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Ohio State’s 2015 recruiting class has one more opportunity to shine

Some members of the class are looking to lock in their draft stock, while others are looking for redemption.

NCAA Football: Minnesota at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State’s 2015 recruiting class was a big one, ranking No. 1 in the Big Ten and No. 7 nationwide. The group has already produced a ton of NFL talent in the last few years, including guys like Denzel Ward, Jerome Baker, Mike Weber and Dre’Mont Jones to name a few. While some highly-rated recruits, like Joe Burrow and Torrance Gibson, have moved on from the program, there still remains a good contingent of players from this cycle on the current roster.

This group of seniors contains an interesting mix of players, with some looking to solidify any potential NFL Draft stock with a productive final collegiate season, and others still looking to find their role with one last shot at a breakout year.

So, let’s take a look at some of the biggest names still left on campus from this talented recruiting class, and where they stand heading into the 2019 season.

Justin Hilliard, LB

Hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, Hilliard was the highest rated member of the 2015 class. A five-star recruit, the linebacker ranked No. 35 in the nation, coming in as the No. 3 OLB and No. 1 player in the Buckeye state. At 6-foot-1, 235 pounds, Hilliard is clearly a very talented and athletic player, but just hasn't quite been able to crack the starting lineup to this point. Unfortunately, an achilles injury cut short his spring practice, and it is unclear when, or if, Hilliard will be ready to go this season.

Hilliard played in 13 games for the Buckeyes last season, recording 20 tackles and two pass breakups. He has been a crucial member of the special teams unit, tying for the team lead with six tackles on special teams last season, with three coming inside the 20-yard line. He started one game in 2018, recording a career-high five tackles against Minnesota.

Jashon Cornell, DT

Cornell was recruited by Ohio State as a defensive end, ranking No. 95 in the nation and the No. 1 player from his home state of Minnesota. Cornell has been an incredibly versatile player for the Buckeyes, playing both defensive tackle and end throughout his collegiate career. After being overshadowed by some of the big name d-lineman OSU has produced during his tenure, Cornell is finally ready to take the reigns and start as the team’s three-technique defensive tackle.

Despite serving mainly as the backup to Dre’Mont Jones last season, Cornell was quite productive in limited playing time. Overall, he totaled 15 tackles in 2018, recording two for a loss including a sack in Ohio State’s Rose Bowl win over Washington. The senior enters his final campaign with 33 career tackles, seven of them for a loss, and three sacks.

K.J. Hill, WR

Hill was a four-star recruit in this cycle, the No. 16 wide receiver in the country and No. 1 player from his home state of Arkansas. Hill’s return to Ohio State for his senior season was a bit of a surprise, as he certainly could have elected to enter the NFL Draft after an incredibly productive 2018 campaign. The sure-handed wideout had his best performance to date last season, hauling in 70 receptions for 885 yards and six touchdowns.

Hill will be an undisputed leader on the Buckeye offense in 2019 as he looks to solidify himself as an early-round NFL Draft pick. He enters his senior season needing 48 receptions to break David Boston’s school record of 191 in a career, which was set over 20 years ago. Hill’s receptions, yards and touchdown totals have increased every year, and he will look to continue this trend as one of Ohio State’s biggest offensive threats this season.

Robert Landers, DT

A crowd favorite at Ohio State, the man affectionately known as BB has become a rock on the defensive line, especially in the run game. Landers was not all that highly touted as a recruit, rated as a three-star player and the No. 28 defensive tackle in the country. Landers only received two offers from Power Five schools, including West Virginia — to whom he originally verbally committed before flipping — and, of course, Ohio State. Now, he is a star both on and off of the field.

At 6-foot-1, 285 pounds, Landers is a veteran presence up the middle, and one of the best personalities on the Buckeye roster. In 39 career games, BB has totaled 51 tackles, with 17.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble. Off the field, Landers has used his platform to speak out in support of those struggling with mental illness and reach out to his community, while always displaying a happy-go-lucky attitude. A guy who is absolutely impossible not to root for, Landers will continue to eat up opposing interior lineman in 2019.

Damon Arnette

Another lowly-rated recruit that has found success at Ohio State, Arnette was ranked as the No. 62 cornerback in the 2015 class as a three-star guy. Arnette comes into the year as one of the most experienced players on either side of the ball, having played in 40 games for the Buckeyes thus far.

The 6-foot, 195 pound defensive back struggled a bit last season, still recording 40 tackles and an interception, but will look to bounce back in his final season with the help of new secondary coach Jeff Hafley.

Rashod Berry

Berry has been moved around a bit since joining the Buckeyes, originally recruited as a defensive end before switching to tight end. A three-star recruit, Berry’s large stature at 6-foot-4, 255 pounds make him a matchup nightmare in the passing game while also providing a big body in the blocking game. Berry caught just nine passes for 78 yards and two touchdowns a season ago, but with Ohio State putting more of an emphasis on the tight ends this year, Berry could be a crucial part of the offense in 2019.

DaVon Hamilton

The lowest-rated three-star recruit in the 2015 class, Hamilton has actually been a productive member of a deep defensive tackle unit, and could very well get the start or at least a good chunk of the playing time this season. Having played in 40 games in his Buckeye career, Hamilton has recorded 38 tackles, including 10.5 for loss, a sack and two fumble recoveries, taking one of which to the house for a touchdown. At 6-foot-4, 310 pounds, Hamilton is another big body up the middle that will play an essential role this season, especially in the run game.

As their final season in Columbus approaches all of these players will have opportunities to either live up to, or surpass, their original recruiting rankings. And, their veteran leadership will undoubtedly go a long way in helping the Buckeyes achieve their goals this year.