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Ohio State football recruiting: 2017 National Signing Day results

Urban Meyer and his staff have done it again.

2016 NBA Finals - Game Four Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Even Urban Meyer’s greatest detractors cannot deny how great of a recruiter he is. With Wednesday’s class of 2017, Meyer has brought in what is arguably Ohio State’s greatest recruiting class ever. The Buckeyes didn’t come away with a national championship in 2016, but this is a nice early offseason win for the Buckeyes.

Ohio State is returning Heisman candidate quarterback J.T. Barrett, along with one of the best freshman running backs in Ohio State history, Mike Weber. With other pieces around them, minor additions can be a part of the formula for a Big Ten title, and maybe even another College Football Playoff run. The talent is there, and they’ve got Meyer in place to help bring it all together.

This year’s class includes five (!) five-star recruits, 14 four-star recruits, and just two three-star recruits. That’s a dang good combination, and undoubtedly a case where the rich get richer. Typically in a recruiting class you may look for sleepers, or guys who could perform above their ranking. Overall, this class is full of highly touted players who we’ll enjoy watching in Columbus for at least a few years.

Here is Ohio State's 2016 recruiting class:

The five-stars

Baron Browning OLB ***** (Early Enrollee)

“An exceptional, raw athlete, Browning possesses elite-level speed, especially from the linebacker position. His strength is in the pass rush, where his athleticism is on full display. In moving to the Big Ten, Browning will need to improve his game as a run-stopper, but the potential is there for the incoming freshman to join the pantheon of Ohio State’s great linebackers.”

Wyatt Davis OG *****

“Davis was the first pure offensive lineman ever to win the Cal-Hi Sports Mr. Football award, and it’s easy to see why. He played left tackle in high school and regularly made massive holes in the ground game while also providing great protection for his quarterback’s blind side. Davis showed solid balance in pass protection and used his long wingspan to often get his hands on the defender before they could even work a move. His run blocking is devastating and he also showed the athleticism to work his way to the second-level and block moving linebackers in space.”

Jeffrey Okudah CB ***** (Early Enrollee)

“For the second consecutive year Ohio State will have to replace three-fourths of its starting secondary, and Okudah will utilize his extra time in the program to compete for one of the two cornerback spots vacated by Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley, a pair of likely first-round selections. Okudah will have to overcome a number of more experienced players to crack the rotation, but if there’s one player on Ohio State’s roster with the pedigree to continue the school’s lineage of first-round defensive backs, Okudah might be the most likely candidate.”

Shaun Wade CB ***** (Early Enrollee)

“Shaun Wade is another elite defensive back in the 2017 class who has a chance to play early on. Wade has great height (6’1) and length that is necessary to play press-man coverage, but he only weighs 177 pounds right now. Luckily, his lengthy frame will allow him to fill out and contribute at least on special teams as a true freshman, if not crack the two-deep at the open cornerback position.”

Chase Young DE *****

“Young is a consensus top-10 overall recruit for the class of 2017 and he’ll push for early playing time at defensive end behind starters Sam Hubbard and Tyquan Lewis. Young will likely be utilized as a pass rusher until he puts on some more weight and the depth chart clears up, but this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t expect some early fireworks. His first step is very explosive and he consistently showed the ability to get around the edge in high school.”

The four-stars

J.K. Dobbins RB **** (Early Enrollee)

“Considered an ideal back for the spread offense, Dobbins possesses a low center of gravity, a quick burst, and exceptional elusiveness. He is also an above-average pass-catcher out of the backfield. His unique, explosive skill set, coupled with enrolling early, could have Dobbins in line for early playing time at the H-back position.”

Jerron Cage DL ****

“Cage is the type of penetrating interior lineman that the Buckeyes defense needs. His film was reminiscent of Robert Landers this season, as Cage consistently managed to create havoc in opponent’s backfields. He often pulled this off with brute strength and a very quick first step. This worked just fine in high school against overmatched guards, but Cage will need to work on refining some of his pass-rush moves while he also tries to put on some more weight.”

Haskell Garrett DT ****

“Garrett’s game is reminiscent of Adolphus Washington. He’s a finesse defensive linemen, but this is more of a compliment to his pass-rushing skills and screen recognition ability than an indictment of his physicality. Garrett displayed solid rip and swim moves in high school, though he was at times slow to get off the ball and was high coming out of his stance. The latter point is common among most taller defensive linemen, as getting low on a play-by-play basis doesn’t matter as much against inferior high school competition.”

Trevon Grimes WR ****

“Grimes’ stature makes him a striking figure out wide. He has a deceptively quick first step out of his stance, given his size, which allows him to get on top of the toes of the opposing cornerback. His route running is smooth and precise for what he was asked to run at St. Thomas Aquinas. Being bigger than every corner he faced in high school, he was asked to run fades, verticals, deep-ins, and posts to use his speed and power to separate and allow him to be at maximum speed when catching the football. He was sometimes asked to run screens and slants, but he was mostly targeted 10-plus yards downfield.”

Jaylen Harris WR ****

“Harris is exactly the type of wide receiver that Ohio State has been missing. At 6’5 201 pounds, he’s a matchup problem for essentially any cornerback in the country. In high school, Harris regularly utilized his size and proved to be a very physical player both with the ball in his hands and as a blocker. He projects to work as an outside receiver with the Buckeyes, though his blocking ability could be used in the middle of the offense in a similar fashion as Noah Brown or Evan Spencer.”

Tate Martell QB **** (Early Enrollee)

“Since his pledge to Ohio State, Martell acquired multiple player of the year awards and another state championship. His competitiveness and ability to lead from his position are just two of the reasons Meyer wanted Martell in this class. Though he’s not the tallest quarterback around at just 5’10, Martell can more than hold his own as an engineer of an offense. A master at running the read-option, Martell will be able to keep defenses guessing with his arm and his legs.”

Thayer Munford OT ****

“Munford has college-ready size and could compete for a backup offensive tackle position as early as this season. He has long arms and showed the ability to shut down defenders before they even had a chance to make a move. Munford’s commitment is a great step in improving the Buckeyes’ offensive line depth.”

Josh Myers OL **** (Early Enrollee)

“With the graduation of center Pat Elflein and right guard Billy Price apparently sliding over from right guard to fill Elflein’s place, it’s probable Ohio State will have just one vacancy along its offensive line in 2017. However, an alternative line of thinking would suggest that due to the up-and-down play of the Buckeyes’ offensive line in 2016, the possibility exists that just Price, an All-American, and left tackle Jamarco Jones, an all-Big Ten selection, are the lone returnees assured of starting spots.”

Isaiah Pryor S **** (Early Enrollee)

“Isaiah Pryor is as complete of a safety as there is at his age. Checking in at 6'1 ½”, 195 pounds, Pryor already possesses the size to see the field right away — especially since he has already been introduced to the Ohio State weight program. The Lawrenceville, GA product is already the total package, because he has the strength and tackling ability to make plays in run support, along with the range to play centerfield.”

Amir Riep DB ****

“Luckily for Riep, he’s already well-accustomed to Ohio State’s style of defense. He consistently lined up in man coverage in high school and never had safety help over the top. Riep showed the ability to shut down receivers in man coverage, largely thanks to his great recovery speed and ball skills. He consistently showed the ability to not only get his head around coverage, but also to make a play on the ball. Riep has shown a tendency to keep his eyes in the backfield and this could come back to bite him at the next level once he faces better quarterbacks who will take advantage of his risk-taking nature. Still, this trait also allows him to make great breaks on the ball at times and his athletic ability makes for some fun highlights after he gets the ball in his hands.”

Kendall Sheffield CB ****

“Sheffield is a very physical cornerback and he wants you to know that. His first two plays of his JUCO highlight film are runs to the opposite side of the field, but the wide receiver tasked with blocking him ended up on the ground anyway. Sheffield’s fondness of contact is rare in a cornerback, but it’s this physicality, combined with Sheffield’s ideal long frame and athleticism, that makes him a current frontrunner to earn one of the Buckeyes’ starting cornerback spots for 2017.”

Pete Werner LB ****

“Werner was used all over the field in high school, as his excellent play-reading abilities allowed him to line up at safety and continue to make plays around the line of scrimmage. His coverage ability is a bit of a question mark, though he showed solid ability to match up with tight ends in space. Werner really shined as a blitzer, as he showed great timing and the type of “you can’t block me” attitude that is required to get to the quarterback.”

Brendon White WR **** (Early Enrollee)

“White is a big-bodied athlete who stands at 6’1 ½” and 200 pounds. He plays similar to Noah Brown, as he is physical after the catch and bounces off defenders for extra yardage. He is a hands-catcher who has decent top-line speed for his size. He’s still inexperienced at the position, which shows in some of his route running, but that is something that is fixable once he gets coached up at the college level.”

Marcus Williamson CB **** (Early Enrollee)

“In pass coverage, Williamson’s attributes scream nickel cornerback at Ohio State. He has the quickness to lineup in the slot against quicker receivers and does well in press coverage. He has great instincts and his ball skills are also above average. His ability to flip his hips is uncanny and shows flashes of straight line speed. Williamson is tough to block, not from a physical standpoint, but from a quickness standpoint. Like the other corners, he performs well in run support and does not shy away from contact.”

The three-stars

Elijah Gardiner WR ***

“Gardiner gives the Buckeyes another raw wide receiver with plenty of size. Though his height makes him a candidate for downfield and red-zone opportunities, Gardiner also showed nimble feet and elusiveness in the open field that is more reminiscent of a slot receiver. He’s a special athlete that has a ton of upside in the Ohio State offense.”

Blake Haubeil K ***

“At 6’2, 190 pounds, Haubeil has a good frame and doesn’t take the look of an unathletic kicker. It’s quite the opposite actually. Over the course of his stellar senior season, Haubeil was also named a first team high school All-American by USA Today.”