Recruiting is the lifeblood of any college football program, and everyone knows that. To be a successful team year in and year out, you have to recruit, develop, and then recruit some more. Ohio State has been among the country’s best programs for years because it has done that successfully.
One of the things that makes following recruiting so much fun is that each year, things change. There is no guarantee that every year your favorite team will have room for all the players, even great players, that want to play there.
Every recruiting class is about is two key things: need and talent. What are the spots the Buckeyes need to worry about on the recruiting trail? Let’s take a look at the current, and the next, recruiting cycle.
Ohio State recruiting needs in 2017: How are the Buckeyes doing?
In 2017, the Buckeyes – with the country’s second-ranked recruiting class – has successfully addressed their three key needs.
While Ohio State is still relatively inexperienced at wideout, there was a major need at the position in this cycle. As Dontre Wilson and Corey Smith prepare to exit the program, they’re being replaced by 5-star recruit Trevon Grimes and 4-star recruit Tyjon Lindsey, who was a 5-star prospect throughout much of the last two years.
What makes this duo especially important is how different the two are. Grimes, a 6-foot-4, 205-pound sprinter on the outside, will provide a true wide receiver option. Lindsey, one of the country’s most dynamic players with the ball in his hands, will be an excellent fit for an Ohio State team that will lose not only Dontre Wilson, but potentially Curtis Samuel as well.
This group can still get better, too. The Buckeyes are the likely landing spot for Ohio 4-star wide receiver Jaylen Harris, the country’s 27th-ranked wideout. Another big-bodied pass catcher, Harris would add another talented body to Zach Smith’s Zone Six in 2017.
Another key spot for the Buckeyes in 2017 is the interior of the defensive line. However, in the last few months, as players like Robert Landers and Dremont Jones have risen up and performed very well for Ohio State, it’s become somewhat less of a priority.
Still, the Buckeyes found two very good players at the position, both of whom committed early. And they’re still on the prowl for one more.
First, it was Cincinnati’s Jerron Cage, the younger brother of Notre Dame junior Daniel Cage, who pledged to Ohio State. Then it was Las Vegas 4-star recruit Haskell Garrett, a leader at Bishop Gorman High School. Cage and Garrett provide a solid one-two punch in the middle, and if the Buckeyes can add another run-stuffing tackle like Texas 5-star recruit Marvin Wilson or Utah’s Jay Tufele – both of whom are visiting the school this weekend – then this position is a home run for 2017.
After losing three players from the secondary early to the NFL last season, Ohio State is likely to lose three players from the secondary early, to the NFL, again after this season.
That’s why landing a good group of defensive backs in 2017 was an absolutely necessary. Urban Meyer and his coaches have delivered.
The Buckeyes have commitments from 5-star cornerback Shaun Wade, 4-star cornerbacks Amir Riep and Marcus Williamson, as well as 4-star safety Isaiah Pryor. Brendon White, a 4-star athlete, could also play in the secondary.
How much better can things get? The Buckeyes are the leader for 5-star cornerback Jeffrey Okudah and 4-star safety Bubba Bolden. They’re also getting an official visit this weekend for the game against Michigan from California 5-star recruit Darnay Holmes. If the Buckeyes can land two of those three – and keep Shaun Wade from flipping to Alabama – it may be the best single haul of all-time in the defensive backfield.
What about 2018? Where will the greatest needs be?
It’s still very early to look too far ahead, but there are some areas the Buckeyes will have to address in 2018. Because Meyer leaves no stone unturned, they’ve begun searching for the right players in earnest already.
Ohio State will likely take just one running back in 2017 (4-star Texas prospect J.K. Dobbins). And because of that, the need for two studs in 2018 is very, very real. It’s magnified even greater if you assume (which I feel you can do somewhat safely) that Mike Weber will strongly consider leaving for the NFL following his redshirt sophomore season.
The Buckeyes have one commitment at tailback for 2018 already, 4-star Florida standout Brian Snead, and they’re hot on the trail for two of the country’s best, 5-star talents Zamir White and Jaelen Gill. White, the nation’s top-ranked running back, has visited twice in the last six months, making the trek to Ohio from North Carolina. Another 5-star prospect, Westerville (Ohio) South’s Jaelen Gill, is a Columbus native that has been a priority for almost two years. Ohio State isn’t going to let him out of town without a major fight.
At present, Greg Studrawa has just two offensive linemen committed in 2017 and that means – even if another one gets added this cycle – the 2018 class will need four to five players at the position.
Going into 2018, Ohio State will lose at Billy Price and Jamarco Jones from its starting lineup and a host of players that compose the offensive line’s depth.
Ohio’s Jackson Carman is a no-brainer for this class, but most of the remaining names remain a mystery. Can quarterback commitment Emory Jones convince good friend and fellow Georgia 5-star prospect Jamaree Salyer to come north? He’ll get his first chance to put that bug in Salyer’s ear this weekend when the pair are in Columbus together.
Like the offensive line, there will likely be a number of new names on the scene for Ohio State at linebacker by the time 2018 rolls around. Players like Raekwon McMilland and Chris Worley will certainly be gone. Jerome Baker, Dante Booker and others will likely be moved on as well.
The Buckeyes have made a number of early offers to a handful of the country’s best 2018 linebackers already. The nation’s top-ranked outside linebacker, Palaie Gaoteote, is a Bishop Gorman teammate of three current Ohio State commitments, and he’s a top target. So too is Toledo (Ohio) St. John’s Dallas Gant, who will be in Ohio Stadium on Saturday for the second time in November. The Buckeyes are the leader for Colorado’s Adrian Jackson and will get a visit from Virginia Beach’s Teradja Mitchell, the country’s highest-ranked inside linebacker, for the Michigan game as well.
You should expect three to four linebackers in the 2018 class, and Luke Fickell has a head start on recruiting many of the key names on the Buckeyes list.