The biggest need for the Ohio State Buckeyes in their 2020 class isn’t really up for debate. The Bucks obviously need the usual baseline numbers all over the field —at least three receivers, a quarterback, running back or two, a few defensive linemen and defensive backs, three linebacker— but there’s nowhere Ohio State needs depth and talent more than on the offensive line. It’s not really for too much fault of their own, either. Recruiting misses by Greg Studrawa have hurt the Buckeyes, obviously, but the level of attrition they’ve experienced on the line in recent years has been more extreme than you’d generally prepare for.
To put it simply, Ohio State has talent on the line, but doesn’t have the depth or experience they’d like to have. They lost four starters from 2018, and quite a bit of the depth has never seen significant playing time in college football. That isn’t what you want on the line, and Ohio State has been pretty up front about trying to address that problem in both the short and long term.
Short term, bringing in a grad transfer like Jonah Jackson gives the Buckeyes slightly more pure numbers, and a whole lot more experience from their starting group. Long term? Well, that’s where the 2020 class kicks in. You can’t rely on transfers every year to fill out the depth chart, and Ohio State knows that. To avoid falling into a constant cycle of poor depth being filled by transfers, the Buckeyes need a large group of offensive line recruits in 2020, and they need them locked up as soon as possible.
That urgency has been very, very effective so far. With Ryan Day on a mission to land at least five linemen in 2020, Ohio State already had three (Luke Wypler, Jakob James and Paris Johnson Jr) committed entering March, and on Monday night they added a fourth member: Norwalk, Ohio tackle Trey Leroux.
The first thing most Buckeye fans saw when looking at the latest commitment was, of course, his impressive stature. At 6-foot-8, 320 pounds, Leroux is pretty massive, but he carries the size well, and moves nicely for someone so large. He’s not as quick as Ohio State would like, but he does have solid technique and footwork, so for the Buckeyes he’s almost more of a physical project than he is coaching project.
Now, there is coaching to be done. He has a lot to learn still, and probably won’t be field ready for a few years while he learns from whoever may be the offensive line coach for the majority of his career. The foundation is there though, and it starts with his excellent strength and size.
The second thing that Buckeye fans noticed, and were pretty quick to make some noise about is his ranking. Yes, Leroux is ranked 999th in the 247Sports composite. Yes, that’s lower than what Ohio State is accustomed to. I’m not going to get on here and say that rankings don’t matter, or that they aren’t accurate, because they are accurate, and they do matter. Rankings are very frequently reflective of where a player is at in terms of development, and a lower ranking just means there’s more work to do for that player either physically or mentally.
As I said, Leroux is a developmental guy. He’s not starting day one, and if we’re being honest, he’s probably going to stay right in that mid to high three star range because he’s a talented but still raw athlete. What matters, however, is that Ryan Day, Mickey Marotti, and Greg Studrawa see a player they can work with in Leroux. They see an Ohio State caliber player, and from what I’ve seen on film, that tracks. He has talent, he has the physical tools, and if he’s ready to work when he gets to Ohio State, he can absolutely hold his own in Columbus, and develop into a starter down the road.
On top of that, on a larger level down the road, this is Ohio State —more specifically Ryan Day— taking a three star linemen from Ohio in mid-March. This is the second lower ranked in-state commitment for the Buckeyes in 2020 almost a year out from signing day. The Buckeyes are no longer interested in slow playing these in-state guys. If Ryan Day thinks they can play at Ohio State, they’re getting the offer and full court press to commit as soon as he gives the green light. No more wait and see, no more week before signing day offers.