I wanted to check in today with some thoughts on recruiting, but the depth chart stopped my train of thought for the moment. A few things come to mind:
- Jesse Kline at fullback -- Jesse is someone who deserves to succeed, so hopefully he can keep this spot. I like this if he's healthy; he is a Matt Keller-type who can add an extra dimension to fullback.
- Mike Kne -- Everyone wants to know who he is and where he came from. All I know of him is that he was with the team in the spring. I have mixed emotions when I see a walk-on in the two-deep. Part of me loves to see the underdog succeed, but then the other part of me gets concerned about the scholarship players that are not there.
- Speaking of which, congrats to Mike Stafford. I just have a strange gut feeling that he'll do okay. The walk-ons (or one-time walk-ons) are making their presence felt, and they prove that anything can happen if you stick with it.
- Congrats to all the freshmen in the two-deep. Before camp, I would not have guessed it would be this many. Nick Mangold and Rob Sims sound like real keepers on the offensive line. Nate Salley and E.J. Underwood are guys we're going to hear from for a long time in the secondary. And, of course, we all can't wait to see the frosh LBs released upon the world.
This is one of the big things I'm looking forward to -- seeing these guys in action and what they can do this year. I'm tired of the projections and predictions... let's see the real thing.
Now on to some recruiting thoughts... the season is upon us, and recruiting will start to heat up a bit with it as the official visits begin. Let's take a quick look at the positions to see where things stand:
Quarterback: The quarterback situation is finally resolved, at least apparently. For weeks, fans wondered what would happen here, and the question has been answered as the man OSU seemed to have #1 on their list -- Brady Quinn -- has gone to ND, and the man that OSU offered way back in the day -- Todd Boeckman -- is a Buckeye. Some may wonder about whether or not taking Boeckman was a good idea, but I think it was a solid pickup. He's got good skills, tools, and athleticism and is still one of the top five or six QB prospects to come out of Ohio in the past few years. He won't play for a while at OSU, but the potential is there down the line to develop into something. As for Quinn, he is a great kid who deserves the continued support of Ohio fans.
Running Back: Not much has changed here -- in most likelihood, no running back will be added to this class unless there is a blue-chipper from out-of-state. There is a chance though that Columbus Eastmoor's Justin Valentine could have a breakout year, causing himself to be put on OSU's radar. Most would be surprised if a RB is taken, but remember the name just in case.
Wide Receiver: The Buckeyes already have one wide receiver in Devin Jordan, and they have lots of bodies at this position right now, but that won't stop them from adding another if the player in question is good enough. The two names to remember are Columbus' Walnut Ridge's Ernie Wheelwright (we'll be eternally baffled by how everyone thought he was going to be a junior) and Huntsville, AL wideout Jayson Swain. It's hard to get a read on Swain, but he has been consistent in mentioning Ohio State. He seems to be the caliber of WR OSU will take regardless of who they already have. At this point though, I'm guessing no more WRs will be added unless Wheelwright makes enough academic progress to get an offer.
Tight End: You won't find many tight ends better than Louis Irizarry, but Ohio State could still add another. Two players from out-of-state -- Tampa's Jamesley Jean and John Kinzer from Robinson, VA -- have reportedly been offered by Ohio State, and the two have mentioned the Bucks in the past. Jean especially seems to have a lot of interest. In-state standout Marcel Frost is also a possibility although more recent reports have the Bucks slipping down his list. A guess - Jean seems like a strong possibility, but if he doesn't wind up at OSU, Irizarry will be the only one.
Offensive Line: Here now is the most intriguing recruiting story of this season (now that the QB situation is resolved). Ohio State does probably want to take some offensive linemen... but where will they come from? Will they come from Ohio, where no offensive lineman has been offered? Or will they come from out-of-state, and if so, who will they be?
Let's answer the second question first. A new name has caught our attention -- Dan Mazan from Cartaret, NJ. I have seen at least one report that says OSU leads, and the Buckeyes have also reportedly offered. Definitely remember the name.
We've also discussed guys like Joel Holler, Kenyon Buford, Tripp Carroll, and Andrew Bain in the past, and their status seems the same -- let's just get them in on visits and then we'll take the next step. Two other names to throw in there might be Aaron Grimes from Tennessee, who OSU has not offered, and Flordell Kissee from Virginia, who reportedly has been offered. There's been talk about Jorrie Adams from Texas being interested, but I'm a counselor at Camp Highly Skeptical as far as that goes.
Will any in-state offensive linemen step up? The candidates seem to be Cincinnati linemen Ty Hall and Tom Anevski. The guess here is that Ohio State will have their eyes on both this year, and it's not out of the question that others will emerge as well, like Dan Pribula or maybe Mike DeLuca.
This situation is far from resolved and not all the candidates to fill the spots could be known yet. It will indeed be intriguing to see what Ohio State does in this area.
Defensive Line: Plenty of possibilities here, starting with in-staters David Patterson, Brandon Maupin, Sian Cotton (offers have been seemingly slow to come in his direction, but he has an OSU offer), and Ray Edwards, and then moving out-of-state with Tim Washington from Sugar Land, TX and maybe Doug Van Dyke from Michigan, Victor Abiramiri from Baltimore, and Mario Williams from Richlands, NC. Any of those out-of-staters would be a coup. The possibility certainly exists that all of the mentioned Ohio defensive linemen wind up at OSU, so this could be a case of just adding more wealth to the riches. Washington seems like the player out-of-state who OSU has the best shot at; he has consistently mentioned OSU, Florida State and Miami as his top three. Abiramiri might be the biggest prize; he was rated by SuperPrep as the nation's #1 defensive end and was compared to Julius Peppers. But for him, Van Dyke, and Williams, the hope here is that OSU just gets a visit.
I'm guessing OSU will get at least three of those four in-state defensive linemen. I would not be surprised if they land one of the nation's top 5 defensive line classes, helping to ensure that DL success will be consistent at OSU.
Linebacker: Ohio State got their linebackers of the future in the class of 2002, but there's a chance that a player or two could be added in this class that could have something to say about that. Wesley Jefferson is a possibility. Shawn "Crabes" Crable (the answer message on his cell phone has been our favorite so far: "This is Crabes... holler at your boy") is on this list as well Florida's Tavares Gooden. South Carolina LB Ryan Brown is a name that has just surfaced, and in-state prospect Reggie Smith is seeing his stock continue to rise. Getting one of these players would be nice; it's hard to tell though if one will come on board. OSU could get two of these guys or they could get zero.
Defensive Back: The chances are still there for this to be a fine defensive back class. Prescott Burgess, Donte Whitner and Dareus Hiley are all on OSU's must-get list from Ohio, and Curt Lukens and Tony Gonzalez are already on board. At CB, Ashton Youboty, Tarell Brown, Damon Jenkins, and Ira Guilford are all possibilities to visit from out-of-state, and we also can't forget about Mike Phillips from in-state. As for safety out-of-state, there's a new name in Indiana's Bernard Pollard, and we find perhaps the biggest possible prize of all out-of-staters considering the Buckeyes in Kentucky's Michael Bush. The Bucks are in the thick of things with him, folks.
I think we'll see 3-4 more defensive backs added. If they are 3-4 of the guys listed above, I challenge anyone in America to match that as a defensive back class.
However, no matter what Ohio State does, expect the ranking to be down this year. That just comes with having a small class. It looks like the number is about 16, and if the Bucks fill that class with stars, it could put them between 10 and 15 nationally. That's about what we saw out of the smaller 1998 class and 2001 class.
Another thing I thought I'd take a look at today is who is doing well in the Big Ten. Several schools are off to a good start; here are some quick rankings for the recruiting classes right now:
1. Ohio State - Number of Commitments - 5 (6 if you include Cliff Reynolds). Maybe there's a little bias here, but I give OSU the slight edge right now. I don't expect the Bucks to stay here due to the class size, but they boast the only true five-star prospect right now in Louis Irizarry, and Gonzalez, Jordan, Lukens, and Boeckman make for an impressive start.
2. Michigan - Number of Commitments - 4. The Wolverines have jumped out of the gate nicely, landing four 4-star players, most notably in-state star LB Jim Presley and OL Jake Long and QB Sam Keller from California. Thank God they missed out on Brady Quinn, and let's hope it stays that way with every other Ohio player.
3. Wisconsin - Number of Commitments - 5. Not a bad start for the stinkin' badgers. They got the #10 DE in America in Justin Ostrowski and also got four-star recruits in TE Danny Kaye and OL Andrew Weininger from New York.
4. Illinois - Number of Commitments - 8. The Illini have the most commitments out of the Big Ten schools so far, but is it quality or quantity? I don't know, but so far, they only have one four-star recruit in OL James Ryan. They're doing a nice job so far though and could be poised for a finish in the top half of the Big Ten.
5. Penn State - Number of Commitments - 2-3. Penn State is off to a nice start -- they have two four-star verbals from in-state and also scored a verbal from Georgia RB/DB Jason Evans, but then there was a report that Evans may still take visits. Expect them to finish in the top four this year.
6. Iowa - Number of Commitments - 3. The Hawkeyes seem to be increasing their all-around recruiting presence. There's little doubt this is a program headed in the right direction on the field. They have two good commitments from in-state and a Texas commitment so far, and a couple of Ohio players -- RB Harvey McDougle and TE Marcel Frost -- are showing interest.
7. Purdue - Number of Commitments - 3. Haven't landed any big-timers quite yet.
8. Minnesota - Number of Commitments - 3. Three two-star recruits have joined the Gophers.
9. Indiana - Number of Commitments - 2. Gerry Dinardo has gotten verbals from two 2-star recruits, one from in-state.
10. Michigan State - Number of Commitments - 1. Only one so far, but you know they'll make a few splashes before it's all said and done.
11. Northwestern - Number of Commitments - 0.
So that's where it stands right now heading into the season. It will be yet another fascinating recruiting year, especially in Ohio as there are so many guys who could go so many different places. We'll be doing our best to keep up the coverage!