The 2009 Ohio State recruiting class was lauded by recruiting analysts as one of the best classes in the country. Ranked first by scout.com, third by rivals.com, and ninth by ESPN.com, Ohio State fans eagerly looked forward to the players contributing on the field as quickly as possible.
While I follow recruiting as it relates to Ohio State, I truly do not get overly concerned about how a player is ranked - two star, three star, four star, etc. I have long subscribed to the concept that a coaching staff will win or lose with the talent they not only recruit but also develop - it is this philosophy that allowed Coach Jim Tressel and his staff to take players like A.J. Hawk or Malcolm Jenkins, players who were not highly-touted, yet these players contributed as freshmen and eventually became high NFL draft choices.
In many recruiting classes, there are the rules of thirds applied - a third will start as the coaching staff would hope, a third will contribute in some fashion, and a third will either fail to develop, transfer, or be lost to injury. Flash forward from February 2009, and you will see how the twenty-five players signed then could be evaluated by this methodology.
Starters (9 - 36% of the signed class)
1. C.J. Barnett - Barnett played as a freshman cornerback in 2009 before sustaining a knee injury in 2010 that sidelined him the remainder of the 2010 season. Entering the 2012 season as a redshirt junior safety, Barnett has been praised by new head coach Urban Meyer as a "a guy who just does not accept to be average".
2. Zach Boren - a probable 2012 team captain, Boren was considered a throw-in prospect as his older brother Justin had recently transferred from Michigan. A high school linebacker, Boren moved to fullback to start the 2009 opener against Navy. Boren has become a true favorite by both Ohio State fans as well as Coach Meyer for his blocking, toughness, and versatility as a receiver out of the backfield.
3. Reid Fragel - signed as a lumbering tight end, Fragel contributed as a freshman. With the arrival of Coach Meyer, Fragel asked for a move to offensive line, and is in a tight battle with incoming freshman Taylor Decker for the starting right tackle spot. Fragel may not be a starter by season's end, but Fragel could still be considered a starter by the coaching staff and the fans over the course of his senior season.
4. Jordan Hall - Signed out of the same high school as Terrelle Pryor, Hall was considered a throw-in in much the same way as Zach Boren in 2009. Over the course of his career, Hall's versatility as a runner, receiver, and returner have endeared him to the fans and especially the new offensive coaching staff. Look for Hall to be used in a variety of ways when he returns from a foot injury sustained earlier this summer. The new offense could showcase Hall in a manner similar to the way Coach Meyer used Percy Harvin when they were at Florida together.
5. Marcus Hall - Signed out of Cleveland Glenville, Hall was able to play during 2009 as a freshman on the offensive line. Redshirted in 2010 over academic issues, Hall enters 2012 as a redshirt junior. While highly-touted coming into Ohio State as an U.S. Army All-American and a Parade All-American, Hall has been inconsistent during his Ohio State career.
6. Carlos Hyde - Signed in 2009, Hyde spent the 2009 season at Fork Union Military Academy to improve his academic standing. In 2010 Hyde enrolled at Ohio State, and rushed for 141 yards in seven game appearances. The 2011 season allowed Carlos Hyde an opportunity to showcase his skills as the primary ball carrier; the highlight moment for Carlos Hyde was a 63 yard touchdown run versus Nebraska. Entering the 2012 season, Hyde looks to have an opportunity to carry the buk of the rushing load, especially during the opening games as Jordan Hall will be sidelined with his foot injury.
7. Corey Linsley - Linsley redshirted in 2009, and played both guard and tackle as a reserve during the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Linsley emerged as the starting center during the winter and spring workouts, hailed by Coach Meyer as one of the most improved players on the team. With two years of eligibility, Linsley could blossom under the tutelage of the new coaching staff.
8. Jack Mewhort - Redshirted in 2009, Mewhort was signed as a center coming out of high school. Mewhort has emerged as one of the most versatile linemen on the team, moving to guard and tackle during his career. Mewhort was moved to the critical left tackle position by the new coaching staff for the 2012 season. Mewhort will be a player to watch this season as he moves to the most important position along the offensive line.
9. John Simon - another probable 2012 team captain, Simon has played both defensive tackle and defensive end during his career. Simon was one of the most highly-touted players signed in February 2009, and Simon certainly has not disappointed the fans or the coaching staffs he has played for at Ohio State. Simon's intensity, aggressiveness, and workout habits have been continually used by Coach Meyer as examples to emulate to his teammates and incoming freshmen.
Contributors (5 - 20 % of the signed class)
10. Corey Brown - One of the most highly-touted players signed, Brown redshirted in 2009. Brown has played as a backup defensive back the past two seasons, and will likely be a backup this coming season as well at safety.
11. Chris Fields - Redshirted in 2009, Fields has made more of a contribution as a punt returner versus as a receiver. Fields' punt return for a touchdown last season versus Toledo helped to propel Ohio State into the lead before the first half concluded, and proved to be the difference in Ohio State's victory.
12. Kenny Guiton - the last player signed by Ohio State in 2009, Guiton has played sparingly during his career as a Buckeye, but that should change this coming season. Guiton is the backup quarterback to Braxton Miller, and could be called upon by the new coaching staff early in the season to get Guiton much-needed game experience. Guiton has played well in previous Ohio State spring games, and has improved his standing tremendously with the new coaching staff.
13. Adam Homan - Homan was signed as a fullback but has primarily been a special teams contributor during his career at Ohio State. Look for Homan to finish strongly as a dependable player on the various special teams unit this coming season.
14. Jamie Wood - Redshirted in 2009, Wood was the ballyhooed prospect out of Pickerington signed by Ohio State, not his teammate Zach Boren. Wood is a backup defensive back who has played primarily on special teams over the past two seasons.
In part two, I will focus and feature the 2009 recruiting class players who departed Ohio State. Some of these players left for better playing options, while others left more recently under more dubious circumstances.