COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State will bring in one of its deepest recruiting classes in the modern era with the class of 2017.
Per the 247 Sports composite rankings, the Buckeyes presently have an astounding seven 5-stars committed. Their only 3-star commit is listed as the No. 1 kicker in the country. It is a deep class from top to bottom.
However, it remains to be seen whether or not they’ll be able to make an immediate impact. The celebrated class of 2013, for example, redshirted all but five players. In college football — and especially at Ohio State — opportunity plays a big role. Unlike the class of 2016, which entered after a wave of departures, the 2017 commits will be competing for a select few open spots.
Here are five players best suited to use talent and opportunity to make an impact as true freshmen this fall.
5-star OLB Baron Browning
At 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, Browning looks like he was built to excel at linebacker. 247 Sports composite ranking lists him as the No. 2 linebacker and No. 9 overall recruit. Chris Worley and Jerome Baker return for the Buckeyes, but there will be some opportunities. The departure of middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan could reshuffle some things. Furthermore, linebacker is a spot where Browning could be worked into games even if he weren’t to start. And, of course, he figured to play on special teams.
5-star OG Wyatt Davis
Davis didn’t enroll early, but he’s still a great fit for Ohio State’s opening at offensive guard. He drew great reviews for his play at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and absolutely looks the part. The odds of a true freshman starting two years in a row for Ohio State don’t seem great. However, what happened while Michael Jordan sat on the sidelines during the Fiesta Bowl showed Ohio State’s depth on the offensive line is one step above a train wreck. Fellow 5-star Josh Myers is another option here, especially since he enrolled early. However, he may need time to adjust after playing in a Wing-T system in high school.
5-star WR Trevon Grimes
A deep threat emerges. Grimes tore his ACL during his senior season of high school, but that shouldn’t stop him. He’s essentially working on the same timeline as Nick Bosa, who sustained the same injury at the same high school around the same time of his senior season. Noah Brown’s NFL draft declaration weakened the Ohio State receiver depth. It also appears Torrance Gibson won’t return and 5-star receiver Tyjon Lindsey just decommitted. Grimes offers exactly what Ohio State’s offense needs — a big-play receiver who can stretch the field. If he’s healthy, count on him to make plays.
5-star CB Jeffrey Okudah
Ohio State could have one of the best defensive backs classes of the internet era, if not ever. With six recruits coming in and potentially three spots open, the competition for playing time figures to be intense. Okudah is the most college-ready at this point, and he also is the most versatile. He can play either cornerback or safety but will get a shot at cornerback to start. He may not even have to win a job outright at that spot given the rotation Ohio State employed in 2016. Given his talents, he’s too good not to be on the field in some capacity.
5-star DE Chase Young
Young isn’t walking into a particularly great situation. Three great defensive ends — Jalyn Holmes, Sam Hubbard and Tyquan Lewis — all chose to return. Bosa will also eat up a ton of reps. And Young didn’t enroll early. With that being said, he still should be able to still find his way onto the field. The defensive line will surely rotate again, and he’ll get his chances in some form or fashion. When he does, he’s good enough to convince the coaches to keep finding him reps.