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What to watch for in Ohio State’s 2018 recruiting

Did you think recruiting just stopped?

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Ohio State vs Clemson Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State’s 2017 recruiting class is nearly full, and will be made official on Wednesday’s National Signing Day. NSD looks to be a relatively drama-free day for the Buckeyes, and as of right-this-second, the Buckeyes are probably only adding one or two more players to an already elite group.

But just because this recruiting class is nearly in the books doesn’t mean that recruiting stops. The shift to the 2018 recruiting class has already been well underway with Buckeye coaches, and it’ll start with fans in earnest as well.

We’re a long, long way from National Signing Day, 2018, but here are a few general themes and trends to potentially keep in the back of your mind for next year:

1. The 2018 class probably won’t quite as star-studded as this one. That’s not a critique, it’s just a fact, as the Buckeyes project to bring in at least five consensus five-star players, and should lead the nation in average stars-per-recruit rating for 2017.

That’s better, a lot better, than the 2013 class that was the nucleus for Ohio State’s national title. Expect this class to be very strong, and for the Buckeyes to sign at least one, and probably multiple five-star players, but don’t be distressed or rush to write MY COLUMNS: if the rating dips a little bit. It’s almost certainly going to be fine.

2. Don’t get massively attached to anybody who commits in the near future. I mean, it’s worth reminding folks that decommitments happen. Coaching changes happen. Evaluations and priorities change.

The Buckeyes have two 2018 commitments, and they’re both very good players, (five-star QB Emory Jones, and four-star RB Brian Snead), and hopefully they both remain Buckeyes, but anything is possible, either for those two, or for anybody that commits this winter or spring. At this point, it’s a little more about who “leads”, than who is securely in the class.

3. Don’t look for Ohio State to grab as many players from Texas in 2018. Ohio State is going to sign three of the top six players in the state of Texas in 2017, and could potentially grab the best. That’s nuts. It’s also a bit of a perfect storm, with top players who were emotionally open to playing farther from home, to positional needs matching with Ohio State, to widespread coaching instability at all of the big jobs in Texas.

The Buckeyes will undoubtedly go after kids in the Lone Star State again, but I wouldn’t expect anything close to the 2017 haul in the near future.

4. Think less secondary, more muscle. The Buckeyes loaded up on defensive backs in the 2017 class, and while they’ll still look to add a few more corners and safeties, look for the 2018 group to feature a different focus. In particular, the Buckeyes will take at least one, and probably two, tight ends (perhaps four-star Jeremy Ruckert of New York), and at least one more, if not two, running backs.

Stocking up on linemen and linebackers will likely also be a priority.

5. Don’t look for as many immediate contributors. Urban Meyer will undoubtedly talk about how they’re recruiting players to play right away. But a consequence of having exceptionally young teams in 2016 and even 2017 will mean less opportunities for true freshman in the 2018 class to get on the field.

Don’t be distressed if there are higher redshirt numbers in this next class.

6. Ohio will be key. Just like every year, while the Buckeyes will undoubtedly recruit nationally, with major targets in disparate states like New York, Missouri, Nevada, Florida and California, retaining in-state players will be important.

Two major Buckeye targets top the Ohio rankings right now in five-star offensive lineman Jackson Carman, and high four-star APB Jaelen Gill out of Westerville.

But other players, like linebackers Dallas Gant and Christopher Oats, defensive end Tyreke Smith, tight end and former Michigan commit Leonard Taylor, and more, could end up in the scarlet and gray. It looks like a deep class.