RECRUITING? FORGET ABOUT THE SENIORS ALREADY – LET'S TALK ABOUT THE JUNIORS!
As this year's recruiting season lurches toward the February 5 finish line, the glamour of speculation has to shift to next year's prospects. We know that OSU had one of the best classes in the country in 2002. And we know they are filling in positions of need with a not-quite-as-spectacular haul for the Class of 2003.
Hey – but how about 2004? The Buckeyes should have near the maximum number of openings (25, that is) and the Top Ten talent in Ohio for that class is almost as good as it was in 2002.
Who are the Top Ten and why am I babbling on about them? They are (by our reckoning):
Delbert Ferguson (Warren Harding)
Ted Ginn (Cleveland Glenville)
Fred Davis (Toledo Rogers)
Marcus Freeman (Huber Heights Wayne)
Chad Hoobler (Carrollton)
Ben Person (Xenia)
Ray Williams (Cleveland Benedictine)
Michael Massey (Cleveland St. Ignatius)
Darryl Clark (Youngstown Ursuline)
Anthony Turner (Dayton Chaminade-Julienne)
Check ‘em out. Delbert Ferguson has been getting Maurice Clarett-type ink since he was a freshman and now the super running back has transferred to Clarett's old high school, Warren Harding. Ted Ginn will be one of the top three cornerback prospects in the nation next year from a school (Glenville) that loves OSU. Fred Davis might be the best big athlete anywhere and his coach (Rios) is a strong friend of the OSU program. Chad Hoobler is a five-star LB/DE from Carrollton, a program that lives and bleeds scarlet and gray. Ben Person, from Xenia, is a stud OL and an early OSU lean. Ray Williams ran for 3250 yards out of Cleveland Benedictine and coaches simply have to decide where to play him at the next level. Michael Massey had one brother at OSU and one at Michigan and he might be the best of the three. Finally, the two quarterbacks (Clark and Turner) are both from friends-of-the-Buckeyes schools in Youngstown Ursuline and Dayton Chaminade-Julienne, respectively.
This is a class with a ton of top-end talent. Check this out: At the recent Army All-American Combine in San Antonio, where they invited the 200 best juniors in the country, Ted Ginn ran the fastest 40 time in the entire camp! Marcus Freeman was voted the best linebacker in the camp! Fred Davis was selected as the top wide receiver! And others, such as Anthony Turner and Nick Schubert from Dayton Oakwood, got rave reviews from the national recruiting experts in attendance.
Is it too early to dream-weave as to how these players fit into the "recruiting quilt" at Ohio State? Of course not! Remember the Bucknuts' motto: Anything worth doing is worth over-doing (or is it "Nothing exceeds like excess"?). Anyway, since there will be the inevitable dissatisfaction with this year's haul of jewels, let's ponder what we need next year and how this prospective Top Ten might re-stock the larder.
At running back, we're going to need one, maybe two, as our three-headed attack should all be in their final season in 2004. We have the two (or at least one of them) in Delbert Ferguson and perhaps in Ray Williams, as well. At wide receiver, we are hoping that Ernie Wheelwright gets his academics in order, but he would be one of two that we need. The other is the phenomenal Fred Davis. That's a great duo right there! And at quarterback? Well, we could be stuffed to the gills by 2004. Anthony Turner is a great athlete, so you might take him anyway. Darryl Clark is solely a QB so he might be a fringe choice for 2004.
I don't speculate on fullbacks anymore because I don't know how they'll be used, so I'll do the one thing that Bollman wouldn't do with the fullbacks – I'll pass. Tight ends? A loaded question – we might need one but it probably won't come from this Ohio group. And offensive linemen? We need a haul. That haul starts with Ben Person, perhaps extends to Mike Massey, but we could also be looking at Brandon Braxton at Ursuline, Brandon Armstrong from Northmont and Steve Rehring from Lakota West by then.
That's the offense and it feels pretty good. How about the world's best defense? Can we keep the silver bullets flying? Early indications are positive.
Even with the great new inventory of defensive backs, you can't pass up Ted Ginn and you might not want to pass up Hamilton's Brandon Underwood (yes, that brother). Another name you'll hear is Shaker Heights WR/safety Michael Bell, who could be amongst the best of the bunch. At linebacker, you've got the next great linebacker in high school superstar Marcus Freeman. Even though we seem to have an infinite number of Super Stud defensive linemen, Chad Hoobler is a name to remember, and also look for Mike Massey at this position.
Whew. That was fun. And it's great getting that far ahead of ourselves. We will start the drive for the juniors "officially" with the stupendous March edition of Duane Long's Ohio's Future Stars magazine. But who can wait that long? Just like with recruiting itself – we want it all now!