We are now just about two months away from prospects having to make one of the biggest choices of their lives and officially signing on the dotted line for whichever program they choose. With the clock quickly winding down, it's time for some big decisions to be made for both the Buckeyes and the prospects being targeted.
As things stand, Ohio State currently holds commitments from 23 high school seniors. The tough part for the Buckeyes down the stretch is going to be filling so few spots with so many realistic and talented options left on the board. Land Grant Holy-Land takes a look at who is already in the class and the possibilities to join them before National Signing Day in February.
|Joshua Alabi||OL/DL||Cass Tech (MI)||6'5"||295||***|
|A.J. Alexander||WR/TE||Lake Braddock (VA)||6'4"||220||***|
|Jerome Baker||LB||Benedictine (OH)||6'2"||210||****|
|Rashod Berry||TE/DE||Lorain (OH)||6'5"||230||***|
|Branden Bowen||OT||Corner Canyon (UT)||6'7"||330||***|
|Matthew Burrell||OT||C.D. Hylton (VA)||6'5"||302||****|
|Joe Burrow||QB||Athens (OH)||6'4"||205||***|
|Nick Conner||LB||Dublin Scioto (OH)||6'3"||225||****|
|Jashon Cornell||DE||Cretin Derham Hall (MN)||6'4"||260||****|
|Carlton Davis||DB||Norland (FL)||6'1"||182||***|
|Jamel Dean||CB||Cocoa (FL)||6'2"||201||****|
|Kevin Feder||OT||Don Bosco Prep (NJ)||6'9"||305||***|
|Torrance Gibson||QB/ATH||American Heritage (FL)||6'4"||200||****|
|Eric Glover-Williams||WR/CB||McKinley (OH)||5'11"||165||****|
|Justin Hilliard||LB||St. Xavier (OH)||6'0"||225||*****|
|Dre'Mont Jones||DE||St. Ignatius (OH)||6'5"||250||****|
|Mirko Jurkovic||OG||IMG Academy (FL)||6'5"||275||***|
|Liam McCullough||LS||Worthington Kilbourne (OH)||6'2"||230||**|
|Joshua Norwood||CB||Valdosta (GA)||5'10"||175||***|
|Grant Schmidt||OT||Roosevelt (SD)||6'6"||275||***|
|Alex Stump||WR||St. Edward (OH)||6'4"||195||****|
|Denzel Ward||CB||Nordonia (OH)||5'11"||165||***|
|Michael Weber||RB||Cass Tech (MI)||5'10"||205||****|
The "Elite 15" holds one five-star prospect, ten four-star prospects, eight three-star prospects and one two-star. The current class of 23 is good for the fourth best recruiting class in college football behind Alabama, Florida State and Georgia. But who could Ohio State add to jump up even higher in those rankings?
Terry Beckner Jr., DE, East St. Louis (IL)
At the beginning of this recruitment, Ohio State started out with plenty of momentum. A few months later, the talk began dying down but the Buckeyes have maintained their pursuit of the five-star defensive lineman. I spoke with East St. Louis Head Coach Darren Sunkett earlier this week who said co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash stopped by to see Beckner. The visit obviously went well enough as the No. 1 player in Illinois scheduled an official visit to see the Ohio State campus. Beckner is planning to be in Columbus on January 23, one week prior to his official to Missouri. The Florida State Seminoles already received an official from the 6'4, 293-pounder. As of right now, I have Missouri in the lead and having an ESL teammate (Natereace Strong) who is already committed to them should help that claim. However, once the Buckeyes get him on campus, you never know what can happen.
In the mix: Auburn, Florida State, Missouri, Ohio State, Oregon.
Juwuan Briscoe, CB, Thomas Stone (MD)
If you were to ask me who I think would be the next member of the "Elite 15", my answer would be this guy. Briscoe was once committed to Dabo Swinney and the Clemson Tigers but once the Buckeyes offered him in the middle of October, things changed. Not even a month after receiving that offer, the three-star prospect was on campus for an official visit. Shortly after, Briscoe and Clemson went there separate ways and ever since then, Ohio State has been in the drivers seat. Coaches Urban Meyer, Kerry Coombs, Tom Herman and Larry Johnson stopped by his school on Wednesday to see him. A few programs like Georgia and Michigan State are still going after him but I ultimately expect Briscoe to be in this class. I also expect it to be sooner rather than later.
In the mix: Georgia, Ohio State
Prediction: Ohio State
Lawrence Cager, WR, Calvert Hall (MD)
Cager, a 6'5, 202-pounder, was at one point considered to be a lock for the Buckeyes recruiting class. The Calvert Hall (MD) standout has even made his official visit to Columbus as recent as a few weeks ago for the Michigan game in which Ohio State won 42-28. Coach Meyer was in Maryland earlier this week and paid a visit to Cager. For now though, the Buckeyes have some ground to make up as Alabama and Notre Dame seem to have passed them on his list.
In the mix: Alabama, Notre Dame, Ohio State.
Brian Cole, CB, Heritage (MI), Michigan commit
After the miserable season that Michigan put together yet again, it was basically open season on all of their commits. Losing their coach Brady Hoke didn't help much either, which lead to many prospects in the class to begin looking elsewhere. Likely their best prospect, Brian Cole, has already made official visits to Nebraska, Purdue and Wisconsin. The 6'2, 190-pounder will have two officials left and the hope for Ohio State is to get him on campus to make their pitch. Kerry Coombs, who has been doing a phenomenal job recruiting in the enemy state, has been in contact with Cole and would like to get that visit set. However, my feeling is that once the new Michigan coach is hired, Cole will take one of those final visits to the Ann Arbor campus and stick with the in-state school.
In the mix: Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin.
Neville Gallimore, DT, Canada Prep (ON)
The Buckeyes could possibly lose both Michael Bennett and Adolphus Washington after this year and with the lack of depth from the interior defensive line, adding a defensive tackle is a must. The recruitment of the Canadian stud has seemingly gone back and forth with Ohio State and the Sooners. One day, the Buckeyes seem to be in good shape and then the next day, it seems to be pointing to Oklahoma. In the end, I think these are the two schools it comes down to and I'll take Urban Meyer to find a way to win the battle. Meyer stopped by Gallimore's school earlier this week to check in with him. Gallimore was also on campus for "The Game," which was an official visit.
In the mix: Auburn, Florida State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon.
Prediction: Ohio State
Porter Gustin, DE/OLB, Salem Hills (UT)
Ohio State will be in a battle for the No. 6 outside linebacker in the country. Gustin, a 6'5, 240-pounder, has taken multiple visits to Arizona State and USC thus far. The Sun Devils and Trojans also hold the only two officials that Gustin has took to this point. In a recent interview with Cleveland.com's Ari Wasserman, the Salem native said he will definitely take an official to Columbus. Another one of those visits will more than likely go to Notre Dame and the last one is still up in the air. The Buckeyes already have commitments from Jerome Baker, Nick Conner and Justin Hilliard at linebacker but if they can land Gustin, he would be used at the defensive end spot. It won't be an easy task to pull him from the west coast however.
In the mix: Arizona State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, USC.
Damien Harris, RB, Madison Southern (KY)
Moving on to '15 RB Damien Harris from Kentucky. On Tuesday, Urban Meyer checked in on the four-star running back along with Stan Drayton and Tim Hinton for an in-home visit. Harris has long been considered Ohio State's No. 1 target at the position but after Alabama entered the picture and numerous visits to in-state Kentucky, the chances began to decrease drastically. On Wednesday, those chances got even more slim when the Buckeyes received a commitment from '15 RB Michael Weber of Cass Tech. The only reason Harris is included is because of the slim possibility that Ohio State would add two RB's for this cycle. The only way that would happen is if many other targets went elsewhere and there was an extra spot left. Even then, this is very unlikely to happen. Harris is took yet another visit, an official, to Kentucky this weekend.
In the mix: Alabama, Kentucky, Ohio State
Van Jefferson, WR, Ravenwood (TN), Georgia commit
For Jefferson, the chances of him being a Buckeye were very real not long ago. But once he committed to Georgia, things took a turn and not in favor of the Scarlet and Gray. Ohio State would love to have another WR in the class to pair with Alex Stump but if so, they may have to look elsewhere with both Jefferson and Cager slipping away.
In the mix: Ohio State, Georgia.
Robert Landers, DT, Wayne (OH), West Virginia commit
Unsurprisingly, with the need of a defensive tackle in this class, a new name has emerged. On Friday, this 6'2, 295-pounder picked up an offer from the in-state Buckeyes. Things are also developing quickly here as the three-star prospect was on an official visit in Columbus this weekend. This may be a case where Ohio State holds off to see what Gallimore (above) and Wilkins, who we will discuss later, wind up. But if the Buckeyes want him, I think they will have little problem taking him away from the Mountaineers.
In the mix: Ohio State, West Virginia
Prediction: Ohio State
Kieffer Longson, OT, Dougherty Valley (CA)
Ohio State has always been in the picture for this 6'7, 300-pound tackle. In July, Longson named a top six that included Arizona State, BYU, Ohio State, UCLA, USC and Utah. Since then, the three-star prospect has cut the Sun Devils and Trojans off of that list. On Friday, Longson tweeted that he will be making his decision tomorrow. However, I am not confident that Longson is a take at this time for the Ohio State class.
In the mix: BYU. Ohio State, UCLA, Utah.
Kareem Orr, CB, Notre Dame (TN)
The one time Louisville commit is a new name on the Buckeyes radar. On Tuesday, Orr tweeted that he had a phone conversation with Ohio State. I caught up with the Tennessee prospect who said Tim Hinton was the coach that he spoke too. "He wanted to offer me, he just needs the green light from the DB's coach," Orr said. The three-star CB continued by saying that the Buckeyes were showing "a lot of interest" and that he would "look into" an offer, if it comes. The recent interest in Orr was likely spiked by his decommitment from the Cardinals just one week ago, which makes it tough to grasp what team is in the best position for his services.
In the mix: Clemson, Georgia, Mississippi State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Washington State.
Kyle Penniston, TE, Mater Dei (CA), Wisconsin commit
After Gary Anderson departed from Wisconsin and headed to Corvalis, Ohio State reached out to the three-star Badger commit. In the case that there is a spot left and the Buckeyes would prefer keeping Rashod Berry at DE and A.J. Alexander as a WR/H-Back, maybe this relationship would start to heat up. But for now, I would bet on Penniston sticking around to see who is the next head coach in Madison before anything else happens.
In the mix: Louisville, Ohio State, Wisconsin.
Isaiah Prince, OT, Eleanor Roosevelt (MD)
This name has been consistently brought up in terms of who could find themselves apart of the Ohio State class. I believe some recruitniks didn't take it too serious, however. Prince has maintained a top group that included the Buckeyes and he has been on campus previously for camp during the summer. To really see where this will go, Ohio State will need to get him on campus for an official. That visit will be happening on January 23rd according to Bill Kurelic. This is another one that I could very well see favoring the Buckeyes in the end but in-state Maryland is my pick until that visit, at least.
In the mix: Alabama, Florida, Maryland, Ohio State.
Josh Smith, LB, Oakland (TN), Vandy commit
On Monday, this four-star linebacker was visited by Ohio State according to Barton Simmons of 247Sports. The current Commodore commit is starting to get heavy interest from big-time schools. The same day the Buckeyes stopped by, the Sooners of Oklahoma sent him an offer. With Ohio State having a trio of LB's already in, It's not yet known as to why they made the visit. It could be a situation where they would like to use him at a different position. We will try and catch up with Smith in the coming days to get the latest but either way, It'll be difficult for Vanderbilt to keep him in their class.
In the mix: Ohio State, Oklahoma, Vanderbilt.
Christian Wilkins, DT, Suffield Academy (CT)
Just like it was brought up for Gallimore and Landers, the Buckeyes must get a defensive tackle in this class. They had an opportunity to build the relationship with the 6'4, 290-pounder this weekend, as he was in for an official visit. Penn State is currently in best position for Wilkins but I definitely wouldn't count out Ohio State here. We will see how the visit went in the coming days with Wilkins and the Bucks. The four-star prospect from Suffield (CT) has already made an official visit to Clemson, Penn State and Stanford. With Ohio State up next, Boston College may get the last chance with Wilkins. As of now though, I go with Wilkins winding up in Happy Valley.
In the mix: Boston College, Clemson, Ohio State, Penn State, Stanford.
Prediction: Penn State
As National Signing Day approaches, new names will emerge and some of the aforementioned targets will no longer be realistic options. Keep it locked with Land Grant Holy-Land for the latest Ohio State recruiting news as Urban Meyer attempts to finish with yet another top five recruiting class.