Ohio State Football Recruiting: Top 14 for 2014

By Miles Joseph on April 3, 2013 at 1:30p
Big Man on CampusMcMillan is on campus right now. [@Kwon_daTRUTH]

Not long after signing one of the nation's top classes, Urban Meyer and his staff are in on some of the nation's most coveted prospects in the class of 2014.

Under Jim Tressel, the Buckeyes built a fence around the state of Ohio with that strategy paying dividends in the form of most of the state's top-ranked talent finding their way to Columbus. The list of five-star recruits he pulled in from Ohio is impressive: Maurice Clarett, Ted Ginn Jr., Alex Boone, Beanie Wells and many others.

Meyer, however, takes a more national approach to recruiting, which is why we're starting to see the Buckeyes in the mix for highly rated recruits across the nation, not just in the great state of Ohio. The recruiting battles are always going to be a little more ferocious when you venture out of your backyard, but the prizes can often make the fight worth it.

Today, we'll take a look at Ohio State's top targets in the class of 2014, current high school juniors from across the United States. To form this list, I used position need, the chance of Ohio State landing the prospect and overall talent.

1. LB Raekwon McMillan, Hinesville (GA) Liberty County

The Buckeyes still have some holes to plug at the linebacker position and McMillan is one of the top talents at that position in the 2014 class, making the nation's No. 1 inside linebacker a main priority. McMillan has long had the Buckeyes at the top of his list and is visiting Columbus as you read this – his fourth visit to Ohio State in the last year. Alabama, Clemson and the home state Bulldogs are all making runs, but I think the Buckeyes are currently in pretty good shape to earn McMillan's signature on NSD 2014.

2. DB Jabrill Peppers, Paramus (NJ) Catholic

Aside for Da'Shawn Hand, the nation's No. 1 overall prospect, Peppers might be the best defensive player in the class. He also plays things very close to the vest, but it is known the Buckeyes and Stanford are two of his favorite schools. Peppers is supposed to be on campus for the first time this weekend, so the Buckeyes have a chance to move into the lead. Bonus: Kerry Coombs is Peppers lead recruiter.

3. ATH Marshon Lattimore, Cleveland (OH) Glenville

Although Ohio State is going national, it's still very important to keep premier talent in the state of Ohio, especially talent from Ohio State's prime pipeline, Cleveland's Glenville Academy.

Back in February at the Best of the Midwest combine in Indy, Lattimore proved to me that he is the best player in Ohio's junior class. I think the Buckeyes are leading this race and don't think a commitment sometime over the summer is out of the question. His versatility opens up a lot of doors for the Buckeyes.

4. LB Clifton Garrett, Plainfield (IL)

As mentioned, the Buckeyes need linebackers and Garrett is one of the best in the junior class. He has visited Ohio State on many occasions and has always had the Buckeyes as one of his top schools. That said, there are a host of SEC schools in on Garrett and USC is lurking. This will be a battle, but I think OSU has a solid chance with Vrabel doing the heavy lifting.

5. QB Deshaun Watson, Gainesville (GA)

With Braxton Miller graduating after the 2014 season (wishful thinking, just in case), the Buckeyes will need to add depth alongside J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones. Watson, a current Clemson commit, is their top guy in this class. In fact, he's the only guy Ohio State has offered. The Buckeyes still need to get Watson to visit, which I think they will, and then things will get very interesting.

6. WR Drake Harris, Grand Rapids (MI) Christian

The Buckeyes are always in need of playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. Not only do I consider Harris the best junior receiver in the Midwest, he's also from Michigan. It would be huge to steal another prospect from Michigan, in addition to having already landed Cass Tech standout Damon Webb. I think Michigan has the advantage right now, but a trip to Columbus could definitely change things.

7. LB Dante Booker Jr., Akron (OH) St. Vincent St. Mary's

Booker is probably the second-best player in Ohio's junior class. He is also a linebacker, which the Buckeyes need as many of as they can get. Dante has always had the Buckeyes out in front and while he wants to give other schools a look, I think he will be all Buckeye in the end. The good news is that we might not have to wait too long for this commitment to happen, either.

8. OT Jamarco Jones, Chicigao (IL) De La Salle Institute

Offensive line is another position of need in this class. The Bucks have already received commitments from two offensive linemen, Glenville's Marcelys Jones and Lancaster's Kyle Trout. They would still like to add a couple more and Jones has long been on the radar for the Ohio State staff. He has been to Columbus many times and has enjoyed all of his visits. He has offers from across the country, but I like Urban Meyer's chances.

9. OG Braden Smith, Olathe (KS) South Senior

Smith reminds me of Chance Warmack, the former Alabama guard. He visited Columbus in mid-March and I think the Buckeyes are gaining ground on Notre Dame and some of his other leaders. If Ohio State continues to build a relationship with Smith, his odds of becoming a Buckeye will only improve.

Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary's Dante Booker on a recent visit to Ohio State.Dante Booker on a recent visit to OSU. [@D_Book47]

10. WR Demarre Kitt, Tyrone (GA) Sandy Creek

Kitt is another player from the state of Georgia the Buckeyes would love to add to their class. He's a playmaking receiver, an area the Buckeyes could use some help in. He has been to Columbus twice already and arrives for a third time tomorrow. I think the Buckeyes have a decent chance here, but will need to beat out Clemson, the Buckeyes' main competition.

11. TE Jeb Blazevich, Charlotte (NC) Christian

The plan was to take two tight ends in the 2013 class, but Marcus Baugh would become the only one Ohio State brought in. Expect Ohio State to grab at least one TE in the 2014 and Blazevich has visited a few times already and is trying to schedule another visit in the near future. He has the Buckeyes in his final six schools and there's a very good chance he decides in the next few months.

12. LB Kyle Berger, Cleveland (OH) St. Ignatius

Berger is another in-state linebacker the Bucks would love to get. He has visited many times since the new year and has always had OSU as one of his top two schools. Who's the other school he likes? You guessed it, the Michigan Wolverines. This is a battle that's very important for OSU to win. He should be deciding in the not-too-distant future and right now, I'd peg him to the Bucks.

13. QB Drew Barker, Hebron (KY)

If the Buckeyes miss out on Watson, I think their attention turns to Drew Barker, another quarterback who fits the system well. The Bucks have yet to extend an offer Barker's way, but if they do, I think they'll have a very, very good chance to add him to the class. They would have some competition from several schools including in-state Kentucky and South Carolina.

14. DE Da'Shawn Hand, Woodbridge (VA)

Hand doesn't have the Buckeyes in his top five, but he still has a spot on this list because of his talent. He was in Columbus for the Michigan game and had a pretty good time. The Bucks may get lucky if Hand decides to visit again, but this is a longshot as things stand.


Comments Show All Comments

Triv's picture

Nice list. You know a lot more about recruiting than I do, but I think I'd put Damian Prince on this list as well. As a 6'7" 300 lbs monster of an OT, he would be a huge get. Plus he just came out and stated his best relationships are with OSU and Rutgers (advantage Urban Meyer)

Sorry Urban, Woody is still my favorite

Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

I think Barker is a very long shot. He tweeted yesterday that he has set a decision date with his parents and coach. From what I've read he's hearing less and less from OSU, so I don't see us landing him. I'd say we end up with Henderson. Overall, I like the list and think we have an opportunity to land all except Barker and Hand. 

Turtlebuster's picture

Prince for sure and perhaps even Knox now as well...id be curious if the Buckeyes have a legit shot at Lorenzo Carter, he could ease the sting of Hand going elsewhere...

tennbuckeye19's picture

I thought OSU's #2 QB target behind Watson was said to be Caleb Henderson and not Drew Barker? 

Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

That's what I thought too. As I wrote above, Barker set a decision date and still doesn't have an OSU offer. I can't see us landing him in this class. Don't believe he's the type of kid to flip either. 

FitzBuck's picture

^ this

Fitzbuck | Toledo - Ohio's right armpit | "A troll by any other name is still a troll".

Buckeyeneer's picture

A buddy of mine likes watching HS football and he has watched both Hendo (can I call him Hendo?) and Barker in action and while he thought both were good. His verdict was, Henderson all day long.

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

UrbzRenewal's picture

I've watched a ton of tape on them both. Very different types of athletes, both run similar offenses. Barker is a lot like Klein, while Henderson is definitely less mobile. Both are very accurate.

FitzBuck's picture

Barker to SC - I think the old ball coach has him sealed.  
Hand I would put at 1%
Jeb B I would guess 30%
the rest I agree.  
Nice write up

Fitzbuck | Toledo - Ohio's right armpit | "A troll by any other name is still a troll".

Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

I think we have a better than 30% shot of landing Blazevich. Especially if our TEs tear it up this year. We have to remember we didn't have the type of TE Urban needs in his offense last year. Baugh will be our 1st big time playmaker under Urban at the TE position. 

Turtlebuster's picture

I could realistically see 8 of those kids in this class and probably another 1-2 that would not be shocking if they joined as well...

pcuzz1's picture

I know he is not on the list, but I was wondering what everyone thought about Sam Hubbard. Also, where he is on everyones' wish list?

pat cozzens

Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

Brad Bournival wrote an article on ESPN basically saying its not a matter of if, but when Hubbard will commit to OSU. I didn't read it, but Jbook on Twitter highlighted the article. 

osubuck57's picture

Wow,didn't think OSU would take his commit this fast.I stand corrected.Nice tip BUCKEYE IN SEC


Smanpoint10's picture

The article says he decommitted from ND before he visited

daytonbuckeye's picture

Is Hubbard the lacrosse player who might play football instead?

3 85 yards and a cloud of dust.

Culp's Freaking Hill's picture

Yes.  He was once a ND lacrosse commit.

Twitter: @conquestnorman

osubuck57's picture

I love the list with exception to Barker( I as well think Henderson gets the 2nd nod),and Hand I think we have 0% chance of getting,just because i think he stays close to home( Carter would be a nice consolation). Hubbard I think may be a bubble guy asked to wait with us in on so many top tier guys like Peppers,Nicholson,etc.Like him a lot as a player and a kid from Ohio,but because of scholly reductions,he may get slow-played or a wait and see until the big boys decide.Could certainly be wrong,but don't see them taking his commitment before some of these other higher ranked guys.


pcuzz1's picture

Thanks BUCKEYE IN SEC. but I also agree with you OSUBUCK57. I can see the staff slow playing him. But like we always say the staff knows more then we do. Pretty sure I read Hubbard was visiting this weekend, so it will be interesting to see how that plays out.

pat cozzens

Squirrel Master's picture

I would have expected Miles Autry would have been on that list before Hand or Barker since there is very little action with both of them. Autry is important because he is really tight with Reakwon and also is a very talented player. I think that alone would make him very important to get in this class.
I also agree with above about Knox being important and I was wondering about Orlando Brown Jr? I am correct that he is also a 2014 recruit, right?
I would have put Berger higher than Booker, not based on talent but Booker most likely would go somewhere other than TTUN and if OSU doesn't get Berger, then most likely UM would. I think that would be a very bad thing. Not only would he be a nightmare to play against but he is also an in-state recruit. Bad enough they pilfer what OSU doesn't go after but if they get their hands on a good one, that is not a good!
Out of all the above, I would say the buckeye state players are the most important followed by the Peach state players. If Urban can lock down all those, top 5 recruiting class no matter what other teams do. I really could care less about Barker, I think Barrett is better anyways. I think only Watson would be able to come in and probably get the nod over Barrett right away. 

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

Dougger's picture

All I can say about Lattimore's highlight film is "WOOOO!!!!" (in my best Nature Boy voice)
I think all of our recruiters are top notch, but I just personally love seeing this:

Bonus: Kerry Coombs is Peppers lead recruiter.

I like football

OSU2002Grad's picture

No chance on Hand. REALLY don't want him up North. Rooting for the Hokies in that battle.

Culp's Freaking Hill's picture

I'd guess with quite of confidence it'll be TSUN for Hand, but at this point anything can happen.  It's still early.

Twitter: @conquestnorman

ColumbusBornAndRaised's picture

I thought they were taking Hubbard as a LB / S.  Similar to Worley last year.  I didn't think he was a good enough athlete to be a pure safety such as Vonn Bell

Culp's Freaking Hill's picture

I don't know for sure, obviously, but I think it's FS for Hubbard?

Twitter: @conquestnorman

Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

There's no way he will end up at safety.  He is 225 now.  A year or 2 under Coach Marotti and he will be 250.  He will end up at OLB.  Most recruiting sites have him listed at LB.

otrain2416's picture

Could be a monster FS if he stays fast I was thinking more of a STAR type of guy

We were born to love Ohio State and hate that team up north.

UrbzRenewal's picture

I think he's a little too big/heavy to be entirely effective at FS. As others have said, he'll be looking to add bulk too. I could see him at VIPER/LEO someday, just out of his athleticism.

zbd's picture

I've seen Jabrill Peppers play in person and he is one of the best I've ever seen. He just has a natural instinct on the field. Plus speed and hits like a ton of bricks.

EvanstonBuckeye's picture

How happy does Raekwon looking talking to Archie? I mean, c'mon! Like Christmas freaking morning!

otrain2416's picture

I feel like Watson and Hand should be off this list cuz at this point in time (not saying Meyer can't flip them) they are committed or not interested in OSU. I would add Prince, Eleumunor, or Mavety to the list because we need an outstanding OL haul this class with only returning 1 starter after we finish up next season. This of course being said I would add the 5 guys we currently have committed to the list because nothing is said and done until they sign on the dotted line (we've found out in the past Anzalone, Neal, Marshall cough cough) and all 5 are studs and must have recruits IMO.

We were born to love Ohio State and hate that team up north.

UrbzRenewal's picture

Watson is still taking OSU's calls and still has interest-that hasn't changed. 

UrbzRenewal's picture

Very excited to see how Lattimore does next year. I think he'll play CB in college, he's said he prefers defense and with his burst/speed/frame, he could be a serious lockdown corner.

Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

You just had to bring up Barker.....

Read my entire screen name....