Land of 10/file photo
Tavion Thomas is back in the picture for the Buckeyes.

Ohio State recruiting mailbag: Sorting out final week for Buckeyes’ class

Have Ohio State football recruiting questions? We’ve got answers. Join us every Wednesday for the Land of 10 Ohio State recruiting mailbag. This week we talk about the latest developments with Tavion Thomas, play the numbers game in recruiting, and more.

Good Wednesday afternoon, everyone.

Thanks for your questions this week. If you didn’t get to ask a question, make sure to send one to me on Twitter (@L10Ryan) or via email (DonnellyLandof10@gmail.com).

Let’s dive in.

Dayton (Ohio) Dunbar running back Tavion Thomas announced his de-commitment from Oklahoma on Monday and immediately scheduled an official visit to Ohio State for the final weekend of the 2018 recruiting cycle. Thomas appears to be in position to join the recruiting class with the way things are playing out.

At 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds (or 234 pounds, if you go by his Twitter profile) Thomas would give Ohio State a power running back. I wouldn’t necessarily compare him to Samaje Perine, the former Sooners star who at 5-11 is built closer to the ground than Thomas. If you’re looking for a comparable NFL running back, consider some of the league’s large, powerful backs: Latavius Murray, Derrick Henry, or even former Buckeyes running back Carlos Hyde.

Ohio State will be returning its top three running backs next season — freshman JK Dobbins, redshirt sophomore Mike Weber, and sophomore Antonio Williams. They’ll also bring in three new backs in this 2018 recruiting cycle — Thomas, Brian Snead and Master Teague. Simply put, it’s unlikely that there will be enough carries to go around. Ohio State needs to prepare for the likelihood that Weber will depart for the NFL draft following the 2018 season, his fourth year on campus, and that may not be the only attrition in the running back room. I think Urban Meyer took a look at his roster and saw a potentially thin depth chart one or two years down the road and decided to take corrective action.

With that having been said, I would be surprised if Ohio State rostered six scholarship running backs for the 2018 season. I would be surprised to see the Buckeyes to hit fall camp with all six of these players still in the program.

Well, if I’m being honest, I think getting up in arms about oversigning is a futile exercise by any fan base and has always been a case of moral outrage detached from the realities of college football. Nearly every program in the country, and certainly the vast majority of the country’s top programs, sign more recruits than they have available roster spots. That’s just life in the big city and it’s preparation as much as it is forcing out players who have become non-contributors.

Every spring and summer, players will transfer to look for more playing time. Every winter, players will leave early for the NFL draft. There are victims of academic issues, discipline problems, long-term injuries and much more. Attrition occurs on college rosters every offseason and oversigning is a way for schools to prepare for those possibilities and maintain their talent levels.

Right now, Ohio State has 24 players in the 2018 recruiting class (eight early enrollees, 14 other signees, two unsigned commits) and the Buckeyes are not slowing down in their pursuit of other top prospects. I expect the Buckeyes to add at least two more in-state pieces at running back and linebacker — the aforementioned Thomas and linebacker Christopher Oats. Beyond that, they’re pursuing two elite tackles in Rasheed Walker and Nicholas Petit-Frere and would happily take both, but aren’t guaranteed to land either.

The recruiting board outside of those four prospects is rapidly dwindling and Ohio State is down to longshots at best. The Buckeyes are working to pull off a miracle with Patrick Surtain Jr. or Tyson Campbell, but I wouldn’t bet on them landing either recruit.

I think Ohio State is going to finish with 27 signees. I have them landing Thomas and Oats and I’ll play the odds that they land one of the two tackles. They would go to 28 if both wanted in, certainly.

It doesn’t seem like it. Ohio State seems content to pursue these two top prospects and go down to the wire with them. They’re staring down the barrel of an absolutely loaded 2019 offensive line recruiting class, in terms of tackles around the country showing interest in Ohio State and the prospects available in Ohio. They’ll be fine for next season but will need to add multiple tackles in the 2019 recruiting class.

I’m hearing lots of positive things about many of the country’s top prospects in regard to their interest in Ohio State, but nobody seems to want to make a decision until spring. One prospect I don’t feel has received enough Ohio State-related buzz is New Jersey athlete Ronnie Hickman. Hickman is a top-100 prospect nationally who plans to make an unofficial visit to Columbus on Feb. 3, his third or fourth visit to campus.

People I’ve spoken with close to this recruitment in New Jersey are saying that they feel the Buckeyes have pulled into the lead for Hickman and can land the 6-foot-1, 200-pound standout. He also holds offers from Penn State, Michigan, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Florida, Wisconsin and other top programs.

As always, thank you to everyone who took the time to write in and ask questions this week, and my apologies if I didn’t get to answer you this week. Please check back in and tweet and email more questions for next week.