Mr. Bucknuts Bucket of Bullets

Mr. Bucknuts is back with his weekly opinions on recruiting and the latest recruiting news, as well as a look at where things stand in the recruiting class.

Mr. 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

For more info on these players, check out recruiting database

We are in the hottest part of the hottest part of recruiting season and – just like the explosion at the boarding house – rumors are flying. Yes, welcome to the vaudeville edition of recruiting's Bucket of Bullets.

Generally, us website-types are accused of starting rumors just to see how far they spread and who spreads them. It's fun, I admit. Once, a southern source made up a player out of whole cloth, making him just obscure enough hat nobody bothered to check him out. Max Emfinger took the bait and ran with it; making the fictional player a three star prospect and touting his future opportunities. Maybe that's why we don't hear from Max much anymore…

So instead of creating ridiculous rumors and then commenting on them, I thought we should just report some of the best rumors. And comment on them! And when it comes to football, there are no better rumors than when it comes to recruiting! So let's take a few in and look at them under Mr. Bucknuts' telescope (a microscope might be a little too revealing…):

The Buckeyes could get a running back this year that could be a Heisman contender next season. It's true. But only if Maurice Clarett can make the grades and stay out of court – both as a plaintiff and as a defendant.

Miles Williams is looking at other schools because he has some academic deficiencies. We keep hearing this rumor but I hate to put much credence into it unless we are ready to panic because we have lost our other receiver prospects. Miles might be in more trouble if we land Davis/Jarrett/Dukes because then it's a game of musical chairs. And if Miles doesn't have grades enough to qualify to go to OSU, look for him to end up at Michigan State. That's the trend.

Andre Dawson once actually said: "I want to be a role model. I want other athletes to copulate me". It's true. And I just threw that in to keep you reading.

Fred Davis is the brother/cousin/step-son of Buster Davis. While they share many of the same traits, the genealogical research we conducted here at Bucknuts has yet to turn up a family relationship.

There's a strong rumor out there (OK, it came from one of our guys…) that Kyle Mitchum has decided on OSU but has also decided to keep it quiet until commitment day. If it's true, we get to start the announcement with "As I told you some two weeks ago…"

Jacky Claude will only play where his homies are welcome. It's turning out that Claude will only play where his grades are welcome and that's going to be a short list. Define "hubris" in five letters…

Ted Ginn was seriously looking at schools other than Ohio State. False.

As a president, Andrew Johnson was the pits. An update: the "new" Andrew Johnson is committed to Pitt but has taken so many visits elsewhere that he's replaced his car clock with a compass. Will he bring along James Bryant and Anthony Morelli to the school that he settles on? In the six years I have been gaga over this recruiting stuff, I have never seen a multi-player deal at a level higher than Hiram College.

Ray Williams would love to play at OSU. Here's the best scenario according to me, Mr. Bucknuts: Ray gets himself to a prep school, gaining good grades, a bigger body and some separation amongst the running backs. We take him the following year and he still has five seasons to play four.

Fred Davis committed to USC. It's true, but it was only while he was out there.

Nathan Szep is considering a transfer. I hope not. He is a high quality QB in the Zwick mode. If Zwick or Smith get hurt next year and Szep isn't there, that would mean we would burn a year for Boeckman unnecessarily. BTW, the rumor mill said that Szep was going "home" to Baldwin Wallace. I called their coaches and they knew nothing about it.

The SEC cheats when it comes to recruiting. True.

Javier Estopinan is my first choice as an inside backer. False. But he is in my top ten.

Anthony Morelli is available again. Gosh, I hope so. His dad said he would look only if Walt Harris left Pitt. Now, that doesn't seem to be a prerequisite. Pitt seems to have to recruit their players twice: once to get a commitment and a second time to get the commits to stay.

Fred Davis committed to Miami. True, but only when he was in Florida. And he did not commit to Florida at the same time! Now stop that…

In the past ten years, multiple Buckeye recruits have ended up in jail and one has been on death row. It's true, but you have to check with Kirkie for details.

Penn State has lost the majority of Pennsylvania recruits this year in a banner talent year up there. That's right – many to perennial also-rans like Pitt. And OSU is in on as many as five. But it's preposterous to think that this trend is related to JoePa's age. I mean, if I was a recruit, I'm sure I would graduate in five years with Paterno still as my coach, right?

You gotta get nostalgic when you talk about great OSU offensive linemen recruiting. If we don't land either Hart or Mitchum, then you gotta get way nostalgic.

Fred Davis committed to Ohio State. Now, that's a tough one. Coach Rios figured he would go there. The students at Rogers thought he would pay tribute to fallen teammate Dru Humphrey. And all other indications have been for two years that Fred would be a Buckeye. But give me a week or two on this one…

Is it true that the recruiting commentators this year are getting more ignorant and more apathetic? I don't know and I don't care.


Nick Patterson: Here's a good one and one we should be pleased with in our rush to hear about the Fred Davises of the world. A solid kid with a solid game, Nick shores up our DB's and could be a starter one day at the safety position. Great student and great personality. A long-time Missouri fan, their native son came down to the Tigers and our Buckeyes. He picked our Buckeyes; further proof that the Tressel guys can recruit out-of-state "names". And this is a name to remember.


These are players we've been following that will commit elsewhere, if they haven't already. We don't want them to disappear without one more wistful comment…

Derrick Harvey: Wistful, indeed. Harvey was a long shot but you have to hope when the name of the best DE in the country comes up. Florida and Maryland share the top spot. Ohio State is not in the picture.

Dumaka Atkins: Another of our hoped-for offensive line prospects seems to be riding off into the, well…sunshine. Dumaka's brother plays for Miami and Dumaka is from Florida. He says it's down to Florida State and maybe Michigan. Bet FSU.

Tim Jamison: See Derrick Harvey…We wanted a visit so badly that we practically made one up. The only guy who didn't seem to know about it was Tim Jamison, unfortunately.

CJ Hunnicutt: Apparently, the Buckeye staff didn't share our amateur recruiting enthusiasm about CJ. He was coming for a visit but couldn't confirm that an actual offer was awaiting him in Columbus. At that point, he cancelled the visit.

Anthony Hill: A late name on the recruiting chart, he was too late to make the final cut. After one visit was cancelled (weather), the second visit was cancelled (lack of interest by the Bucks). That wraps it up.

Andrew Johnson: The Pitt Commit was supposed to visit Ohio State along with his pal, James Bryant. The word on the street has it that OSU let it be known they were only interested in Bryant. For whatever reason, Johnson will have to find more schools to commit to.

Alfred Martin: Terrific Ohio talent, he was discouraged from taking his official visit here. So he won't.

Brandon Braxton: Enough already. This once highly rated talent (think Delbert Ferguson as an offensive lineman) seems to have lost his luster as well as his affection for the Buckeyes. He's down to three schools, none of which have "Ohio" in their names.

Aaron Jones: Perhaps more wishful thinking, this highly rated defensive lineman has not mentioned the Buckeyes for many moons. In someone else's orbit now…


Nader Abdallah: Moving to the top of the list – at least alphabetically – Nader just returned from his Tennessee visit and was, well…non-committal. He wants to head out-of-state and has OSU grouped with Colorado, MSU, FSU and the mountain boys.

Anthony Reddick: Was off to Miami and "had fun". He then met with the Miami coaches separately so all that is behind him. And in front of him? Still needs to visit FSU and then will decide between the aforementioned, Ohio State and Georgia. He says he will announce mid-next week.

Albert Dukes: A fast rising prospect in the recruiting world, we might need him more than we thought if both Davis and Jarrett spurn the Buckeyes' entreaties. Dukes seems to be down to Ohio State and one other (NC State? Miami? Florida?). Our chances seem real good here if we want him.

Kyle Mitchum: To me, Kyle determines if we have a "pretty good" finish to this class or a "pretty great" finish. He is one of two Top 100 O-linemen left with interests in the Buckeyes. And it would show definitive proof that we are back in PA (hear that, James Bryant?). Kyle visited West Virginia over the weekend and didn't seem overwhelmed (who would?). So it's probably down to Iowa and OSU. He said he would drive personally to tell the head coach the good news. Another break for the Bucks. Hey Kyle – it's a lot closer from Erie to Columbus than it is to Iowa City!

Willie Young: Willie is expecting a visit from Tressel this week and still has visits himself to Georgia and Florida. Whenever it's the Buckeyes against four southern states, you can't get too confident…

Anthony Morelli: Back on the list after a six-month absence! As explained above, Morelli seems to want to look before he leaps into the Pitt. If OSU can cajole a visit, there's a chance at this Top 10 QB. And at least we aren't warring against all southern states this time.

Gartrell Shavers: In the tradition of star-crossed romance, it seems Shavers loves OSU more than OSU loves Shavers. This FL running back says he will commit to the Bucks if the Bucks would only offer. I don't see that happening.

Ray Williams: Mr. Ohio Football would also like to become a Buckeye. And I think that is more likely than Gartrell…But the best scenario might be for Ray to get to a prep school and wait a year. Then those dreams could become true.

Olu Hall: Our Hall monitor says Olu is being offered as both a linebacker and a DE. The Buckeyes are in the latter category, hoping Olu can do a Will Smith, rushing and dropping back. Will OSU fans get the chance to make that comparison? Olu liked his Purdue visit over the weekend but says the Bucks are still in there swinging. Plus, he still has NC State and home state Virginia to go. Chances are, we've seen the last of Will Smith…

Dwayne Jarrett: After a knockout visit to OSU this past weekend, expectations are high to land this super WR. As great of a coup as it would be to get Mitchum, this would be even more fun. We got in on Jarrett late and he dazzled everyone at the Army All-Star game. Plus, that takes the pressure off the Fred Davis soap opera and also puts pressure on Devon Lyons and Dukes to commit. Jarrett doesn't seem to be bothered by the Davis saga or competing for playing time. He told Bucknuts, "OSU is high on my list. Very high". Is it high enough?

Dennis Kennedy: He came for a visit and says he wants to come for 4-5 years. We have yet to offer and I feel that Kennedy is a "Plan B" guy.

Javier Estopinan: The more he talks, the more he sounds like he could become a Buckeye. The more I talk with people who've seen him play, the less excited I become. That doesn't mean we would kick him out of bed, however. Javier tripped to Florida over the weekend and says he's basically down to NC State and Ohio State at the top with Florida and Clemson closely behind. That southern problem again. All the relevant coaches are supposed to be visiting Estopinan this week and a decision should be forthcoming right after that.

Jeremy Zuttah: He came back from Rutgers and said he will decide soon. Ohio State, Maryland and Pitt are the other offer-ees. No one at Rutgers has any updates on Jeremy as of the time I filed this…

Devon Lyons: Another big catch from the Pennsylvania pond, Lyons told Bucknuts that he would announce on February 2. He also changed his top three, jettisoning Michigan and replacing them with MSU. Tressel and Coker have been in so there's not much more push left for the Buckeyes.

Rhyan Anderson: Just returned from Miami and caught the usual glitz. He has a strong list of USC, Miami, OSU, Oklahoma and Florida. He says he hopes to narrow the list and announce on Commitment Day. Don't hold your breath…

Leon Hart: Like deja vu all over again, Leon seems perfectly positioned to break our heart. It's down to Auburn and OSU and the Bucknuts Dictum says it's a bad bet to assume a southern kid will pick a northern school when it's just down to the two. Plus – just to add a level of angst here – the Holtzes have convinced Leon to consider his native Gamecocks. More as it develops.

Fred Davis: If this were volleyball, it would be Fred's side out. The latest updates here don't matter much as the more things change, the more they stay the same. Two weeks ago, Fred was down to two schools and was going to announce in a week. Now, he's considering three schools and hopes to announce this week that he will cut the list to two! We shouldn't be too hard on Fred. He really seems to agonize over this decision and its timing. And he's great for business here at Bucknuts. We have a post on the free message board that is now 50 pages long and has been viewed over 50,000 times; all on Fred. Stay tuned…

Chris Zellner: Visited OSU in the middle of last week to sandwich it in. And it might pay dividends for the Buckeyes. He is now listing Ohio State and Clemson as co-favorites but has yet to visit Miami. That dreaded Bucknuts Dictum could come into play here, of course.

James Bryant: James is waiting until Commitment Day to announce and seems to have unlinked himself from running buddy, Andrew Johnson. James seemed to have a great time of it in Columbus over the weekend and is still slated to check out LSU before he's done. He gave OSU an 8 on a 10 scale. Interestingly, Marcus Freeman was his host (that might be a first – a guy from the same projected class hosting another…) and Ted Ginn(s) came down to see him, which seemed very important to James. I predict we will finish at least in the top 2…

Darius Walker. Darius was another big name visiting over the weekend. He was in Columbus with his mom and then was headed down to Alabama without returning home until Wednesday/Thursday. He extended his Columbus trip to see Coach Tressel on Sunday night. He has been to Stanford and plans visits to Notre Dame (the alleged favorite) and possibly Arkansas.


Quarterback: Only if Anthony Morelli reneges on Pitt and comes to Columbus.

Running Back: We are there if either MC returns or Darius Walker heads north.

Tight Ends: We are there now with Hoobler and Nicol.

Wide Receiver: We only need Fred Davis. Or Dwayne Jarrett. Dukes gets us to B+.

Offensive Line: The chances are dwindling yet remain the same. That is, we are there for sure with both Hart and Mitchum. I will hand out a "tentative A" if we get one of the former plus Zuttah. No other combination makes it.

Defensive End: Not likely. We get a sniff with Zellner and/or Olu Hall, but Harvey and/or Jamison were our only tickets to an "A" and they're gone. Rhyan Anderson could get us close, however.

Defensive Tackle: Even further out of the running here, but I will award an honorary "A" if Frank Morton comes aboard, just out of orneriness.

Linebacker: My opinion has changed slightly. I think that only Bryant gets us to the top. That problem is mitigated, of course, with the pending eligibility of Schlegel and Kerr.

Safety: We are there. Patterson got us to the top and Lyons is still lurking. Plus, Super Jamario next year!

Cornerback: Ginn got us the "A".

Kickers: We have some of the best athletes in the country at the kicking positions with Nugent, Pierce, Trapasso and Pettry. Now, can they kick?

* * * * * *

There are so many important questions that need to be answered during this flash point of recruiting season. But, think about it – we have maybe six spots to fill and we once had 25. Are there that many more pressing answers to questions "now" than there were "then". And is that a question in itself? And if a recruit commits in the woods and there's no one there to hear it, does it really count?

We polled our own knowledgeable insiders and asked them what the truly important questions are. This is a sample of the top ten:

1) Is a clear conscience a sign of a bad memory?

2) Why do they sterilize needles for lethal injections?

3) Why do banks have Braille dots on the keypads of their drive-up windows?

4) Is there any significance to this: 24 hours in a day, 24 beers in a case?

We are working on all those questions. Mostly while the rest of you sleep.

As to recruiting itself, it sure would be nice to close with, oh say…James Bryant, Kyle Mitchum, Devon Lyons, Leon Hart, Fred Davis and Dwayne Jarrett. Yes, fans, that is your #1 recruiting class in the country. Get half of them? It's still a Top Three.

When will we know? I'd say by February 4. In the case of Davis, maybe a little later!

I will be back next week to cover my tracks and make even more transparent predictions…


1. Shaun Lane DB
2. Ben Person OL
3. Antonio Pittman RB
4. Miles Williams WR
5. Chad Hoobler TE
6. Sirjo Welch DB
7. Steve Rehring OL
8. Erik Haw RB
9. Jon Skinner OL
10. Brandon Underwood DB
11. Marcus Freeman LB
12. Dionte Johnson FB
13. Dajuan Morgan DB/WR
14. Brandon Smith LB
15. Rory Nicol TE
16. A.J. Trapasso K
17. Ted Ginn
18. Aaron Pettrey [grey-shirt]
19. Vernon Gholston DL
20. Alex Barrow DL
21. Nick Patterson DB


(In which Mr. Bucknuts predicts the last commitments for this class)

1. Fred Davis
2. Kyle Mitchum
3. Chris Zellner
4. Devon Lyons
5. Rhyan Anderson


(Given my druthers…)

1. Fred Davis
2. Kyle Mitchum
3. Leon Hart
4. James Bryant
5. Rhyan Anderson

(Kids I want that we have a shot at…)
- In order of priority -
1. Fred Davis
2. Kyle Mitchum
3. Darius Walker
4. Leon Hart
5. Rhyan Anderson
6. Jeremy Zuttah
7. James Bryant
8. Dwayne Jarrett
9. Javier Estopinan
10. Devon Lyons
11. Olu Hall
12. Nader Abdallah
13. Ray Williams
14. Willie Young

15. The underclassmen from Glenville
16. Any lineman from Dillard
17. The next great player from Rogers
18. Kenyon Buford
19. Buster Davis
20. Bobby Knight












Antonio Pittman
Erik Haw


Darius Walker, Ray Williams, Dennis Kennedy, Gartrell Shavers




Cedric Scott, Ryan Franzinger, Dionte Johnson






Todd Boeckman, Nathan Szep


Anthony Morelli




Chad Hoobler, Rory Nicol





Miles Williams


Fred Davis, Dwayne Jarrett Albert Dukes




Ben Person
Steve Rehring
Jon Skinner


Kyle Mitchum, Leon Hart, Jeremy Zuttah




Vernon Gholston


Rhyan Anderson, Chris Zellner, Olu Hall, Willie Young




Alex Barrow


Frank Morton, Louis Holmes, Nader Abdallah




John Kerr, Marcus Freeman, Brandon Smith


Javier Estopinan, James Bryant




Sirjo Welch, Dajuan Morgan, Nick Patterson


Devon Lyons, Anthony Reddick




Shaun Lane, Brandon Underwood, Ted Ginn






Brian Pierce, AJ Trapasso, *










* Joe Bauserman is a gray shirt candidate for 2005 and won't count against this class. Aaron Pettrey as a kicker is in the same category.


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

Black player: Good potential

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