway.
Speaking of passing, we passed on the most
talented wide-out in Ohio last year due to his fragile academics -
Wheelwright. And we only pursued the
best talents in America. That means the coaches felt good about the current and
future pipeline. We did land
Jordan, who will be a good possession
receiver. But with Vance gone and
Jenkins leaving (and Gamble's return
being a ...well, gamble), who will step up? Bam Childress? Maybe. But I
don't see him getting any taller.
Chattams? Huh uh. My choice is hard
Hollins. And behind him, we have two
potential superstars in
Hall (think David Boston-type) and
Gamble-type). Plus - and it's a big
Hiley and Tony Gonzalez could be
sensational receivers. All that said, we will "take two more for 2004"
Toledo Rogers. No one will weep for us at wide receiver...
Critics have pummeled both me and Coach
Tressel (not necessarily in that order...) for his perceived (and my reported)
O-line development strategies. We have five good junior starters who will be
better as seniors but they won't make anyone forget
Pace and Korey Stringer. We have two
great sophomores (Mangold and Sims) plus a soph in
Olds who is the kind of kid you want.
And the best of the bunch, possibly, is the heralded but forgotten freshman Doug
Datish. For depth, we have TJ Downing,
Cook, newly schollied
Barton, and re-positioned RJ Coleman.
That's 14 this year and
Douglas might get a shot at a sixth
season next year. Plus, there will be more re-positioning from the defensive
line. Candidates include
Cotton. They might resist at first
but the playing field looks a whole lot better when you have a chance to be on
it. What does that leave, strategically? I say "four more for 2004",
because next year's class might be even better than the 2002 vintage that got us
Mangold, Sims, Datish, Downing and a kid named Morris, who went south on us.
Remember these names: Person, Braxton, Armstrong, Clowser, Rehring, and Stanchek
We will probably take three from that group and the best out-of-state kid we can
find. And critics will talk about other depth problems for a few years.
Without any place kickers, that should add up to 13 offensive recruits. As you can see elsewhere from my econometric modeling system and rigorous derivative analysis, I project 24 open positions, leaving 11 for the defense and for a punter.
DEFENSIVE NEEDS BY POSITION
With the best pair of defensive ends in the
country (either Smith/Scott or Smith/Fraser - pick a pair...) and the pair of
Kudla/Richardson coming on, we are not in dire need here. Add to that analysis
that the strategy is far from determined where Marcel Frost or
Patterson or Brandon Maupin or even
Sian Cotton might play and you've got the means and the ends. There's a
chance Redgie Arden ends up here. And some guys say that D'Andrea's natural
position could be as a rush end. We had our heads in the clouds when we thought
we might get both
McClover. We got neither. But the
fact that the coaches wanted both signifies that we want two defensive
ends in this next class.
With Anderson and Scott rotating through this
position, we are covered in 2003, but we say good-bye to both those seniors next
year. I think that the up-and-coming rotation will be either Pitcock/Patterson
or Pitcock/Penton, one of the groups of Killer P's. Brandon Maupin will likely
be in this mix in two years and
Green will be in it this year. And if
Sian Cotton doesn't end up on the offensive line (my continuing guess...) or as
a defensive end, well...there's certainly a lot to say for flexibility, eh? We
didn't go after that many "pure" inside guys last year. We will go
after two this year to keep the pipeline flowing.
Is this a fun group, or what? Many pundits
(including Spielman and Rudzinski) think that some combination of Hawk/D'Andrea/Carpenter/White
might become the best group of linebackers ever at OSU. And they are all
entering just their second year as Buckeyes. As depth behind them (and here's
where the fun begins!), we have
Reynolds, transfer Anthony Schlegel
(not eligible until 2004) and gray shirt Cedric Scott (not eligible until 2004).
You've got talent and you've got spacing. But you've also got to take the best
two linebackers you can land in a class of this size. Plus, these guys tend to
play elsewhere (i.e. Arden, Kudla, etc.) as well as perform on special teams.
I like our safeties this year. A lot.
Honestly, Fox (my assumption...) and Allen could be better than the super
safeties Nickey and Doss. But Allen leaves this year and Fox the next. Behind
them, you have huge potential in
Salley and Ira Guilford. You also
have a young
Lukens (although he could move
"down" to LB...). Also in the potential mix as Young Guns are Leandre
Mitchell (both still looking to get
on the field), and
Matthews (who might get on as an OLB).
Since safeties are great special teams guys, and are needed in that necessary
evil of nickel and dime situations, we will take two more safeties this year.
But we can afford to be very picky.
Just like the linebacking coup of last year,
I think we got the best class of CB's in the nation this year. Whitner is going
to be very special (Clarett already describes him as "freakish") while
Youboty and Gonzalez have terrific athletic skills and unusual speed. Hiley is
so athletic that he will probably end up as a wide receiver. The best CB recruit
we got last year was Chris Gamble and, hopefully, he will play there two more
seasons. EJ Underwood is a good one and he'll be around three more seasons. Once
you get by the logjam of upper-classmen who will serve as depth (now, that
sounds strange...), you've still got the promising Canadian speedster
Roberts. So whom do you take for
2004? Yes, you take two. Why? Because you can...
Whew. This position has been cussed and
discussed. Will BJ learn to kick straighter and faster? Doesn't matter - he'll
only be here one more year. Will Huston get a sixth year? He still isn't the
punter of the future. With all the shenanigans at the end of the recruiting
year, I was disappointed that we didn't land Super Leg,
Graessle. The coaching staff
obviously didn't feel as strongly as me (go figure...) so they must have a plan.
I assume that includes find a scholarship kicker next year!
So that's two each at every position plus one punter. That's still only 11 players and most of those are merely needed as depth on the defense. That gives us some idea just how strong and deep we already are on this side of the ball.
That's 13 on offense and 11 on defense for 24
overall. Check my recruiting column tomorrow for the definitive analysis of why
we will have 24 scholarship openings in 2004. And that's where the
second-guessing can begin. But anything worth doing is worth over-doing, so now
it's over-do you...
Looking forward to your e-mails!
E-mail Mr. Bucknuts at firstname.lastname@example.org