A few days ago, we talked about a particularly impressive list, the top ten most highly ranked prospects to sign with Ohio State during the Urban Meyer era. Many of those players have already been highly successful, and even more project to be in the very near future. But do you need to be a high four star recruiting blue blood to be successful at Ohio State? What about the other guys?
Below, we take a look at the ten lowest ranked recruits to sign with Ohio State since the 2012 class. We excluded specialists from this list, since punters and long snappers don't get four star ratings no matter how awesome they are, and it's not like Ohio State has had to reach for any of their specialist signings. It's also worth noting that these are all relative. The lowest ranked recruit on this list would still be a very solid signing for almost any other team in the Big Ten. Being on this list is no shame at all.
Who are these prospects, and what have they done at Ohio State? Let's take a look, with all data coming from the 247Sports Composite, unless otherwise specified.
DaVon Hamilton, DT, 2015, .8291
Hamilton was one of the last additions to class of 2015, joining Ohio State after previously committed to Kentucky. Hamilton was a fast riser in the class of 2015, thanks in large part to dominating the competition during his senior season at Pickerington Central. It's difficult for true freshman to get on the field at Ohio State, but depth at defensive tackle isn't as strong as it is at other positions. A redshirt is probably the most likely scenario, but Ohio State loves Hamilton's potential. Don't rule him out contributing sooner than you might think.
Pat Elfein, OL, 2012, .8420
Another Pick-town product (North, instead of Central), Elfein flew under the radar during his recruitment, with only Cincinnati, MAC programs, and a few lower Big Ten schools like Purdue and Indiana offering him. All he's done at Ohio State is start for a national championship winning program, and setting himself up for a potential NFL draft pick. That's pretty good, in my opinion.
Timothy Gardner, OL, 2013, .8422
Not everybody saw Gardner as a lower prospect, as 247Sports gave him a four-star ranking. Gardner's tenure did not last long in Columbus, as he was charged with obstructing official police business in July of 2013, and did not join Ohio State. He is now a member of the Indiana Hoosiers.
Luke Roberts, LB, 2012, .8441
A linebacker from nearby Lancaster, Roberts picked Ohio State over Arizona, Michigan State, and a slew of MAC programs. That commitment didn't stick for long though, as Roberts would quickly transfer to Harvard. You can't really hold that against anybody. Roberts played in seven games for Harvard last season, recording a single solo tackle.
Darius Slade, DE, 2014, .8457
Slade was the last addition to the class of 2014, decommitting from Nebraska, and picking the Buckeyes over Michigan State. Despite only being a three star, the NJ product was in demand, picking up offers from WVU, Penn State and Miami (FL), along others. Slade was a redshirt his first season, and will step into a crowded depth chart at defensive end.
Mirko Jurkovic, OL, 2015, .8520
Ohio State flipped Jurkovic from Nebraska, and held on to him over offers from Florida, Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee and Mississippi State. Unfortunately, an academic issue prohibited Jurkovic from enrolling at Ohio State, and his situation is currently in limbo. It's possible that he enrolls in Ohio State and joins the team at a later date, or he may decide to enroll at another school, like Notre Dame.
Rashod Berry, DE/TE, 2015 .8568
The multi-positional Berry picked Ohio State over Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota and Syracuse. While currently slotted as a defensive end, Berry could end up as a tight end, or even somewhere else, depending on need over his Ohio State career. As a true freshman though, it's highly probable that no matter what position group he ends up, he'll start as a redshirt.
Stephen Collier, QB, 2014, .8588
Collier joined Ohio State over Boston College and a slew of CUSA type offers after the Buckeyes missed on a few other QB targets in that class. Collier redshirted and started in the Spring Game this year, and struggled a bit. Collier will be fourth on the QB depth chart this year if he's able to hold off Torrance Gibson and Joe Burrow in fall camp, but could jump up higher next season. The odds are long for him to ever start for the Buckeyes, but Ohio State has shown that you can never have too many quality QBs.
Tracy Sprinkle, DE 2013, .8594
Sprinkle's career at Ohio State is probably best known at this point for his off the field incident. Sprinkle picked Ohio State over Arizona State, Arkansas, Penn State, Michigan State and others, but has yet to play, after taking a redshirt in 2013, and not playing in 2014. Larry Johnson is known for using a deeper rotation along the defensive line though, and Sprinkle could see the field and contribute this season.
Darron Lee, ATH, 2013, .8595
The converted quarterback from New Albany arrived at Ohio State with some unsure of what position he'd play or how he'd fit in. Lee has more than answered those questions now. The defensive MVP of the Sugar Bowl was perhaps Ohio State's biggest playmaker on defense, and is set to help anchor what should be a very good linebacker corps for the defending national champs. Lee should be a high NFL draft pick when he decides to leave as well. Not bad for a three star.
As you'd expect, it's still early in a lot of these player's careers, as several have had to redshirt. Three of these players are not longer with the program, but one could still rejoin, and another went to Harvard, which is a bit of a special case. Two of them were starters on a team that won a national title, and it's entirely possible that more from this list will eventually grow into productive players, if not starters.
After all, all of these individuals are very good football players. Almost all of them were desired by at least one other strong program, and all would be welcomed by many other Power Five caliber squads.
Ohio State has been excellent at talent evaluation over the last few years, it's one of the reasons why they're a national champ, and are projected to compete for another title this season. Even if with lower rankings, there's no reason to think that more names on this list could jump into big things over the next few years. They were wanted in Columbus for a reason, after all.