COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State annually signs one of the top recruiting classes in the country, which means the Buckeyes routinely have one of the best rosters in the country.
As a result, while most players come to Ohio State with high expectations as touted recruits, the zero-sum game of playing time means only some can see the field. The Buckeyes have had a number of transfers in the six years of the Urban Meyer era. Here’s a look at what happened and what those players have been up to since leaving Ohio State.
Ohio State Class of 2012
After four years as a backup at Ohio State, running back Warren Ball went to Akron as a graduate transfer in 2016. He started two games that season before sustaining a season-ending knee injury. Ball was granted a sixth year but once again got hurt. In January 2018, he was hired as Akron’s academic coordinator for football.
After starting for suspended defensive end Noah Spence in the Orange Bowl at the end of the 2013 season, Jamal Marcus transferred to Akron in May 2014. He was named third-team All-MAC in 2016 after sitting out a season but had his final season cut short by injuries in 2017 and went undrafted.
Guard Joey O’Connor transferred to Colorado State after redshirting in 2012. He never played college football, as he sat out the 2013 season due to transfer restrictions and knee injuries forced him to retire from football early in 2014.
Most famous for his hit on Brutus Buckeye during a student appreciation practice, linebacker David Perkins transferred to FCS program Illinois State in 2014 after one season at Ohio State. He led the team in tackles in the next three seasons and signed with the Seahawks as an undrafted free agent but was cut in training camp.
Defensive end Se’Von Pittman transferred to Akron after redshirting in 2012. He sat out the 2013 season and ultimately started 34 games in three seasons from 2014-16 for the Zips.
Linebacker Luke Roberts transferred to Harvard after redshirting in 2012. He played seven games for the Crimson in 2014 but wasn’t listed on rosters in any subsequent seasons. He is a cyber defense executive after graduating from Harvard with honors.
After back-to-back drug tests came back positive for ecstasy, defensive end Noah Spence was banned from Big Ten competition in 2014. He transferred to FCS program Eastern Kentucky for the 2015 season and resumed his destruction of opposing offensive lines. Despite his off-the-field troubles, he was a second-round pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2016 NFL Draft. Spence was NFL defensive rookie of the month in November 2016 but his 2017 season was ended by a shoulder injury.
Ohio State Class of 2013
Wide receiver James Clark played in 31 games over four seasons at Ohio State but struggled to make an impact outside of special teams. He left for Virginia Tech as a graduate transfer following the 2016 season and spent one season with the Hokies where he recorded 8 catches for 92 yards and no touchdowns.
After failing to crack the starting lineup in his four seasons at Ohio State, tackle Evan Lisle graduated and transferred to Duke for his final season in 2017. He started all 13 games at right tackle for the Blue Devils in the 2017 season.
Despite coming to Ohio State as a highly coveted 5-star linebacker recruit in 2013, Mitchell redshirted in his first season and transferred to Texas Tech. He sat out the 2014 season and made 7 tackles in nine games for the Red Raiders in 2015. However, he decided to transfer again and surfaced at Southeastern University, an NAIA program in Lakeland, Fla. He played in two games in 2016 and one game in 2017.
Safety Jayme Thompson redshirted in 2013 and left for Iowa Western Community College, where he played for two seasons. He then transferred to Indiana and played one game in 2016 and five games in 2017 for the Hoosiers.
Ohio State Class of 2014
One of the final Cleveland Glenville players to sign with Ohio State, Marcelys Jones barely lasted a year before transferring to Kentucky in June 2015. That proved short-lived, though, as he didn’t even make it to the 2015 season before being dismissed by Wildcats coach Mark Stoops. As of April 2017, he hadn’t found a new team but was searching for options and a fresh start.
Defensive tackle Dylan Thompson played just two games at Ohio State because of a combination of injuries and a season lost due to academic suspension. Following the 2017 season, he announced he was leaving for Virginia as a graduate transfer.
With Ohio State’s talented offensive line, Kyle Trout never gained traction on the depth chart in his time in Columbus. However, he graduated in three years and transferred to Cincinnati in May 2017. He played in nine games and made six starts between right tackle and right guard for the Bearcats in 2017.
On National Signing Day in 2014, defensive end Darius Slade famously flipped from Michigan State and signed with the Buckeyes despite never having visited campus. He transferred to Arizona State in 2017 after three seasons of limited playing time and sat out this past season due to transfer restrictions.
Ohio State Class of 2015
Although he was beat out for the right guard spot in 2017, things almost broke Matthew Burrell’s way. When Branden Bowen broke his leg against Maryland, Burrell was the player who replaced him. However, he was beaten out in practice the next week by Demetrius Knox, who held down that role for the rest of 2017 and is the presumed 2018 starter. After spring practice in 2018, Burrell announced he was transferring to FCS program Sam Houston State.
Although he never made a start at quarterback, Joe Burrow became one of the most highly sought transfers on the market when he graduated in May 2018 and decided to leave Ohio State. His play as a backup during his three seasons at Ohio State — where he outplayed his counterparts in each spring game — grabbed the interest of several schools and he ultimately chose LSU over Cincinnati.
As one of four early enrollees in the Class of 2015, cornerback Jamel Dean was medically disqualified because of a history of knee injuries almost as soon as he set foot on campus. Unlike most players who are medically disqualified, though, Dean continued his career. Auburn took a chance on him that has paid off handsomely. He redshirted in 2015 and was projected to start in 2016 before sustaining a season-ending injury in fall camp. He started the final 11 games of the 2017 season and enters 2018 as a returning starter at cornerback.
A 6-foot-9 tackle, Kevin Feder played one game in three seasons. He announced in 2018 that he was transferring to Kansas, and he’ll be eligible immediately after graduating in May.
After arriving as one of Ohio State’s most hyped recruits in years, Torrance Gibson switched from quarterback to wide receiver in his first fall camp but still redshirted. Anticipation for his redshirt freshman season ramped up after he caught 2 touchdowns in the spring game, but he was suspended by the university before the 2016 season began because of a violation of the student code of conduct. He transferred to Cincinnati State with the intent of ending up at Cincinnati as a quarterback but quickly changed course and went to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. He left midway through the 2017 season but returned a few weeks later as a wide receiver. In 2018 he signed with the Edmonton Eskimos, a Canadian Football League team.
Cornerback Joshua Norwood redshirted in 2015 and played sparingly in 2016, then announced in May 2017 that he would transfer from Ohio State. He spent a year at Northwest Mississippi C.C. and signed with West Virginia in the Class of 2018.
Tackle Grant Schmidt was Ohio State’s first scholarship player from South Dakota, but he transferred to Cincinnati after one season without playing a snap. After spending a season with the Bearcats, Schmidt transferred to FCS program South Dakota State, where he has yet to play.
Once committed to Kentucky, wide receiver Alex Stump flipped to Ohio State and redshirted in 2015. He caught 1 pass for 8 yards in 2016 and decided to transfer to Vanderbilt. He sat out the 2017 season and will be eligible to play for the Commodores in 2018.
Ohio State Class of 2016
Ohio State flipped cornerback Rodjay Burns from Louisville late in the 2016 recruiting cycle and held off a massive effort from the Cardinals to flip him back. Burns made the most of Ohio State’s season-opening blowout of Bowling Green in 2016, returning an interception 75 yards for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter. However, he struggled to gain meaningful playing time and transferred to Louisville after one season. He sat out the 2017 season and will be eligible in 2018.
After two seasons without a catch, tight end Kierre Hawkins announced in January 2018 that he was transferring to FCS program Youngstown State.
Running back Antonio Williams looked like a good player when he got the opportunities, but the writing was on the wall when J.K. Dobbins burst onto the scene as a freshman in 2017 and Mike Weber elected to return in 2018. Williams announced after spring practice that he was leaving for North Carolina, where he’ll be eligible to play in 2019.
The son of former NFL offensive lineman Dave Wohlabaugh, center Jack Wohlabaugh redshirted in 2016 and didn’t play in 2017. He announced in January he was transferring to Duke.
Ohio State Class of 2017
The only transfer from the Class of 2017 came because of circumstances beyond anyone’s control. Trevon Grimes, a 4-star wide receiver, went back home midway through his freshman season because of a health issue in his family. He later transferred to Florida and has applied for a hardship waiver to be immediately eligible.