Mr. Bucknuts Bucket of Bullets

The grades are in as Mr. Bucknuts checks in one last time with his thoughts on this year's recruiting haul.

Mr. Bucknuts recruiting report card


The Final Grades

"School's out for summer…"

Well, school's out on this year's class, at least. This year's class is the Class of 2004 and we have survived yet another tumultuous session – complete with the standard misinformation campaigns, back-biting, passionate nihilism and utter depravity that goes with trying to get 25 football players into an Ohio State freshman class. In other words, same as last year!

Because of the intense coverage that the internet has brought to bear on recruiting, it seems that each year it lasts longer, has more stories, and more last minute twists and turns. This year brought twists that would have left Chubby Checker aghast. And turns you couldn't take in an F-1 Ferrari.

And so it ends with a whimper and not a bang. Kinda like last year except this year we braced ourselves with lower expectations on Commitment Day. Thankfully. We watched as the signing day dominoes fell one by one. Dwayne Jarrett? USC. James Bryant? Miami. Javier Estopinian? Florida. Willie Young? NC State. Rhyan Anderson? Miami. Frank Morton? Tulane! At least we didn't feel like the aptly named Pitt, which had 5-star QB commit Anthony Morelli defect on the last day (he went to PSU), 4-star RB commit Andrew Johnson defect to Miami along with local talent James Bryant and then – just two days later – lost the best wide receiver in college football to the NFL draft. Now, that's a bad couple of days.

Our "bad days' centered around receivers, as well. First, we lose a very promising Miles Williams on grades although most of the rest of the Big Ten didn't seem to have that problem with Miles. Then we lose an even better prospect – Dajuan Morgan – for the same ostensible reason. The vultures from NC State had him signed within a week. Two days later, Ohio's best WR prospect for next year, Mario Manningham, commits to Michigan. Plus, the well-publicized "defections" of Fred Davis and Dwayne Jarrett certainly hurt. I spoke with Fred's mother this week and she was surprised 1) That he ended up at SoCal and 2) That they took Dwayne Jarrett. So much for the implied promises, eh?

Running backs were part of the enigma this year for OSU in recruiting. It seems safe to speculate that the untold Clarett saga had an effect on the young bucks that might have been. The final irony in the Ohio running back story is that the two best backs – arguably Ray Williams and Delbert Ferguson - not only weren't taken by Ohio State but hadn't been taken by anybody as of three days after Signing Day.

So, it is left up to me to bring some order to the chaos and some structure to the final analysis of Buckeye recruiting. Ahem. It's a tough job but someone has to do it. And what follows is Mr. Bucknuts final grades along with some commentary. Hey – life is in the commentary!

Here we go…

Quarterbacks B

"B" as in "Boeckman". And "B" as in "Bauserman". And if you put the two together, you probably have a "B+". That is, if we knew that Bauserman would be a Buckeye gray shirt and matriculate in the class of 2005, you then have a pretty good succession plan. Todd Boeckman has already proved himself to the staff that he's a capable quarterback in the Craig Kenzel/Justin Zwick mode. He's bigger than both and probably more athletic. He's smart, doesn't make mistakes and has been a quarterback since he was eight years old. Bauserman then follows in the Krenzel/Zwick/Boeckman mode: very athletic, big and a field general. And like Boeckman, Bauserman is a hell of a baseball player; so good, in fact, that he might be drafted in the first round and before you can say "Drew Henson", be off to the old ball yard. Thus, we maybe didn't get a quarterback this year, after all. We tried. Oh, yes, we tried. We offered 5-star QB's Robert Reid and Xavier Lee and Anthony Morelli. But in the end, they went to Oklahoma State and Florida State and Penn State, respectively. Right guys – wrong states!

We probably could have had Ohio's #1 signal caller, Brian Hoyer. And Duane Long just loves the guy. But the coaches seem to have decided that Hoyer wasn't going to get any better. And Duane will tell you that QB's are the toughest to judge because you just don't know how much more they will develop once they get to the next level.

Here's a problem: Let's say Zwick is your starter. Then you can't move Troy Smith to another position because you won't have a back up. And if either gets hurt, you have to press Boeckman into action, which needlessly burns that red shirt year he was counting on for spacing. And that's why we suddenly have a QB depth problem. And that's why "B" is the best I can give here – even grading on a curve…

Fullbacks B

No, no "D" for Dionte or "C" for Cedric. Fullback wasn't a position of need and we positioned ourselves quite nicely, thank you very much. We got a kid in Dionte Johnson that is going to play at 250 pounds with 4.5 speed. He is an athlete, loves the Buckeyes and comes from a perfect pedigree. Until Dionte is ready, Brandon Joe proved in the Fiesta Bowl that he is finally ready. And we have Branden Schnittker behind him and Stan White (speaking of good pedigrees…) behind him and walk-on Ryan Franzinger behind him.

And speaking of walk-ons, we don't know yet if Cedric Scott will be one or will earn a schollie, so there is more work to be done on this subject. Do any of them pass the "Jamar Martin Test"? Well, no. But that is for a different time and place…


Running Backs B+

I relented in the end. After a semester of "B's", I reviewed that material and decided I was being too tough. There are two questions in my mind here. Are our three new backs (Haw, Pittman and Kennedy) too much from the same mold? And will Clarett come back? I say yes and no.

So let's look at the first question I asked: are the three new recruits too similar? Kenndy is smallish and quick. Pittman is smallish and quicker. Haw is a little bigger and unbelievably fast. But there is no big back amongst them. No Clarett or even a Delbert Ferguson type. Therefore, I had to think that three "B's" became one "B+". But if just one of them works out, the other grades go right out the window…

Wide Receivers B+

Wow. I mean, who would have thunk it? Within the space of three weeks, we lose the best pure wide receiver in Ohio (Miles Williams), the #3 receiver in the country (Fred Davis) and one of the best WR's in Florida (Dajuan Morgan). If that's not unbelievable enough, we then end up with two of the better wide receivers at Ohio State in years! Yes, better than Rambo and Germany…and this is with an offense that doesn't throw the ball and the two receivers are from out of state and…who says Tressel can't recruit?

Devon Lyons might be better than Fred Davis. Really. At the recent Nike camp (which you can read as meaning that the following statistics are real), Davis was measured as 6'3.5" and 200 pounds while Lyons was 6'2.5" and 204. Davis ran a 4.59 forty, a 4.17 shuttle and had a 30.5" vertical; he did 12 reps. My point? Lyons ran a 4.47, a 4.12, had 31" vertical and did 18 reps. More stats: Davis had 30 receptions for 550 yards (18 yds per) and 13 TD's. Lyons had 23 catches for 756 yards (33 per) and 14 TD.s. Fred had a 2.3 GPA. Lyons had a 3.4.

More so, Albert Dukes is being compared to former teammate Santonio Holmes. Only more so! His coach couldn't believe that there were 23 receivers in the country rated ahead of him.

And there you have it. Tall and fast with suction cups for fingers. There's a lot to like in this group of receivers…

Tight Ends A-

The Bucks might not throw to their receivers much but they love to throw to the tight ends. And in each of the last two years, we have pulled in one of the best tight ends in the country. Irizarry has yet to show his super human stuff. And right on his heels comes Rory Nicol, a Top 100 player nationally and one of the highest rated TE's in the USA. But wait – Chad Hoobler can be just as good! So why the "A-"? Only because Hoobler is such a great physical specimen that he could end up playing middle linebacker. And we are tight with tight ends for a while now: Hamby, Irizarry, Redgie Arden, maybe Stan White, Nicol and Hoobler. Life is good when you're a Buckeye…

Offensive Linemen B+

We needed to get two Projected Starters, a Prospect and a Project. We got them. But because we are so far behind (both depth-wise and quality-wise…) we needed to make up for last year (one guy in 2003 and he's a Prospect). We didn't do that. We never closed the deal on Zuttah or Rutledge or Leon Hart or….

And here's some irony: this is a year that the state of Ohio exports O-linemen: to Miami (Josh Kerr), Oklahoma (Brandon Braxton), Penn State (Gerald Cadogan) and Notre Dame (Chauncey Incarnato). I though we could have had Cadogan or Incarnato for the asking. We swung and missed at Jeff Byers, Greg Harrison, Brett Gallimore, Carlos Feliciano and Izzy Bauta, as well, so it shows there was no lack of trying.

But we have two Potential Starters in Ben Person (the best OL in Ohio) and Kyle Mitchum (a Top 100 guy) as well as super prospect Jon Skinner and Steve Rehring, who has gotten substantially better every year for the past three and is highly motivated (and highly big!). A good haul. One more year like this and we are back to the balance we need in offensive line recruiting.

Defensive Ends B

This was an area of disappointment only because we were in on some of the best and most exciting DE's in the country. But we took one of the best that nobody seems to have heard of: Vernon Gholston. Plus, this wasn't particularly a position of need. But it is the second year in a row that we swung and missed at a bunch of big names. Next year's crop could be crucial. The caveat to that pronouncement is that a position-changer (a la Curtis Terry) could "end" up here…

Defensive tackles B

Again, not a position of need but a position of surprises. Who would have picked the names "Nader Abdallah" and "Alex Barrow" as our two signees at the beginning of recruiting season? Mr. TermiNader is particularly exciting as he is big, agile and has only played football two years. Talk about your upside prospects…Barrow is a guy Duane Long is high on and the Buckeyes need to take some projects like this that can help depth if not start right away.

Linebackers B+

We earned the B+ with Parade All-American Marcus Freeman alone. Brandon Smith was a surprise and it sure would have been fun to land a James Bryant. The gurus were split on Estopinian so that mitigates the feeling of loss. The wildcard here is the ultra-fast and athletic Curtis Terry who came out of nowhere to transfer to Glenville and then become a Buckeye. He could put on 40 pounds and become a light fast rush end. Or he could put on 20 pounds and become a fast OLB. Next year, we will need to do some work at this position…

Safeties A-

We lost the "A" we had already earned when we lost Dajuan Morgan, although he might have been slotted as a WR, anyway. Nick Patterson and Sirjo Welch (who I feared we had lost as well…) make up a tasty package, however. Welch is a fierce hitter and Patterson is the complete student athlete. Both these guys have a potential to start one day. What else do you want? Oh, the best safety in the nation? He's coming next year…

Cornerbacks A

Well, we got the best cornerback in America in Ted Ginn. That's a pretty nice start. That will make three years in a row that the best/one of the best DB's in America go from Glenville to Ohio State. Last year it was Donte "Lights Out" Whitner. This year, Ginn. And next year might be the best of all (really…) in Jamario O'Neal. That's quite a story, by itself. Meanwhile, Shaun Lane and Brandon Underwood aren't exactly chopped liver. Lane is a super return guy (not that Ginn isn't) with a lot of upside and Underwood is a bigger fiercer version of his highly regarded brother EJ. Great pick-ups, all…

Kickers B?

Who's to say, really? These guys are always a crapshoot. We tried to get the Aussie, David Lonie, who opted for Cal and said part of his decision was based on surfing. I guess he had never visited off-campus in Berkeley or looked at a map. We used a map to find super leg Aaron Pettrey in Kentucky, who might become the future place kicker for the Bucks. And we didn't have to go far (Columbus) to find AJ Trapasso, future punter. The beguiling aspects of these kickers are that they are football players. Trapasso is an accomplished RB and Pettrey set the all-time KY QB passing mark with 71% completion percentage. Gimmick plays, anyone?


And that's the summary. We have worn out the analysis and run out of metaphors.

My final thought: I would rather give Jim Tressel the sixth rated recruiting class in the country and bet on him than give Mack Brown the best. Yes, it's time for some football!

Can't wait for the spring…











Antonio Pittman
Erik Haw
Dennis Kennedy






Cedric Scott, Dionte Johnson






Todd Boeckman *






Chad Hoobler, Rory Nicol





Albert Dukes, Devon Lyons





Ben Person
Steve Rehring
Jon Skinner, Kyle Mitchum






Vernon Gholston





Alex Barrow, Nader Abdallah






Marcus Freeman, Brandon Smith, Curtis Terry






Sirjoseph Welch, Nick Patterson






Shaun Lane, Brandon Underwood, Ted Ginn






AJ Trapasso, *










* Joe Bauserman is a gray shirt candidate for 2005 and won't count against this class any more than Jamario O'Neal will. Aaron Pettrey as a kicker is in the same category.

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