Grading The 2009 Ohio State Recruiting Class

The 2009 Ohio State recruiting class appears to be another home run for Jim Tressel and his assistants. Following on the heels of the ultra-successful 2008 class, the Buckeyes went out and added another group of highly rated players. Bill Greene takes a closer look at the 2009 class.

It's not clear if the 2009 Ohio State recruiting class is the best class in the country, although the early recruiting rankings indicate it most definitely is a stellar class. Collecting five-star talent is, once again, another Jim Tressel characteristic, but the Buckeyes also filled several pressing needs. Let's take a closer look at how this class grades out, position by position.

Quarterback: C+. Kenny Guiton is relatively unknown, but appears to be a raw, but talented, athlete. I feel the Buckeyes waited far too long to get serious about recruiting a quarterback, then suffered through the Tajh Boyd ordeal, before settling on Guiton. His film shows a player who needs work in the weight room, and an almost certain red-shirt candidate.

Running back: A. The Buckeyes grabbed three, and all of them have different styles and skill sets. The most impressive is Jaamal Berry. Berry is arguably the top back in the country, and out-recruiting Florida for him is a major coup for Tressel. Berry has a combination of speed and power that remind people of former Buckeye Antonio Pittman. Carlos Hyde is a bruiser that could get short yardage carries next year. Jordan Hall could end up playing in the slot or used as a receiver out of the backfield. I see Hall red-shirting next year, with Hyde and Berry seeing playing time, as only Boom Herron returns to the Buckeye backfield.

Wide Receiver: B. The Buckeyes lose two outside receivers in Brian Hartline and Brian Robiskie, and restocked the cupboard with three highly ranked players. Of the three, Duron Carter seems the likeliest to see the field in 2009. Carter, son of former Buckeye legend Cris Carter, is polished, skilled and talented. He comes from a great program in St. Thomas Aquinas [Fort Lauderdale]. James Jackson and Chris Fields are proven blazers, but both might have to wait their turn, as the Buckeyes have a few candidates ahead of them for the slot position. The latter two players are a huge upgrade in the speed department, and both could factor in the return game at some point, although I see both red-shirting in 2009.

Tight End: B. Reid Fragel is an impressive looking prospect, but the Buckeyes were hoping to land a pass-catching tight end like Ra'shede Hageman in this class. Fragel could also end up at offensive tackle, and the NFL is loaded with tackles who looked just like Fragel coming out of high school. Fragel could see time next year at tight end, with only Jake Ballard and Nic DiLillo ahead of him on the depth chart.

Offensive line: A++. The beat goes on, following the recruitment of Mike Adams, Mike Brewster and J.B. Shugarts in 2008. Tressel hits another home run, in an area that needed another long ball. Marcus Hall is the star of the group, and deservedly so. The big man from Glenville will instantly hit the two-deep, and will see considerable playing time next year. Hall will probably play tackle, but could also be used at guard. Jack Mewhort is already enrolled, and will play spring football. He has a chance to be a star at the college level. Corey Linsley and Sam Longo are both probable red-shirt candidates, but that is usually a good thing for young offensive linemen. Of the two, Linsley would appear to be the one most capable of playing early, as Longo seems to need time in the weight room to add bulk to a slighter frame. Longo's foot speed is impressive, while Linsley is a flat mauler. If Ohio State is to seriously contend for national championships, this group needs to be better than they've been the past three years. The 2008 and 2009 class of offensive linemen might be the best classes ever brought into Ohio State in back to back years.

Defensive line: A. Once again, Ohio State reloads in the trenches, this time on the defensive side of the football. Melvin Fellows could be the Nathan Williams of 2009. Fellows reminds people of Lawrence Wilson, and has the potential to develop into a star at Ohio State. Johnny Simon will bring a combination of strength and quickness to the tackle position that might remind people of Tim Anderson. Adam Bellamy is listed as a defensive tackle, and that's where I think he fits in best, but he's been told he could play on the offensive line. Bellamy's foot speed is his biggest asset, and he plays the game with passion. Jonathan Newsome will provide a serious speed advantage coming off the edge. Newsome and Bellamy appear to be certain red-shirt candidates, and it wouldn't surprise me to see all four sit out 2009. Eventually, this group of prospects should all see the field as contributors, as their talent level is high.

Linebackers: A+. You like star power? Well, here it is for you. Dorian Bell might be the top outside linebacker prospect in the country. He has EVERYTHING schools look for to play on the outside, including speed and toughness. Bell has no weakness, and it's only a matter of time before he's playing regularly. Storm Klein has been a household name in Ohio for a long time, and his commitment comes as no surprise to anyone. Klein will start in the middle and could remind people of James Laurinaitis. Klein has enrolled and will go through spring practice. Jordan Whiting could be the surprise of the class. He received his offer after blowing up in camp, and having Klein and Simon positively raving about him after competing with him. Zach Boren is listed as a linebacker, but I see him playing fullback and possibly defensive end. Boren just might be the most driven kid in this class, and a kid you won't want to bet against seeing the field some day. I love this group of prospects.

Defensive backs: A. Ohio State needed to bring in a nice haul of defensive backs and they did just that. I would have loved to have seen them add one more safety [Vlad Emilien?], but Jamie Wood could be in the rotation next year. Wood has size, speed, athletic ability and the work ethic to play early. Wood will go through spring practice. C.J. Barnett had a great all-star week of practice, and opened a lot of eyes. His film shows that he could be a good safety, but I see him starting at cornerback. Dominic Clarke could be the most underrated player in this class. A pure cornerback, with speed to burn. Clarke could get time next year with the unexpected departure of Donald Washington.

Athletes: A. I just don't know where to rate Adam Homan from a position standpoint. I think he starts out at fullback, but I think he's far too athletic to stay there. I loved his play as a junior in the state title game. Homan could end up as a defensive end or maybe a defensive tackle, but I like him a lot as a football player. Corey Brown IS the best all around athlete in this class. His showings in the two all-star games proved how special he is. Where do you want to play him? He can succeed at wide receiver, cornerback or safety. I'm guessing he starts out at cornerback, because there's a need there, but it wouldn't surprise me to see him catching passes next year.

Overall grade: A. Simply put: Jim Tressel does it again. Another great collection of athletes, with an emphasis on winning the line of scrimmage. This class isn't as flashy as the 2008 class, but don't be fooled by that. This group will bring their lunch box and hardhat to work every day of the week. This class will be known for being a bunch of tough guys, who like to hit people and win football games. This is a class that Woody Hayes would have loved to have coached, and you can bet Jim Tressel will enjoy every minute of this group.


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