Ohio State Football Signing Day Tracker

The letters of intent are in and the commitments are official. Below is a list of OSU commitments with stats, bios, links, staff commentary, and rankings. Read on to get to know this year's Ohio State football recruiting class.

Ohio State's 2006 recruiting class started off the best way it possibly could as the first commitment in the class came from national No. 1 prospect Chris Wells. One day later, Ohio State received their second commitment, this one from four-star linebacker Ross Homan. Since then, Ohio State has added verbal commitments from many of the top prospects in the state of Ohio as well as an assortment of talented players from across the country. Today, the class becomes official as the players signed their official letters of intent to play at Ohio State. 

As the letters rolled in, we added names to the list of Buckeye recruits. 20 players in all signed with Ohio State.

We have also added something called the Bucknuts Rating, which is an average score based on the star rankings of the Bucknuts staff (voted on by Mr. Bucknuts, managing editor Steve Helwagen, recruiting editor Duane Long, assistant editor Dave Biddle, reporter Kyle Lamb, reporter Charles Babb, contributor NevadaBuck, and webmaster Kirk Larrabee). Each staff member gave each Buckeye commitment a rating based on their own personal evaluation -- 5 stars for a player who is a top 50 overall prospect nationally; 4 stars for a player who is rated 51-200; 3 stars for a player rated 200-500, and 2 stars for 501 or lower. This is a way to see how the Bucknuts staff as a whole views this year's recruiting class. 

Check out the list below for capsules, ratings and staff commentary. Click on a player's name to go to their player page, which will give you links to stories on the player as well as videos (premium customers only). 

Jake Ballard, TE, Springboro (Oh.)
Ht: 6-6  Wt: 255  40: 4.8
Scout.com Rating:   No. 6 TE, No. 12 overall in Ohio
Ohio High Magazine Rating: No. 10 overall in Ohio
Bucknuts Rating: 4.125 stars
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Ballard came into the recruiting season with a reputation for being a very athletic prospect for his size, and he didn't disappoint. Things heated up for Ballard during May as offers began to come and he put on good showings at camps. Soon, the big offers came in: Michigan and Ohio State. Ballard didn't take long to jump on the opportunity presented to him by Ohio State, committing in early June.

Ballard has stated he will be coming to Ohio State as a tight end. He has great versatility and could play on either the offensive or defensive line if tight end does not work out. He was district defensive player of the year for the second straight season in 2005. Ballard is also an excellent basketball player and has played at four different positions this year for Springboro. He appears to be set for tight end at Ohio State. 

"There was no talk about me playing on the offensive line at all in the future," Ballard said in December. "Even when I get bigger and put on more weight I'll probably still play tight end."

Ballard was a first-team All-Ohio pick in Division II by The Associated Press and an ONN/Ohio High All-Ohio pick as well. He will play in the Ohio North-South Classic in June.He holds a 3.4 GPA and scored a 23 on the ACT.

Our Take:

Steve Helwagen says: "A Kirk Barton-type who could play probably five positions before it's all said and done."

Mr. Bucknuts says: "We should be very excited here. Either a huge TE with athletic talent or a big OL with athletic talent."

Charles Babb says: "Ballard is one of those players who you don't know what position (TE/OT) his body will demand he play, but he has the athleticism to excel at either. With his size and current measureables he has a chance to play early as a blocker and occasional pass catcher."

Dave Biddle says: "Extremely athletic for his size. He will start out at tight end, but there is a good chance he will move to tackle sometime down the road."

NevadaBuck says: "Great measureables and desire.  Love those big guys that can run."

Bryant Browning, OL, Cleveland (Oh.) Glenville
Ht: 6-3  Wt: 328 
Scout.com Rating:   No. 61 OL, No. 33 overall in Ohio
Ohio High Magazine Rating: No. 20 overall in Ohio
Bucknuts Rating: 3.25 stars

Browning has tremendous potential as an offensive lineman. He has a long wingspan and strong hands. He helped Glenville to a 12-1 season as a senior. He was a second-team All-Ohio pick in Division I and a member of the ONN/Ohio High All-Ohio team. He will play for the Ohio

Last spring, Bryant Browning was rated as a solid prospect but was not mentioned as one of the elite offensive line prospects in Ohio. Since then, Browning's stock has risen as he put in fine showings on the field and in camps. By the time he made his announcement to attend Ohio State, Browning had scholarship offers from Tennessee, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan State, and several others. 

Browning selected the Buckeyes on January 16th, becoming the second offensive line commitment in this class. "I've been to a lot of great places and met a lot of great people throughout the recruiting process," Browning said, "but when it came down to it, Ohio State was the best place for me to spend the next four or five years of my life. So I decided to stay home and become a Buckeye."

Our Take:

Steve Helwagen says: "Not so heralded, but has almost unlimited potential; will benefit greatly from Jim Bollman's teaching."

Mr. Bucknuts says: "Coach Ginn said he was the best O-lineman in the state and got better as he dropped some weight. Good student and great upside."

Dave Biddle says: "Reminds me of Rob Sims coming out of high school. The first offensive lineman to come to OSU from the Glenville pipeline."

Kyle Lamb says: "He's from Glenville and Jim Tressel likes him, so what more is needed?"

NevadaBuck says: "Underrated most of the year.  Moves great for a guy his size.  Great student."

Chimdi Chekwa, CB, Clermont (Fla.) East Ridge

Ht: 6-1  Wt: 170  40: 4.54
Scout.com Rating:   NR
Orlando Sentinel Rating: No. 90 overall in Florida
Bucknuts Rating: 3.0 stars
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Chekwa is a recruit who came on the scene suddenly as his name wasn't known to Ohio State fans before his official visit date was revealed in December. Chekwa then became a Buckeye just a few days after his visit, choosing the Buckeyes on Dec. 21. He also received scholarship offers from Clemson, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Maryland, Iowa State, and Wake Forest.  

He was discovered by Ohio State when the Buckeyes were recruiting wide receiver and teammate Richard Jackson. "When Ohio State came down for Richard they saw a tape of me and the saw me in my games and they liked me and later on they offered me a scholarship," Chekwa said.

As a senior in 2005, Chekwa finished the season with 44 tackles, seven interceptions, four fumble recoveries and one forced fumble. As a junior, Chekwa finished the year with 40 tackles, four interceptions, 11 pass breakups, and two touchdowns. He was a first team all-district selection at the end of the season.

He has competed at the Florida state track meet the past two years in the 300-meter hurdles and holds the East Ridge school record in three events: the 100 meter dash (10.79 seconds), the 200 (22.2 seconds) and 300 hurdles (38.7 seconds).

Chekwa is a SuperPrep All-American, ranking as the nation's 33rd-best defensive back and as the No. 24 prospect overall in Florida.

Our Take:

Steve Helwagen says: "Came on with a great senior year, earned his offer and jumped at it after taking the grand tour. Could help them down the line."

Charles Babb says: "Chekwa is a talented player who may surprise. This coaching staff does not reach on kids; their rule of thumb is they won't offer if they don't believe he can see the field."

Dave Biddle says: "The Buckeyes were actually recruiting his high school teammate – WR Richard Jackson – when they discovered Chekwa. He moved to Florida from New Orleans prior to his junior year and not many people knew about him until this year. Ohio State's staff has a history of finding out of state gems that fly under the recruiting radar."

Kyle Lamb says: "Chekwa should be a fan favorite by name alone. The coaches feel he's got the game to boot."

NevadaBuck says: "Widely regarded as a top DB out of a state (Florida) that is known for producing top talent."

Kurt Coleman, CB, Clayton (Oh.) Northmont
Ht: 5-11  Wt: 180  40: 4.4
Scout.com Rating:   No. 14 CB, No. 13 overall in Ohio
Ohio High Magazine Rating: No. 7 overall in Ohio
Bucknuts Rating: 4.75 stars
Video | Radio (7/20/05) | Articles

Coleman is an elite prospect, likely one of the more underrated prospects in the country. Most people did not know his name in February, but once he was uncovered, it was learned that Ohio State was among dozens of schools to have given him an early offer. Coleman weighed his options a bit before committing to Ohio State on June 25 during camp in the summer. He selected Ohio State over Iowa, Kansas State, Tennessee, and Cincinnati.

What caused him to choose the Buckeyes?

"Probably just the tradition and the academics there," Coleman said. "It's just family. I liked the coaches and the academics. It's also important for me to be near my family."

Coleman, who boasts 4.4 speed in the 40, did a little bit of everything for Northmont, which qualified for the Division I playoffs and finished 8-3. On defense, he made 92 tackles (two for losses), forced two fumbles and had three interceptions. He had a 53-yard touchdown catch in his team's playoff loss to Centerville. For the year, he had 23 catches on offense and five touchdowns (two catches, one kick return, two punt returns).

He was a first-team All-Ohio pick in Division I and a member of the ONN/Ohio High All-Ohio team. He plans to graduate early from Northmont and enroll at OSU in time for spring football.

As a junior, he tallied 91 tackles and 10 interceptions on defense and also had 16 catches and seven touchdowns on offense.

At one point, he was ranked among the nation's top 100 prospects by Scout.com. He ended up outside those rankings at season's end, but he was still listed by that service as the nation's No. 14 cornerback, 21st overall in the Midwest and 13th overall in Ohio. He was rated as the state's No. 7 prospect by Ohio High. He was also a SuperPrep All-American, checking in as the nation's No. 27 defensive back and 20th overall in the Midwest.

Coleman holds a 3.1 GPA and scored a 20 on the ACT. He is involved in Northmont's Peer Tutoring Program designed to provide academic and social support for special needs students and hopes to major in special education. 

Our Take:

Steve Helwagen says: "Was a top-100 player early and fell out for reasons unclear. Coming in for spring ball makes him a 5-star in my book, could compete for a starting job this fall."

Mr. Bucknuts says: "Could be five stars on either offense (WR) or defense (CB) or return guy. Will get and early start in the spring and will go from there."

Charles Babb says: "Of all the players in this class, Coleman might have the best chance to make an early impact. He hits like a truck but has the speed and tenacity to play cornerback. With an open spot due to Youboty's early NFL declaration, Coleman will get every opportunity to prove he can handle the job. His academics are in order and early enrollment will help him learn the schemes."

Kyle Lamb says: "People have nearly forgotten about one of the first verbals of the entire class. Coleman will be battling for a starting job in the future."

NevadaBuck says: "If there is a better DB in the country I have not seen him. I call him "boo" ...'cause he is scary."

Walter Dublin, DE, Sarasota (Fla.)

Ht: 6-3  Wt: 235  40: 4.6
Scout.com Rating:   NR
Bucknuts Rating: 3.875 stars
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Walter Dublin had his eyes on Ohio State for quite a while, listing the Buckeyes as a school of interest as far back as the summertime. Dublin also seemed consistent with his intent on leaving the state of Florida, and he considered offers from Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Rutgers, and others. He had an excellent visit to Ohio State on the weekend of Jan. 9 and committed on Jan. 13. 

 Dublin seemed to be most impressed with OSU head coach Jim Tressel. "The highlight of my trip to Ohio State was my meeting with Coach Tressel," he said. "He is the most respectable guy I have ever sat down to talk with. I just decided to nip it in the bud now and go to Ohio State."

"They want me to play the Leo position for them," Dublin said. "It's like a nickel position. Sometimes I'll be playing with my hand down on the ground for them. Sometimes I'll be playing up as an outside linebacker. All the other programs wanted me for weakside linebacker."

Dublin's team completed a 7-3 season, although he missed the last four games with an ankle injury (hairline fracture). Still, he tallied 11 sacks and four blocked punts in the first six games. Scout.com ranks Dublin as the No. 69 overall prospect in Florida. SuperPrep lists Dublin as the state's 56th-best prospect. As a junior, Dublin tallied 85 tackles and 14 sacks.

Dublin committed to OSU over Iowa, Minnesota and Clemson. He holds a 2.8 GPA and scored an 1100 on the SAT.

Our Take:

Steve Helwagen says: "I like what I hear; a 260-pounder who could probably end up playing any of the four DL positions, probably will hear a lot from him beginning in a couple of years."

Charles Babb says: "Dublin is one of those who make you scratch your head when you look at 'ratings' and 'rankings'... he may just be the speed rusher Ohio State has missed since 2003."

Dave Biddle says: "Outstanding speed off the edge. Will likely redshirt in 2006 so he can gain weight."

Kyle Lamb says: "His high school coach says that Ohio State wants him to play LEO, which is the position more or less started in Columbus by Will Smith. Some believe he has the potential to be a Smith type of player, but if he's even close to that, Ohio State will be plenty happy."

NevadaBuck says: "Fast and explosive off the edge. Best pass rusher in a great class."

Aaron Gant, DB, Orchard Lake (Mich.) St. Mary
Ht: 6-0  Wt: 205  40: 4.6
Scout.com Rating: NR, No. 14 overall in Michigan
Bucknuts Rating: 3.0 stars
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It's not often that Ohio State goes into the state of Michigan to land a recruit, but they were able to beat out Michigan and Michigan State for Aaron Gant. Gant visited Ohio State on the weekend of Jan. 13 and decided to commit a few days later. He also visited Washington. 

Gant was a bit of an under-the-radar recruit as he did not get much press before the end of his senior season. Gant played safety as a junior and was a two-way standout as a senior at St. Mary Prep. He rushed for over 1,100 yards on offense and led the team in tackles from his safety spot.

"I am not afraid to hit," he said. "I also think I do a good job of getting the team ready so we come out together and play as a team."

Gant will be coming into a secondary that has some open spots, but it didn't seem to have too much of a role in his decision. "I am not really worried about playing early. I will come in and compete and just work hard. Let the chips fall where they may."

SuperPrep listed Gant as the No. 110 prospect overall in the Midwest. He holds a 3.3 GPA and scored a 19 on the ACT.

Our Take:

Steve Helwagen says: "Comes in from Michigan, figures to help them in the secondary."

Mr. Bucknuts says: "Anyone from Michigan that spurns Michigan is a good guy already. When you are a hard-hitting safety, so much the better."

Charles Babb says: "I'm not sure where he should be rated, but Gant has an offer from both Ohio State and Michigan in his pocket. I'm alwaysconcerned of offering a young man in a lesser football state (like Michigan or Kentucky) if the home state school hasn't spotted his abilities, which isn't the case here. Gant is entering the perfect situation -- a depleted depth chart."

NevadaBuck says: "Big hitter that can cover the backs out of the backfield. Ideal guy to combat the spread."

Thaddeus Gibson, LB, Euclid (Oh.)
Ht: 6-2  Wt: 212  40: 4.5
Scout.com Rating:   No. 9 LB, No. 58 overall nationally, No. 5 in Ohio
Ohio High Magazine Rating: No. 2 overall in Ohio
Bucknuts Rating: 4.875 stars
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A talented and tenacious prospect, Thaddeus Gibson is one of the most highly-touted players in this year's recruiting class. Gibson had offers from across the country and is rated by many as a top 100 national prospect. He chose Ohio State in late January over Tennesee and Michigan. 

"It's a great atmosphere," he said. "When I went down on my visit (Jan. 13), I fell in love with the place. From my big brother, Brandon Smith, who I played with my sophomore year (at Euclid), to Teddy (Ginn) and the rest of those guys, I felt really at home."

Gibson cited the fact that Smith currently attends Ohio State as a reason for his decision. "That played a big role in it," Gibson said. "When I played with him here, he was always on my tail about practicing hard and getting better and things like that. I feel that he can really show me the ropes down there as well." 

Gibson had an outstanding year, leading Euclid to a 7-4 mark and a berth in the Division I playoffs. This explosive linebacker uses his speed (4.5-second 40) to get to the football. As a senior, he had 56 tackles (30 solos) with 14 quarterback sacks. He also blocked two punts and returned one kick for a touchdown.

He was a first-team All-Ohio pick in Division I and a member of the ONN/Ohio High All-Ohio team. Gibson, who bench presses 300 pounds, plans to play for the Ohio team in the Big 33 Football Classic in June.

As a junior, Gibson tallied 17 sacks from his strongside linebacker spot.

Gibson is ranked as the nation's No. 58 prospect overall by Scout.com. He is also ranked by that service as the nation's ninth-best linebacker, the ninth-best prospect in the Midwest and fifth overall in Ohio. He is listed as the state's No. 2 prospect by Ohio High. He is listed as a SuperPrep All-American, checking in at No. 35 overall nationally, fourth among all linebackers and fourth overall in the Midwest region. He was ranked as the No. 12 player in the Midwest by the Detroit Free Press.

He holds a 2.7 GPA and needed to improve his test score in order to qualify.

Our Take:

Steve Helwagen says: "I saw Thaddeus live one game and you see what is special, he can wreak havoc in the backfield; reminds me of Na'il Diggs, may be a rush specialist early but will become truly special when/if he rounds out his game."

Mr. Bucknuts says: "When Duane Long says he is the best LB he has seen in Ohio in five years, that covers a lot of ground. So does Thaddeus."

Charles Babb says: "He has all of the abilities necessary to be a star. Commitment to excellence off the field will be the key."

Dave Biddle says: "He will provide speed and explosion from the weakside linebacker position. He's versatile enough that the Buckeyes could decide to use him as a rush end on passing downs."

Kyle Lamb says: "Michigan wanted this kid really badly, as did Tennessee. He's not real big, but he can fly to the football and make a play."

NevadaBuck says: "Will play on Sundays. Fast, mean and tenacious attacking the quarterback."

Larry Grant, CC of San Francisco
Ht: 6-3  Wt: 225  40: 4.45
Scout.com Rating: JUCO
Bucknuts Rating: 4.375 stars

Larry Grant took the long road to finally find a college destination. Grant grew up in California, then moved to Norcross, Ga. for his final three years of high school. Grant originally planned to attend Murray State out of Norcross, but academics forced him to go the junior college route. Grant elected to move back to California and attend CC of San Francisco, where he blossomed into one of the top JUCO prospects in the country. 

Grant, this year's California JUCO defensive player of the year, became a hot commodity this season and gained scholarship offers from coast to coast. In November, Grant made what he thought was his final college choice when he selected the University of Florida. But a math class required by SEC guidelines was not part of Grant's transcript, and soon he and Florida parted ways. Grant then turned his attention towards Ohio State, Oregon, and Texas A&M, and announced on Tuesday his decision to pick the Buckeyes. 

"It is great to be a Buckeye," he said. "It felt right ever since my visit.

"It's linebacker university. I think I can play there and get the kind of exposure I need to get to the next level. It is the best place for me to be."

Grant is the first junior college player the Buckeyes have taken since Chris Vance in 2001 and the first one under head coach Jim Tressel. He is expected to compete for immediate playing time at the Sam linebacker position.

As a senior at Norcross, he had 35 rushes for 450 yards and six touchdowns. As a freshman at CC of San Francisco, he had 90 tackles, six sacks, six blocked punts, four forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery. On offense, he had one rush on a fake punt for 65 yards. Grant was named first team all-conference on defense.

As a sophomore, he was the California JUCO defensive player of the year. He made 85 tackles, including six sacks. OSU previously took two players from CCSF in defensive lineman Paul Breed and linebacker James Cotton.

Our Take:

Steve Helwagen says: "Beautiful thing is he comes with two years of college experience and can compete for a starting spot right away, could be a godsend by November."

Mr. Bucknuts says: "When Tressel takes a JUCO, he has to be great. This one is and can see the field right now."

Charles Babb says: "If he can learn the schemes quickly enough, he probably will start this fall. At worst he provides quality depth in the case of another situation like that of Bobby Carpenter in 2005 or Cie Grant in 2002."

Dave Biddle says: "The nation's No. 1 JUCO linebacker could fill an immediate need for the Buckeyes."

Kyle Lamb says: "Grant can be an immediate impact type of player out of junior college. He could go a long ways in easing the transition from the post Hawk-Carpenter-Schlegel era to a national championship contending team in 2006."

NevadaBuck says: "Immediate impact player at a position of need. Can stop the run and pass with equal vigor."

Antonio Henton, QB, Fort Valley (Ga.) Peach Valley

Ht: 6-1.5  Wt: 207  40: 4.65
Scout.com Rating:   No. 13 QB, No. 12 overall in Georgia
Bucknuts Rating: 4.375 stars
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At first, Antonio Henton might have been a bit of an under-the-radar quarterback recruit. As of June, he only had offers from four teams. One of those teams was Ohio State, and some wondered why the Buckeyes were so much higher on Henton than some of the more talked-about in-state players. But after showing his stuff at OSU camp as well as on the field during his stellar senior season, no one doubts now that the Buckeyes targeted the right player. 

As a senior, he helped lead Peach County to the Class AAA state championship and a 12-3 record. He rushed 73 times for 627 yards (8.6 average) and 10 touchdowns. He also completed 95 of 184 passes (51.6 percent) for 2,117 yards with 30 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He was also named the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's player of the year. Henton, who boasts 4.65-second speed in the 40, reminds many observers of current OSU starting quarterback Troy Smith as a run and pass threat.

"I am excited to come up there and get used to the receivers they have up there," Henton said. "The first year going in there I just want to learn everything I can. That way, in the second year, I'll be in the groove and I'll understand what I'm supposed to do with all of my reads."

Henton's favorite target at Peach County was Auburn-bound wide receiver Chris Slaughter, who caught a school-record 23 touchdown passes as a senior.

He came up big in the season's two biggest games. He had 108 yards passing and two touchdowns passing and 84 yards and two TDs rushing in a 35-17 state semifinal win over LaGrange. Then, he was 8 of 17 passing for 233 yards and two scores in the 35-14 state championship game triumph over Dougherty.

As a junior, Henton had over 1,810 yards and 19 touchdowns passing against only five interceptions as a junior. He also rushed for 316 yards and two touchdowns on only 38 attempts. As a sophomore, Henton was his team's second-leading receiver with 30 receptions for 532 yards and four touchdowns.

Henton is ranked as the nation's No. 13 quarterback prospect by Scout.com. That service also has Henton as the No. 60 prospect in the South and No. 12 overall in Georgia. SuperPrep ranks Henton as the No. 18 prospect overall in Georgia.

He projects as a qualifier with a 2.9 GPA and a 920 on the SAT.

Our Take:

Steve Helwagen says: "OSU liked what they saw of Antonio at camp and once his ankle cleared up he was one of the best QBs in the South. Could be the next Troy Smith."

Mr. Bucknuts says: "From two-star rural to four-star urban, the Buckeyes passed up a lot of recognized talent for this 'diamond in the rough' Troy Smith clone."

Charles Babb says: "He has the perfect blend of athleticism and arm strength to be a success at the next level. Hard work in the film room and studying the body of work Troy Smith is starting to amass on the field will be key. He will undoubtedly redshirt along with every other quarterback Tressel has recruited."

Dave Biddle says: "On film, Henton looks like arguably the best quarterback in the country. He's mobile, he has a big arm, and he's a leader. Quite a steal for the Buckeyes to go down to the Peach State and grab this prospect. Will likely redshirt, then challenge for the starting job in 2007."

Kyle Lamb says: "Ohio State finally seems to have a steady inflow of quarterbacks, and this is the guy that could morph into Troy Smith's role."

NevadaBuck says: "Now we know why everyone at OSU's camp was raving about this guy."

Ross Homan, LB, Coldwater (Oh.)
Ht: 6-1  Wt: 227  40: 4.7
Scout.com Rating:   No. 14 LB, No. 86 overall nationally, No. 7 in Ohio
Ohio High Magazine Rating: No. 3 overall in Ohio
Bucknuts Rating: 4.5 stars
Video | Radio (12/7/05) | Articles
* Already enrolled at Ohio State

Ross Homan has been well-known in the state of Ohio for quite some time, gaining his reputation as a tackling machine early in his high school career. A multiple All-Ohio recipient in Division IV and 2005 ONN/Ohio High Player of the Year, Homan had 1,431 yards and 30 TDs on offense and over 200 tackles in leading Coldwater to a 15-0 season and their first ever Division IV state championship. During his team's five-game run to the Division IV state title, Homan accumulated 389 yards rushing and 10 more touchdowns.

Homan, who has 4.57-second speed in the 40, helped lead Coldwater to a 33-9 win over Youngstown Cardinal Mooney in the Division IV state title game. Homan had 70 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries on offense and had 16 tackles (eight solos) to go with a tackle-for-loss and a forced fumble as the Cavaliers won their first state crown.

Homan is ranked as the nation's No. 86 prospect overall by Scout.com. He also checks in as the No. 14 linebacker prospect, the 12th-best player in the Midwest and No. 7 overall in Ohio. He was listed as the No. 3 prospect overall in Ohio by Ohio High. Homan is also a SuperPrep All-American, ranking as the nation's eighth-best linebacker and No. 9 overall in the Midwest. He boasted a 3.9 GPA at Coldwater.

Homan got his recruitment over early, becoming Ohio State's second commitment in this year's recruiting class. Homan was among six prospects offered by Ohio State on Signing Day in 2005, and he committed just a few days later on February 7. Homan has drawn many comparisons to A.J. Hawk. He enrolled for the winter quarter at Ohio State and is currently taking classes in Columbus. 

"They think I can fill in as an outside linebacker, probably at the Will," Homan said. 

Our Take:

Steve Helwagen says: "4 stars - Could make it 5 stars because he will be in spring ball and will compete for a job in 2006. Heady player, reminds some of A.J. Hawk. Anything remotely close to that would be great."

Mr. Bucknuts says: "Don't let the "small school" or "quiet guy" fool you. This kid is a football player who is smart and has been astounding people at every level since he was a pee wee. The beat goes on this year."

Charles Babb says: "It's all about production and he simply produces. Linebacker and college football in general is a lot about instincts. Homan has them. I expect to hear his name frequently over the next 4-5 years."

Dave Biddle says: "An outstanding all-around football talent who starred at running back and linebacker in high school. He will strictly be a LB at OSU and could challenge for immediate playing time. Good size, speed and nose for the football."

Kyle Lamb says: "Don't buy into the size issue, Homan knows how to play football. This Coldwater tackle machine will thrive in Columbus."

NevadaBuck says: "I hate comparisons like this, but can you say AJ Hawk???"

Mark Johnson, Los Angeles (Calif.) Dorsey

Ht: 6-3  Wt: 227  40: 4.55
Scout.com Rating:   No. 12 LB, No. 74 overall nationally, No. 3 overall in California
Bucknuts Rating: 4.25 stars
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Johnson may be the highest-rated recruit to sign with Ohio State out of California since Ken-Yon Rambo in 1997. Rated as high as a top 100 national prospect by some analysts, Johnson is a recruiting coup for Ohio State. Not pursued as hard by local schools USC and UCLA, Johnson turned his attention to his out-of-state offers, and he selected the Buckeyes over LSU and Oregon.

As a matter of fact, he had an idea that OSU would be the place for him even before his visit. 

"I was kind of planning on doing it during the visit if everything was right," Johnson said. "It was better than I thought it was going to be. I met the coaches and they were very down to earth. I got to see the stadium, the facilities, and Columbus itself was very nice."

As a senior in 2005, Johnson had 110 tackles and 8.5 sacks. He played at Culver City High School as a junior in 2004, and racked up 138 tackles and five sacks. He was selected for this year's U.S. Army All-American Bowl but had to sit out due to injury. He tallied double-digit tackles in all 11 of his games, including 22 against Point Loma.

Johnson is ranked 74th overall nationally by Scout.com. He is also the nation's No. 12 linebacker, fourth overall in the West region and third overall in California by that same service. SuperPrep ranked Johnson as an All-American, listing him as the nation's No. 13 linebacker and the 14th-best prospect overall in California.

He can bench 300, squat 500 and has a 37-inch vertical. Johnson carries a 2.5 GPA and scored a 1350 on the new-version SAT.

Our Take:

Steve Helwagen says: "Coming from Cali, he is considered a top national recruit. We'll see how he fits in."

Mr. Bucknuts says: "Could play all three linebacker positions and might be the MLB of the furutre. Top ranked California kid coming here to prove something."

Charles Babb says: "Here is a player who is a great fit for either middle linebacker (where I give him 4 stars) or rush defensive end (where I might give him 5 stars). At 18 he is 6'3" and weighs in at 227. Those measureables are nearly identical to those of Bobby Carpenter and Will Smith when they exited high school. If Dublin fizzles, Johnson might sizzle at the DE/LB slot."

Dave Biddle says: "Going all the way to Los Angeles and getting one of the top linebackers in the country was quite a recruiting coup for the Buckeyes. He can play all three linebacker positions and could challenge for a spot as a freshman."

Kyle Lamb says: "Did anyone expect Ohio State to go out to Los Angeles and nab a top rated LB? Johnson brings toughness and athleticism to the MIKE position."

NevadaBuck says: "Classic Middle linebacker. Runs sideline to sideline and hits everything he sees."

Dexter Larimore, DT, Merrillville, Ind.
Ht: 6-3  Wt: 260  40: 4.8
Scout.com Rating:   No. 60 DT, No. 5 overall in Indiana
Bucknuts Rating: 3.5 stars
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While teammate James Aldridge (RB, Notre Dame commit) got much of the publicity, Dexter Larimore quietly became one of the more highly-pursued defensive tackles in the Midwest once the football season started. Ohio State surprised Dexter with an offer in September, and then Michigan followed soon after. Even though he said in the past he grew up following Michigan, the Buckeyes made enough of an impression to win his signature. 

Larimore's decision came down to Ohio State and Michigan, and after visiting both schools, he made his decision on Dec. 18. Larimore had to make another tough choice during the recruiting process -- he had to decide between football and wrestling. Larimore was ranked as the No. 1 heavyweight wrestler in the country and had received scholarship offers in that sport, but he elected to go with football. 

"I'm sure I'll be playing football in college," he said. "Especially when I'm considering places like Michigan and Ohio State -- football is king there and would take up all my time."

Larimore has also been quoted as saying Ohio State will let him practice with the wrestling team after the season. He posted a combined 90-5 record over the last two years, when he finished as the state runner-up twice.

Larimore holds a 3.4 GPA and scored a 1060 on the SAT.  

Our Take:

Steve Helwagen says: "Some say, with the wrestling background, this is another Tim Anderson. The defensive front could use some TA nastiness, so that would be good."

Mr. Bucknuts says: "Indiana's Tim Anderson. A blue collar approach with a wrestler's intensity."

Charles Babb says: "I really like this offer and could care less where he might be rated; Ohio State's best defensive tackles in the past decade or more have all been former high school wrestlers or multiple sport athletes. Luke Fickell, Tim Anderson, and Quinn Pitcock all understood leverage; Larimore will as well. He is the kind of lunch-pail player needed in a defensive scheme that demands a DT hold the point of attack while being double-teamed to free up teammates.."

Dave Biddle says: "I love linemen who double as wrestling champions. He could be the second coming of Tim Anderson."

NevadaBuck says: "High character guy. Tim Anderson clone, maybe nastier."

Andy Miller, TE, Washington, (Pa.) Trinity

Ht: 6-6  Wt: 260  40: 4.9
Scout.com Rating:   NR, No. 30 overall in Pennsylvania
Bucknuts Rating: 3.0 stars
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Pennsylvania tight end Andy Miller likely did not enter his senior season expecting an Ohio State scholarship offer.  Things changed, however, as did Miller's outlook on Ohio State.   

"When Ohio State first offered, I asked myself if I could be that type of player, a player that could go there and do well. I don't think I was that type of player until my last five games. I feel like my confidence built and I could play with the caliber of player the Buckeyes recruit."

Miller played in a run-oriented offense and did not catch many passes (9 for 163), but Ohio State liked what they saw enough to offer as a tight end. For Miller, the option of playing tight end was a big difference in selecting the Buckeyes over area favorite Pittsburgh on Jan. 13. Many analysts project that Miller will slide down into an offensive line spot, but that does not appear to be the plan right now.

"I think the thing about that that I've learned is Ohio State doesn't need to recruit tight ends to play tackle," Miller said. "They recruit tackles to play tackle; they recruit tight ends to play tight end. That really gives me a feeling that that's where I'm going to stay. If I can help the team out in another position, then obviously that's where the team needs me to be and where I need to be. So, I will start out at tight end and hopefully that's where I end up in four or five years."

Miller had an impressive 21 reps of the 185-pound bench press during the Nike Camp at Penn State last year.

Our Take:

Steve Helwagen says: "Similar to Jake Ballard in this class, probably will start at TE but could be an OL down the line."

Mr. Bucknuts says: "See Jake Ballard. One will be the TE of the future. The other will be the offensive tackle of the future."

Charles Babb says: "Miller is one of those who will probably drop off the radar for a year or two adding weight and redshirting, but he should not be overlooked. He is a blue collar worker who like a Joel Penton and Stan White will see the field before he leaves Ohio State.."

Dave Biddle says: "A raw prospect, but he could be the tight end of the future. Will most likely redshirt in 2006."

Kyle Lamb says: "An athletic kid who is largely unappreciated but could have a nice career at Ohio State."

NevadaBuck says: "See Ballard... 3.99 student."

Tyler Moeller, LB, Cincinnati (Oh.) Colerain
Ht: 6-1  Wt: 205  40: 4.5
Scout.com Rating:   No. 23 LB, No. 16 overall in Ohio
Ohio High Magazine Rating: No. 17 overall in Ohio
Bucknuts Rating: 3.75 stars
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Moeller is a quick, instictive outside linebacker who was strong coming off the edge. Moeller, who boasts 4.5-second speed in the 40, defends the pass and run equally well. Over the last two seasons, he helped Colerain post a 25-2 record. As a senior, he tallied 127 tackles and 18 sacks as the Cardinals went 10-2 and reached the second round of the Division I playoffs.

This past year, Moeller was the Division I state defensive player of the year, according to The Associated Press. He was also a member of the ONN/Ohio High All-Ohio team. He will play in the Ohio North-South Classic in June.

Moeller selected Ohio State early in the season, making his commitment on Sept. 14. He picked the Buckeyes over Cincinnati, Colorado State, Iowa, Miami (Ohio), Michigan and Virginia Tech. . 

"I'm so glad I made my decision early and I'm not having to stress out about it now," Moeller said in December.

Despite OSU having three openings at linebacker, Moeller doesn't necessarily expect to play right away once he puts on the scarlet and gray. 

"I think I'll probably redshirt, because of my weight and everything," he said. "There's so many good players up there. But, I'm not sure. I can't make that decision. That's the coaches' decision."   

As a junior, Moeller had 120 tackles, 11 sacks and an interception as Colerain rolled to a 15-0 mark and won the Division I state championship. He is ranked as the nation's No. 23 linebacker prospect by Scout.com. That service also lists him as the 31st-best prospect in the Midwest and No. 16 in Ohio. He is ranked as the 17th-best prospect in Ohio High. SuperPrep rates Moeller as an All-American. He checks in at No. 27 among all linebackers and as the 28th-best prospect in the Midwest.

His dad, Mike, played college football at Kent State. Moeller holds a 2.9 GPA and scored a 22 on the ACT.

Our Take:

Steve Helwagen says: "Was used off the edge as a speed guy, gummed up a lot of slow developing plays the last 2 years at Colerain, could be a safety at the college level, just a good solid football player."

Dave Biddle says: "A ball of energy that makes plays all over the field. Will likely redshirt in 2006 so he can add weight to his somewhat slender frame"

Kyle Lamb says: "Much like Homan, Moeller is undersized. However, he has great instincts and you can always find him near the football."

NevadaBuck says: "Think Bobby Boucher in The Waterboy. Tackling machine."

Aram Olson, FB, Columbia (S.C.) Irmo
Ht: 6-2  Wt: 240 
Scout.com Rating:   NR
Bucknuts Rating: 3.875 stars
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One of several prospects in this class whose stock rose dramatically during the season, Aram Olson went from an under-the-radar player to one of the most highly-recruited fullbacks in the country. Ohio State, Florida State, Auburn, and many others were among the suitors for Olson in the end, but the Buckeyes won out.  At first, that didn't seem like the case as Olson was told by OSU in November that they would likely not be taking a fullback, but the Buckeyes came back on Olson and extended an offer. 

The difference for Olson was his official visit to Ohio State.  "Ohio State was my first visit and I met with Coach Tressel and after that I was thinking, ‘This has got to be the place.' I just decided that I was going to take one more visit to Auburn just to make sure I was feeling the right thing. And I definitely was."

Olson is an excellent student, with a 4.5 GPA, a 25 ACT and a 1200 on the SAT. The Buckeyes were as excited to get Olson as he is to come to Ohio State as it means they can pair a bruising fullback with top running back Chris Wells. 

"That's what Doc Tressel told me after he called back with the offer," Olson said. "He said they're getting the No. 1 recruit tailback in the nation and he's a power runner and they figure why not just get someone to be his sidekick. So, they were really looking to go back to that with him."

Olson is a prototypical fullback prospect, according to Irmo coach Bob Hanna. He was a key component on Irmo's 9-3 playoff squad. He boasts 4.7-second speed in the 40-yard dash and is considered a devastating lead blocker.

Olson, who can clean 300 pounds and bench 400, is ranked as the No. 11 prospect in South Carolina by Scout.com. He is also ranked No. 12 in the state by SuperPrep.

Our Take:

Steve Helwagen says: "3 stars - Hard to rate a fullback much higher, but a good one can really affect the bottom line. Olson appears to be that kind of guy."

Mr. Bucknuts says: "The best OSU fullback since Jamar Martin. Someone who understands his role and is excited about it."

Charles Babb says: "Fullbacks may not be considered a 'sexy scholarship offer' but what they allow an offense to do is critical. Ohio State increasingly used a fullback late in the year with Stan White, but they have lacked a true, crushing fullback since the departure of Jamar Martin. Expect Olson to challenge D. Johnson and make the offense better and more diverse as a unit."

Dave Biddle says: "This is the bruising lead blocker that will clear the way for Wells. Will likely redshirt in 2006, then challenge for a starting job in 2007. Buckeyes weren't originally going to take a fullback in this class, but he was too impressive to pass up."

Kyle Lamb says: "Every good tailback should have a lead blocker and Olson could make opposing linebackers' lives miserable with Wells following his crushing blocks."

NevadaBuck says: "Great offers and great kid. Ultimate team guy."

Robert Rose, DE, Cleveland (Oh.) Glenville
Ht: 6-5  Wt: 238  40: 4.7
Scout.com Rating:   No. 5 DE, No. 52 overall nationally, No. 4 in Ohio
Ohio High Magazine Rating: No. 12 in Ohio
Bucknuts Rating: 4.625 stars
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Robert Rose was one of six prospects offered by Ohio State on signing day of last year. Rose always had the physical tools as he dazzled onlookers at the national junior combine a year ago, but some thought he might take time to develop on the college level. Over time though, Rose may have proved some critics wrong. 

He had an excellent season at Glenville and then proved to be one of the top prospects in attendance at this year's U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Rose showed elite ability as a defensive end and impressed East team assistant Greg Toal, who has seen his share of outstanding prospects throughout his career. 

"Rose has a quick step; he's extremely strong," Toal said. "I mean scary strong. He's going to be very good at the next level. I really want everyone to understand what kind of player Robert Rose is. He has scary strength, Michael Strahan-type strength."

Rose went through the recruiting process, but his decision was never in doubt. 

"I knew on Feb. 2 of last year, on signing day, that I was going to Ohio State," Rose said. "Jim Tressel called me that day and he offered me a full scholarship, so I knew right then and there that I was going to attend Ohio State. I just went through the recruiting process to see how it was and see different places and different coaches and different universities. But I already had the decision made up in my mind all the time."

Rose, a rangy end prospect with 4.7-second speed in the 40, helped lead Glenville to a 12-1 mark as a senior. He made 76 tackles (32 solo) with 17 sacks and one interception. He also had two forced fumbles, one recovered fumble and blocked a field-goal attempt.

As a senior, he earned first-team All-Ohio honors in Division I and was also a member of the ONN/Ohio High All-Ohio team. He was a big force for the East squad in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and is scheduled to play in the Ohio North-South Classic in June.

As a junior, Rose tallied 68 tackles and eight sacks.

Rose is ranked as the nation's No. 52 prospect nationally by Scout.com. He also checks in as the nation's fifth-best end prospect, No. 7 overall in the Midwest and No. 4 in Ohio. He was ranked as the state's 12th-best prospect by Ohio High. SuperPrep listed Rose as an All-American, ranking as the No. 24 defensive lineman in the country and the 15th-best prospect in the Midwest. He was the No. 10 prospect in the Detroit Free Press survey of the Best of the Midwest.

Rose, who bench presses 275 pounds, holds a 3.0 GPA.

Our Take:

Steve Helwagen says: "Coming off great All-American Bowl showing, we'll see how his game translates to the college level against men at offensive tackle."

Mr. Bucknuts says: "Maybe the best player in the class regardless of position. If he can keep his motor running, he will play on Sundays."

Charles Babb says: "Rose is as raw as can be, but he shows real flashes of talent. Ohio State ended up landing a tremendous prospect here, and if Heacock can develop him to his fullest potential the results could be frightening."

Dave Biddle says: "Much like Lawrence Wilson last year, Rose could see immediate playing time at defensive end. He was one of the most dominant players on the field at the Army All-American Bowl."

Kyle Lamb says: "A week in San Antonio left quarterbacks frightened, opposing linemen feeling vulnerable and scouts thinking this kid is one of the best pass rushers in America. I know I'm a believer."

NevadaBuck says: "NFL-type body at 18. Sky is the limit with this guy."

Grant Schwartz, DB, Dana Point (Calif.) Dana Hills

Ht: 6-0  Wt: 200  40: 4.4
Scout.com Rating: NR
Bucknuts Rating: 3.25 stars
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It's not too common for players from California to bleed scarlet and gray, but the Buckeyes have been fortunate to have had a player in each of the past two seasons on the West Coast with Buckeye roots. Last year, it was defensive end Ryan Williams, and this year, it's defensive back Grant Schwartz, whose father Brian played at Ohio State. 

Grant was fortunate enough to have his father bring him to Ohio State for the classic OSU-Michigan showdown in 2002, and it made a lasting impression. He stood on the field during the Tunnel of Pride. 

"Just being on the field and standing in the middle and looking up, it was crazy," Grant Schwartz said. "It was like nothing I had ever seen before. The passion they (the fans) had for Ohio State was unmatched."

Schwartz was primarily a quarterback as a junior, but he projects as a safety in college. He split time between defensive back and He shows great athleticism and ran a 4.3 hand-timed 40 and a 4.41 electronic at USC camp over the summer. Schwartz said that the chance to follow in his father's footsteps was instrumental in his decision. 

"That was a big factor in my decision," he said. "That is something that is really cool. Not many players get to play at the same school as their dad, let alone play at all. It's an honor."

. As a senior, he suffered an AC separation in game 6. That limited his effectiveness as a passer down the stretch.

For the year, Schwartz managed to total just under 650 yards rushing, averaging 6.9 yards per carry. He scored nine touchdowns, including kickoff and interception returns for scores. In addition, he threw for 1,210 yards, completing 64.6 percent of his throws for 10 touchdowns and five interceptions.

He ended up setting 18 career and single-season school records. He was a three-time all-league performer. As a junior, Schwartz completed 175 of 280 passes for 1,985 yards with 12 touchdowns and eight picks. He rushed 98 times for 535 yards and nine touchdowns. As a sophomore on defense, he had 70 tackles and two picks.

Schwartz was ranked as the No. 77 prospect overall in California by SuperPrep. He holds a 2.7 GPA and scored a 19 on the ACT.

Our Take:

Steve Helwagen says: "An OSU legacy has spent most of his time at QB the last 2 years, but has athletic ability to affect the bottom line at DB."

Charles Babb says: "Schwartz has undeniable talent and NFL bloodlines. He understands what it is to love Ohio State, which is mostly why he was not recruited more aggressively by most schools. The other reason is that he played high school quarterback and is expected to need a little time to learn his new position. His father, Brian, will be paying for his son to be tutored by a couple of former NFL defensive backs. If he picks up the techniques quickly enough, the younger Schwartz could see the field rapidly; his time as a quarterback gives him the added advantage of understanding offensive schemes."

Dave Biddle says: "Outstanding all-around performer in high school who starred at quarterback and defensive back. He will be a free safety at OSU."

Kyle Lamb says: "The offer and interest list alone indicates this son of a former Buckeye has potential. Schwartz also has the game and work ethic to live up to it."

NevadaBuck says: "Another "hybrid" guy that can run, hit and cover. High football IQ and motor."

Ray Small, WR, Cleveland Glenville
Ht: 5-11  Wt: 170  40: 4.4
Scout.com Rating:   No. 11 CB, No. 98 overall nationally, No. 9 in Ohio
Ohio High Magazine Rating: No. 6 overall in Ohio
Bucknuts Rating: 4.125 stars
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Small is an electrifying talent -- the type of player that makes fans stand up and watch in anticipation when he gets the ball. Very fast and athletic, Small could play either receiver or cornerback in college but is being brought in by Ohio State as a receiver. 

On the season, Small had 29 receptions for 529 yards and 10 TDs, 105 yards and two TDs on 15 carries, 13 punt returns for 227 yards and two TDs. He also returned three kickoffs for 170 yards and one TD.

He earned first-team All-Ohio honors in Division I and was a member of the ONN/Ohio High All-Ohio team. He will play in the Big 33 Football Classic in June. He committed to Ohio State on Jan. 23, giving OSU three Glenville products in this class. 

Small also considered USC, Tennessee, and Michigan State. He has been clocked as low as 4.28 in the 40-yard dash. 

"The position I would probably prefer to play the most would be wide receiver," Small said. "I think I am better on the offensive side of the ball. But I did play defense. I started and played both ways."

Small is ranked as the nation's 98th-best prospect overall by Scout.com. He is listed as the nation's 11th-best cornerback, 14th overall in the Midwest and as the No. 8 prospect overall in Ohio. He is rated as the No. 6 prospect in the state by Ohio High. Small was also named a SuperPrep All-American, checking in as the No. 5 skill athlete nationally and the No. 10 prospect overall in the Midwest. Small was listed as the No. 14 prospect in the Detroit Free Press Best of the Midwest survey.

Small lists a 3.2 GPA and still needed to improve his test score in order to qualify.

Our Take:

Steve Helwagen says: "Great, great speed; had a play vs. St. Ed where he came out of the picture to track down the ball carrier on a breakaway; could help at WR or corner."

Mr. Bucknuts says: "His coach called him "Teddy III". What else do you need to hear? Receiver, corner, great return man - we've seen it all before."

Charles Babb says: "Small offers Ohio State coaches great flexibility. Like Gonzalez, Gamble, and Ginn, Small can play either side of the football in a pinch. If the current crop of defensive backs can't handle the opposition early in the season, don't be shocked if Small is offered a chance."

Dave Biddle says: "Explosive player who can stretch the field, or catch short passes and turn them into long gains."

Kyle Lamb says: "The Glenville pipeline continues and Small should make his mark before it's all said and done. Small is a good playmaker who may become a good receiver."

NevadaBuck says: "Game changer. Could be the next great return guy at OSU."

Connor Smith, OL, Cincinnati Colerain
Ht: 6-5  Wt: 295  40: 5.1
Scout.com Rating:   No. 5 OL, No. 30 overall nationally, No. 2 in Ohio
Ohio High Magazine Rating: No. 4 overall in Ohio
Bucknuts Rating: 4.625 stars
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One of the best offensive linemen to come out of Ohio in the past few years, Smith is a huge pickup for Ohio State. The son of ex-Buckeye Joe Smith, Connor selected Ohio State on July 31 over Florida. He had been a fan of Ohio State, and while he looked around before deciding, it was visiting Ohio State that helped sealed the deal. 

"When I took my visits, it made my feelings for Ohio State even stronger," he said. "I knew it was the place for me. Playing under coach Tressel and (offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Jim) Bollman was just the right fit for me."

Smith's Colerain team brought home a state championship as a junior. As a senior, Smith successfully executed 90 percent of his blocking assignments and recorded 151 knockdown blocks.

Smith is listed as the nation's No. 30 prospect overall by Scout.com. That service also has him listed as the nation's No. 4 offensive lineman and as the No. 4 overall prospect in the Midwest and No. 2 in Ohio. He was listed as the No. 4 prospect in the state by Ohio High. SuperPrep listed Smith as an All-American, ranking him as the nation's No. 35 prospect overall, No. 6 among all linemen and No. 3 overall in the Midwest. The Detroit Free Press listed Smith 11th in its Best of the Midwest survey.

Smith lists a 350-pound bench press and was clocked at 5.1 seconds in the 40. He holds a 3.3 GPA and scored a 21 on the ACT.

Our Take:

Steve Helwagen says: "Great competitor, great leader, great run blocker; All-American Bowl showed he needs to build on his pass pro skills, but he could be a standout at OSU."

Charles Babb says: "Smith will probably redshirt. Like Doug Datish and most young offensive linemen, pass protection, footwork, and handwork will need to be learned. He will make noise in 2007 and beyond."

Dave Biddle says: "Already an outstanding run blocker. His high school team did not pass the ball very much and he has a ways to go in pass pro. Considering the lack of offensive linemen in this class, Smith – the son of former OSU player Joe Smith – was a must-get."

Kyle Lamb says: "Smith was disappointed about his play in San Antonio, so don't be surprised if he works extra hard to try and show people why he was the No. 1-ranked offensive lineman in the midwest."

NevadaBuck says: "Best lineman in the Midwest. An absolute horse who blocks with bad intentions."

Chris Wells, RB, Akron Garfield

Ht: 6-1 Wt: 220  40: 4.5
Scout.com Rating:   No. 1 RB, No. 1 overall nationally, No. 1 in Ohio
SuperPrep Magazine No. 1 overall nationally
Bucknuts Rating: 5.0 stars
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Even if you don't follow recruiting, chances are you know the name Chris Wells if you are a Buckeye fan. The highest-rated prospect to sign with Ohio State in recent memory, Wells is almost universally viewed as this year's top running back prospect in the country. Wells was considered the nation's No. 1 prospect by Scout.com, bringing a true blend of power and speed. It is unclear when or if Ohio State has ever signed the nation's No. 1 overall prospect previously.

Wells has lived up to the hype throughout the year, impressing onlookers at camps, then rushing for 2,134 yards and 27 touchdowns during the season, and then capping it off by winning the MVP award in the U.S. Army All-American bowl after rushing for 67 yards on 13 carries and three touchdowns. 

"It's just a great honor for me to get the MVP," Wells said. "Just to go out there and accept the trophy was a blast. I mean, I'm going to school at Ohio State next year with (2004 AA MVP) Teddy Ginn. This is just incredible." 

Wells, who won't turn 18 until August, was the first commitment in this class, choosing the Buckeyes over Michigan on Feb. 6 after attending a junior day at Ohio State. He plans on enrolling for spring quarter at Ohio State. 

"It's in my blood. I bleed scarlet and gray," Wells said. "I just want to go down (to Ohio State) and take care of business.

"I'm ready to go down to Ohio State and play ball, stay focused. I just can't wait to be a part of the team."

Wells's high school head coach Bob Sax on Chris's career:  "Chris was unique for a running back because he had the ability to lower his shoulder and get the tough two and three yards but at the same time he could go 90 yards and not get caught. In his four years at Garfield, I never once saw him get caught from behind. And the last touchdown against the West proved that he can lower his shoulder and get the tough yards. There were some pretty good athletes the he carried five yards for that touchdown. And I'm really going to miss his punishing stiff arm that he started using in his junior and senior seasons. It's as devastating as a Mike Tyson knockout punch. I saw many would-be tacklers go to the ground from it and it even happened at the All-American game against the best talent in the country."

During his four-year career at Akron Garfield, Wells rushed for 5,232 yards on 598 attempts and scored 61 touchdowns. He capped his career by rushing 36 times for 355 yards and scoring four touchdowns in a 42-28 loss to rival Akron Buchtel. The loss ended Garfield's season at 5-5. Wells was a first-team All-Ohio pick in Division II and also was a member of the ONN/Ohio High All-Ohio team.

As a junior, Wells carried the ball 212 for 1,939 yards (9.1 average) and 20 touchdowns.

Of course, Scout.com ranks Wells as the No. 1 running back, No. 1 overall in the Midwest and No. 1 in Ohio. That was also the case for the Ohio High state ranking. SuperPrep lists Wells as an All-American, ranking him No. 1 overall nationally, No. 1 in the Midwest and No. 1 among running backs. The Detroit Free Press listed Wells as the top prospect in its Best of the Midwest survey.

Wells comes from the same high school as former Buckeye Antoine Winfield and has spent time previously working out with OSU speed coach Butch Reynolds, an Akron native. He holds a 3.0 GPA and scored a 17 on the ACT.

Our Take:

Steve Helwagen says: "Has Keith Byars build and potential, but will have to do with high expectations balanced with limited opportunity (at least early on)."

Mr. Bucknuts says: "Maurice Clarett less the baggage. Five stars and more if you include the excitement he brings."

Charles Babb says: "Without question, this is the prototypical big back Ohio State's offense has lacked for the last 4 years. If he can maintain his humility and learn to work hard on and off the field, he has NFL written all over him."

Dave Biddle says: "Will make an immediate impact and will give Buckeyes a formidable 1-2 punch in the backfield with another Akron native, Antonio Pittman. Wells has an unusual blend of power, speed and vision."

Kyle Lamb says: "Maurice Clarett without the baggage. Keith Byars with another step. Eddie George with some dash. OK, maybe that's a bit much but Wells is the real deal."

NevadaBuck says: "Best running back in the USA. Enough said."

Bill Greene says: "The BEST. Period. A great kid from a great family. He's everything off the field that Clarett should have been. I spent the evening with him the night before signing day and could not be more impressed. People flock to him like a rock star and he loves being around people. ON the field I've got a very special feeling about this kid. Think Archie, Keith or Eddie. I'm betting he leaves OSU as one of Columbus' all-time favorites. This is the ultimate Jim Tressel recruit. The best player in the country teams up with the best coach in the country. Let the fun begin!"

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