OSU Recruiting: The Experts Speak Out

We share our annual consensus poll of national recruiting experts, plus we have comments from Scout.com's top experts on this year's Ohio State class (including standout running back Maurice Wells).

In compiling our package of stories on football recruiting for Bucknuts The Magazine, we put together our annual consensus poll and also polled the leading analysts in the Scout.com network for their comments on the Ohio State class.

Here is a look at this year's consensus poll as well as the top 10 teams from five national services, previous consensus poll champions and comments from the Scout.com experts on Ohio State's 2005 class.

The Consensus Poll

Bucknuts.com Consensus Poll (by voting points): 1. Tennessee, 46; 2. USC, 36; 3. Oklahoma, 35; 4. Michigan, 32.5; 5., Nebraska, 29.5; 6. Florida State, 27; 7. Georgia, 18; 8. Texas A&M, 13; 9. (tie) Iowa, Florida, 9; 11. Miami (Fla.), 7; 12. (tie) California, Ohio State, 6; 14. Virginia Tech, 1.

Expert Rankings

* Scout.com: 1. Tennessee, 2. Michigan, 3. Florida State, 4. Georgia, 5. Oklahoma, 6. USC, 7. Ohio State, 8. Iowa, 9. California, 10. Nebraska.

* Allen Wallace, SuperPrep: 1. Tennessee, 2. Michigan, 3. USC, 4. Florida State, 5. Oklahoma, 6. Nebraska, 7. Georgia, 8. Florida, 9. Ohio State, 10. California.

* Max Emfinger: 1. Tennessee, 2. Oklahoma, 3. Nebraska, 4. Texas A&M, 5. Florida, 6. USC, 7. Georgia, 8. Miami (Fla.), 9. Michigan, 10. Florida State.

* Tom Lemming, ESPN.com: 1. Nebraska, 2. Tennessee, 3. USC, 4. Michigan, 5. Oklahoma, 6. Iowa, 7. Texas A&M, 8. Georgia, 9. Florida State, 10. Virginia Tech.

* PrepStar: 1. USC, 2. Florida State, 3. Oklahoma, 4. Tennessee, 5. (tie) Michigan, 5. (tie) Nebraska, 7. Miami (Fla.), 8. California, 9. Texas A&M, 10. Iowa (Ohio State, 12th).

* Previous Recruiting Consensus Poll Champions: 2004, USC (Ohio State, seventh); 2003, (tie) LSU, USC, Florida (Ohio State, 24th); 2002, Texas (Ohio State, second); 2001, Florida State (Ohio State, 14th); 2000, Florida (Ohio State, seventh); 1999, Texas (Ohio State, second); 1998, Michigan (Ohio State, 16th); 1997, Florida State (Ohio State, 10th); 1996, Ohio State; 1995, Notre Dame (Ohio State, 26th); 1994, Tennessee (Ohio State, second).

Scout.com Experts

* Jamie Newberg, co-national recruiting editor – The Buckeyes signed three Scout.com national top-100 players in their 18-man class, including Ohio offensive lineman Alex Boone (No. 15), Ohio defensive back Jamario O'Neal (No. 17) and New York defensive end Doug Worthington (No. 42).

"This was a great group by Ohio State," Newberg said. "Recruiting is about filling needs and Ohio State is doing that. They started off so strong. They do so well instate. They got Jamario O'Neal, who we ranked as the nation's No. 3 cornerback. He is another sensational player from Cleveland Glenville.

"Then, they also had Alex Boone, who we raised from No. 3 to No. 2 nationally in the offensive line rankings. He probably had the most consistent week of anybody at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl among the East team offensive linemen."

More jewels in this class include Ohio quarterback Rob Schoenhoft and Ohio linebacker Freddie Lenix.

"Schoenhoft is a big, strong-armed quarterback," Newberg said. "The sleeper kid I love in this class is Freddie Lenix. Some would say, `If he was only bigger,' but I don't care. I'd offer him no matter where he was."

Newberg, who is based in the Atlanta area, also likes Georgia two-way star Anderson Russell.

"He is a guy I got to see play a lot," Newberg said. "I have seen him more as a running back than a safety. He is a very good athlete who can help Ohio State."

Newberg and Scout.com received venom from OSU fans everywhere after the network dropped OSU signee Maurice Wells, a tailback from Florida, from ninth to 24th in the tailback rankings following his two-carry performance in the All-American Bowl. Wells has since been "adjusted" back up to 19th.

"Maurice Wells is a guy they will want to get out into space," Newberg said. "He has great speed."

Regarding the ratings flap, Newberg said, "We call them like we see them. There is no conspiracy here against Ohio State or any other school. We have a tough job here that we are trying to do.

"The fact is several of our Southeast experts implored me since the beginning that we had Maurice Wells rated too high.

"But this is not a knock on Maurice. He has a great amount of talent and he has things you can't coach like quickness and speed."

* Allen Wallace, co-national recruiting editor, publisher of SuperPrep -- Wallace also addressed the situation with Wells.

"They needed a running back and they got one," Wallace said. "I was one of the aficionados who liked (Florida's) Maurice Wells. He was a SuperPrep Elite 50 player. He is not big and powerful like some of the other running backs we saw this year like Marlon Lucky or Jonathan Stewart. But he is qualified and had 15 offers by last June. He has terrific speed and moves and is built like a rock. He adds a lot to this class.

"Doug Worthington was the No. 3 defensive end in the country and Todd Denlinger was the No. 13 defensive tackle. Then they have Jamario O'Neal, who was the No. 3 corner in the country, and Alex Boone, who was the No. 2 offensive lineman nationally.

"They lost Jason Gwaltney to West Virginia and Walker Ashley to USC. But they did OK at the end. They got (wide receiver) Brian Robiskie and (defensive back) Donald Washington. They may not have been as highly ranked as some other players, but they were heavily recruited by some other schools.

"Ohio State also got (Ohio) defensive end Lawrence Wilson away from Notre Dame at the last minute."

* Chris Pool, Midwest recruiting editor -- "Ohio State always has a one of the best recruiting classes in the country and '05 is no exception. This Buckeye recruiting class is led by Alex Boone (right, OL). Alex is a U.S. Army All-American and one of the top tackles in the entire country. Jamario O'Neal was also a U.S. Army All-American and he could help the Bucks on either side of the football.

"Cleveland-Glenville linebacker Freddie Lenix is extremely underrated. Lenix is a tremendous athlete that could end up playing running back for Ohio State. Rob Schoenhoft is an "Elite 11" quarterback with an extremely strong arm. Akron's Lawrence Wilson originally committed to Notre Dame but signed with Ohio State."

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