Ohio State's 2014 recruiting class currently stands at 21 commitments after gaining verbal pledges from the Glenville duo of safety Erick Smith and athlete Marshon Lattimore a couple of days ago at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. There are no more than four spots remaining in the class. With National Signing Day just a short month away, let's take a look at the Buckeye's current remaining targets to complete the "Dream 14".
Before we get started, I think it's intriguing that there's really not any single player left on the Buckeye's recruiting board that's considered to be an OSU "lock". In fact, there might not even be a player that the majority of recruiting experts think will end up in the scarlet and gray. It's going to be really interesting to see who finishes off the class. Without further adieu, here's the breakdown and analysis of the remaining targets for the 2014 recruiting class.
Note: Other names will emerge in the next couple of weeks not unlike James Clark last year
DE Solomon Thomas, Coppell, Texas, 5-star
In my opinion, Thomas is the most talented player left on Ohio State's recruiting board. The 6-foot-3-inch, 260 pound defensive end was dominant in this past Saturday's U.S. Army All-American Bowl, helping the West team to a 28-6 victory. There are still three teams who are firmly in this race: Ohio State, Stanford, and Texas. Stanford is rumored to hold a slight edge as things current stand, but Texas has a very good new coach in Charlie Strong and the Buckeye have one of, if not the best closer on the recruiting trail in Urban Meyer – to say nothing of them having the last official visit when Thomas comes to Columbus on January 31st, just a few days before signing day. It's going to be interesting to see how this one plays out. Right now I have him predicted to land with Ohio State.
DE Malik McDowell, Detroit, Michigan, 4-star
While the Buckeyes are not the leaders here, they are definitely still in this race. McDowell plans on taking officials to Florida State and LSU this month and has already taken officials to Alabama and Florida. I think this is going to come down to Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State when he sits down to make his decision.
I continue to hear the Bucks are in second here, but I'm hearing conflicting reports on who his favorite is between Michigan and Michigan State. I'm starting to be swayed towards Michigan State, but I'm sticking with my Michigan pick for the time being. Ohio State has the last official visit (January 31st) and he will also take unofficials to Michigan and Michigan State (though I'm not sure when those will take place). With Urban Meyer at the helm, the Buckeyes are by no means out of this race and could be surprise winners in the McDowell sweepstakes come National Signing Day 2014.
TE Mike Gesicki, Manahawkin, New Jersey, 4-star
The Penn State commit is back in play for the Scarlet and Gray with Bill O'Brien leaving Penn State for the Houston Texans last week. One of the main reasons the 6'5, 235-pound target choose the Nittany Lions is because O'Brien's offense utilized the tight end more than most offenses do. Gesicki has said that he likes Miami head coach Al Golden, but Golden removed himself from consideration for the PSU job yesterday. If Gesicki and Penn State's next head coach don't immediately hit it off, I would really like Ohio State's chances of flipping him by National Signing Day.
CB Jermaine Roberts, New Orleans, Louisiana, 3-star
The Texas commit, who hails from the same high school as Tyrann Mathieu, reminds me of the LSU and Arizona Cardinals star. He remains committed to the Longhorns, but with a new head coach and high interest in the Buckeyes, that could definitely change in the next month. He's planning taking an official visit to Columbus on January 24th, where I think he could flip to the Buckeyes. With UCF commit safety Mike Rogers essentially out of the picture, picking up Roberts would be huge.
OT Brady Taylor, Columbus, Ohio, 3-star
Ohio State wants five offensive linemen in this class and I think the 6'5, 275 pound Columbus product is probably the most likely to claim that spot. He is currently committed to the Virginia Tech Hokies, but if his hometown team starts to recruit him a little harder and offered him a scholarship, I don't think he could pass up an opportunity like that. As I mentioned, he still needs to be offered, so we'll have to see if that happens. This is something we'll have to keep a close eye on as signing day draws closer.
OT Roderick Johnson, St. Louis, Missouri, 4-star
Florida State is a pretty heavy leader for the star offensive lineman as things currently stand, with the Buckeyes a distant second. Johnson has told me a couple of times over the past few weeks that he will "probably" take an official visit to OSU, but doesn't have one set up yet. He'll be Tallahassee bound if the Bucks don't get him on campus, but if he does indeed make the trip to Columbus, who knows what kind of magic Urban and company can work.
OT Frank Ragnow, Chanhassen, Minnesota, 4-star
Of the offensive linemen mentioned, this is probably the biggest long shot of all, but Ohio State has offered him and he has said he might visit (thought he hasn't mentioned OSU too much of late). This is another case of "if he visits, the Buckeyes have a chance", but if he doesn't, he'll be playing his college ball for Arkansas, Florida State, or his home state Minnesota Golden Gophers.
DT Derrick Nnadi, Virginia Beach, Virginia, 4-star
The Virginia product is slated to take an official visit to Columbus in a couple of weeks (January 17th). Virginia Tech appears to hold the lead for the standout defensive tackle at present with Virginia, Florida State, Ohio State, and Penn State also in the race. If his has a good visit to OSU, and the staff makes a hard push for him, who knows what could happen. It's a stretch right now, though.
S John "JuJu" Smith, Long Beach, California, 5-star
The only reason I'm mentioning Smith is because he continues to say OSU is one of his favorites. I honestly don't think there's any chance we see the five star safety suiting up in scarlet and gray next year, though. I like USC or Notre Dame in this race.
WR David Njoku, Cedar Grove, New Jersey, 3-star
Ohio State usually likes to have a lot of speed at wide receiver, but I think they could use the 6-foot-4-inch, 215 pound Njoku, a former Rutgers commit. He's not blazing fast by any stretch of the imagination, clocking in at 4.70 on his 40-yard dash, but the OSU staff has enough interest that they've already invited him on an official visit, which is set to take place on the weekend of January 17th. They still haven't offered, however, so I would continue to put Miami as the favorite.
All ratings via 247Composite