Ohio State football boasted an elite 2017 recruiting class earlier this week, even before they reclaimed the top ranking in the country thanks to the commitment of five star offensive lineman Wyatt Davis. In fact, assuming they aren’t met with a rash of departures, on paper, it might be the best Ohio State recruiting class ever, with the potential to even trump the historic 2013 class, which formed the nucleus of a national title team.
There’s still a long way to go from now until National Signing Day. But the way things are shaping up now, Ohio State might not just be gunning for the top ranked class in 2017. There’s a legitimate, non-zero chance the 2017 Ohio State recruiting class ends up as one of the most selective and elite classes in history.
How? It could be one of the only classes to *only* take blue-chip (four or five-star rated) players.
Recruiting rankings aren’t perfect, of course, but they do matter, and the ratio between blue-chip and non blue-chip commitments is pretty predictive of your ability to win a national title. Teams that aren’t able to sign more blue-chip than non-blue chip recruits don’t compete for national titles.
Ohio State has been one of the best teams in the country at this. About 68% of their commitments over the last four years have been elite prospects, one of the very best ratios in the country. It’s no surprise Ohio State has won a title during that span, and was in the conversation for more.
What’s better than 68%? Try 100%.
Right now, Ohio State has 14 commitments, with every single one rated a blue-chip player by 247 Sports Composite except for one, Blake Haubeil, who is a kicker. He’s also the highest rated kicker in the country, but specialists don’t get blue-chip ratings. It is possible that Haubeil is asked to greyshirt, like other recent specialist commitments, like punter Drue Chrisman, in order to make room for yet another elite prospect.
And right now, that’s basically all that Ohio State is chasing. Thanks to several large classes in a row, the Buckeyes don’t have much room to take a big 2017 class, and the competition for those final spots is enormous.
That “big board” that Ohio State QB commit Tate Martell shared a few days ago? That’s not dissimilar from the prospects Ohio State is chasing at the moment. The Buckeyes are likely to take two or three wideouts, at least one more defensive lineman, and a few more defensive backs, but the Buckeyes have not been linked to anybody other than a high four-star, or even five-star player at those positions.
Things can change. Players can decommit. Ohio State may find themselves with extra room. The Buckeyes could swing and miss on multiple other prospects. But right now, here in late June, it seems entirely possible that Ohio State will finish without a single non-specialist three-star prospect.
That just doesn’t happen.
Alabama, who had the top ranked class last year, had six three star commitments who were not specialists. Florida State, who finished second, had five (along with two kickers). The Buckeyes added five non-specialists.
Even in Ohio State’s greatest class in recent memory, the 2013 class, three players without blue-chip rankings were added. One, Darron Lee, is now a very rich man who works for the New York Jets. The others, Chris Worley and Tracy Sprinkle, are at least expected to play next season. That’s pretty good.
The only example of a class being exclusively blue-chip players that I could find was 2013 USC, a team that, because of sanctions, could only take 13 players anyway. A few other squads have come close, like 2013 Ohio State, 2012 Florida State and 2009 USC, but nobody else has pulled it off with anything resembling a full class.
It’d probably be impossible to do for anybody, even Alabama, over a 24, 25, 26+ person recruiting class. That’s just too many people. But the 2017 Ohio State recruiting class doesn’t project to be that large. Once the dust settles, anything bigger than a 21 person class could indicate a major upset, and would mean that roster attrition is even more dramatic than expected.
Three-star players can be excellent college football players, and four or five stars can completely flame out. But overall, you’re going to want to the blue-chip kids if you’re going to want to compete for a national title. So far, the 2017 class should put Ohio State in an even stronger position to compete for one again in the near future.