The Ohio State recruiting class of 2012 got off to a hot start with the commitments of Josh Perry, Warren Ball, Kyle Kalis, and Bri'onte Dunn early on. It then cooled off as Tatgate broke and Jim Tressel stepped down, sending the status of the football program into a whirlwind. It then got hot again, maybe to the hottest it's ever been, as Urban Meyer was hired and too the class from just being ranked inside the top 25 to being ranked inside the top 10 and headed towards a top 5 finish.
While Urban and the staff are still looking to finish strong down the stretch before signing day in February, that has not stopped them from starting to recruit players in the class of 2013. As talented as the 2012 stars are, next year's crop may be even better and there is already a large pool of players for the Buckeyes to pick from.
Although the list is expected to grow even larger, and even change some with new coaches on board, we can start to take a look at the early movers and shakers on Ohio State's big board. Meyer and his staff have already started to reach out to the players we will discuss today and the buzz of the new era of Buckeye football has certainly hit this group just as it has the one before them.
There have been no verbal commitments as of yet for the class, but that is expected to change shortly after the seniors sign on the dotted line in about a month and a half. You can expect more relentless recruiting from Meyer, and if you want to see who you can expect to hear a lot from, join us after the jump for A Look Ahead at the Class of 2013.
The Buckeyes will likely look to add at least one, if not two quarterbacks to the mix for 2013. When these players are freshmen, Braxton Miller will be a junior, Ken Guiton will be a redshirt senior, and Cardale Jones will be either a sophomore or redshirt freshman. Bottom line, OSU will need to add some depth and talent to take over once Miller leaves.
Looking inside Ohio, the two top targets are Kettering Alter's Malik Zaire and Kent Roosevelt's TraVon Chapman. Both players are dual-threat quarterbacks and fit the Meyer offense well. Zaire currently has an offer, while Chapman doesn't, but I expect the latter to get one in the not so distant future.
Looking outside the state, Darryl Richardson of Armwood in Seffner, Florida and Jonathan McCrary of Cedar Grove in Ellenwood, Georgia were both offered by the Fickell staff. It is unknown whether those offers will stand, but both fit the mold the Bucks are looking at in a signal caller. Finally, another name to watch for is Bucky Hodges of Salem in Virginia Beach. Virginia is becoming a hot area for Ohio State and Hodges, who has stated he really likes the Buckeyes, has potential to be a very good Division I quarterback.
At running back the Buckeyes will look good with Bri'onte Dunn, Warren Ball, Rod Smith, and Carlos Hyde, but look for Meyer to add another player or two at the position. Offers are out already to Richmond (VA) Hermitage's Derrick Green, Joilet (IL) Catholic Academy's Ty Isaac, Winter Haven's (FL) Adam Lane, and Del Ray Beach (FL) American Heritage's Greg Bryant Jr., while there is buzz in interest around Colerain's Chris Davis, Copley's Aregeros Turner, and Warren Howland's DeVeon Smith.
At the end of the day, Green has been the one the Buckeyes have been on the longest, and his interest in OSU has been reciprocal to say the least. Any of these players would be great additions to the Buckeyes' roster, but the early leader in the club house is the Richmond star, with any of the three Ohioans without offers being sleeper targets.
Wide Receiver was a position of need this recruiting season and the staff answered with Frank Epitropoulos, Ricquan Southward, Roger Lewis, and Mike Thomas, with Joel Caleb and Davonte' Neal possibly coming in as well. Next year the Bucks will look to add to that with another couple players from an all-star cast.
The top targets on the board are Cleveland Heights' Shelton Gibson and Monaca (PA) Central Valley's Robert Foster. Both players have been offered by the Buckeyes and both are nationally recruited prospects. Gibson is favoring Auburn and Ohio State evenly right now, but if the Bucks are able to land his teammate, Kyle Dodson, this year that should certainly help. Foster has offers from Oregon, Penn State, Pitt, Florida State, UNC, and others in addition to OSU, but I would say the Buckeyes trail nobody as of now.
Other options at receiver include Fort Lauderdale (FL) University School's Jordan Cunningham, Matthews (NC) Butler's Uriah Lemay, Charlotte (NC) Mallard Creek's Marquez North, and Columbus Walnut Ridge's Rob Wheelwright. I think these four prospects are definitely in-play for the Buckeyes, but I think Urban's first two targets are Gibson and Foster, so don't expect much noise on these latter players unless something falls through there.
Tight end is also nicely stocked for when the 2013 prospects come in, as Jeff Heuerman will be a junior, Nick Vannett will be a redshirt sophomore, and Blake Thomas will likely be a redshirt freshman. I expect the Buckeyes to bring in just one tight end to this class and target only a handful, if that many.
The top two targets will likely be Columbus Bishop Hartley's Jacob Matuska and Naples (FL) Barron Collier's Mike Heuerman. Matuska is a top 100 player in the class and really likes Ohio State, but in the end I see him going to Notre Dame, as being a Catholic, he has had his eye on playing for the Irish growing up. On the other hand, Heuerman is being courted by Notre Dame and some other top programs, but his love for the Buckeyes isn't hidden. The younger brother of Jeff, Mike knows he fits Meyer's offense perfectly and I expect him to be in Scarlet and Gray come Signing Day in February 2013.
Finally, the offensive line will be an area of need once again in 2013 and there is a talented and plentiful group of prospects awaiting Meyer and whoever the new offensive line coach will be in Columbus. Tackle will once again be the premium, but you can expect an inside player to be taken as well.
In state, the targets are Huber Heights Wayne's Lovell Peterson, Centerville's Evan Lisle, Westchester Lakota West's Kyle Meadows, Canton Glen Oak's Stephen Mathie, Cincinnati Moeller's Alex Gall, and Springbroro's Sean Welsh. I think the staff will go especially hard after Peterson, Lisle, and Meadows and I expect all three to be Buckeyes if offered by the new regime. Gall and Mathie are very nice players and I could definitely see them being offered down the road, but they are Plan B right now, in my opinion. Welsh is a solid player, but guards are not needed and I think he would be more of a desperation offer, although desperation doesn't happen often under Urban Meyer.
Taking a browse out of state, the top targets right now are Peoria (IL) Manual's Logan Tuley-Tillman, Wheaton (IL) St. Francis's Kyle Bosch, and Wexford (PA) North Allegheny's Pat Kugler. Tuley-Tillman has a strong offer list that is expected to grow larger, but the Buckeyes got in early and he will visit sometime this off-season. Bosch was high on OSU when Jim Tressel was in Columbus, cooled on the Bucks after Tressel stepped down, but is now high on the school again with Meyer in charge. Finally, Kugler is just starting to pop up on the Buckeyes' radar, but is regarded as one of the fastest rising offensive line prospects in the country and the top programs in the country are all showing heavy interest. Landing any of these three players would be a big win for Ohio State.
Lastly, the athlete position is one that is loosely recruited depending on need, but in 2013, Ohio has a player you take no matter what. Middletown's Jalin Marshall plays quarterback at the high school level, but is expected to make the move to wide receiver at the college level. Urban Meyer has already reached out to this star prospect and even hosted the Marshall family (without Jalin) for a weekend visit in Columbus. Marshall currently favors OSU and Notre Dame, but I expect him to come play for the Buckeyes and take on a Percy Harvin role in Meyer's offense.
Defensive line is a stacked unit heading into 2012, but Meyer firmly believes games are won and lost in the trenches and a crowded house won't stop him from going after 2013's best at the position.
The prospects to look at are Austin Town Fitch's Billy Price, Pickerington North's Jake Butt, Pickerington Central's Taco Charlton, Fort Lauderdale (FL) St. Thomas Aquinas's Joey Bosa, Somerville (NJ) Immaculata's Tashawn Bower, Baltimore (MD) Gilman's Henry Poggi, Avon's (IN) Elijah Daniel, Naperville (IL) North's Colin Goebel, and Novi (MI) Detroit Central Catholic's Wyatt Shallman.
It's hard to say right now which of those prospects has Ohio State at the top of their lists, but if I had to call one right now, I would say Price will end up a Buckeye. After that Goebel (cousin of Garrett), Bosa (Meyer offer), Bower (family in Columbus), and Poggi (high on Fickell) would probably be next in that order, but as of this point, things are too early to tell. Charlton and Butt would also be high on OSU if offered, but I'm not sure if that will happen anytime soon, if ever.
At linebacker Ohio State is looking good for 2013 with the top prospects on the board being Fort Wayne (IN) Bishop Luer's Jaylon Smith, Indianapolis (IN) Warren Central's Tim Kimbrough, Trotwood Madison's Michael McCray, Youngstown Cardinal Mooney's Courtney Love, Miami (FL) Northwestern's Jaquintin Victrum, Dayton Chaminade Julienne's Darrien Howard, and Hudson's Ben Gedeon.
The Buckeyes are in pretty good shape with Smith, who is the brother of OSU running back Rod Smith, and I expect him to be a Buckeye sometime before summer. Kimbrough and McCray (Buckeye legacy) are both very high on Ohio State and if offered, I expect both to be Buckeyes. Howard and Gedeon are probably next in line to end up in Columbus, although it is not certain if they will be offered. Gedeon claims to have just been offered by Urban Meyer, but I still see him as a secondary option and likely to end up with Michigan. Finally, Love is a longer shot to get an offer, while I expect Victrum to either stay in the south or play for Charlie Strong at Louisville, where some of his former Northwestern teammates are currently freshmen.
At defensive back OSU will look to reload once again and the talent here is nothing short of spectacular.
Leading the group are three prospects I fully expect to end up in Columbus, comprised of Trotwood Madison's Cam Burrows, Hilliard Darby's Caleb Day, and Voorhees (NJ) Eastern's Eli Woodard. All three are nationally ranked prospects and are getting offers from the "who's who" of college football. I think all three of these players will commit to the Buckeyes sometime during the spring and will be a great start to the class of 2013.
Other defensive backs that could be in the mix include Alliance Marlington's Dymonte Thomas, Avon's Ross Douglass, Olney (MD) Good Counsel's Kendall Fuller, Tampa (FL) Wharton's Vernon Hargreaves III, Immokalee's (FL) Mackensie Alexander, Seffner (FL) Armwood's Leon McQuay, Trotwood Madison's Reon Dawson, Youngstown Cardinal Mooney's Marcus McWilson, Warren G. Harding's Jalyn Powell, and Canton Glen Oak's Tyler Lancaster. Out of all those prospects the most wanted are McQuay, Fuller, Alexander, and Hargreaves III, but it will not be easy pulling them in from out of state. In addition, Thomas is currently committed to Michigan, but is the cousin of Bri'onte Dunn and now that Urban has offered (previous staff did not offer), this one could get very interesting.
Finally, special teams may get some loving from Meyer for 2013, as Drew Basil will be a senior and Ben Buchanan will have just graduated. Frank Epitropoulos is capable of being the punter, and that definitely could happen, but I think Meyer will want to add a true punter to the roster. I'm not sure what players are out there right now, but I can definitely see OSU adding a kicker, a punter, or a kicker/punter (punt in 2013 and do both in 2014) to the roster in next year's recruiting class.