Buckeyes On Path To Filling 2010 Class

More than 11 months away from 2010's National Signing Day, the Ohio State football staff is already well on the way to completing its projected haul. With that in mind, it's time to take a position-by-position look at what the class of 2010 might look like one February from now.

The Ohio State football coaching staff was on pins and needles a bit in the final days leading up to National Signing Day.

The Buckeyes had 26 scholarship openings for the class of 2009, and there was a time when it appeared they might go over that limit. Marcus Hall's verbal pledge on Feb. 2 put the team at 26 commitments, and the team was still in the running for a few prospects, including coveted wideout Marlon Brown of Memphis, Tenn. Head coach Jim Tressel admitted that discussions had begun among the staff that a prospect might have to be approached about a possible grayshirt season in 2009.

That didn't end up being necessary when the Buckeyes even came in at 25 thanks to Brown picking Georgia and Kentucky prospect Justin Green going with Illinois.

"As it turned out, it was a perfect size for us," Tressel said.

But if the Buckeyes had trouble staying at just 25 spots in 2009, they're going to have even more issues in 2010. If there are no transfers from the program and no early departures for the NFL draft, the Buckeyes will have 17 scholarships to give in the class of 2010.

Though things rarely work out the way they are planned, Tressel was sticking with the No. 17 when discussing early efforts for the class of 2010 on signing day.

"Right now, it leaves us with I think about 17 that we'll be able to recruit a year from now, which you usually don't want to have a class much smaller than that," he said. "Ideally you'd like to have between 18 or 19, 20, 21 at the most."

If the number stays at 17 – and after all, there are no guarantees the Buckeyes would take more even if a few more slots open up with just 17 more seniors slated for graduation after 2010 – then the staff is almost 25 percent of the way there with pledges from J.T. Moore, Jamel Turner, Andrew Norwell and David Durham.

A number of offers have been extended by the staff to prospects across the country, but how might the class of 2010 look when it's all said and done?

It's hard to say for sure, but that won't stop us from taking at least a guess at what the class will look like as far as position groupings go.

Quarterback: 1
There are few doubts that Ohio State would like to grab a quarterback in this class. Tressel noted on signing day that the team's plan to have just three scholarship quarterbacks on campus for 2009 left them one short of ideal, so the presence of Terrelle Pryor, Joe Bauserman and Kenneth Guiton on campus won't preclude the Buckeyes from grabbing another signal caller in 2010.

The Buckeyes have made getting a quarterback a high-profile quest so far, offering the son of Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana a scholarship and placing him at the top of their list. Should the quest for Nick Montana fall through, there are top out-of-state quarterbacks on the radar in Devin Gardner and Jeffrey Godfrey and intriguing in-state options in players like Mitchell Faine.

Running Back: 0-1
Running backs coach Dick Tressel noted on signing day that Ohio State has five running backs and three fullbacks on the roster in 2009, the same number that likely will still be around in 2010. Tressel added that isn't a large number, and one couldn't help but get the feeling he wouldn't mind more.

So while running back won't be a need in 2010, there is the chance the Buckeyes could end up with one if the fit is right. Possibilities include offered tailbacks Corey Brown and Cincinnati's Spencer Ware as well as Indiana running back Roderick Smith, who says an offer could be on the way. All are members of the early Scout 100.

Wide Receiver: 1-2
The Buckeyes are slated to have eight wideouts on scholarship in 2010, three of them seniors in Grant Schwartz, Taurian Washington and Dane Sanzenbacher. As a result, the coaching staff is expected to take at least one pass-catcher in the group.

Ohio State finds itself strongly in the mix for four-star Georgia prospect Tai-ler Jones, who already visited campus and left with a positive vibe. The class in the Buckeye State doesn't look like the strongest it's ever been, though Tyrone Williams and Anthony Schrock are impressive prospects. Out of state, the Buckeyes are in on players like Floridians Corvin Lamb and Ivan McCartney.

Tight End: 1
Ohio State generally likes to go with four scholarship tight ends, and just three are in the barn for 2010 in Nic DiLillo, Jacob Stoneburner and Reid Fragel. With Stoneburner more of a pass-catcher and Fragel a possible future offensive tackle, the Buckeyes have to be looking at adding a tight end in the 2010 group to replace the departing Jake Ballard after this season.

West Chester Lakota West's Alex Smith is one of the top tight ends in Ohio and looked to be in line for an offer, but Smith recently committed to Cincinnati. Other in-state prospects like Dan Schneider and Greg Gainey are in the mix, but the Buckeyes might have to leave the state to find what they're looking for

Offensive Line: 2-3
The Buckeyes have five scholarship linemen in Connor Smith, Justin Boren, Bryant Browning, Andrew Miller and Josh Kerr slated to graduate after the 2010 season, but eight scholarship linemen are already on the team behind that quintet, a number that goes up to nine when Norwell is added. Jim Cordle and Andrew Moses will need to be replaced, but it's hard to see the Buckeyes doing much more unless the numbers fall right.

That's a shame because of the high level of the 2010 offensive line crop. There are plenty of highly touted recruits already on the radar in addition to Norwell. Five-star prospect Seantrel Henderson of Minnesota holds a Buckeye offer, as do excellent lineman prospects James Hurst of Indiana and Cincinnatian Matt James. A number of Ohio prospects like Taylor Miller and Andrew Donnal could be in the mix.

Defensive Line: 2-3
What has been a young defensive line over the past few years will mature, meaning players like Lawrence Wilson, Dexter Larimore, Todd Denlinger, Robert Rose and Cameron Heyward are all slated to use their eligibility within the next two seasons, putting a focus on defensive line recruiting going forward.

There is still plenty of talent on hand, and Turner, Moore and Durham all could end up as full-fledged ends or linebackers who can play the "Leo" position. That leaves the Buckeyes in need of some tackles with just Garrett Goebel and John Simon as underclassmen in 2010. Finding players to replace people like Denlinger and Doug Worthington will be the challenge for the staff.

Linebacker: 2
Just Austin Spitler is slated to be the only linebacker to leave the program after this year, but the Buckeyes clearly seem interested in continuing to find linebackers even with Turner, Moore and Durham already in the fold. Offers are out to players like Scott McVey, Khairi Fortt, Jim Poggi and Jordan Hicks, players the Buckeyes would seem to want to take in a heartbeat. Just how much room is available for them is up for debate.

Defensive Back: 4-5
What the Buckeyes might want to do is look for some younger players to take over the "star" position, a hybrid linebacker/DB spot that projected 2010 seniors Jermale Hines and Tyler Moeller now hold. In addition, 2009 will be the final seasons for safeties Kurt Coleman, Anderson Russell and Aaron Gant as well as cornerback Andre Amos, leaving some open spots to fill.

Four-star cornerback prospect Lamarcus Joyner of Florida is high on the list of targets, and the Buckeyes would love to get future star Marvin Robinson of Florida as well at the safety spot. There are plenty of other prospects who fit the bill like Cody Riggs, Joyner's high school teammate, and Latwan Anderson. DB recruiting will be huge for the Buckeyes just as it is most seasons.

Specialist: 1
Ben Buchanan is the only current scholarship kicker slated to be on the roster in 2010. Whether the Buckeyes will choose to add another via scholarship in such a small class or rather find one through other means is up in the air. Either way, adding a specialist somehow, someway will be a focus in 2010.

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