We're a little less than ten months away from National Signing Day 2015, meaning we're ready to release our first early class projection for the 2015 recruiting class.
Obviously it's still very early in the cycle and this isn't an exact science. Other names will emerge, some will commit elsewhere, and I'll be the first to say not all of these are going to be right when NSD '15 comes and goes.
That said, it's time to release a class projection based on how things currently stand. I'll try to release a projected class depending on how things develop over this current recruiting cycle.
Without further ado, my first projection for Ohio State's 2015 recruiting class:
Torrance Gibson, Fort Lauderdale (FL) American Heritage
There's still a long way to go in his recruitment and he still needs to visit, but once that happens (likely this summer) Ohio State will be in a very good position to land his commitment. He recently tweeted he was 85% sure he'd be leaving the state of Florida to play his college ball likely meaning proximity to home won't be a huge factor in his college decision.
Running back (1-2)
Damien Harris, Berea (KY) Madison Southern
This is another battle that will likely be a long one (probably won't decide until signing day), but I think the Buckeyes are in a very good position right now. I don't see him ending up at Kentucky or Michigan (how often to players recommit to schools?). I think Ohio State's competition will come from the SEC with Auburn, Alabama, and Florida all playing big roles in his recruitment.
Wide receiver (3-4)
Van Jefferson, Brentwood (TN) Ravenwood
Jefferson didn't visit this weekend, but I expect him to be on campus soon and is definitely a candidate to commit to the Buckeyes in the next month or so. Penn State and Tennessee will likely be the top competition for the Bucks in this race.
Devante Peete, Fort Lauderdale (FL) St. Thomas Aquinas
Ohio State is looking to add a couple of big receivers to play on the outside and the 6'5 Peete is a very good candidate for one of these spots. He's not the fastest player in the world, but he's definitely a guy who could play a big role in the offense.
Christian Kirk, Scottsdale (AZ) Saguaro
There's no doubt that it will be a battle to land Kirk, but I have a feeling they'll be able to pull it off. He talks to the coaching staff almost everyday and would be a very good fit in the OSU offense. Kirk was on campus a little over a month ago and came away very impressed. Texas A&M, Oregon, and UCLA will provide stiff competition in the campaign to land his commitment.
Tight end (2)
Hale Hentges, Jefferson City (MO) Helias
This might take a little longer than what I originally expected, but I think the Buckeyes are in a very good spot to land Hentges. He still wants to take some more visits and don't think we'll see him make a college decision until sometime this summer. Auburn, Michigan, Missouri, Alabama, Florida State, and others will be in the mix here.
I do see the Buckeyes landing two tight ends in this class, but I'm unsure of the second guy right now. I don't see Chris Clark and Hale Hentges (though I wouldn't be stunned to see Clark in this class instead of Hentges) in the same class, I don't see CJ Conrad in this class, and Jackson Harris is a major long-shot. Miles Boykin could be an interesting candidate, but I'd have to look into that a little more before making a prediction for him.
Offensive line (3-4)
Drew Richmond, Memphis (TN) University School
I've liked Richmond to be in this class for quite some time now and despite Tennessee making a major push, I'm sticking with my Ohio State prediction. He'll likely be on campus sometime this summer and is set to announce his college decision on September 9th. Tennessee and other SEC schools will be in this one.
Matthew Burrell, Woodbridge (VA) C. D. Hylton
Going into his visit this weekend, I wasn't too sure about Ohio State's chances. The coaching staff hit a home run on the visit, and I think the Buckeyes are the team to beat right now. He's expected back on campus along with Tim Settle in late May right before the Columbus NFTC camp.
James Daniels, Warren (OH) G Harding
This isn't going to be as easy as I once thought, but I do see the Buckeyes eventually pulling off. Auburn is going to be a major player in his recruitment and Iowa could play a factor too as his brother plays for the Hawkeyes. I think a decision will come this summer or early in the fall.
Patrick Allen, Reisterstown (MD) Franklin
Ohio State leads right now, but will need to hold off Florida State, who's running second for his commitment right now. It won't be easy to hold off the Seminoles, but in the end, I think the coaching staff is able to land the talented offensive lineman.
Defensive line (5-6)
Christian Wilkins, Suffield (NJ) Academy
He's very quiet when it comes to recruiting, but in the times I've spoken to him, he speaks highly of Ohio State and has the Buckeyes as one of his top choices. It's unclear when he'll make his commitment, but the Buckeyes have a very good chance as things currently stand.
Elijah Taylor, Cincinnati (OH) Moeller
It's not going to be very easy to top Notre Dame, but I think Urban Meyer and his staff will be able to close the deal on the in-state defensive linemen. He visited a couple of days ago and should be back on campus sometime before making a summer college decision.
Dre'Mont Jones, Cleveland (OH) St. Ignatius
As I've said a couple of times this last week, I'm surprised he didn't commit to the Buckeyes while visiting for the spring game. He wants to take visits to Michigan and Notre Dame in the next month to be sure of a decision. In the end, I expect the choice to be Ohio State.
Darius Fullwood, Olney (MD) Good Counsel
Ohio State is Fullwood's leader as thing currently stand and he's planning on announcing a decision sometime next month. Penn State will definitely make a strong push for him, but I think he decides on the Buckeyes when it's all said an done.
Ricky DeBerry, Richmond (VA) St. Christopher's School
In addition to moving way up with Burrell this weekend, the Buckeyes also made a jump up with DeBerry. It'll be a battle to land him in the end, but right now I like Ohio State's chances. Many of the nation's top programs are in the race for his commitment.
Jerome Baker, Cleveland (OH) Benedictine
The Buckeyes hold a pretty sizable lead for Baker right now and he has visited Columbus many times, most recently in the middle of March. I think he'll be in the commitment column before the summer comes to a close. Penn State will probably be Ohio State's top competition in this race.
Sh'mar Kilby-Lane, Hallandale (FL)
Ohio State knocked it out of the park on his visit last weekend and are in an excellent position to land a commitment from the standout linebacker. It might be a little bit longer than expected, but I see him as a part of this class somewhere down the road.
Justin Hilliard, Cincinnati (OH) St. Xavier
This race could still go many ways, but right now I'm predicting the Buckeyes for the standout linebacker. He's tough to read and doesn't plan to make a decision until later in the recruiting process. Alabama, Michigan, Iowa, Notre Dame, and Oklahoma will also be major players in his recruitment.
Nick Conner, Dublin (OH) Scioto
As long as he performs well in one of Ohio State's camps this summer, I think he gets offered and will be a Buckeye shortly after receiving the offer. It's not often you see Columbus kids turn down the Bucks. Kentucky, Michigan State, and maybe a few others will factor into this recruitment.
Defensive back (2-4)
Committed: Jamel Dean, Cocoa (FL)
Kendrell McFadden, Hollywood (FL) Miramar
The West Virginia commit is very high on the Buckeyes and plans on making a visit sometime this summer or fall. I don't think he sticks with the Mountaineers and the Ohio State is a very real final landing spot for him. This will be an interesting recruitment to follow.