A while back, we had a feature called the Nifty 50, where I rated OSU's recruiting targets based on want, need, and talent. I thought I'd bring back something a little similar to the Bucknuts Fan Club... we'll call this the Sweet 16. These are my choices -- based on need, want, offers, and mutual interest (which is key... players who have been offered but are not interested in OSU are not listed here) -- for the top 16 players I think are the most important recruiting targets. Here we go...
1. Prescott Burgess - DB/LB - Warren, OH Harding HS (6-4, 218 4.8) - An obvious #1 choice simply because he is the undisputed #1 player in the state. In-state kids are a huge priority every year. A probable top 25 player nationally. OSU's Status - It's OSU territory up there, even more so since Coach Tressel came on board. Burgess has long been said to be an OSU lean.
2. Donte Whitner - DB - Cleveland, OH Glenville HS (5-10, 175, 4.3) - Donte has established himself as a sure-fire top 100 player and a possible top 50 overall player. He will be able to go wherever he wants. Reports are that he showed he was the top player at Nike Camp at Michigan State. He is a definite top target for this class. OSU's status - Glenville has seemingly become OSU territory, and many fans are expecting that Donte will wind up at OSU, but he doesn't seem close to a decision.
3. Jerry Sevin - OL - River Ridge, LA John Curtis HS (6-3, 290, 5.1) - Massive kid. He looks like he's ready to go now (check out the photo down this page: http://college.theinsiders.com/2/44393.html). This is the type of body you look for in a center. OSU signed a center in Nick Mangold this year, but Duane Long has said before that with Nick's size and speed, he would be wasted at center, and I tend to agree. Sevin seems to be more of a true center. OSU's status - He seems to have some solid interest in OSU. John Curtis was Jonathan Wells' high school. Can OSU beat LSU though?
4. Louis Irizarry - TE - Youngstown, OH Ursuline HS (6-5, 230, 4.7) - Maybe if Louis came to OSU, the QBs would finally start throwing to the TEs... we can only hope. We are big Louis fans here in the Bucknuts Fan Club, and we'd love to see him come on board. This seems to be a tremendous year for TEs nationally, and to have people saying that Louis might be the best of the bunch just tells you what kind of player he is. OSU's status - OSU seems to have moved into the clear leader position despite Louis' relatives showing up to root for Penn State during our chat.
5. Shawn Crable - DE - Massillon, OH Washington HS (6-6, 235, 4.6) - The top DE in the state, Shawn will likely be a top 50 overall player nationally. That alone is enough to rank him high on the list despite OSU looking OK at DE for now. He's a player that I would like to see stay in-state. OSU's status - This might be one of the most talked about issues of the still-early recruiting year. Shawn has been reported by multiple sources to be a Michigan lean. Shawn has also been reported by multiple sources to be an Ohio State lean. Shawn has also been reported by Duane Long as having no leader. We need to relax a bit as it could be a while before we know the answer. But at least OSU has JayZ up in Massillon helping out, and there's the Coach Shepas/Coach Tressel connection too.
6. Joel Holler - OL - Lancaster, PA McCaskey (6-6, 330, 5.4) - OSU has reportedly offered this massive guy from PA not too long ago. There was a report that he committed to Miami, which was later strongly refuted. OSU's status - OSU has offered, and he seems interested, and you know the equation - OL Offer + OL Interested = Spot on list. What are the actual odds that he'd wind up at OSU? The guess is not too good; there's a rumor that Penn State will be tough to beat. Plus, not only does OSU seemingly never get any players from PA, but it seems rare that any ever actually have serious interest. But who knows?
7. Dareus Hiley - ATH - Cleveland, OH Glenville (6-1, 175, 4.4) - A top 100 caliber talent who has been offered by OSU and is working hard on grades. Can play several positions. OSU's status - I haven't seen a leader for him, but I keep going back to that quote Troy Smith made on the Bucknuts Radio Hour when he said that he and Dareus were "trying to get Donte Whitner down to Ohio State"... the gut feeling is OSU is the team to beat, but we will see.
8. Michael Bush - WR - Louisville, KY Male HS (6-3, 225, 4.5) - This guy sounds like a phenomenal athlete who will be one of the nation's top overall players and unquestionably the best in Kentucky. The Insiders.com write-up on him predicts that he will be both Mr. Football and Mr. Basketball this year in the state of Kentucky. Not surprisingly, he is looking to play both in college. Michael can play several different positions on the football field, including QB. Bush projects as a WR, and you might be thinking that WR is not a position of need in this year of small scholarship numbers, particularly with the apparent likelihood of Massillon Washington WR Devin Jordan coming aboard. But Bush seems to be the type of player you take regardless if he wants to come. OSU's status - Michael seems to have some legit interest in OSU. He may attend OSU camp this summer, and he also has an ex-teammate (Marcus Green) currently at OSU. OSU has a good combination of basketball and football and they have shown a willingness to let someone play both sports. There's not enough info out now to determine a leader.
9. Sian Cotton - DT - Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary HS (6-5, 300, 5.0) - The reason I have Sian above David Patterson is versatility; unlike Patterson, he could play OL if need be. OSU's status - Looks good right now... Sian has been offered by OSU and has been down to campus, and the Buckeyes appear to be the team to beat.
10. David Patterson - DT - Warrensville Heights, OH (6-3, 275, 4.8) - The state's top pass rusher, David already has an impressive list of offers, including OSU. He's not necessarily at a position of need, but he's definitely a want. OSU's status - Looking good. It would be a big shock if he went anywhere other than OSU.
11. Todd Boeckman - QB - St. Henry, OH (6-6, 220, 4.8) - Todd is rated right now as OSU's top QB. Brady Quinn's stock is on the rise, so that ranking may be subject to change, but of the QBs in Ohio this year, he seems to be OSU's first choice. OSU's status - OSU seems to be his first choice as well. It doesn't seem like Todd will decide until the summertime, but St. Henry is Buckeye country, and if he didn't go to OSU, it would be a surprise.
12. Wesley Jefferson - LB - Clinton, MD Gwynn Park HS (6-2, 231, 4.7) - One of the top LBs in his region, Wesley has been a player who has received a lot of press early. He reportedly was impressive at the Penn State Nike Camp. I guess it wouldn't kill OSU to take another great LB this year... OSU's status - The Bucks have offered, and if you count Prescott Burgess as a DB, this is the only LB I can think of who OSU has offered to this point (although I'd have to imagine there are other offers floating around out there, par