Ohio State Recruiting: 2013 Final Grades

Written February 7th, 2013 by Joe Laing

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The BuckeyeBattleCry was with all of you through the thick and thin of this class as we saw elite recruits commit to be Buckeyes and players we were upset to see go elsewhere.  After the dust settled and names were signed on letters of intent, its time to evaluate each position in the class and give it an overall grade.

Quarterbacks

  • JT Barrett – Wichita Falls (TX) Rider HS 6’2’’, 205 lbs (4* on all sites)

Joe – (B+) In a year when a QB was needed, Meyer didn’t disappoint.  He may have even targeted a 2nd QB if we had the normal 85 limit, but with the cap at 82 Meyer only took one.  Barrett is a dual threat that missed the state title run and all-star circuit due to an ACL injury.  He is currently enrolled in Columbus and rehabbing with the training staff.  Miller has 2 more years, and Kenny Guiton is still here for one more, so I would expect a redshirt year in 2013, a year as the 3rd string QB in his redshirt freshmen year and then a chance to compete with Cardale Jones for the starting job in his redshirt sophomore year.  I went B+ here due to the ACL injury and the caution I have around him being able to return to full strength and use his legs like he has in high school.

Jim – (A-) I look forward to what the coaches can do with Barrett as they prepare him to replace Braxton in a few years. He has all the tools and he should have plenty of time to learn the system and recover from injury (the reason for the -) before he competes for the starting spot. Meyer was known for bringing in top QBs year after year (famously, Tim Tebow and Cam Newton in back-to-back years at Florida) so the competition will be intense at QB in the years to come. Barrett should prove to be a top contender regardless of the future competition if he puts in the work off the field.

Running Backs

  • Ezekiel Elliott – St. Louis (MO) John Burroughs HS 6’0’’, 195 lbs (4* on all sites)

Joe – (A) This is a position where depth wasn’t really an issue. Any year you can tell the #1 RB (Derrick Green) in the country thanks but no thanks its a good problem to have.  Elliott fills a void at the RB position- the home run back that can take it the distance from anywhere on the field, whether it be the read option out of the gun, a screen pass or a toss. While there is a lot of depth at RB (Hyde, Hall, Smith, Dunn, Ball) he could fight for time in certain situations right away next season.  Towards the end Elliott gave a second look to the home school but he has been a Buckeye since April and we are all excited to see what he can do.

Jim – (A) Elliott has explosive speed and is excellent out of the backfield catching the ball, making him the perfect fit for Meyer’s offense. He adds a dimension that the big bruisers on the roster don’t have. Although there was some (slight) drama near the end, he was told early on that he was the one and only RB in this class and there is a reason for that.

Tight End

  • Marcus Baugh – Riverside (CA) J.W. North 6’ 4’’, 215 lbs (4* on all sites)

Joe – (A+) Another position where depth really wasn’t an issue, but when you can go out and get a player like Baugh you do it and don’t worry about the numbers.  Baugh really turned heads at the Under Armour practices when all the regional guys saw him. After seeing him on film you can see he runs like a WR but has TE size.  I don’t see a redshirt in his future, I see him getting snaps in game 1 next year. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him as the top pass catching TE in the class, and a 1st/2nd round draft pick someday.

Jim – (A) Baugh is another perfect fit in Meyer’s offense (it’s like he does that on purpose or something) who could be used in a number of ways in the offense. Hopefully he can blaze a trail at Ohio State so future TE prospects will be the next “Marcus Baugh” rather than the next “Aaron Hernandez.” That said, Baugh looks like the next Aaron Hernandez for coach Meyer.

Wide Receiver

  • Jalin Marshall – Middletown (OH), Middletown HS 6’0’’, 190 lbs (5*Scout, 4* on all others)
  • Corey Smith – Akron (OH) Buchtel HS (East Mississippi CC) 6’1’’ 180 lbs (Juco 4* on all sites)
  • Dontre Wilson – DeSoto (TX) HS 5’10″ 175 lbs (4* on all sites)
  • James Clark – New Smyrna Beach (FL) HS 5’11″ 170  (4* on all sites)

Joe – (A+)  With the addition of Dontre Wilson I gave the group an A+.  I know you should always talk about what you have and what you brought in. I will get to that…but the one that got away still stings here.  James Quick seemed like he was going to be a Buckeye at times and that was an exciting possibility. Quick was the #1 WR recruit in the country with the ability to stretch the field on the outside thanks to all kinds of speed.  But enough about that.

Jalin is the #1 kid in Ohio and a leader in the class who has been committed since last January. His highlight tape always jumped out as a player who could get the ball and take it to the house from anywhere. The big question was where to play him- QB? RB? WR? During the week at Under Armor practices Jalin showed he can play WR on the outside, but I am sure Meyer will find many different ways to utilize his skillset.

Corey Smith has been a name that recruiting circles have known about for 3 years now.  Out of Akron, there were many that wondered why he wasn’t offered during his senior season. We saw why when he went JUCO. There were many then wondering if we would go after him as one of the top JUCO recruits, and finally we pulled the trigger.  I expect Smith to come in and see plenty of playing time next year opposite of Devin Smith on the outside.  How many Smith’s can Meyer play at once?  Corey, Devin, Rod…  The combination of the 3 is a very solid trio.

Dontre is a kid that just oozes speed.  On film it is big play after big play and he is dominating in Texas 5A which is no slouch for competition.  I can only imagine the ways that Meyer has in mind to get Dontre the ball.  Whether it be quick screens, in the slot against LBs/Ss on the outside running past CBs, on reverses or on special teams he will find a way.  Big play receiver that was a huge steal for the Bucks late.  He was the #1 athlete on the board it seemed. Coach Herman gets all the credit for this one as he stayed in contact even when he was committed to Oregon.

After watching him on film, Clark had me scratching my head about why he was only a 3* until recently.  I feel like I am high on every kid in the class outside of what the experts say, but this is one player who flew under the radar for most of the year and I’m sure the staff is super happy that he is a Buckeye. He has the potential to be a 5* talent.

Jim - (A+) These four are right up there with the DL and DBs as arguably the best group in this class. Marshall and Wilson are amazing talents and future game changers that will be used all over the place (primarily from the slot) a la Percy Harvin. Smith is being compared to Santonio Holmes and Clark is being compared to Ted Ginn. I don’t think much more needs to be said than that. The only thing that is really missing is a tall, purely perimeter receiver that can stretch defenses down the field and out jump defenders. Meyer and company are all over that type of player in 2014, plus Devin Smith already fills the role on the team now. Meyer wanted game breakers and elite speed on offense, which was missing from the team last year. I don’t think you could argue he could have done a much better job addressing that need than with this group.

Offensive Line

  • Evan Lisle – Centerville (OH) HS 6’5’’, 255 lbs (4* on all sites)
  • Timothy Gardner – Indianapolis (IN) Lawrence Central HS 6’5’’ 315 lbs (4* on 247, 3* on others)

Joe – (C+) This is the position that fans are the most disappointed with and the staff would probably agree.  The top guys in the Midwest went to Michigan and Notre Dame it seemed. Ohio State was late to the game offering players outside of the region.  I am super excited about Lisle, although I think he will need a redshirt year to add solid weight to play tackle at the college level. I think he will be at least a 2 year starter if not 3.

Gardner may be the sleeper on the offensive side of the ball.  No one really talks about him- he is a 3 star recruit. However, he really impressed at FNL when the staff saw him in person and that is how he earned his offer.  He is another candidate to redshirt as most lineman are.  We could see Billy Price or Donovan Munger move to the offensive line but we will talk about them on defense for now.  Look for 2014 to be a huge O-line class of 4-5 recruits as Meyer is not happy with the depth.  Especially since we lose 4 starters after next year.

Jim- (C) I’m willing to give Gardner some credit for impressing the coaching staff in person and I think he is underrated by the recruiting services. He has great athleticism for a player his size and I think once he gets into a college strength and conditioning program his potential will shoot through the roof. Lisle reminds me a lot of current starting left tackle Jack Mewhort. Hopefully their careers follow a similar successful path. Even if Munger or Price are added depth at tackle remains a major concern moving forward. I expect that to be resolved in 2014 with flying colors but until then, lack of depth brings this group down to a C for me given that it was a major area of need throughout the recruiting cycle and we missed on many prospects.

Defensive Line

  • Billy Price – Austintown (OH) Fitch HS 6’4’’, 305 lbs (4* on all sites)
  • Tracy Sprinkle – Elyria (OH) HS 6’5’’, 259 lbs (3* on all sites)
  • Joey Bosa – Ft. Lauderdale (FL) St. Thomas Aquinas HS 6’5’’, 262 (5* on scout, 4* on all others)
  • Michael Hill – Pendleton (SC) HS 6’3’’ 315 lbs (4* on all sites)
  • Tyquan Lewis – Tarboro (NC) HS 6’4’’ 227 lbs (4* on all sites but 1)
  • Donovan Munger – Shaker Heights (OH) HS 6’3’’ 290 lbs (4* on all sites but 1)

Joe – (A-) It is obvious that Meyer loves to recruit the d-line.  Bringing in 6 top notch recruits shows the importance.  The only thing the class may be missing is the top outside speed rusher- although Lewis may fill that role.  Bosa is the gem with the size and strength to play inside or outside.  Michael Hill is the least talked about, but he could be the best of all.  Sprinkle was the defensive player of the year in Ohio and Price and Munger could see their career move to the offensive side of the ball.  Bringing in 6 after last year’s class shows there is going to be a ton of competition on the d-line. It also shows that the staff wants to rotate guys through.  I love the quantity here, I’m just not sure I see a Noah Spence or Adolphous Washington type who will play right away and make an impact.

Jim – (A+) I agree that Bosa is the gem of this group. I disagree with Joe and think that he will be a part of the rotation right away. I think his career will mirror Cam Heyward (who played as a freshman) at strong side DE if things go well. Hill is a DT all the way and has the potential to dominate the inside. He is another player that could contribute immediately similarly to Schutt last season. Price and Munger will both likely end up at tackle as well if they don’t move over to guard on offense. The best case scenario for Price would be a John Simon clone and Munger has plenty of potential as well- although he seems like the most likely to move to guard in my opinion. Tyquan Lewis shows great quickness and discipline on the edge, but it will probably take him some time to adjust to playing in space at LEO before he can make it onto the field. Sprinkle is the sleeper of the group. He has a motor you can’t teach and if he hits the ground running he could be an excellent 3-technique tackle. As Joe said, Meyer doesn’t mess around with the d-line and this group is very, very good.

Linebacker

  • Trey Johnson – Lawrenceville (GA) Central Gwinnett HS 6’2’’ 218 lbs (4* on all sites)
  • Mike Mitchell – Plano (TX) Prestonwood Cotton HS 6’4’’ 222 lbs (5* on 2 sites, 4* on others)
  • Chris Worley – Cleveland (OH) Glenville HS 6’3’’ 195 lbs (4* on 1 site, 3* on others)
  • Darron Lee – New Albany (OH) HS 6’3’’ 205 lbs (4* on 1 site, 3* on others)

Joe – (A+) A huge position of need that Meyer knocked out of the park.  Some may look at the class on the surface and disagree.  The high rating starts with Mitchell.  I look for him to compete for time immediately next year.  Johnson isn’t the type that jumps out at you on film, but everyone that sees him for more than just highlights or 5 minutes of practice says he just gets it, he is always in the right place.  Worley and Lee could start in the secondary or at the Star position but they are both vastly underrated- if a position is found for them.  They could be labeled  ‘tweeners’ and thus probably the reason for being ranked as 3* on some sites After seeing Lee live I knew he was a player. I think Lee sees time next year if he adds an extra 10 lbs. Worley is always around the ball on film.

Jim – (A) The only reason I don’t have this as an A+ is because Worley and Lee will both have to grow into the position and/or they might end up in the secondary. I see those two as weakside candidates, Johnson in the middle and Mitchell on the strong side eventually (although he might start out in the middle given that is where everyone will get their first shot next season). This is a talented group to be sure but the real fireworks at LB will be in 2014. I have to save up the A+ for that class.

Defensive Back

  • Cameron Burrows – Trotwood (OH) Madison HS 6’2’’, 195 lbs (4* on all sites)
  • Eli Apple – Voorhees (NJ) Eastern HS 6’1’’, 185 lbs (5* on ESPN, 4* on all others)
  • Jayme Thompson – Toledo (OH) Central Catholic 6’2’’, 180 lbs (4* on all sites)
  • Gareon Conley – Massilon (OH) Washington HS 6’2’’ 170 lbs (3* on rivals, 4* on all others)
  • Vonn Bell – Rossville (GA) Ridgeland 6’1″ 190 lbs (4* on ESPN, 5* on all others)

Joe – (A+) Another position where we needed depth and we landed some talent if I do say so myself.  The class got off to a great start early with Burrows and Apple, then Thompson impressed and we were able to steal Conley away from Michigan late which made the class that much sweeter.  Apple has star written all over him and I view him as the next first round CB for Ohio State. I think Burrows will start at CB, but he could eventually move to S. I’m not ready to say he doesn’t have the hips to cover on the outside because his size will allow him to push smaller WRs around.  Thompson looks to be a safety that can do it all.  He will need some work on coverage, but he can blitz, plays the run, and has the speed to cover and stay with guys in the slot.

I had this group as an A+ even before the addition of Vonn Bell.  You can’t really go any higher than that, but I would if I could.  He is the type of player that I have yearned for since Donte Whitner and Mike Doss.  The type of big play safety that teams have to take notice of when making their game plan because he can be so disruptive.  This is not a slight against all the guys we have had over the past 20 years but Vonn Bell strikes me as a guy that could come in and play from day 1 and not look back.  Big time talent here.

Jim – (A+) This is the best group of DBs in the country this year and it’s not even close.

Specialists

  • Johnny Townsend – Orlando (FL) Boone HS 6’2’’ 200 lbs

Joe – (A) We needed a punter and we got a good one.  He came to camp and earned an offer.

Jim – (?) We will see what happens. We needed a punter and Townsend is a good one, but we’re not playing Tresselball anymore either.

OVERALL

Joe – (A+) I am super excited about this class. We filled in depth at pretty much every position other than OL.  We have numerous guys that could help next year in the national championship hunt.  Obviously the one position that the staff was unhappy with was O-line and they will take care of that in 2014.  We were able to turn down RB, WR, TE, DL that were highly ranked because we had even higher ranked players lined up.  There were also some players that we would have taken in a normal year if we had a normal roster limit.  Do I think everyone will be a star?  Of course not, but I do see guys that have star written all over them and guys that will provide us with the depth we need as they compete for positions on the field.  On Monday I drafted this article and had the class at an A, but with the addition of 5* Vonn Bell and 4*s Dontre Wilson and James Clark this class moved to an A+.

Jim – (A+) This class is extremely well balanced and is immediately in the discussion for the top class ever at Ohio State. We will have to wait until their eligibility is up before making a final determination, but things are off to a great start and they should be in the mix for numerous championship runs during their careers. The one area that still needs work, as Joe and Coach Meyer himself have already pointed out, is offensive line. That will be addressed in a big way in 2014.

11 Comments

  1. C-DogNo Gravatar
    February 7th, 2013 at 9:00 am

    I think all recruiting services in the country rated this class in the top three, so it had better earn an A+. Last I heard, Townsend is still in the wind. Until we know he’s coming for sure, probably best to not get too happy about him.

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  2. KenNo Gravatar
    February 7th, 2013 at 9:25 am

    Joe, Jim; well done, thanks. Lots of interesting analysis here. So, it looks like if our QB’s manage to get the ball to anyone named ‘Smith’, we should be OK?

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  3. Mark BNo Gravatar
    February 7th, 2013 at 10:17 am

    Always enjoy reading your breakdowns. Great job again, keep up the good work!

    [Reply]

  4. Darrol BNo Gravatar
    February 7th, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    The Smith comment is great: “just get the ball to anyone named Smith and we should be OK.” As I read the summarizes of how all these players did in HS against lesser competition it makes me cringe. Unless they can transfer that to tOSU against better competition, their current ranking isn’t worth squat. IMHO the coaching they get at tOSU will make all the difference to go from a 4/5* HS player to an All-American in college. 2013 is shapely up to be outstanding with 2014 to surpass everything in the past!!! Go Buckeyes!!!!

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  5. WVaBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    February 7th, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    WR’s. and the entire defensive haul are THE best in the country with some competition.

    Very impressed wth the playmakers coming in that could have an impact as freshmen

    [Reply]

    KenNo Gravatar
    February 7th, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    Now, if we can get folks to block for these playmakers… ;)

    [Reply]

  6. Ed ( Flabuckeye)No Gravatar
    February 9th, 2013 at 8:43 am

    Very nice read again, yes Urb hit a homerun with this class. Won’t know til we see what these kids produce down the road, I am really looking forward to it. I also hope they have a good head upstairs……and mind thier P’s and Q’s, don’t need anymore drama….

    I liked the fact that every playmaker we targeted or for the most part had verbals from…….also had Alabama, LSU, etc in the mix. And to see Urb land some of them is refreshing.

    I know it must have been painful for the ESPN brass to see Urb right up there with favs from the contractually obligated Conference thier attached too…..(SEC)lol

    Speeed…..speed…..speed…..

    Can’t really say that is the route TSUN went with this year…..lol

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    JimNo Gravatar
    February 9th, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    They’re (UM)loading up on offensive linemen, tight ends, concrete shoe qbs and elite running backs. Hoke is basically turning back the clock a decade or two and trying to go Wisconsin style on offense. They absolutely struck out on elite wide receivers and teams are going to stack the box like crazy against them. It will be interesting to see how Meyer and Hoke stack up in the next few years as the philosophies couldn’t be much more different.

    I’ll take our defensive front 7 against their run game over anything they have on defense against what we are stockpiling on offense.

    Meyer has the edge big time head-to-head as a head coach and I don’t see that changing.

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    KenNo Gravatar
    February 9th, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    Good points, Jim, Interesting philosophical differences, indeed. I think I’d opt for a quicker, more athletic team make up. As a Buckeye fan, I’ve seen the downside of not being athletic enough.

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  7. steveNo Gravatar
    February 9th, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    Myer started the SEC run of national champs and from the day he took over he started to build a team to beat Bama and Saban. He is well on his way and he will end the SEC run and beat Saban which I think matters to him as Saban took over AFTER Urban left Florida.
    In any event it will be AWSOME.

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  8. kennethNo Gravatar
    April 10th, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    The offense will have a quick strike ability to the likes in which we have never seen at ohio state. I understand that alot of these guys are freshmen, but when you look at the speed and skill factor, thats the end result. The defense wont really get any credit until smack a credible program in the mouth. Our defense didnt rebuild they reloaded, with alot of great proven talent. From my outlook there may be a few hick-ups early, but by the time we reach cal. this team will be scary and thats putting it lightly

    [Reply]

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