I've never been a huge recruitnik, mostly because for every can't miss there are three stars that, for various reasons, end up having a much larger impact on the program than their ultra-hyped teammates.
Whether or not a recruit ever makes the impact we all hope for when he's being trumpeted as the next big thing isn't always in his control. There are multiple variables that can make a break a blue chipper's chance to win our hearts faster than you can say, "If a dog's gonna bite, he's gonna bite as a pup." Injuries, grades, off the field troubles, skill set not suited for the system and depth are all reasons some can't misses never come to fruition.
Every big time program encounters their fair share of these guys so I won't spend all day listing the various Buckeyes that never came close to measuring up against the hype. Instead, let's look at four young returning offensive players who came in with some or all of the following: stories of legendary high school exploits, plenty of stars from the recruiting services, testimonials from dudes who sleep with stopwatches and delicious pre-arrival Buckeye fan hyperbole. Which one do you think steps from the sidelines and has the biggest impact on the 2010 Buckeyes?
Mike AdamsBig Mike propped the 2008 class as a member of the famed Brew Crew comprised of Adams, Mike Brewster, JB Shugarts and Jake Stoneburner. Of the true o-liners in that group, Adams has seen the least amount of playing time despite coming in as a Parade and US Army All-American while earning All-Ohio as a junior and senior.
The question with Adams, as I've said before, is really whether or not he wants it as bad as we want it for him. When speculation swirls regarding the chronic and grades, you can chalk it up to youth, as long as the kid learns from it. Still, he set himself back last year while Shugarts and Marcus Hall both soaked up valuable minutes. If you believe the spring depth chart, Adams is penciled in as the starting LT while Shugarts is the start ater RT with Hall backing up. Will Adams keep his starting spot? Will he become the dominating blind side big man we all envisioned when he committed? The time is now.
Jaamal BerryIt was considered a size-able coup when Berry inked with Ohio State out of Miami, FL as the #5 RB according to Rivals and with the duo of Brandon Saine and Boom Herron not yet entrenched as the go to guys, many thought Berry would at least see the field in certain personnel situations and possibly shine alongside Pryor.
Instead, Berry got pulled over with tweed in Florida the summer before arriving on the OSU campus and his place in the doghouse was reserved. Then, coming off an ankle injury that ate into his senior year of high school, Berry suffered a hamstring injury during fall camp that never quite healed and the kid with all the hype had to take a redshirt.
Now, we're hearing Berry's got the juice this spring but can he possibly have a legit impact on this year's offense? For one thing, he's got vets Boom and Zoom in front of him and Jordan Hall proved he deserves more carries with an impressive freshman debut in '09. Throw in the fact Tressel's offense may not line up particularly well to Berry's skill set and you've got yourself more question marks about the kid with folk hero explosiveness that has only been seen by those who attend practice.
Duron CarterThe 6'3" son of the great Cris Carter arrived last season as the 11th best WR according to Rivals and immediately impressed me personally in the practices and scrimmages we attended as he showcased hands like his Daddy and the ability to go up and make a play on the ball. He adjusted to underthrown balls ridiculously well and his loping strides made me think opposing corners would fall victim to deceptive speed. DC managed 13 grabs in 12 games with a respectable 13.5 ypc but I think it's safe to say he (1) took college life for granted and (2) could have picked a better teammate to pal around with.
As with Adams, most of us are willing to give Carter a pass assuming he learns from his Rose Bowl suspension but until he proves he wants to take his career seriously, question marks remain. Not participating in spring drills due to academic reasons certainly isn't a great start to his sophomore campaign.
With Posey and Dane firmly entrenched as the top two wideouts, the race for #3 is open and Carter can undoubtedly unseat Taurian Washington if he wants it bad enough. What do you think - can Carter emerge as the #3 in fall camp (assuming grades are there) and be a factor in the passing attack?
Jake StoneburnerA four star physical freak, the local product arrived on campus as Rivals' #3 tight end and a US Army All-American. Stoneburner blew up his senior year at Dublin Coffman hauling in 74 passes for 1,267 yards and 15 scores.
Of course, whether or not Stoneburner has an impact as a pass catching tight end might be out of his control since Tressel doesn't typically utilize TE's for much other than blocking. Last year, Ballard caught 14 balls and Stoneburner two. Bollman did give Stoneburner reason for hope touting his speed as being unique to what OSU has featured in recent years at the position but I'll believe Stoneburner will be a consistent receiving threat when it happens. Until then, I'll be satisfied if he proves to be the effective blocking threat I expect him to be. So, what do you think? Will Stoneburner be the surprise contributor of the 2010 offense?
Okay. So who's it gonna be - one these four or someone off the board and why?