Everybody knows that one of the best parts of being a sports fan is debating and dissecting the most (and least) important questions in the sporting world with your friends. So, we’re bringing that to the pages of LGHL with our favorite head-to-head column: You’re Nuts.
In You’re Nuts, two LGHL staff members will take differing sides of one question and argue their opinions passionately. Then, in the end, it’s up to you to determine who’s right and who’s nuts.
This week’s topic: Most important position group for Ohio State in the 2024 recruiting class
Ohio State held its first spring scrimmage this past weekend, AKA the beginning of the Kyle McCord Heisman campaign. The intrasquad tussle gave coaches (and media) a live-action preview of what’s to come, a first look at fresh faces, and plenty of talking points RE: what needs to be worked on and emphasized in the coming weeks.
We as Buckeye fans will undoubtedly overreact and read way too much into comments and columns about the scrimmage, but ‘tis the season, right?
Of equal importance... well, at least equal interest... was a busy weekend for Mark Pantoni and company. OSU hosted 30+ high school studs during an extended recruiting weekend, as the program looks to build momentum for future classes. Most recruits who were in attendance belong to the 2024 class, but there were also visitors in Columbus from 2025 and beyond. And since Gene and I were oddly not invited to this scrimmage, recruiting is what he and I decided to cover in today’s edition of You’re Nuts.
With the 2024 push in full swing, we wanted to look at positions of need for the Scarlet and Gray. Granted, every position is essentially a position of need in every class, but a few in particular stand out. I am going to start with running back because, well, the Buckeyes have landed one (1, uno, ichi) in their last two classes combined!
When it comes down to it, Ohio State’s RB recruiting has fallen off in recent years; an absolute fact which cannot be ignored. The 2018 and 2019 classes combined to produce Master Teague and nothing else. Miyan Williams was basically on the clearance rack when OSU picked him up as part of their 2020 class. Dallan Hayden was a late(ish) add and the only RB signed in 2022.
And don’t even get me started on 2023! The Buckeyes whiffed on 100 backs and ended up taking a goose egg. If not for the 2021 class of TreVeyon Henderson and Evan Pryor, we would be looking at six straight years of “meh” RB recruiting.
Fortunately, production at this position has remained consistent for the Scarlet and Gray. It is a testament to Tony Alford’s coaching, as well as the hard work put in by Williams, Hayden, and others. However, depth is approaching a tipping point in Columbus, which is why RB is the biggest position of need for not only this 2024 class, but also 2025 and beyond.
Ohio State must replenish its backfield. Because their current RB room is absolutely loaded with talent, but Henderson and Williams could be gone after this season. Pryor is coming off a major injury, and we barely have a clue what he looks like when healthy. And what if Hayden decides to explore his options? I certainly hope this is not the case, but could we as fans blame him if he is forced to sit and watch as a sophomore?
Even with said talent at the RB position, we saw last season that three or four backs is not always enough. The Buckeyes were trotting out Chip Trayanum and Xavier Johnson in a CFP, for crying out loud. And no offense to those guys, but wouldn’t you have preferred a guy with a bit more of a pedigree? Or more Hayden, but that is a different conversation for a different day.
While other positions might be lagging behind RB in terms of current talent, few if any have potential to bottom out, in my opinion. And while I do not think Ohio State will be starving for RB’s for long, I would argue that they are very much in need right now. Which is why I will be keeping an eye on the recruitment of James Peoples, Jordan Marshall (never say never), and other Buckeye targets. Because another 0-fer or light RB class could spell trouble for OSU.
I certainly agree with Josh’s take here that running back is up there among positions of need for Ohio State in 2024. As Josh touched on, the Buckeyes have gotten lucky with a few guys who came in as lesser recruits and have shined in Columbus, but you cannot count on every three-star prospect being a diamond in the rough. In just the last few years, Ohio State has whiffed on basically every top target at RB, including Mark Fletcher — who they had committed and then lost, Richard Young, Nick Singleton, Bijan Robinson, and a handful of others.
Sure, landing TreVeyon Henderson was a big win for Alford and Ohio State, and both Miyan Williams and Dallan Hayden have out-performed their rankings, but one big win over several years at a position where the Buckeyes have had so much success historically is just not getting the job done.
However, since my counterpart already grabbed the RBs, I'll shift my focus to the offensive line.
Of all the bad position coaches Ohio State has let hang around for too long over the last decade or so, none of done arguably more damage to their specific unit that Greg Studrawa. Now, Justin Frye is tasked with cleaning up the mess, and he is off to a really good start with three in-state linemen already committed in 2024 in addition to Indiana native Ian Moore. This, in theory, should allow them to dream big and go after a top national target — hopefully at offensive tackle.
It’s pretty scary just how bad of shape the Ohio State offensive line is in, especially when it comes to depth. Both of last year’s starting tackles are off to the NFL, and you’re now expecting Josh Fryar — who was originally recruited as a three-star guard — to just step up and immediately be successful at one of the key positions in an offense that likes to pass the ball a lot. This is not a knock on Fryar by any means, as he could perform without issue at tackle, but this isn’t a spot a school like Ohio State should be in.
Outside of Fryar, who played a bit last year, the only returning starters with experience are guards Donovan Jackson and Matthew Jones, the former of which has yet to live up to his recruiting ranking and the latter who was hurt most of last season. Along the rest of the line, you have to hope that guys like Tegra Tshabola, Ben Christman, Zen Michalski and transfer Victor Cutler can somehow combine to patch the rest of the starting front together.
By all accounts, Justin Frye is very good as his job, and his recruiting is already looking to be far better than that of his predecessor. However, Ohio State’s offensive line depth is in very dire straights right now, and an injury or two here and there could force some freshmen into action before they are ready. For the Buckeyes, the standard simply must be higher than that.