COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State signed the No. 2 recruiting class in the 247Sports composite team rankings, and the Buckeyes have no shortage of playmakers coming to Columbus this fall.
The class is loaded with talent, as Ohio State finished with the highest average player rating for the second consecutive season. But even some of those 26 signees stand out among their future teammates. With that in mind, we’re handing out high school yearbook-style superlatives in various categories to the Ohio State signees.
Here’s a look at which players could end up shining brightest.
Most likely to win a Heisman: Jaelen Gill
This is a pretty narrow category, given that playing quarterback or running back is pretty much the only way to win the Heisman Trophy these days. (The last player of a different position to win was cornerback Charles Woodson — the only defensive player ever to win it — in 1997.) But Gill will line up at H-back, which puts him in the running.
Aside from playing the right position, Gill simply has the right stuff. He’s electric with the ball in his hands and should get plenty of touches as early as 2019, after the depth chart thins out a bit. He has great vision and speed, and he can also be a weapon in the passing game. And perhaps most importantly from a national award standpoint, he’s simply a playmaker. He makes things happen, often in a highlight reel manner. And that tendency could also lead to him returning kicks, which would further bolster his cause.
Most important recruiting win: Nicholas Petit-Frere
Given the precarious nature of its tackle depth on the offensive line, Ohio State didn’t have a choice but to add another tackle on National Signing Day after inking Max Wray in the early signing period. The Buckeyes came very close to whiffing, but instead Ohio State coach Urban Meyer knocked it out of the park by landing 5-star tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere, the nation’s No. 1 player at his position. It was the most serious position of need, and Meyer found a way to beat out Alabama, Florida, Michigan and Notre Dame to land him.
“We had to,” Meyer said. “Everybody in the country is looking for the tall, athletic elongated guys that can bend and they’re hard to find. That’s why they’re paid so well in the NFL because those body types are hard, hard to find. And you throw a 3.8 GPA on top of that, a very intelligent guy, a very mature guy, and he’s a great finish to that class.”
Most ‘Can’t miss’ prospect: Jeremy Ruckert
There might not be a more sure thing in this class than 4-star Jeremy Ruckert, the nation’s No. 1 tight end. He has everything a coach would want in a tight end — pairing great athleticism with dependable hands and also showing a willingness to be physical and block. What enhances those traits is his consistency. At every camp setting or all-star game, Ruckert tended to impress recruiting analysts with his performances. And while he has a high ceiling, he’s also already much closer to it than many players are at this stage which makes it far less likely that evaluators are wrong about him. There’s much more production than projection in his game.
Ruckert isn’t an early enrollee and may need some time, but he could make an impact as early as 2018. Down the line, though, expect an All-Big Ten type of career and a player who finally makes Ohio State fans stop wondering when a tight end will produce for the Buckeyes.
Most underrated recruit: Chris Olave
Ohio State snatched up wide receiver Chris Olave late in the game, and the guess here is that a few years down the line Buckeye fans will be quite happy with that outcome. In terms of rating, Olave is 24th of 26 Ohio State signees and one of just three 3-stars in the class. But Zach Smith knows talent when he sees it, and the fact the Buckeyes already had three wide receivers signed makes it even more apparent that Olave was viewed as a talent that they couldn’t pass up.
Most likely to be a captain: Teradja Mitchell
There are a number of likely selections in this category, which makes sense — this class is one of the most talented Ohio State has ever recruited, and high achievers are often elite leaders. But even in a class of stars, linebacker Teradja Mitchell stands out as a future leader.
“Kids like to be around Teradja,” a source told Land of 10 when Mitchell committed. “He’s a lead-by-example guy, actions more than words, but he’s not quiet or reserved. He fits in very well with the culture of a place like Ohio State.”
He made that evident during the Under Armour All-American Game, where he was chosen to be a defensive captain. Even in comparison to some of the top recruits in the country, he stood out that week from a leadership standpoint.
Being selected a team captain by coaches at Under Armour @AllAmericaGame is a big deal … means week of impressive & consistent performance + leadership
— Gerry Hamilton (@HamiltonESPN) January 3, 2018
Most likely to sneak up on Ohio State fans: Brian Snead
Running back Brian Snead was committed to Ohio State the longest of any Class of 2018 signee, having committed in July 2016. And yet despite being pledged to the program for more than 18 months, it’s entirely possible there’s been less written about him than any other Ohio State signee in 2018.
Snead avoided the spotlight, a rarity for a recruit of his stature. Interviews from him are almost non-existent. The running joke on the Ohio State recruiting beat was that there was a chance he wasn’t actually real.
— Marc Givler (@MarcGivlerBG) May 5, 2017
All jokes aside, Snead is very real. And he’s much better than most people know, because most casual recruiting fans know almost nothing about him. Avoiding the limelight and committing early might have toned down the hype, but he could very well be a future star at Ohio State.
Most jaw-dropping measurables: Master Teague
Not long after doing the same at Alabama, running back Master Teague put up some outrageous numbers at a Ohio State recruiting camp in June 2017.
On 6/9/2017 @MasterTeagueIII did this. Next week he will sign, not with his dream school as some has called them but with a school whose coaches did an epic job in recruiting him, a school that ended up being the best school! #Led pic.twitter.com/ec5rTx47YK
— Dr. Corey M Teague (@DrCoreyMTeague) December 12, 2017
More importantly, he did so with a scholarship on the line.