It's not a surprise that Ohio State is one again assembling one of the best recruiting classes in the country. After getting a commitment from Jordan Fuller last night, Ohio State's recruiting class crept a little bit closer to the overall top spot in the 247Sports Composite rankings. The Buckeyes currently have 23 commitments and have a score of 286.05, just a shout behind LSU's 287.35. Ohio State has never finished with the overall top recruiting class in the recruiting rankings era, not even under Urban Meyer. Could they get it done this year?
It's possible, but not very likely. Even though National Signing Day is tomorrow, many of the best recruits in the country have yet to announce their decision, and an awful lot can change between now and when the faxes stop coming in tomorrow afternoon.
So where could Ohio State finish? Who might pass them? Here's out best guess.
How well could Ohio State do?
First, it bares mentioning that no matter where Ohio State finishes this year, this recruiting class is really good. Right now, the Buckeyes have a average commit rating of 91.75. If that holds, that's the best average during the Urban Meyer era, even better than the 2013 super class that fueled Ohio State's national title run. If they don't sign a single other recruit, their 286.05 rating would have been good for third nationally in 2015, and fifth in 2014. It's very, very good.
However, the odds aren't high that Ohio State's score will dramatically improve. The biggest reason for that is space. Despite a sea of players leaving early for the NFL draft, Ohio State doesn't have the room to add 27 or 28 kids in this recruiting class. At the absolute most, the Buckeyes can take two more, and it's entirely possible they only add one. The favorite to grab at least one of those spots is local three-star athlete Malik Harrison, who will announce at 10 AM tomorrow. With Harrison, Ohio State's new score becomes 286.69. That's still not enough to pass LSU.
There are two four-star prospects left who have a realistic shot at joining Ohio State, but the Buckeyes aren't favorites in either of the races at the moment. One is JUCO OL Malcolm Pridgeon, who is choosing between the Buckeyes and Baylor, and the other is defensive back Carlos Becker, who is picking between Ohio State and Florida State. Unless somebody decommits, Ohio State almost assuredly doesn't have room for both and Harrison. With Harrison and Pridgeon, Ohio State has a 289.17 score. With Harrison and Becker, it's 288.96. Both would top what LSU currently has. Ohio State could also fill one of their other remaining spots with a non-blue chip recruit, like K'von Wallace or Jamar King, but they wouldn't boost Ohio State's score as much.
With the rumors of Rodjay Burns considering a flip back to Louisville now officially squashed by Burns himself, the already unlikely scenario of Ohio State adding Harrison, Prideon and Becker is now essentially impossible.
So Ohio State could still get the to spot then?
Well, the problem is, Ohio State isn't the only team who can still add commitments. In fact, their class might have the least room to grow over all of the other contenders for a top spot. Ohio State would need not only a near-perfect finish on their end, but for some other major programs to either get decommitments, or for some other major recruits to spread their commitments across multiple programs.
So who might pass them?
We can start with LSU, who still has room to add a few prospects, especially if they lose a commitment. LSU is the odds on favorite to add five star defensive back Kristian Fulton (who hails from just outside New Orleans). If Fulton picks the Tigers, LSU has a 294.05 rating, well above even Ohio State's best case scenario. Fulton's Crystal Ball rating, for what it's worth, is currently 96% to LSU. The Tigers are also chasing multiple other blue chip recruits, and could easily finish with a rating in the 300s.
Speaking of finishing in the 300s and chasing a slew of blue chip prospects, there's also the reigning king, Alabama. The Tide have only 17 commits right now and still have a top five class, and their remaining targets list includes almost every other top prospect on the board. Even a very conservative estimation of where Alabama finishes would give them a score about 290, given that they are chasing so many of the top players, especially on the defensive side of the ball, like Ben Davis, Mique Jaurez, Lyndell Wilson, and more. Alabama is probably still the favorite to finish with the top rated class.
Another two to watch would be Florida State and Ole Miss. The Noles currently sit third nationally, with a score of 270.55 and 21 commitments, and should at least four more players (and potentially more than that). Florida State is still the favorite for Carlos Becker, but even if they miss on him, they're still big favorites for blue chip offensive linemen Jauan Williams and Landon Dickerson, as well as four-star defensive end Brian Burns. Adding all of them gives Florida State a score of over 291. It's possible they lose a kid to a decommitment here, but if the Noles get Becker, it's safe bet they pass Ohio State.
Ole Miss could also take another four kids, and they're in the hunt for multiple blue chips as well. Five-star defensive end Jeffery Simmons is considered an Ole Miss lean via the Crystal Ball, and the Rebels are in the conversation for Carer, A.J. Brown, Jonathan Kongbo, and others. Ole Miss might need a little bit of luck to pass Ohio State, but it's certainly possible if they finish strong.
Michigan is also a possibility, mostly because it appears they can take several more players than Ohio State. The fluidity of their recruiting class makes things a little hard to predict (they could still see some decommits), but the Wolverines are still the odds on favorite to land the top ranked player in the country, Rashan Gary. I'm not sure Michigan is likely to pass Ohio State unless the Buckeyes fail to sign any other blue chip players and the Wolverines sign Gary and get to 28-ish kids in their class, but it could happen.
Gun to my head right now, I think Ohio State finishes either fourth of fifth nationally. That will be an outstanding class no matter what, and should set Ohio State up to be in the conversation for Big Ten championships and playoff bids.
And if you're really pining for a recruiting championship, Ohio State is looking very good for 2017.