Ohio State (2-0) is off to a solid start on the field and in the recruiting trail, but for us picky fans; there are definitely holes to fill for the 2013 season. I feel that many of the misunderstandings with the negativity currently surrounding the on-field productivity is because we have the bar set so high. Coach Urban Meyer set the bar high for us by expecting the best from every player and coach, but this issue of negativity has surrounded Buckeye fan boards for quite some time. In fact, it’s the reason that I created my own site and why I am where I am now. We can all point the finger at Jim Tressel for winning a National Championship so early in his career, but much of the problem is that we’re a knowledgeable fan base that wants the best for it’s team. There’s always room for improvement, but eventually we, the fans, have to find a reasonable medium.
This is my positive swing on how the 2013 Ohio State Recruiting Class can help fill holes and add depth to next year’s Buckeye roster. You’re going to see current OSU commits as well as my predictions of the remaining class. This is an important recruiting class because many fans are expecting a great season in 2013. It’ll mark the first year that a Coach Meyer team will be eligible for post-season play, it’ll be the very important and often successful 2nd year in Coach Meyer’s tenure at Ohio State, and it’ll be the year that the Buckeyes return many key players.
The 2013 class has 16 current commits, and the widely assumed magic number is 21; so this leaves us with 5 wildcard spots. Read on to see how I expect these last 5 spots be filled.
Here’s a positional look at key returners as well as added depth from Buckeye commits and targets. This isn’t broken down too specifically, so you’re not going to see the WR’s broke up in X, Y, and Z or the DT’s broke up into Nose Guard and DT. They’ll be lumped together, but explanations will hopefully clear up who I expect to see the field and in what role. Italicized names indicate a returning starter.
Returners: Carlos Hyde, Bri’onte Dunn, Rod Smith, and Warren Ball
Key Losses: None
2013 Recruits: None
Explanation: I broke RB into two categories because I felt that there were very different roles in this offense for bigger backs as opposed to the All-Purpose Backs (APB). This group of RB’s is the power group that won’t be restricted to lining up in the backfield, but they’re primarily used for running between the tackles.
Hyde will return for his Senior year with solid talent nipping at his heals. Dunn has already got some reps, but he and Smith will get a big opportunity when California (1-1) comes to Columbus this weekend, so there will be some-what experienced depth at the position next year. Also, Warren Ball will redshirt this year; so there will be a RB in the 2013 class. One recruit that could’ve filled this role was Derrick Green, but we’re no longer apart of that race.
I got roasted on Twitter for saying this, but I feel that Dunn and Ball fit this position better than Hyde. They’re not as good as Hyde at this point, but their ability to run between the tackles as well as give defenders a little shake makes them dangerous in the spread option. I like what we have going here and think it’s a position with promise for next season.
Key Losses: Jordan Hall
Explanation: This is a role that we haven’t really got to see played yet, so more should be known once Hall is full-go. Philly Brown did play a little bit of this role last weekend, and this is what is often referred to as the “Percy Harvin” role; so we know what to expect from it and how important it can be.
I’m going out on a limb to say that this position opens the whole offense. I think part of the struggles that we’ve seen on offense these first few weeks stem from the fact that we don’t have anybody playing this position full-time. The biggest impact will be getting the ball on the edge without Braxton taking as many hits. The triple option, jet sweep, and play-action pass all become much more effective. It could potentially be the key to maximizing the offense.
The good news is that the Buckeyes are bringing in two amazing recruits that have the athletic ability and play-making ability to be effective at this position in year 1. If Elliott and Marshall can contribute next year, this offense can be tops in the nation; and I say that confidently. There’s so much talent and depth returning, and this is the main area of “concern” for next year’s offense.
Elliott is listed as a RB, and Marshall is listed as an ATH but expected to be more of a WR. I think both will line up in the backfield and at receiver. Their versatility is unbelievable as they both can stretch the field vertically as well as run between the tackles. Marshall has been the next “thing” since Braxton Miller in Ohio High School Football, and like Miller he is very dangerous with the ball in his hands. Elliott, a St. Louis native, has done it all in high school returning punts, playing RB, and playing WR. We’ll have a National Signing Day breakdown of the class, and these are two guys that every Buckeye fan needs to know about.
Key Losses: Jake Stoneburner, Zach Boren, and Adam Homan
2013 Recruits: Marcus Baugh (OSU Commit)
Explanation: Another important position for this offense is these versatile H-Back positions. I lumped Stoney and Boren together even though they don’t play the “same” position because they’re used similarly. Stoneburner is actually a WR/TE who does a little bit of everything because of the mismatches he creates. Baugh will play a similar role as Stoneburner in this offense.
Boren does a little more as he runs, blocks, and catches passes. This is a position that will most likely not be replaced in the offense, but one preferred walk-on has been issued in Dublin Scioto’s William Houston. I don’t think he ends up at Ohio State as much as I think he would fit well into this mold. As a 2* recruit, I don’t see him being the feature back in an offense; but he can be a solid contributing back which is what this role is geared toward.
The more you read these positional breakdowns, the more you have to realize how the offense fits together. It’s not like we bring in players to play a specific role such as a traditional RB role. The best players get on the field, and their skills will be used as best as possible. A guy like Marcus Baugh will surely be used in a variety of ways, but I don’t see him taking handoffs. It’ll be interesting to see if the Bucks go after anybody to fill the Boren role.
Returners: Jeff Heuerman, Nick Vannett, and Blake Thomas
Key Losses: None
2013 Recruits: None
Explanation: Heuerman and Vannett have done well enough to hold down the TE position for this year. Well enough that Stoneburner could move to WR. I expect most of them to get a lot better. Vannett is a guy that could make the move to that H-Back role to help with depth there.
Heuerman has decent speed and blocking skills for a TE. He’s the main reason why Stoneburner could make the move to WR this year, and he will continue to hold down that TE spot for another few years. Both Heuerman and Vannett have multiple years left and will do nothing but get better.
Freshman Blake Thomas seems to be more of a receiving TE, but I’ve always thought he would play inside. I don’t picture him making the move to an H-back, but we haven’t really got to see him yet; so I’m going off old films. He does a great job in the middle of the field which is another reason why I see him staying inside, and with Baugh coming in, it just makes sense for him to take the next year or two to develop himself as a true TE behind Heuerman.
The 2013 class didn’t see us go after a true TE. The guys we did recruit (Baugh and Josh McNeil) both fit the more athletic position. The 2014 class could see us get a TE, but there are going to be so few scholarships in that class that we might try to hold off one more year with Thomas and Baugh filling in then.
Returners: Philly Brown, Devin Smith, Evan Spencer, Chris Fields, Michael Thomas, Verlon Reed, Tyrone Williams, Ricquan Southward, and Frank Epitropoulos
Key Losses: None
Explanation: This is an important position for this offense because we can throw 5 WR’s out on the field at once, and every one of them needs to be able to be a scoring threat. Right now, we’re not getting 5 WR’s worth of quality PT; but we have depth and experience. Nobody graduates this year, and any of those WR’s could get on the field this season. The big issue is just that we’re not making enough plays at WR to stretch the field out. Beside a versatile RB, like Hall, the WR play can be the key to opening up the offense.
I think Brown and Smith have stepped up their play this year, and I really think that both are going to get better in their own way. I think Smith is more of a true WR, and he has the size and speed to break big plays. Brown is similar in that I really think he’s a big play waiting to happen. Once it clicks for him, he’ll start making a lot of plays in the open field.
The big thing that this group is missing is a speedy playmaker. Coach Meyer wants WR’s that can stretch the field vertically as well as make guys miss and have the speed to take it to the house. Jacobs is a speedster and an overlooked recruit. He has solid skills and could be a playmaker on the edge for this Buckeye offense.
The other WR recruit I’ve thrown into this class is the highly sought after Shelton Gibson. We all know about Gibson’s speed and how his recruitment has played out. Gibson hasn’t given out much info since the season started as he wants to focus on football, but the last bit of information we saw said that the Buckeyes were his leader. At this point, I think he’s all Buckeye; but other recruits are looking around as well and seeing how big of an opportunity it would be to play in this offense. Take North Carolina WR Marquez North for example. A top 30 recruit in the nation according to Rivals.com and the #2 WR, North has two official visits planned. One is Tennessee and the other is Ohio State. If North decides he wants to be a Buckeye, Gibson could be pushed away. It’s no secret that Meyer wants Gibson, and I think he’s our guy right now. I also think if he waits until December or January, other guys are going to start making moves; and this Buckeye class is going to be getting pretty full; but I really don’t think he waits that long. I have him penciled in for now, but after a Tweet like this, I want to get my pen out.
Other names to keep an eye on are James Quick, Ryan Timmons, Devon Allen, and Robert Foster listed in what I think is proper order of our chances of landing them with Quick being most likely. Quick is much like Gibson, and should he commit, that could be another way Gibson could get snubbed. I don’t expect any Buckeye commits at WR in the near future. Meyer will get the best he can get.
Returners: Jack Mewhort, Marcus Hall, Corey Linsley, Andrew Norwell, Taylor Decker, Jacoby Boren, Darryl Baldwin, Tommy Brown, Antonio Underwood, Kyle Dodson, Joey O’Connor, and Pat Elflein
Key Losses: Reid Fragel
Explanation: The line will return 4 of 5 starters next year, and the 5th player (Decker) is playing meaningful snaps and has competed for a starting spot; so the improvement of this line could be pretty amazing between the start of the ’12 and ’13 seasons.
The big issue with the line is depth. The Buckeyes brought in a handful of ’12 prospects with Decker already seeing time and Boren earning 2nd team center. O’Connor and Dodson have had some injuries but have the tools to be effective. This group has a solid core, but this has to be a key area of player development and recruiting improvement for the Buckeyes if the program is going to take that next step.
Lisle gives OSU another tackle, and Gardner will add to the interior of the line. Lisle was a nice pickup for the line, and Gardner earned his offer at camp.
The only other big time talent I see as a possibility here is Dorian Johnson who could very well sway this way, but he seems to want to play in Pennsylvania pretty bad. If he still lists Pitt as his leader after the start they had, it’s going to be difficult to convince him that Ohio State is for him. This is where it stands with him:
He is a guy that we would gladly take, but as of now, I see this class ending with Lisle and Gardner.
Returners: Michael Bennett, Noah Spence, Steve Miller, JT Moore, Chase Farris, and Se’Von Pittman.
Key Losses: John Simon and Nathan Williams
Explanation: DE is an area that Coach Meyer has instantly had an effect on in signing Spence, Pittman, and Washington last year. That success has continued this year with star DE Joey Bosa out of Florida and Tracy Sprinkle from Ohio.
Bosa is a man-child who will be ripping off Wolverine QB heads before too long, and Buckeye fans have been excited about him since hearing he was interested in OSU. Sprinkle is another one of those overlooked guys on the recruiting trail. He’s put up good numbers this year, and adds to creating that dominant DL that Coach Meyer wants at Ohio State.
A name that Buckeye fans are pretty familiar with is Tyquan Lewis. He is also a DE, and I think that next Thursday (September 20th) he will announce that he plans on attending Ohio State. This is obviously just a hunch, but I think that most Twitter followers would agree that Lewis seems to learn toward OSU. Lewis always seems to ReTweet things like this:
If you look at this trio and the trio of DE’s from last year, you have to see some similarities with this group. Lewis is this class’s pass-rusher (Spence), Sprinkle is this class’s strong-side DE (Pittman), and Bosa is the DE/DT hybrid (Washington). I like what Meyer is doing with this DL and think that the production is going to improve over the next few seasons.
Returners:Jonathan Hankins, Adolphus Washington, Chris Carter, Tommy Schutt, and Joel Hale
Key Losses: Garrett Goebel
Explanation: DT is in good hands at Ohio State for the foreseeable future. Hankins hasn’t had big numbers this year, but defenses are planning around him. The positive side of this is that Hankins could drop on draft boards and stick around for another year. That’s me being a selfish Buckeye fan, and I really wish him the best. He could be a big part of that big run next season, and he’s been clear about his want to win a National Championship. Nobody could blame him for taking the money if it’s there, but we have depth behind him.
The depth behind him is young as Washington, Schutt, and Carter bring athleticism and size. Washington has been a pleasant surprise for OSU this year, and he is going to be a great one while at OSU. Schutt is a big time DT, and he matches up well with Washington on the inside. The combination of these two with the two DE’s from this class makes for a complete, dominant defensive line.
Carter is the big guy who is needs a little time to develop, but he could be a clogger like Hankins. At this point, he seems to be a little behind the Freshman; but he definitely has the potential to be a contributor which will help with depth when Big Hank does depart.
The 2013 class brings in a headlining DT in Hill as well as another solid DT from Ohio in Billy Price. Hill is a monster on the inside. He is big and athletic enough to see action early. He’s going to be a big name at Ohio State and will make a living blowing up offensive lines.
Price is an interesting situation. He, like Munger, could play OL or DL. As of now, he’s a DL; and there is always the option of switching once he gets to college. So many players move once they get in, so versatility is big for players especially on the lines. You bring in guys that dominate the trenches and find where they fit on your team. As of now, I’d say Price is a slight DL lean; but the lack of depth on the OL and small ’14 recruiting class could see him end up on the other side of the ball.
I think Munger is another guy that ends up with the Buckeyes. Nobody is really talking about him right now, but he was a commodity for awhile. Some even said that Munger was a silent commit to OSU. The addition of Munger would give the Buckeyes a little more leeway with where to play him and Price. Coach Meyer wants to improve the DL, but developing the OL isn’t far behind on the list of priorites; and the move of adding Munger allows the Buckeyes to work on both at the same time.
Returners: Ryan Shazier, Curtis Grant, Josh Perry, Connor Crowell, Camren Williams, David Perkins, Jamal Marcus, and Luke Roberts
Key Losses: Etienne Sabino and Storm Klein
2013 Recruits: Mike Mitchell (Uncommitted)
Explanation: Ohio State has been known for having great linebackers hence the name Linebacker U. Despite what you heard, this is Ohio State’s nickname. This year appears to be lacking a big time linebacker right now, but it definitely doesn’t lack potential.
Shazier and Grant give the Buckeyes big play potential, but they both seem like their heads are caught up in the X’s and O’s rather than playing the game. Hopefully, it’ll eventually click for them sooner rather than later. Behind them on the depth chart is a bunch of guys in similar situations.
Perry, Williams, Perkins, Marcus, and Roberts all are young with talent. Some have more than others, but the talent is there which is why we weren’t in a huge rush to sign more LB’s this year. I’m sure most of you know the 2014 LB class is expected to be pretty solid as the Buckeyes look to reel in ‘The Big 3″, but we’ll get to that at a later time.
As for now we need to focus on developing the guys that we do have. The one guy that we’re all waiting to hear from is Mike Mitchell of Texas. Mitchell first made a name for himself when he said he might commit to OSU while at a camp this summer. At that camp he managed to blow scouts away with his athleticism. This caused a Buckeye frenzy as fans wanted to know more about the star. Mitchell has pushed his commitment date back a few times and appears to be taking his time with the process now.
The big reason that I think we get Mitchell is because Coach Meyer loves great athletes, and Mitchell can also be used as a pass rusher. He is a similar situation to Jamal Marcus, and we all know how crazy Meyer was for Marcus. He has a great motor and is a fierce competitor. Everything about this kid screams Coach Meyer’s style.
Returners: Bradley Roby, Doran Grant, Adam Griffin, Najee Murray, and Armani Reeves
Key Losses: Travis Howard
Explanation: The Buckeyes have a solid starting group at corner. Howard is having a great year thus far, and Roby is on the verge of getting comfortable in his shoes. Buckeyes should be comforted by the fact that Doran Grant was competing for a starting job for quite some time, so there will be talent there next year. The guys behind these two are still pretty green, but they all have great aspirations.
Griffin is a legacy who wants to make a name for himself. Murray reminds me of Antoine Winfield because he’s so physical. Reeves has seen time as a returner and has the athletic ability to be a solid corner.
The 2013 class is headlined by the duo at corner. Burrows is ranked really high in some recruiting services, and Woodard is ranked really high in some others. Both corners are top talents, and both corners can step in and contribute right away if given the chance. Big things will be expected when these guys get on the field.
Returners: CJ Barnett, Christian Bryant, Corey Brown, De’van Bogard, Jamie Wood, Ron Tanner, and Tyvis Powell
Key Losses: Orhian Johnson and Zach Domicone
Explanation: Safety has been a questionable position over the past few seasons. There have been issues in pass coverage. Barnett and Bryant both have a year of eligibility left, so the big run next year will be with two experienced Senior safeties. Both guys will come up and hit you, so pass coverage is the big issue to get straightened out.
The depth behind the starting two is unproven. This is an area that Coach Meyer would like to improve, and it starts with the recruiting class. A guy that Buckeyes are upset about losing is Dymonte Thomas, and some people still mention him becoming a Buckeye; but it seems like a really long shot to me.
Thompson was a one-time WVU commit that switched his commitment to the Buckeyes, and we’re happy to have him. He seems to be the only true safety that we have right now. The only other guy we’re after that would surely fit in at safety is Vonn Bell. Bell is somebody that the Buckeyes would take in a heartbeat, and I do think we are in for him; but I also think it could be tough to get him away from Tennessee. One of his buddies on Twitter tried to tell me that he was basically a silent commit to OSU, and as much as I want it to happen, I just don’t see it right now. Bell is a guy that OSU won’t turn away.
Christopher Worley’s recruitment has been about as quiet as can be. Mike Mitchell and Shelton Gibson’s recruitments have been louder than Worley’s, but I have been on the verge of calling his commitment to Ohio State when this showed up on Twitter:
I guess the commitment could be coming sooner rather than later, and I think the Buckeyes are his favorite. The one program that could be a player here is M:ch:gan State. With Worley and Lewis, the Buckeyes are officially on commitment watch this week.
Darron Lee has been lighting in up for New Albany. Here’s a Tweet from his mother from last night’s game:
He’s a hometown kid, and we’re not really sure where he’s going to fit into this defense yet. I see him as a Star/Jermale Hines-type back, but he could grow into a LB. It’s not impossible for a guy with the size of a LB to play DB, and it happens in elite defenses. That just might be where this defense is heading.
Returners: Drew Basil (K/P) and Bryce Haynes (LS)
Key Losses: Ben Buchanan (P)
2013 Recruits: Johnny Townsend (P)
Explanation: Basil might take over both duties after Buchanan departs. Basil has been about as promising as possible when he kicks the ball. Coach Meyer enjoys coaching punters, so he has a head start on incoming freshman Johnny Townsend.
Like Bryce Haynes, the Buckeyes were surprised when a scholarship was extended to punter Johnny Townsend. Townsend is a Florida native that Coach Meyer saw something in while watching him kick. Meyer is a special teams nut, so if he extended the offer, it has to be worth it. I trust in his decision, do you?
As you can see, I think the 2013 class is excellent; but I also think there are guys that can play right away. Coach Meyer’s 2nd season is set up to be very special. As for now, we have to get better every day and every week. Each game needs to mark progress and show development.
Stay tuned for updates on the 2013 class as it continues to fill up as well as early prospects to watch in the 2014 class, and as always, come follow me on Twitter @EmpireJarrid.
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