Nothing is certain in college football.
Strong recruiting can disintegrate after an ill-timed coaching departure, or worse, a lengthy NCAA investigation. Recruits can get injured, transfer, or otherwise not pan out. College football is a game with a short season, a pointy ball that bounces in random ways, and by twenty year old men, hardly the epitome of consistency.
But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some solid bets. And right now, betting on the future of Ohio State football is about as solid as it gets.
The Buckeyes had another strong showing in the NFL Draft over the weekend, with seven Buckeyes hearing their name, including three in the first round. That’s an impressive showing for any program, but the Buckeyes also had 12 players picked last year. For high school players across the country, it’s clear that the Buckeyes have demonstrated, in case there was any doubt, that they are among the very elite when it comes to producing NFL caliber talent.
That starts with recruiting, and under Urban Meyer and company, despite turnover among assistant coaches and increasing competition within the Big Ten, Buckeye recruiting has been near the very top in the country, and shows no signs of slowing down.
1. Ohio State’s run isn’t slowing down anytime now
It’s early, but Ohio State currently has the No. 4 ranked 2018 recruiting class, and the best per-prospect average in the country, with nine commitments, all blue-chip caliber players. The Buckeyes had the No. 2 ranked class in 2017, the No. 4 ranked in 2016, No. 7 in 2015, and No. 3 in 2014, while continuing a stranglehold on the Big Ten during that time. Even if injuries, coaching attrition or other factors catch up with Ohio State, their elite recruiting gives them a larger margin of error than nearly anybody else in the country, especially in the Big Ten.
2. Maintaining the success will hinge on quarterback play
Consistent success starts at quarterback, and the Buckeyes are as well stocked there as anywhere else on their roster. One-time Heisman candidate J.T. Barrett returns this season, but behind him, he’s flanked by Joe Burrow (four-stars, (RS) Sophomore), Dwayne Haskins (four-stars, (RS) Freshman) and Tate Martell (four-stars, freshman). Five-star QB Emory Jones is currently slated to join the 2018 recruiting class, but if for some reason he ends up going elsewhere, Ohio State is well positioned to go after other blue-chip candidates. For the next several years, the Buckeyes will have one of the best prospects in the country under center, directing traffic.
3. OSU will keep the NFL pipeline flowing
A regular pipeline to the NFL means players may not start for the Buckeyes for multiple seasons, and attrition across the roster will be a regular occurrence. That can be worrisome, but recruiting across nearly every position group should still give Buckeye fans reason to be optimistic about the future. After all, the two best defensive backs in the country, plus the top JUCO defensive back, all signed with Ohio State in 2017, along with the top outside linebacker, the top guard, and the second best defensive end. The top defensive tackle in 2018 is currently committed to Ohio State. The sheer depth along the defensive line would be the envy of nearly every other program.
4. Urban Meyer leaving would throw a wrench in it
Ohio State isn’t invulnerable. Even if it isn’t likely, Urban Meyer could decide to try the NFL, or simply retire, within the next five years. Ohio State will almost certainly lose assistant coaches after next season, and we’ve already seen what the impact of less-than-ideal fits as position coaches can do to the offense. Coaching talent in the Big Ten is improving, and other programs, like Penn State and Maryland, are getting better every season. Even other blue-blood programs, like Alabama and Michigan, have hit lulls if they swing and miss on a coaching search.
5. Ohio State will be just fine
But there’s a reason Ohio State football hasn’t had a serious, prolonged dry spell in over 40 years. It’s one of the wealthiest and largest athletic departments in the country. It’s the only power-conference school in a state that produces a ton of high level talent. It’s one of the most storied programs in the country, with a national brand, a massive stadium, and a mainstay on national television. Anybody will suffer if they make bad hires, but few schools, if any, have the infrastructure to survive one than Ohio State.
Typically, such a massive exodus of NFL talent over two seasons would be cause for alarm. Replacing and developing that kind of production doesn’t come easily.
But Ohio State fans shouldn’t panic or worry too much. They’ve got one of the best coaches in the country. They’re loaded at nearly every position group. They’re in a great position to compete for conference titles, and more, in the near future.
The future is never certain. But from right here, it still sure looks bright for the Buckeyes.
How long do you think Ohio State’s current window is open?
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