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Deep Dive: Ranking Ohio State positional recruiting by tiers

Taking an in depth look at what positions Ohio State is recruiting the best at.

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch via Imagn Content Services, LLC

When Urban Meyer took the job at Ohio State the immediate uptick in recruiting efforts was seen almost instantly. Thanks to Urban’s “rock star” aura, the Buckeyes were off and running with some of the best rosters that the program had ever seen. While Jim Tressel was certainly no slouch himself, it was the national presence that Meyer brought to Ohio State which allowed them to enter the ring for many of the most sought after and prized recruits that typically the Buckeyes were not as serious about in previous years.

Fast forwarding to the Ryan Day era, if there was any worry about Day taking over the helm of the program, it was his experience in comparison to the tenured Meyer. Specifically, his recruiting abilities weren’t necessarily doubted, but they definitely were a topic of consideration, as many were left wondering if he too could bring the same type of players to Ohio State that Urban had.

In reality, the main question was if he could keep the program at the status that Meyer had built it up to, which was a top-three program in college football consistently competing for a national title.

Hindsight is 20/20, but in present day, Day has kept the recruiting success atop his priorities and in direct competition with his former boss. In fact, many may even say that under Day, the recruiting has even been better to this point. Sure, the foundation and infrastructure that Meyer laid for Day is a huge factor here, but all the credit in the world goes to Day and his staff for not only dominating on the recruiting trail, but for also keeping the success on the field going as well.

With all of this in mind, here’s some objective grading — broken down into tiers — as to which position groups Ohio State is currently recruiting with the most success. The fortunate aspect here is that there’s really not an area that needs major improvement, but this should be a fun exercise to see where the Buckeyes are doing their best work and where they have holes to fill during this crazy month of June.


Tier 1

Quarterback

Let’s just call it what it is: The most important position on the field is the quarterback spot and Ohio State has absolutely crushed the recruiting efforts here in large part because of Ryan Day’s development, offensive philosophy, and the on-field results that the signal callers have had under his tutelage.

Starting with Justin Fields. No, the Buckeyes did not win his prep commitment, but they certainly won his commitment when he transferred from Georgia. Sure, this is mainly about the recruiting efforts of the staff, but getting Fields to come to Ohio State was no small task and the success he’s had in Columbus has directly impacted the Buckeyes and the future signal callers.

Under Day and now position coach, Cory Dennis, Ohio State has been able to land 4-stars CJ Stroud and Jack Miller in the 2020 class and then followed it up with 5-star Kyle McCord in the 2021 class. Not to mention, currently the Buckeyes — as you undoubtedly — know have the verbal from the highest ranked player in the nation, Quinn Ewers, in the fold for 2022. Without a doubt, the quarterback spot is in tier one thanks to the recruiting efforts that the Buckeyes are putting in.


Wide Receiver

If it wasn’t for the importance of the quarterback position, the receiver room may get the nod for the best overall position in terms of recruiting success. Thanks to position coach Brian Hartline, Ohio State has never seen the success that they currently are having in terms of bringing in top talent. In addition, the development of under-rated guys such as Chris Olave is paying off big time.

Under Hartline, Ohio State has ben able to bring in the top ranked receiver in the 2020 class, 2021 class, and the top receiver per 247sports in the 2022 class as well. A feat like no other, Hartline’s success speaks for itself and will continue to do so when both Olave and Garrett Wilson are likely to be first round NFL Draft picks after this upcoming 2021 season.

Certainly you could go on, but simply put, the receiver room is beyond loaded. Totally deserving of being in tier one.


Defensive Back

Flipping to the defensive side of the ball, the defensive backs room, and mainly the cornerback spot, are deserving of the tier one status and you don’t have to look any further than what Ohio State has been able to do with their guys in terms of turning them into first round NFL Draft picks basically on annual basis.

Sure last season may have been an obvious dip in the production, but the future itself is very bright. The current status of guys committed to the Buckeyes at cornerback — and who they have a shot to bring in at safety — gives the notion that the success train is going to get right back on track and keep on rolling.

With what Kerry Coombs has done from a development standpoint, Ohio State is in a great spot moving forward and with a top 5-star corner in Jaheim Singletary committed in 2022, a host of top guys at both corner and safety in the 2021 class already on campus, and with a few more top targets in the current cycle, the Buckeyes and their recruiting of defensive backs are certainly considered to be tier one.


Defensive Line

Now before we go any further, it’s important to note how hard it is to be in tier one. In this experiment, the position groups making the cut for the top tier are loaded with 5-star commits the last several cycles, have NFL Draft success, and are a major contributor for success on the field at pivotal positions.

The Buckeyes defensive success and biggest recruiting wins have come along the defensive line many times in recent years. Thinking of the Bosa brothers, Chase Young, Zach Harrison, Tyreke Smith, and now Jack Sawyer in just the last several years, defensive end has been a wrecking crew of success and that’s not including every name that should be mentioned.

Adding in Larry Johnson who is the best in the business at his job and clearly the Buckeyes defensive line recruiting efforts belong in tier one and will get another huge boost if they’re able to bring in the nation’s top player per 247Sports, J.T. Tuimoloau.


Tier 2

As mentioned earlier, making the top tier is strictly due to the off the charts success Ohio State is having. Coming in as a tier two position group is not a knock by any means and is still incredible. These position groups are right near the top, but are just a small tick below the best groups currently.

Running Back

It’s hard to not put anyone in the top tier with how successful the entire coaching staff has been, but running back here is at the top of the second tier. Position coach Tony Alford has had his share of success with Ohio State; whether it’s with J.K. Dobbins, Mike Weber, or other backs, his development of the position has been strong and especially with how Dobbins became one of the best backs in the country.

In the 2020 class, Alford hit some adversity head on and really it was no fault of his own. You know the story by now of Alford losing out on two premier backs after both were considered to be “in” Ohio State’s class and out of nowhere flipped to other programs. Fortunately, one year later the Buckeyes — thanks to Alford — made up for 2020 by locking in the nation’s best running back, TreVeyon Henderson as well as another top-ten back, Evan Pryor both part of his epic 2021 haul of talent.

The running back position is different than a lot of the others with how many guys see the field, but the current room is in great shape and thanks to the two guys mentioned in the 2021 class, Alford has given his crew a tier two grade.


Linebacker

Ohio State’s 2022 class alone gives this position grouping a tier two grade, but it’s how valuable position coach Al Washington is that makes the linebacker spot so important. Washington has landed both C.J. Hicks and Gabe Powers for his 2022 grouping, but certainly will be looking to take one more after the departure of Dasan McCullough who decided to stay with his family and commit to Indiana after his father was brought on staff. A hit to the Buckeyes for sure, but they still are in on some big time players at the position.

With Washington deciding to stay at Ohio State after he almost left for Tennessee this off-season, that further proves how valuable he is to this staff as a whole and it’s because of his ability to connect with his players and of course to develop them once they’re in Columbus.


Tier 3

Again, being completely honest here, there really isn’t a position group that deserves a bad grade with how incredible the Buckeyes have been having success all over the recruiting trail. And, it even feels wrong to place these few groups into tier three, but let’s just pretend this tier is out of ten total and Tiers 4 through 10 just don’t have a single position group for Ohio State.

Offensive Line

The Buckeyes are no slouch when it comes to the offensive line, but if there’s one knock on the group it’s that they haven’t always been able to land the top national prospect they want. Sure, thanks to guys like Paris Johnson they have their 5-stars on the roster, but the luxury for Ohio State and position coach Greg Studrawa is that many times they are fortunate enough to have 5-stars right in Ohio.

Taking into consideration that in just the 2021 class they brought in top guard prospect Donovan Jackson, we realize the offensive line could be placed higher than tier 3, but even Jackson had Ohio connections. All in all, when the Buckeyes have been beaten out by other programs for top national targets, it gives room for a small ding overall.

Still though, Ohio State’s offensive line is doing a fantastic job. Right now they have two NFL caliber tackles on the outside in Thayer Munford and Nicholas Petit-Frier that will surely pave the way up front this fall and that will bode well for recruiting efforts down the road.

This is not a problem position by any means!


Tight End

At tight-end, the Buckeyes certainly don’t have major issues. After bringing in Jeremy Ruckert in the 2018 class and seeing fellow tight end Luke Farrell just get drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars, the tight end group hasn’t let anyone down by any means. It’s always been a key part of the offense in both the pass and run game and after seeing Ruckert’s performance in the post-season last year mainly against Clemson, you have to love the idea of him choosing to come back for one more year. That alone is like landing a 5-star recruit.

Still though, looking at the current roster and seeing what’s behind Ruckert, a little bit of a question starts to arise. Whether it’s recruiting rankings or purely the inexperience, the tight end group after Ruckert does bring up a bit of concern.

For example, Cade Stover being recruited to play defense and making the switch to the tight end room should be all you need to know about the rosters depth, but then former four-star wide receiver recruit Gee Scott Jr. made the move into the room as well. Not saying Cade or Gee won’t step up, but it shows that TE is still an area that the coaches weren’t 100% sold on.

Looking forward though, Kevin Wilson and Ohio State have two top 15 tight-ends nationally committed in their 2022 class thanks to Benji Gosnell and Bennett Christian. Surely, again this position is not an issue, but at the moment the grade here is tier 3.


Special Teams

Almost impossible to even rank, the special teams always seem to take care of themselves. The Buckeyes have had solid efforts in both the kicking and punting game and that looks to be continued. For straight shooting, this is a tier 3 grade here strictly because it’s not always a popular subject in recruiting and tends to work out whether it’s by gray-shirting or as in Jesse Micro’s case, happening after the season when mum is the word.


Overall Synopsis

If you’re wondering how Ohio State is doing in recruiting, you need to look no further than the current national grades. The Buckeyes are the second ranked class in 2021 and the same for 2022 with tons of potential to take the top overall spot when all is said and done.

What Ryan Day and his staff are doing is truly incredible and that should give you tons of confidence that moving forward, Ohio State will doing nothing but continue competing for championships in the post-season.