We’re in a “dead period” for Ohio State recruiting right now, as everybody takes a quick break for the holidays and bowl preparation. That means coaches are only able to call recruits. But just because official visits aren’t happening right now, that doesn’t mean that the cogs of the recruiting machine aren’t still turning as we approach the end of the 2017 recruiting class.
If you haven’t been paying attention for a while, don’t worry. We’ll get you up to speed on where things stand now, and Ohio State’s biggest targets for the end of this class.
So, how is Ohio State’s 2017 recruiting class shaping up to be?
Good would be a fantastic understatement. Right now, on paper, the 2017 class is historically good.
The Buckeyes currently have 17 commitments, and sit No. 2 nationally in the 247Sports Composite rankings, only behind, and this is going to shock you, Alabama. But the Tide have 25 players committed, and Ohio State’s per player average rating (95.72) is easily the best in the country. Only one other school is above a 93.
Right now, Ohio State has commitments from an astonishing six five-star rated players. 16 of their 17 commitments are rated as blue-chip (four-star or better) players, with the lone exception, Blake Haubiel, a three-star kicker. And oh yeah, he’s the top rated kicker in the country.
Could Ohio State finish with the top ranked recruiting class in the country?
It is possible, but unlikely. That’s because this won’t be as large of a class as Ohio State’s last few groups. Depending on what kind of roster attrition Ohio State experiences this offseason, the final 2017 recruiting class is mostly expected to be between 20-22 players. Teams that simply bring in more players, like Alabama, or even Michigan (who might sign as many as 30 this year), could pass them. But finishing lower than say, fourth, would be a major surprise. And on a per-recruit basis, the Buckeyes have an excellent shot at finishing best in the country.
Are any current commitments a high risk for flipping?
There have been a few decommitments in this class already, more than there were in 2016 even. Recruiting can change very quickly, but right now, it doesn’t appear that anybody currently on this list is particularly likely to flip. Five-star DB Shaun Wade was thought to be a risk to flip to Alabama throughout much of his recruitment process, but he recently, and publicly, recommitted to Ohio State. Five-star LB Barron Browning, one of the Buckeyes’ most recent additions, will likely continue to be recruited by Alabama, Texas, and others, but saying he’s a high risk for a flip would be premature.
Who else could join this recruiting class on offense?
It is entirely possible that the Buckeyes don’t add a single other recruit on the offensive side of the ball. It’s not like this class is short on playmakers right now, as it includes five-star WR Trevon Grimes, five-star offensive linemen Wyatt Davis and Josh Myers, high four-star WR Tyjon Lindsey, and four-star QB Tate Martell, who was named the Gatorade National Player of the Year. That’s not even an exhaustive list.
There are two other possible names on offense who could join the group, though. One is four-star WR Jaylen Harris, the highest ranked player in Ohio that has yet to commit to Ohio State. WR isn’t a dire need, given the inclusion of Grimes and Lindsey, along with Ohio State’s recruiting efforts last season. But Harris provides size, and a more traditional WR mold that was lacking from this season’s team. His commitment has progressed slowly, and it isn’t entirely clear if the Buckeyes have room. But if they make him a priority, they should be able to get him.
Another possible target is four-star offensive tackle Thayer Munford. After the decommitment of four-star Jake Moretti, who flipped to Colorado so he could enroll early, the Buckeyes may want to replace him with another offensive lineman. A bit of a late bloomer as far as recruiting is concerned, Munford, an Ohio kid at Massillon, also has offers from Pitt, Kentucky, Michigan State, Iowa State, and others.
Five-star RB Cam Akers is no longer considering Ohio State. Look for the Buckeyes to just take one running back this year, given the multitude of options in 2018.
Who else could join this recruiting class on defense?
This is the side of the ball where more additions are likely.
The name most likely to pull the trigger first is five-star defensive back Jeffery Okudah. Okudah will commit on Jan. 7, and is widely expected to pick the Buckeyes over Oklahoma, Texas, Stanford, and a slew of other major programs. He would give the Buckeyes a ridiculous seven five-star rated commits in one class, which is more than many conferences get in one cycle.
He also might not be the last. Another name that’s been trending Ohio State’s way is five-star defensive back Darnay Holmes, of Calabasas, CA. Holmes will also commit on the 7th at the Army All-American Bowl, and the Buckeyes have gained a lot of steam over UCLA, the other presumed major player in his recruitment. For my money, Okudah is more likely than Holmes, but both are certainly possible.
Should one, or both, of those names fall through, the Buckeyes are also strongly pursuing four-star athlete Markquese Bell, of New Jersey. Bell is scheduled to commit on New Year’s Day, and the 247Sports Crystal Ball currently favors Rutgers, at 42%. Maryland, Virginia Tech and Michigan are also involved, but Ohio State has made up a lot of ground, and would like to take him if they have the room.
Another possible name to consider is Kendall Sheffield, a JUCO DB from Texas. Texas A&M is the current Crystal Ball leader here, but the Buckeyes are in the hunt. Bubba Bolden, a name formerly tied to Ohio State, will probably go to USC.
It would make sense for the Buckeyes to load up on defensive backs in this class, given that they may lose nearly their entire secondary from this season to the NFL Draft, and don’t have experienced depth there like they do at other position groups. Early playing time may be available.
The other position group where Ohio State would like to add a name is defensive tackle, even though they have two already committed. The two big names here are Marvin Wilson, the top ranked defensive tackle in the country, and Jay Tufele, a four-star out of Utah. The Buckeyes aren’t favorites in either of these races, with Texas and LSU the likely favorites for Wilson, and with Utah and Michigan fighting hard for Tufele, with the Utes seemingly with the most momentum. The Buckeyes could swing one of them, but right now, either would be an upset.
So all of this is good, right?
Yes. This is good news. When there is more good news, we’ll let you know.