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Ranking Ohio State football's 2015 recruiting class

Ohio State finished with one of the top recruiting classes in the country yet again, but the various recruiting services certainly didn't agree in their assessments of every member of the 2015 class.

Ohio State finished with the seventh-ranked recruiting class according to the 247 Composite. This was yet another top-ten finish and was easily the best in the Big Ten. The team average was 90.06 -- again one of the top in the country.

The four recruiting services generally agreed on the recruiting class's overall talent, but they differed in their assessment of some individual players. The table below breaks down the biggest differences in recruits' positional rankings between the 247 Composite and the normal 247 ranking:

Player 247 Composite Rk 247 Rk Difference Position
Jamel Dean 32 48 16 CB
Grant Schmidt 52 64 12 OT
Denzel Ward 26 14 -12 CB
Robert Landers 29 41 12 DT
Kevin Feder 56 82 26 OT
Branden Bowen 61 40 -21 OT
Damon Arnette 60 97 37 CB
DaVon Hamilton 89 42 -47 DT
Joshua Alabi 30 43 13 DE

All of these players had over a ten-spot difference between 247 and the overall industry positional average ranking, but some of these players in particular stood out with extra large differences. Here are the four recruits with the most variation in their recruiting rankings:

DaVon Hamilton, DT (47)

DaVon Hamilton, who committed in late January after the Buckeyes missed out on guys like Terry Beckner and other blue-chippers, is a consensus three-star defensive tackle. Despite being regarded as a three-star guy by everyone, there is significant variation in the 247 positional ranking and the other three recruiting services' rankings.

247 says that Hamilton is a guy who was really just starting to get into his own by his senior season after "reshaping his body." But once he was able to do that, Hamilton "was unblockable." So far there are two reasons for the variation in his recruiting rankings: 1. His grew and hit the weights significantly between his sophomore and senior campaigns, and 2. he didn't start playing defense until his senior season, so tape is limited and his ranking is largely based on athletic potential and limited highlights. Looking at his frame, you definitely get the sense that he has the potential to put on more weight but keep his quick feet.

Branden Bowen, OT (21)

Brandon Bowen is a mammoth offensive tackle out of Utah -- and there's your primary reason why recruiting services are divided about Bowen. At 6'7 and over 300 pounds, Bowen has elite size but played against limited competition in Utah high school football. Our Christopher Jason said that Bowen

Overall, Bowen is not your typical three-star offensive lineman. He is an extremely physical player who sets the tone in the trenches. Bowen has the size, talent, and mindset to play earlier than expected...

247 ranks him significantly higher than the Composite, noting that "He probably needs coached up and he is probably not as comfortable in pass blocking just yet." It's clear here that Ed Warinner targeted Bowen because of his immense athletic potential and physical strengths. With his track record for developing raw talent here at Ohio State, this means great things for future Buckeye offensive lines, because Bowen has the natural physical gifts and aggressiveness that are unteachable -- but that would certainly affect recruiting services' analyses of Bowen. The big thing to note here is that some recruiting services (and really individual analysts) sometimes value physical measurements, some value high school performance, some look at overall college potential, and some place increased value on camp performances over in-game performances. The consensus 5-stars are usually just the few recruits that are able to put all of this together in high school.

Kevin Feder, OT (26)

Speaking of mammoth offensive tackles, Kevin Feder is truly a mountain of an offensive line prospect. At 6'9, but having primarily played tight end and on the defensive line, Feder is "one of the most intriguing players in the country because of that."

Feder, like Bowen, is a huge recruit with immense physical talents and strength, but hasn't played his recruited position very much in high school. As a result, the recruiting services are primarily using tape from him playing other positions and assessing his physical strengths and going on potential. But his potential is immense: as Mike Farrell from Rivals noted after his commitment, "this could be one of the flips we look at in years to come as a huge deal."

Scout agrees that his physical attributes are elite, listing arm length and size as key strengths, but they note that his footwork, balance, and body control all will need work at the next level. So again, this is a raw player with huge potential based on physical attributes.

Damon Arnette, CB (37)

Arnette was a late flip from South Carolina and a consensus 3-star despite offers from South Carolina, Michigan, Florida State, Ole Miss, and Wisconsin. Arnette also grades out much higher in the Composite than on the 247 position rankings.

Arnette "looks like a freak show on tape," so his late offer wasn't merely to continue the St. Thomas Aquinas pipeline. Rather than a player who switched positions late in high school or who underwent big physical changes like DaVon Hamilton, it looks like the recruiting services are divided on Arnette for actual talent evaluation reasons. Everyone acknowledges that his length (6'2) and athletic ability certainly are assets against today's tall receivers, but the recruiting services differ in their assessment of his tackling and coverage abilities in particular. Our Christopher Jason wrote that,

I love his eagerness in run support but he needs to work on squaring himself up to the ball carrier and driving his legs on contact, rather than arm tackling. Athletically, he is right up there with anyone that I have watched...

However, 247 noted that "He is a physical tackler with lock down type ability." To me, this looks like analysts seeing different things in the same player: is he a lock down, physical tackler or does he rely on arm tackling? Regardless, all services note that he is an "eager" tackler, so he certainly isn't hurting for effort.