As we are at about the halfway point to National Signing Day 2016, we thought it would be the perfect time to sit down with Land-Grant Holy Land's recruiting analysts to get their perspective on where things currently stand. At this moment, the Buckeyes have the best class in the entire country with LSU and Florida State right behind them
Let's take a moment to see what Charles Doss, Dan Hessler, Caleb Houser, and myself think of the extremely loaded and talented class below.
Of the current commitments, which offensive player do you think has the best chance to make an impact as a true freshman in Columbus?
Charles Doss: Two words. Austin Mack. The kid is special. Buckeye fans have been spoiled with great wide outs, and the Army All-should keep the tradition alive for years to come. Mack might not be the highest rated recruit in the class, but in my opinion can hang with any wide out in the country. A bigger target at 6'2, and 205-pounds, with a great skill set, he's a steal for the Bucks.
Bret Favachio: It'd be easy for me to choose someone like Demario McCall or Kareem Walker because of just how talented they are. However, Nick Vannett will be graduating after this year and after him, you have three unproven tight ends. With that being said, unless A.J. Alexander, Marcus Baugh, or Rashod Berry shows something this upcoming season, I will have to take newest 2016 commit Luke Farrell.
Dan Hessler: Four-star WR Austin Mack has the potential to be a future star for the Buckeyes, however, this year's team is loaded at the WR position so I’m going to go with Ohio native four-star TE, Jake Hausmann. Buckeye starter Nick Vannett is a redshirt senior this year and the other players OSU has at this position have yet to show play-making potential. Hausmann, the No.3 ranked TE of the 2016 class, according to 247Sports, has already flashed this kind of potential while in high school.
Caleb Houser: Of the current offensive commits in the 2016 class, the player that has the best chance to make an impact as a freshman in Columbus for me is Austin Mack. Mack is the real deal as a receiver. He runs crisp routes, has great hands, and shows terrific speed. I believed the hype after his performance at Nike's, The Opening, but seeing for myself how he performed at Friday Night Lights camp was the icing on the cake.
Jonathon Cooper has had an outstanding summer and has bolted up rankings throughout the recruiting industry because of it. When NSD 2015 rolls around, do you think the Gahanna Lincoln (OH) pass-rusher will be a 247Sports Composite five-star player?
Doss: If Cooper can go out and put a season together anywhere close to his junior campaign, there is no doubt he will be in the mix for a five-star composite ranking. Already proving he can hang with the big dogs time and time again at numerous camps, the Gahanna Lincoln product is arguably the top player in the talent rich state of Ohio, and should be named among the best of the best in the class of 2016 before national signing day.
Favachio: Seeing that he has pretty much dominated anyone put in front of him during the summer, I could certainly see it. Obviously, he will have to end his final season as a Golden Lion with a bang and I expect that to be the case. If he can seemingly have his way against top offensive lineman in the country at "The Opening" and other high profile camps, he will probably dominate the competition during his senior year.
Hessler: I would be extremely shocked if Cooper didn’t earn his fifth star by this year’s National Signing Day. Cooper has earned high praise from just about everyone over the summer and is skyrocketing up in the rankings. The U.S. Army All-American continued to show his dominance at this years Friday Night Lights camp and has done so at every camp he has attended this offseason. Cooper definitely looks the part of a five-star recruit and it is only a matter of time before he can show off that fifth star.
Houser: I personally do see Jonathon Cooper as a 247sports composite five-star come signing day. Jonathon has a work ethic unlike many I have ever seen. All summer long, Cooper has been at Ohio State one-day position camps, Rivals showcase in Baltimore, The Opening in Oregon, and even worked out again for Ohio State at Friday Night Lights camp just hours after he was practicing with his Gahanna Lincoln school team. The work Cooper has put in this summer will show this fall on Friday nights and show why he will earn that composite fifth star.
Ohio State is apparently planning to add one more wide receiver to the 2016 recruiting class to accompany Kierre Hawkins and Austin Mack. Which prospect would be an ideal candidate to join them?
Doss: With Hawkins probably playing tight end or H-Back when it's all said and done, the Buckeyes are in the market to add another pure wide out to class alongside Austin Mack. One class of 2016 standout I would love to see join the Buckeyes is Ahmir Mitchell. Not only would it give the Buckeyes another quality receiver in the fold, but also end Michigan's recent run with New Jersey recruits. A little more raw than Mack, Mitchell has the chance to develop into a big time threat through the air for the Buckeyes or Wolverines.
Favachio: The ideal fit, in my opinion, would be Binjimen Victor from Coconut Creek (FL). The four-star pass-catcher is 6'4, 170 pounds and would be a perfect addition to the outside. Ohio State has been searching for that tall receiver that can snatch the pigskin at its high point and he would certainly fit the billing. Problem is, I don't necessarily believe that he is the most realistic option.
Hessler: It would be awesome if OSU could land the top-rated WR of this class in Nate Craig-Meyers, the former Auburn commit, but this is beginning to look less and less likely. Because of that, I’m going with New Jersey native Ahmir Mitchell. The four-star ATH, who Meyer is recruiting as a WR, is reportedly choosing between the Buckeyes and Michigan, and would be a huge grab for Ohio State. It would also prevent future Buckeye DB’s from having to cover the 6’3, 206-pounder. Mitchell showed the Buckeye coaching staff his talent during July’s Friday Night Lights camp, while fellow four-star WR target for the Buckeyes Binjimen Victor decided to attend Florida’s Friday Night Lights camp.
Houser: The ideal prospect to join Austin Mack and Kierre Hawkins as a receiver in the 2016 class is Donnie Corley of Michigan's, Detroit Martin Luther King High School. Corley would a huge addition to the offensive class in 2016. Donnie, Like Austin, has great hands, speed, and runs a great route. His athleticism gives him a mismatch against many defensive backs who try to guard him. It will be a definite battle to land Corley, as Tennessee and Michigan State are also at the top for his services. However, Corley mentioned at Friday Night Lights camp he does not have a true leader and sees all of the schools recruiting him as the same. Hopefully, Ohio State can seal the deal with Donnie and make him a part of the 2016 class.
Ohio State is quickly filling spots in this years recruiting class. However, there still happens to be a fair amount of uncommitted prospects that could potentially wind up in Columbus. If you had to pick just one, who is the single most important target on the board for the Buckeyes?
Doss: Massive four-star defensive tackle Antwuan Jackson is one class of 2016 prospect I personally would like to see in the Scarlet and Gray. With easily the top defensive line haul already under their belt, the big, but nimble Jackson would be the cherry on top for Urban Meyer, and the Buckeyes 2016 class. A Georgia native, his commitment would once again prove the Buckeyes can go down south and land the big fish against the best of the SEC.
Favachio: Personally, I'd say Jackson is the biggest target and should be the main focus as well. If they could find a way to add a fringe five-star talent in the middle with the other prospects committed on the defensive line, it will definitely be one of the more memorable hauls. If you could pick one position in which Meyer hasn't had the greatest success at since being hired at Ohio State, defensive tackle has to be near the top. He was able to convince Tommy Schutt to become a Buckeye months after his arrival, but that experiment hasn't gone as expected to this point. Other than that, it's been Michael Hill and Donovan Munger as the other highest ranked guys, and the verdict is to be determined for them.
Hessler: The single most important target for Urban Meyer and Oho State has to be Antwuan Jackson. The idea of the Buckeyes landing a commit from another elite DT for the class of 2016 should scare everyone in the Big Ten, and the nation as a whole. If the Georgia native would so happen to choose OSU, it would prove even more so that Ohio State can recruit with the likes of anyone, especially the SEC, Meyer’s old stomping ground. New Jersey five-star DT Rashan Gary would be an even bigger boost to this class, but with Jackson recently saying he is deciding between Auburn and Ohio State, it would be wise to try to win-over the guy the Buckeyes have a better chance at landing.
Houser: If I had to pick just one, the single most important target on board still for Ohio State is Antwuan Jackson of Georgia. Jackson is currently the eighth best DT in the nation and has Auburn and Ohio State as his leaders in his recruitment. This past weekend, Antwuan was back in Columbus for his second visit for the Friday Night Lights camp, which is huge in establishing strong relationships with the Buckeye staff. One important thing to note, this visit saw Jackson able to bring his father along with him which meant a lot. Antwuan would fill the DT need and would be the final key piece of an already incredible defensive line haul with Terrell Hall, Malik Barrow, Jonathon Cooper, and Nick Bosa already committed.
Despite having commitments from both Wayne Davis and Kareem Felder, the Buckeyes are still pursuing a handful of defensive backs. Which of those is the most likely to join the class?
Doss: Even though the Buckeyes are in the mix for a few of the top uncommitted defensive backs in the country, I see four-star Pittsburgh native Damar Hamlin playing his college ball in Columbus. Already taking multiple trips to the Ohio State campus, the national champs have been pegged as the landing spot for the 6'1, 175-pound for months.
Favachio: Despite not being able to make it to Friday Night Lights last week, I like the Buckeyes chances of reeling in Andrew Pryts from Hickory (PA). I think had the visit that Pryts planned to make went through and he was able to spend time with all of the commits and coaching staff, he could very well already be a member of the class. We'll see if Ohio State can lock things up with the Penn State legacy.
Hessler: I gotta go with four-star Damar Hamlin on this one. Hamlin, out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, will likely decide between Ohio State and Notre Dame and if Meyer wants him badly enough, which I believe he does, I don’t see him losing to
Houser: Even though Ohio State has commits from Kareem Felder and Wayne Davis, I believe the Buckeyes will receive a commitment from Damar Hamlin at defensive back. For me, the Pittsburgh native is the most likely to join the 2016 class at defensive back. Damar would be a huge get for Ohio State and I believe the Buckeye staff has done more than enough to receive the services of Hamlin when all is said and done. It could be sooner than many expect as well with how fast this class is adding up.