The famous recruiter (and general reprobate) Robert Morley once said, "Anybody who works is a fool. I don't work. I merely inflict myself upon the public".
That's me. This isn't work. It's a passion. It is a hobby. Someone – from Notre Dame – actually accused me of being (well…I can't use specific words here…), but ended his tirade indignantly, asking if I really consider myself a "journalist". I replied, "No, I am simply a hobbyist with a lot to say".
So, at this point in the recruiting season – it being over and all – there's not a lot more to say. A perfect place for Mr. Bucknuts to come in and say it anyway, right? To inflict myself back onto my tolerant public.
So here's what I have to say…
Red faces, red-shirts and pink slips…Ask for any projections on a recruiting class and you will get glib blandishments or something assertive that looks awful in hindsight. I am for the latter. I define "success" like Churchill did: Go from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.
Thus, I will take a shot at where/if the new classmates will play as true freshmen. Hell, they can't fire me and I'm not smart or sensitive enough to be embarrassed. Here goes (in order of date of commitment):
Chris Wells: The rain maker of the class; the #1 recruit in America, by some accounts. He is arriving early for spring practice and there is no way – short of injury – that they will red-shirt this man-beast. As to that red-shirting thing, I would red-shirt Maurice Wells – give him a chance to add more muscle and keep him around to become the counter-puncher to Chris Wells once Antonio has moved on.
Ross Homan: He has already arrived. That is, he is enrolled and on campus. Guys like that (think Clarett, Whitner, Youboty, Rehring, etc.) tend to be pleasant surprises their first year. Guys with Homan's talent tend to be pleasant surprises their whole career! (Think AJ, Carpenter, etc.). He will be in the two-deep and on special teams in 2006
Jake Ballard: He will red-shirt if they want to convert him to an offensive lineman. Otherwise, they will need this big body in the tight end rotation, what with Marcel Frost a junior, Nicol a soph and Brandon Smith already a convert. Could be the "next Andree Tyree", with many more career minutes.
Kurt Coleman: I love this kid because the coaches love this kid. The early buzz is that he will compete for playing time with R-freshman Andre Amos. He is that good. And if he is that good, look for them to keep red off his shirt.
Antonio Henton: The perfect red-shirt. There aren't enough snaps to go around for the four quarterbacks ahead of him. Besides, he has to learn the system and he has to get used to the big city. No sense in trying to put pressure on him early. As a candidate for the "Next Troy Smith" award, let's see how he does running the scout team.
Connor Smith: Can you say, "Doug Datish"? They both came from schools that rarely pass and, therefore, they were un-schooled in pass blocking. But just like Datish (who looked great the second half of last year…), Connor will be a super stud. Given that he needs the time, I am now inclined to think that he needs a red shirt year.
Tyler Moeller: Could be a small fast killer LB or a large fast killer strong safety. If he sticks as a linebacker, he needs a year of strength training. If he changes to safety, he needs a year of orientation. It's perfect spacing for a kid who is going to fit in perfectly – somewhere, some day.
Grant Schwartz: He might get time just because he seems to have that "special teams" mentality. Otherwise, in a position loaded with players (Anderson Russell, Devon Lyons, Donald Washington, Curt Lukens, Brandon Mitchell, Jamario O'Neal, etcetera), this safety should take in a year's service on the scout team.
Dexter Larimore: You ever see a better face for a nose guard? Dexter is Da Man! After next year, OSU loses the Killer P's (Patterson, Pitcock and Penton) form the inside and that leaves them with a short rotation of Cotton, Denlinger, and Abdallah. Not even a two-deep! They will probably slide someone down from DE (Worthington?) but the depth is missing. So Dexter might get a chance to play and get some rotation experience.
Chimdi Chekwa: Here, it's just a matter of who shows up. If Andre Amos and Kurt Coleman are as good as I think, then Chimdi shouldn't burn a year in order to be in the three-deep. And that's what I think will happen.
Robert Rose: The only question on Robert between last Wednesday and the Hall of Fame is if Robert will show up on every down (the Jay Richardson Syndrome). If he does, he is a beast that won't be denied and will be taking snaps from the rest of the defensive end possibilities. But because they have so many possibilities (Richardson, Wilson, Gholston, Barrow, a linebacker, Worthington, Williams, and Barrow), the likelihood is for Robert to cool his jets for a year and work on consistent fuel.
Mark Johnson: Mark seems destined for the "next wave". That is, post Hoobler, D'Animal, Kerr et. al. A perfect red-shirt candidate and a perfect time to become a student as well as a hitter.
Walter Dublin: It has been said that Walter could play any/all of the D-line positions. Well, they certainly don't need a new fresh face at DE! And he isn't going to get time with that group in the middle. Let's root for a lot of Scout Team of the Week honors for Walter in 2006.
Andy Miller: One of the two TE's – either Miller or Ballard – will see the field this year as a reserve TE. The other will see a red-shirt as a developing offensive tackle/ TE question mark. I say the latter will be Andy Miller.
Bryant Browning: It might be a big red-shirt, but it will be a red-shirt nonetheless. Bryant wouldn't be in the initial two-deep so why burn the year of eligibility?
Aaron Gant: Aaron also seems to be "next wave" material as the Buckeyes have a gaggle of safeties. The only thing that could get him on the field in 2006 is on special teams.
Aram Olson: A Ram, indeed. Very exciting prospect and a chance he will be the icebreaker in front of the Chris Wells frigate for years to come. In that sense, why not give him a taste? Stan White is a senior and Dionte Johnson is a junior. Aram should play.
Ray Small: TG III? If so, he is only here for III years…If he is as good as advertised, you want him out there somewhere. He might join Ted on returns or might be his successor. Get him on the field.
Thaddeus Gibson: Even though the Buckeyes are loaded with options at linebacker, TG could be the LB of the future. Additionally, he could be a special teams terror. That said, if Thaddeus does not play, it means that 1) There are classroom concerns or 2) They don't need him to play right away, which could be good news.
Larry Grant: Larry is only granted two years to play, although he could use a redshirt. I think that the coaches think he is ready now and there is a stable-full of younger talent behind him. It would be surprising if Grant is not in the two-deep.
Now, get back to me after the bowl game next year (Phoenix?) and let me know how I did. Or – more importantly – how they did…
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A Ram Ahead of a Wells…Sounds like an anagram or an acrostic or even a palindrome, if you read it fast enough. But it's not. It's simply a description of Aram leading Chris or Maurice through a hole in the line. Remember the days of yore when Nicky Sualua led Eddie George? Well, we can dream, can't we?
This dream is a reality – at least in recruiting terms. "A Ram" is Aram Olson, one of the top fullbacks in the nation and reminiscent of Jamar Martin, from the genre of "Kids who just love to block". One of the teasers that the coaching staff used to get Aram from South Carolina to Columbus was simply asking, "How would you like to be the lead blocker for the nation's best back, Chris Wells"? He liked it. And he is here. He could be leading Maurice Wells or even Erik Haw as well, don't forget. (Or even a senior – Antonio Pittman).
But if he is leading running backs to glory, that might mean the old "Power I" is back in fashion. And that might be where we are headed, Buckeye fans. It's a ball control formation and it's hugely effective when you have a power back, prototype fullback and a great road-grader offensive line. We have all that and plenty to bolster it.
Add the fact that Wells was uncomfortable in San Antonio running out of the spread and you have more reason to feel that we could get all Woody on you and start to "grind some meat" in the next few years. I can see Coach Tressel's chest swelling now beneath the sweater vest…
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Fun with fallible facts…Each year, Scout keeps a running tally of "team standings" in recruiting. Here at Bucknuts, we only put stock into the rankings if Ohio State is ranked really high. Otherwise, we simply dismiss the whole thing as "subjective"…
One flaw in the Scout scoring system is that teams are ranked by "total points". Therefore, a school that takes 25 players with a lower average rank per player will be higher ranked than a team that takes 20 players that have a higher star ranking per guy. Since only 11 can play at a time, well…you get the drill. Hey – how about Florida State – they took 30 kids in this class! Not only is that a huge boost to their overall standings (maybe it helps keep Bowden employed…) but it also tells you how confident they are about all those good students "making the grade". Eh?
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Liars, statistics, and the lying stats guys that use them…Just to bring a little order to the entropy, let's try on these numbers:
1) Ohio State has seven Top 100 recruits, tied for second in the nation behind USC (11).
2) They have the nation's #1 recruit (Chris Wells) and
3) They have the nation's #1 fullback (Aram Olson) to block for him
4) Ten of 20 recruits are from out-of state this year with the geographical dispersion being two from Florida, three from California and one each from Georgia, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Indiana and Michigan
5) They had eight of the top ten recruits in Ohio, failing (?) only to land Justin Boren and Aaron Brown.
It's been a heck of a ride. Not only do the Buckeyes have great recruits, they also have recruited at the positions that need the help. That's something that isn't measured quite as readily in the overall rankings…
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Finally…OSU recruited a great class. I disagree with Coach Conley that they didn't recruit speed. I think they are fast and they are smart and they are good kids, to boot. And, they fill needs. I also disagree with Coach C about not recruiting Florida well. Let's see how Chekwa and Dublin work out and let's see why OSU decided they were able to live without Colin McCarthy.
I love this class. And when it comes to recruiting philosophies, I still say, "In Tressel I trust…"
If you have something to say, and you want to say it to Mr. Bucknuts, feel free to pass along your thoughts at MrBucknuts@yahoo.com