COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State’s star-studded recruiting class didn’t have much of a local flavor.
Of the 21 players the Buckeyes signed, only seven were Ohioans — the fewest in any OSU class. It’s also the smallest percentage of in-state players in any Ohio State recruiting class. The number is also technically generous, since it counts Bradenton (Fla.) IMG product Marcus Williamson because he lived in Westerville, Ohio, until his senior season of high school.
“It wasn’t enough Ohio,” director of player personnel Mark Pantoni said. “That’s something we want our percentage to be much higher on. There’s too much talent in this state, but at the same time, we’re also searching for the best players in the country.
“We always have to keep reminding ourselves Ohio kids are our first priority. They will be. Sometimes we probably over-evaluate them because those are the kids we get to camp so many times, we know all about, versus a kid out of state. Trust me, we place so much emphasis on the state of Ohio and we’re going to continue to and do our best to get the best players out of the state of Ohio.”
Out-of-state players made up the bulk of the class, and they also brought quality. Each of Ohio State’s five 5-star signees in the 247Sports composite rankings hailed from outside the state. Two were from Texas, and the others came from Florida, California and Maryland.
Furthermore, arguably the most visible and anticipated member of the class — 4-star quarterback Tate Martell — played for Las Vegas Bishop Gorman. Highly celebrated 4-star receiver Trevon Grimes is from Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas. Running back J.K. Dobbins, who drew comparisons to Ezekiel Elliott, hails from La Grange, Texas.
The Ohioans have mostly drifted under the radar, although maybe they shouldn’t have. Miamisburg, Ohio, offensive guard Josh Myers spent much of his recruitment regarded as a top-10 national prospect. Every in-state player signed by the Buckeyes ranked in the top 300 nationally in the 247Sports composite rankings.
|Brendon White||Powell Olentangy Liberty||ATH||★★★★||126||3|
|Amir Riep||Cincinnati Colerain||CB||★★★★||183||23|
|Jaylen Harris||Cleveland Heights||WR||★★★★||184||30|
|Marcus Williamson||Westerville South/IMG||CB||★★★★||195||27|
|Jerron Cage||Cincinnati Winton Woods||DT||★★★★||236||14|
|Thayer Munford||Massillon Washington||OT||★★★★||280||28|
When it comes to being the face of the class, the Ohio natives don’t seem to mind taking a back seat for now.
“I really don’t care about getting talked about,” Myers said in December. “At some point, all of us are getting talked about. When we get to college, none of that is going to matter. My family has kept me grounded and I know that none of this matters when you step foot on a college campus.”
Don’t confuse that with complacency. The two early-enrollees from Ohio who spoke to the media on National Signing Day — Williamson and White — both expressed an eagerness to show what the state has to offer.
“I just think for Ohio guys, it means a little more to us,” Williamson said. “We’re from here and we’re playing in front of our family. We grew up watching Terrelle Pryor and all those guys. It’s just a different feeling being here. I can’t really explain it. I’m just glad to be here.”