11W Recruiting Notebook: Making Room Edition

By Alex on January 24, 2011 at 1:00p

Division I college football programs are allowed 85 players on athletic scholarship. Recruiting is more than just a "go out and get the best talent" trade, as coaches (sans the SEC) have to strategically plan how many players to offer scholarships to each year based on the current roster, who's available to get in that particular class, and the talent pool of the classes in years ahead.

The Ohio State roster stood at 82 players on scholarship before last week. 17 of those will depart the program through graduation and end of eligibility, bringing the number down to 65. The Buckeyes, with the edition of Ejuan Price last week, have 21 players committed to the class of 2011, bringing that number up to 86. We also learned last week that Sam Longo will be leaving the program, satisfying the 85 player limit once again. The Buckeyes should close out their offers and end there right?

Unfortunately that's wrong. The Buckeyes seem to be on the way to bringing Keith Wells back into the fold and are still going after some top-level prospects in Ja'Juan Story, Aundrey Walker, Darius Jennings, and Curtis Grant, as well as kicking some tires around with the rest of the Glenville crew and UCF commit Kion Williams. Story just returned from his visit to Columbus this past weekend and apparently had a blast, saying it would be OSU or Florida on Signing Day. Walker, Jennings, and Grant also visited officially already and it's a real possibility that the Buckeyes can land three of the four top-notch players left on their board. Put into consideration that one or all of Williams, Shane Wynn, Andre Sturdivant, and Cardale Jones could sneak into this class at the last minute, and the scholarship number can go up to 89 or 90 players.

What does this all mean you ask? Well, it means that somehow the Buckeyes are going to have to make some room on their roster for Keith Wells and any of the available recruits that are still in the fold. It also means it's time for us to break down some scenarios that can lead to those spots coming open, as well as some other options for Jim Tressel to set his roster up for opening kick-off to the 2011 football season.

The most obvious and logical ending to this story here would be that players other than Longo will transfer or will no longer be counted against a scholarship for the official NCAA count. The prime suspects here include underachieving wide receiver James Jackson, the injured Chad Hagan and Scott McVey, and Adam Griffin, son of Archie who was given a scholarship late in the process last year via a leap of good faith from The Vest himself.

Jackson has been the subject of transfer rumors for a while and Chris Fields tweeting that one of his roomates (Jackson and Kenny Guiton) was transferring helped propel that closer to "truemor" rather than rumor. Hagan (heart) and McVey (arm) are both dealing with injuries that may not allow them to play football again and could be candidates to sign an exemption waiver, allowing them to stay on scholarship at OSU, but not allowing them to participate in football activites for the remainder of their time in Columbus. This would enable for their free rides not to count against the 85 and create an open roster spot. I think this is more likely to happen with Hagan, as McVey's injury may not be as serious as some think. Finally, Griffin could "voluntarily" come off schoplarship and Archie could probably find a way to get a free education for his son (OSU employee rate), as he is the head honcho of the Alumni Association. Griffin could still stay on as a walk-on and get his football scholarship back once one opens up, if it is even needed.

Another scenario that could help with the problem, for the immediate time being, is bringing Wells back to OSU without a scholarship. I can see Tressel making a move in which he takes back Wells as a "walk-on" and cuts a deal with him that he has to earn his scholarship back by getting good grades and working hard on the practice field. It seems Keith really wants back into the Buckeye family and I don't think it would be out of the question for JT to work something out along these lines with the once highly-touted defensive end.

While that would be only a temporary solution and free up just one more spot, other options include fifth year eligible players not returning for their final year, other players not mentioned previously transferring, and finally, some players interested in joining the team taking a gray shirt for fall quarter next year (see: Glenville players not named Walker). I certainly think anything is possible, but if I had to throw a bet down, I think there will be one or two more players on their way out the door and the situation with Hagan or Griffin possibly coming to fruition. Of course all this is speculation, but looking up and down the roster, these appear to be the only solutions that will allow for 3-4 more scholarships to free up before fall camp rolls around in August.

In the end the Buckeyes can strike out on all remaining prospects left on the board, but after this past weekend, you have to like their chances of landing at least one of Story, Grant, and Walker. With Williams, Sturdivant, and Jones all visiting this coming weekend despite not holding offers, anything is possible, and with Signing Day coming just one week from Wednesday, it will definitely be interesting to see how things play out both in the recruiting world and with widdling down the roster to fit in the newest Buckeyes.


Comments Show All Comments

Buckeye_Mafia's picture

I was wondering what happened to McVey. And I also wondered why Griffin's son was offered a scholarship. With our stable of great running backs and him not being heavily recruited.

"At critical moments throughout the season, we learned about the character of this football team.  This was a team of true character, of true resilience." -- President Barack Obama

J.Mo's picture

I think he was offered a scholarship because of his name. If I remember correctly, Adam Griffin (Archie's nephew actually) called Tressel up to see if he can be a walk-on and Tressel offered him a scholarship. Also Adam Griffin I thought was a DB.

Matt's picture

Huh?  Adam Griffin is Archie's son, not nephew.

Alex's picture

correct...Adam is his son...JT offered him a scholly VERY late in the process last year when he was likely to end up playing for one of the service academies or a low-level d1 school....he's a solid player at that level probably, but at OSU I can't see him doing anything more than special teams in his career

J.Mo's picture

My apologies. It was like a year ago when I first heard about him and didn't hear much and remembered incorrectly. Just checked out the Buckeyeplanet thread on him.

Buckeye in Athens's picture

As far as I remember, he was a running back in high school, recruited as an athlete and then moved to DB last year.

Matt's picture

I recently read a story on Wells in which he said that Tressel had assured him that he had a schollie if he was eligible to return to school this fall. Perhaps Wells misinterpreted what Tressel actually said.  I didn't realize we were so tight on available scholarships this year.

SLVRBLLTS's picture

What an excellent problem to have...

As far as Archie's son, its a sacrifice you have to make. You take care of your own, and Archie has helped in the recruiting process for years. He wants his kid in a buckeye uniform, whether he's good enough to play or not.

"Because we couldn't go for three"

btalbert25's picture

That's fine if he's in a uniform, but obviously he doesn't need a scholarship and if he approached Tress about being a walk-on, then he can be converted to walk on status with no problem I'm sure.

Matt's picture

According to Bill Greene and the Twitters, Ejuan Price is taking an official visit to Pitt this weekend.  Did he mention that during the 11W interview?  I also noticed that Tressel recently did an in-home visit post-committment.  Something is awry...

Alex's picture

He did not but I also probably should have asked if he was going to take any more visits etc. It seemed like he was very content with his decision though of OSU over RU and Iowa. Tress and Fickell visited the day OF the commitment, not after. He made his decision public after The Vest left the Price home.

I don't know why he would visit Pitt.....could be just to make sure of his decision. I know he gets "homesick", but Cbus is probably 3 hours from his house. Not that far of a trek at all.

Sean's picture

This makes me really uneasy. I don't like having to hope someone transfers or gets a medical waiver. If Tressel knows he's going to have available scholarships and is therefore going after guys, that's one thing, but we seem to be treading close to Alabama oversigning territory here.

Buckeye_Mafia's picture

You mean the entire SEC. Its not just Alabama that does this.

"At critical moments throughout the season, we learned about the character of this football team.  This was a team of true character, of true resilience." -- President Barack Obama

Matt's picture

The SEC West is a much worse offender than the SEC East, but by now it's commonly accepted throughout God's Conference.

Pam's picture

'Bama is +10 right now.  UGA doesn't oversign and either does UF.  Miles and Saban are the biggest abusers

lhardeman's picture

I agree.  This is sounding a lot like Alabama and many others in the SEC.  I hope that JT wouldn't stoop to their level, but I thought there was some Big Ten rule that kept teams from oversigning.  I'm confident the coaching staff knows what they are doing, but it is cutting it close. 

God, Country, Ship, Shipmate, Self.

Matt's picture

They already posted Lexco's video in Buckshots this morning.

Alex's picture

Or check it out in Buckshots on the right panel of your current screen :) 

francosutrack's picture

Rivals prognosticating that Curtis Grant will be a Buckeye...Thoughts on this? http://footballrecruiting.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=1180322

btalbert25's picture

It'll be great, but I'll believe it when I see it.  Not that I don't think he's going to sign, but for a while these guys were saying Seantrell would end up here, and I think Sharrif  Floyd as well.

costinjr's picture

Is Clowney all but a prayer now? or is he still visiting columbus?

francosutrack's picture

Don't think he will be visiting...It's pretty late in the game and unless some miracle changes things its down to South Carolina and Clemson for him.

Jason Priestas's picture

He's no longer believed to be visiting Ohio State. Would say it's a prayer and then some at this point.

Alex's picture

Right now I'd feel good about Grant and Walker...just a hunch...good guys may have flipped Story this weekend.....ending with those 3 would be a HUGE win....no chance of Clowney and I don't think Haynes or Jennings will end up in S&G either

Watch out for Cardale Jones and Andre Sturdivant----I do believe one or both may end up in Cbus one day (think prep school, gray shirt, etc.)

J.B.'s picture

Good stuff Alex... 

It's kind of an odd year for the Tarblooders... At one point earlier in the year it looked like we may end up with no less than 4 of Ginn's kids, but it's been such a great recruiting year that we are able to be really selective as to who gets in and who doesn't. Not that we've really had a horrible recruiting class, but one would have to believe that in most years Jones, Tank, Wynn and Walker would all be in the class, but not this year.

I think Wynn is out and I can't see him being part of this class in any situation - no matter what. Though he is a player I really like, I think he would have ended up as another "Flash"... A kid that brings more "myth" to the internet vs. actually being productive on the field. He simply is really unlike any OSU recruit/player that I can ever really remember and I don't think we would have used him in a way he really would need to be used.

I think Jones and Sturdivant would run through a brick wall to be part of this class. You have to love kids like that, but Studivant should play with his hands in the dirt at the next level and we are set there.... I thought Jones would play more of an impact as the recruiting year went on, but I think numbers are so tight that neither make it to C-Bus. I'd love to grab one of them as a Gray Shirt... but I sadly don't see it happening.

I think we take Walker and like you said, that another great get for the class. This has the makings for a great close to a recruiting year...A position we've been in year in and year out, but this one just has a different feel to it and I think we will all be smiling come that February.

francosutrack's picture

By the way...What are people's thoughts on this whole Texas + ESPN marriage...I'm starting to think, if anything, that ESPN will ultimately force college football into the creation of 14-16 team superconferences. Texas A&M is apparently super pissed about the rich continuing to get richer and this whole thing could end up pushing them to head out and possibly bring OU with them.

btalbert25's picture

The thing is, EVERYONE knew Texas was going to do this.  I don't understand what their beef is.  It's the whole reason Texa stayed put in the first place.  It may push some schools into other conferences, but in the end Texas will show that super programs with huge fan bases don't need conferences at all if they can individually get their own networks.  They certainly are not the only school that can command it's own cable network.  If anything, it seems like ESPN will be making it harder on itself to negotiate in the future.  Instead of going to a conference they are going to have to start negotiating one on one with individual schools.  When Notre Dame and NBC are done, I'm sure they'll get a similar deal from ESPN or Fox themselves.

741's picture

Oklahoma and Texas A&M to the B1G would be majorly badass.

Matt's picture

Still don't see the Texas state legislature allowing A&M to be in a different conference than the Longhorns, but OU to the Big 10's western division would restore the Nebraska-OU rivalry.  We could also add Notre Dame to the eastern division for balance.  But that's just a pipe dream and I doubt that OU has the academic bona fides for Big 10 admission, anyway.