It seems like it happens nearly every year. The last few months had been relatively quiet for Ohio State recruiting. The Buckeyes saw a few big names leave the class of 2016, and then missed on a few highly regarded targets, like Donnie Corley or Antwuan Jackson. With Michigan steadily climbing up the recruiting rankings, a few corners of Buckeye internet were starting to get nervous. Was Ohio State going to finish this recruiting class strong?
After today, it's safe to say those worries have been assuaged. The Buckeyes have now put the finishing touches on one of the biggest recruiting days in recent memory, adding 12 (!!!) stars worth of new prospects. Ohio State flipped QB Dwayne Haskins and LB Keandre Jones from Maryland, then grabbed WR Binjimen Victor for good measure. Suddenly, Ohio State is atop the recruiting rankings again.
How big a day was it? Even the bossman himself had to take notice.
Wow! Big Day— Urban Meyer (@OSUCoachMeyer) January 18, 2016
Of course, Ohio State's 2016 recruiting class isn't finished. Here's what this means, and what's next, for the Scarlet and Gray.
Are any of these new recruits likely to play right immediately?
It would be a shock if Haskins doesn't redshirt this season, as the Buckeyes aren't dying for extra QB production this year. After all, J.T. Barrett returns, and Joe Burrow is likely capable of handling backup duties. After the 2016 season, Haskins should compete with Burrow and Danny Clark to to be the next great Ohio State QB (or after the 2017 season, if Barrett sticks around two more years).
I think Victor is more likely to see early playing than Jones, purely based on positional need. The Buckeyes will have plenty openings for new wideout production, and Victor's size and speed could help him find a way to get on the field early, although he'll need to have a big camp to pass some of the more tenured, but also highly regarded WRs in front of him. Jones is a great prospect, but Ohio State signed three blue chip recruits in the 2015 class, and has more depth overall at linebacker. Don't be surprised if Jones is able to get on the field for special teams in 2016 though. That's possible.
Ohio State has 21 commits in this class. How many more can they take?
Probably not very many, even though the Buckeyes had so many players leave early for the NFL Draft. While Ohio State will probably "find room" if a truly elite player wants to come to Columbus, it would be a bit of a surprise if Ohio State adds more than three additional players to this class. A final group around 23, 24 commitments seems the most likely, barring some unexpected roster attrition.
Where is Ohio State's recruiting class ranked, and where do you think it ends up?
Thanks to today's huge recruiting efforts, Ohio State now has the top ranked class in the country, per the 247 Composite rankings. While it is mathematically possible that Ohio State finishes there, provided they hit on every single one of their remaining big targets and get a little luck in how other classes shake out, but I wouldn't expect it. Ohio State won't be signing as large a class as a few other power programs, and other schools, like Alabama or LSU, have more room to grow.
There's still plenty of time for things to change before NSD, but I'd expect Ohio State finishes with the top ranked class in the Big Ten, and to finish anywhere from 3rd to 7th nationally. That's still really good!
If Ohio State doesn't have many scholarships left, what position groups are they targeting for 2016?
Now that the Buckeyes have a QB in the fold, they're probably finished recruiting the offensive side of the ball for 2016. After all, this class now has two high-upside wideouts, two elite tight end prospects, multiple strong offensive linemen, and a running back.
The two biggest roles Ohio State would like to address are defensive tackle, and defensive back. Ohio State probably only takes one defensive tackle, but could take up to two defensive backs.
Who are some of those names?
Perhaps the biggest target left on Ohio State's board is five-star defensive tackle Rashard Lawrence, from Monroe, Louisiana. Rashard will make his decision Friday, choosing between Ohio State, and his hometown LSU Tigers. Ohio State has not historically had much luck plucking kids out of Louisiana, especially when LSU badly wants them, and the smart money is probably still on LSU (his 247 Crystal Ball is 100% Tigers). If the Buckeyes can't pry Lawrence away, three-star JUCO tackle Jamar King may be an option. After visiting Columbus, he's already "leaning" towards Ohio State. The Buckeyes don't recruit JUCOs very often, but in this case, it could be a good idea to solidify depth.
The biggest name at defensive back is five-star Mecole Hardman Jr, who is a surprise addition to Ohio State's board. Hardman made a visit to Columbus last week and left very impressed, and he's already tweeting at some of Ohio State's newest commitments. Hardman has Ohio State at the top of his list, but Alabama or Georgia would probably still be considered the favorites.
Jordan Fuller, a four-star athlete from New Jersey, has visited Ohio State and is considered a Buckeye lean. Damar Hamlin, another four-star, also had a great Ohio State visit, but the Buckeyes will need to beat out Penn State and Pitt (the likely favorite).
Ohio State could also add three-star Malik Harrison. A local kid, Harrison could end up playing multiple positions, but now that Ohio State added a high profile linebacker and wideout, it's less clear where Harrison ends up, given that positions are scarce. Harrison won't make a decision until signing day, and if Ohio State hits on a bunch of their other targets, he may end up at Wisconsin, or another Big Ten program. If the Buckeyes miss on a few though, Harrison could be a very solid addition.
So all of this is good, right?
Yes. This is very good. The Buckeyes have some huge shoes to fill after the 2015 season, but their 2016 class, wherever it is finally ranked, should fill those holes with excellent players. And they're not finished yet.