Position needs for the class of 2004

In my continuing endeavor to be cutting edge or perhaps fearless forecaster, it is time to look at the recruiting needs and predictions for the Class of 2004. Note the clever defensive stance here. Most of you will make fun of me at some point during the next 11 months of recruiting (see message boards for specifics…). So I am already making fun of myself to take the sting out of your collective wit. Hah!

We thrive at Bucknuts to be "frequently wrong but seldom in doubt". That rubs a bunch of you the wrong way, as you would prefer that we change our motto to "Always perfect all of the time". Now, where's the fun in that? So we will burnish our tradition of making bold and broad statements and see how close we get to reality in the end. Remember, sports fans, perception is not reality. People who believe that live on the border of madness. Only reality is reality and that is only revealed over time.

As I tell my children, you can't explain the meaning of life. It can only be revealed.

With that metaphysical disclaimer behind me, I plan to talk about the needs of this class – by position – and how many kids we will take to fill those needs. Tomorrow, in my recruiting column, I will explain why we will have 24 openings in the Class of 2004 and I will begin the ponderous listings of the players on the recruiting chart.

I don't plan to update this stuff every week in the off-season. That is really hubris (chutzpah?). But I will do a monthly update until the summertime, and then we will go back to the schedule. Dr. Recruitnik is in his perverse hibernation pattern and will re-emerge in November to tackle the positions, as we know them at the time.

Until then, enjoy. Discuss amongst yourselves. And think of me, perhaps as the first of the worst.

OFFENSIVE NEEDS BY POSITION

Running Backs

Unless we lose RB's to injury or transfer, we have three terrific tailbacks with two years of expected utility ahead of them. Maurice Clarett leads the charge but I am only counting on him through his junior year and Maurice Hall/Lydell Ross will finish their eligibility at the same time. There are a few crossover possibilities (like Ira Guilford) but suddenly, OSU is in a position of questionable depth at this important position. The old saw about tailbacks is "a pair and a spare" and we are at the minimum. Expect the Bucks to take two tailbacks in this next recruiting class.

Fullbacks

It's hard to project what the coaches want from the fullback position because I infer that the coaches have never had their prototype player for that position. Branden Joe and Brandon Schnittker are close, but the former is a built-up tailback and the latter hasn't seen enough game action to help us form a conclusion. We lost valuable (and versatile) depth in Jesse Kline's premature retirement and we lost whatever upside Nate Stead held so far due to academics. You've got to love the 300+ pound Andre Tyree experiment (Sian Cotton also played here in high school!). And we've already got a commitment from Cedric Scott for this class. Plus, Stan White might still end up on this side of the ball. Regardless of the Scott and White conclusion, we will take one more fullback in the next class.

Quarterbacks

Like the "passing" of Joe Germaine, we don't realize how much we'll miss Krenzel until he is gone. Gone with him is back-up Scott McMullen. On the horizon loom Justin Zwick (a Krenzel type…) and Troy Smith (a Mike Vick type…). But we need two more. One will be Todd Boeckman, who graciously gray shirted, giving him some logistical distance from Smith/Zwick. The other one? Well, we would like it to be Brian Brohm from Kentucky but that's unlikely. In Ohio, we are blessed with three (or more) great candidates: Anthony Turner (a Troy Smith type), Brian Hoyer (a Justin Zwick type) and Darryl Clark (a Youngstown Ursuline type). Plus, there's a transfer coming in to Harding from Texas (Alex Engram) and there's five Young Guns still left in Texas and…well, you get the point. Take two, they're not small… 

Tight Ends

I might be the only analyst alive who still says that Marcel Frost will be a tight end – and that includes Coach Tressel and Marcel Frost, himself! He's got the speed, power and hips and he's a tough kid who can block. Meanwhile, we have the sensational Louis Irizarry as our TE/WR threat. On either side of that high/low pair, we have the graduating Ben Hartsock – a possession receiver and a third offensive tackle. We have a better receiver and good blocker in sophomore Ryan Hamby and a very interesting experiment in big athlete Redgie Arden. Jason Caldwell seems to have gotten lost in the numbers shuffle and RJ Coleman is moving over a couple of feet to tackle. Stan White? Hey – if the coaches don't know where he's going to play, what am I supposed to tell you? Although I do predict he will not end up here…normally, then, we would be well stocked at TE, but in a class of 24, we will take the best one we can find, anyway. 

Wide Receivers 

Speaking of passing, we passed on the most talented wide-out in Ohio last year due to his fragile academics – Ernie Wheelwright. And we only pursued the best talents in America. That means the coaches felt good about the current and future pipeline. We did land Devin Jordan, who will be a good possession receiver. But with Vance gone and Drew Carter and Michael Jenkins leaving (and Gamble's return being a …well, gamble), who will step up? Bam Childress? Maybe. But I don't see him getting any taller. Angelo Chattams? Huh uh. My choice is hard worker John Hollins. And behind him, we have two potential superstars in Roy Hall (think David Boston-type) and Santonio Holmes (think Chris Gamble-type). Plus – and it's a big plus – Dareus Hiley and Tony Gonzalez could be sensational receivers. All that said, we will "take two more for 2004" including phenom Fred Davis from Toledo Rogers. No one will weep for us at wide receiver…

Offensive Linemen 

Critics have pummeled both me and Coach Tressel (not necessarily in that order…) for his perceived (and my reported) O-line development strategies. We have five good junior starters who will be better as seniors but they won't make anyone forget Orlando Pace and Korey Stringer. We have two great sophomores (Mangold and Sims) plus a soph in Adam Olds who is the kind of kid you want. And the best of the bunch, possibly, is the heralded but forgotten freshman Doug Datish. For depth, we have TJ Downing, Ryan Cook, newly schollied Kyle Andrews, incoming Kirk Barton, and re-positioned RJ Coleman. That's 14 this year and Ivan Douglas might get a shot at a sixth season next year. Plus, there will be more re-positioning from the defensive line. Candidates include Tim Schafer, Joel Penton, Brandon Maupin and Sian Cotton. They might resist at first but the playing field looks a whole lot better when you have a chance to be on it. What does that leave, strategically? I say "four more for 2004", because next year's class might be even better than the 2002 vintage that got us Mangold, Sims, Datish, Downing and a kid named Morris, who went south on us. Remember these names: Person, Braxton, Armstrong, Clowser, Rehring, and Stanchek We will probably take three from that group and the best out-of-state kid we can find. And critics will talk about other depth problems for a few years.

Offensive Summary

Without any place kickers, that should add up to 13 offensive recruits. As you can see elsewhere from my econometric modeling system and rigorous derivative analysis, I project 24 open positions, leaving 11 for the defense and for a punter.

DEFENSIVE NEEDS BY POSITION

Defensive ends

With the best pair of defensive ends in the country (either Smith/Scott or Smith/Fraser – pick a pair…) and the pair of Kudla/Richardson coming on, we are not in dire need here. Add to that analysis that the strategy is far from determined where Marcel Frost or David Patterson or Brandon Maupin or even Sian Cotton might play and you've got the means and the ends. There's a chance Redgie Arden ends up here. And some guys say that D'Andrea's natural position could be as a rush end. We had our heads in the clouds when we thought we might get both Turk McBride and Stanley McClover. We got neither. But the fact that the coaches wanted both signifies that we want two defensive ends in this next class.

Defensive Tackles

With Anderson and Scott rotating through this position, we are covered in 2003, but we say good-bye to both those seniors next year. I think that the up-and-coming rotation will be either Pitcock/Patterson or Pitcock/Penton, one of the groups of Killer P's. Brandon Maupin will likely be in this mix in two years and Marcus Green will be in it this year. And if Sian Cotton doesn't end up on the offensive line (my continuing guess…) or as a defensive end, well…there's certainly a lot to say for flexibility, eh? We didn't go after that many "pure" inside guys last year. We will go after two this year to keep the pipeline flowing.

Linebackers 

Is this a fun group, or what? Many pundits (including Spielman and Rudzinski) think that some combination of Hawk/D'Andrea/Carpenter/White might become the best group of linebackers ever at OSU. And they are all entering just their second year as Buckeyes. As depth behind them (and here's where the fun begins!), we have Reggie Smith, walk-on Cliff Reynolds, transfer Anthony Schlegel (not eligible until 2004) and gray shirt Cedric Scott (not eligible until 2004). You've got talent and you've got spacing. But you've also got to take the best two linebackers you can land in a class of this size. Plus, these guys tend to play elsewhere (i.e. Arden, Kudla, etc.) as well as perform on special teams.

Safeties 

I like our safeties this year. A lot. Honestly, Fox (my assumption…) and Allen could be better than the super safeties Nickey and Doss. But Allen leaves this year and Fox the next. Behind them, you have huge potential in Nate Salley and Ira Guilford. You also have a young Tyler Everett and Curt Lukens (although he could move "down" to LB…). Also in the potential mix as Young Guns are Leandre Boone and Brandon Mitchell (both still looking to get on the field), and Thomas Matthews (who might get on as an OLB). Since safeties are great special teams guys, and are needed in that necessary evil of nickel and dime situations, we will take two more safeties this year. But we can afford to be very picky.

Cornerbacks

Just like the linebacking coup of last year, I think we got the best class of CB's in the nation this year. Whitner is going to be very special (Clarett already describes him as "freakish") while Youboty and Gonzalez have terrific athletic skills and unusual speed. Hiley is so athletic that he will probably end up as a wide receiver. The best CB recruit we got last year was Chris Gamble and, hopefully, he will play there two more seasons. EJ Underwood is a good one and he'll be around three more seasons. Once you get by the logjam of upper-classmen who will serve as depth (now, that sounds strange…), you've still got the promising Canadian speedster Mike Roberts. So whom do you take for 2004? Yes, you take two. Why? Because you can…

Punter

Whew. This position has been cussed and discussed. Will BJ learn to kick straighter and faster? Doesn't matter – he'll only be here one more year. Will Huston get a sixth year? He still isn't the punter of the future. With all the shenanigans at the end of the recruiting year, I was disappointed that we didn't land Super Leg, Adam Graessle. The coaching staff obviously didn't feel as strongly as me (go figure…) so they must have a plan. I assume that includes find a scholarship kicker next year!

Defensive summary

So that's two each at every position plus one punter. That's still only 11 players and most of those are merely needed as depth on the defense. That gives us some idea just how strong and deep we already are on this side of the ball.

OVERALL SUMMARY

That's 13 on offense and 11 on defense for 24 overall. Check my recruiting column tomorrow for the definitive analysis of why we will have 24 scholarship openings in 2004. And that's where the second-guessing can begin. But anything worth doing is worth over-doing, so now it's over-do you…

Looking forward to your e-mails!


E-mail Mr. Bucknuts at mrbucknuts@yahoo.com


Buckeye Sports Top Stories