Happy March Madness everyone and of course with the best days of basketball finally coming the last few days, it's time we bring you.....an update on football recruiting.
While That School Up North seems to think Signing Day comes in March this year, the Buckeyes are just getting started in bringing in the big guns for their class of 2013.
The class is expected to finish in the top three nationally and part of the reason is the high level of talent that the prospects currently on Urban Meyer's radar have. With over 75 offers out to players all across the country, there are a lot of candidates to fill the remaining spots in this recruiting haul.
The Bucks are off to a great start, with DB Cameron Burrows, CB Eli Woodard, ATH Jalin Marshall, DL Billy Price, and OL Evan Lisle currently in the fold. With the assumption the group will end up somewhere near 20, you can expect about 15 more players to be added to this class come February of 2013 when the ink dries on the paper and things become official.
Today, we take a look at where things stand today with Ohio State and how things are looking with some of the top targets on their recruiting board. While there is a long way to go and many changes sure to come up, we try to give you some insight into what the class may look like down the road and what players to keep an eye on at the present moment.
QUARTERBACK (2): The Buckeyes will look to take two signal callers in this class as they try to find Braxton Miller's eventual successor. The candidates are two Ohioans in Malik Zaire and Mitch Trubisky with national players JT Barrett, Aaron Bailey, Bucky Hodges, and others in the mix. The smart money right now is on two of Zaire, Trubisky, and Barrett ending up in Scarlet and Gray and if I had to guess today i would say Zaire and Barrett get the nod.
RUNNING BACK (1-2): The Buckeyes don't even need to really add a player here with the depth they have, but Urban Meyer loves his play makers and there a few at the running back position. The players being looked at here include
DeVeon Smith of Warren Howland, Derrick Green, Ty Isaac, Ezekiel Elliott, David Williams, Taquan Mizell, TJ Logan, and others at the national level. I think right now you'd have to say Green is definitely the lead candidate for the spot as the "stronger runner" while someone like Williams, Mizell, or a prospect not on this list could fill the role as a "speed runner". I think there will be some new names on this front after Friday Night Lights, but expect at least one of the players mentioned above in this class.
WIDE RECEIVER (3): Jalin Marshall is already in the fold and I project him at receiver. After that I think the staff could take three more, but is likely to settle with two. Shelton Gibson is the only player from Ohio with an offer and I think this one is all but made public (June 20). That would leave one more spot for the national group including Robert Foster, Marquez North, Uriah Lemay, Ahmad Fulwood, Laquon Treadwell, Devon Allen, and others. I think OSU is in a great place with Foster and that he will eventually end up in the class. If not, any one of the names mentioned would be a stellar addition and there are other receivers not yet offered that have the skills to play in the Horseshoe as well.
TIGHT END (1-2): With Adam Breneman now out of the fold, the Buckeyes will look to seal up Mike Heuerman as their #1 tight end target in the class. Despite rumblings LSU or Notre Dame might jump to the lead for the younger Heuerman, I fully expect him to be a Buckeye on or around the OSU Spring Game on April 21. That leaves at most one other spot for tight ends with the candidates being Josh McNeil of Durham (NC) Hillside and Marcus Baugh of Riverside (CA) North. I will say McNeil, who is scheduled to visit Columbus three times before the summer ends, joins Heuerman in this class to give OSU an extremely dynamic set of players at tight end.
OFFENSIVE LINE (3-4): Urban Meyer has already landed the best lineman in Ohio with Evan Lisle, but will look to add two to three more players to this class when it's all said and done. The only other player from in-state that I could see being offered would be Lovell Peterson, but I think the staff wants to see him in camp first before that happens. Nationally, there are a few players being looked at with Ethan Pocic, Hunter Bivin, John Montelus, Laremy Tunsil, Colin McGovern, and Marcell Lazard getting the most attention. If I had to guess today I will say Pocic and McGovern join Lisle at tackle while either Montelus or Peterson get added as some help at guard or center.
DEFENSIVE LINE (1-3): After last year's haul, the defensive line doesn't need to be touched until 2014, but there are a number of "take them no matter what" prospects in this group interested in the Buckeyes. Billy Price is already committed and is slotted in at defensive tackle and there is likely one, maybe two players expected to join him. The top targets to fill this spot or two are Joey Bosa, Elijah Daniel, Greg Webb, and Henry Poggi, with Donovan Munger, Tashawn Bower, Greg Gilmore, Michael Hill, Lewis Neal, and others still in the fold. I like Ohio State's chances with Bosa and Webb after they visit for the spring game and Daniel hasn't been to campus either but is expected to be in the near future. I think at least one and possibly two of those players will end as Buckeyes, but there is a long way to go before that happens.
LINEBACKER (2-3): After taking five linebackers last year and word circulating that they are looking for two more this year, you have to think Urban wasn't happy with who he inherited at the position. Courtney Love, Alex Anzalone, Jaylon Smith, and Ben Gedeon have separated themselves from the pack as being players with committable offers, but players like Tim Kimbrough, Alquadin Muhammad, Peter Kalambayi, and others remain in the mix. If I have to pick two I say Love and Anzalone end up as Buckeyes, but OSU will hold a spot until the end for Jaylon Smith who seems to be favoring Notre Dame right now.
DEFENSIVE BACK (3-4): Cameron Burrows, who can play either corner or safety, and Eli Woodard, who is strictly a corner, are already signed up, but look for another two players to join this group. At safety the Bucks are looking at Su'a Cravens, Vonn Bell, Leon McQuay III, Jayme Thompson (WVU commit), and Dymonte Thomas (Michigan commit) and at corner back are looking at Vernon Hargreaves III, Mackensie Alexander, Kendall Fuller, Tim Harris, Darian Hicks, Demetrius Monday, Caleb Day and a few others. I know it's hard to envision it now, but I think there is a realistic shot the Bucks land Thomas come next winter, while the safe money would be on someone like Caleb Day or Jayme Thompson entering the fold. With Su'a Cravens saying one of his five officials will be to Ohio State, you have to like your chances there better than last week. There are probably more names to be added to the list and this will definitely be an interesting to watch in the next few months.
SPECIAL TEAMS (1): No names have emerged at kicker or punter for Ohio State just yet, but with Ben Buchanan leaving and Drew Basil set to be a senior in fall of 2013, a specialist is needed on this team. Frank Epitropoulos may be the answer at punter, but that still leaves a question mark for kicker after Basil leaves and I doubt Meyer wants a true freshman at that spot come fall of 2014. Camp will be a good evaluator of the talent here so keep a close eye on this situation.