While Urban Meyer and the Ohio State coaching staff are in the process of building a very strong 2014 recruiting class, it's time to take a look back at the 2013 class which was one of the best in the country.
The 2013 class, featuring 24 members from across the country, signed national letters of intent on February 6th of this year. That group was recognized as the nation's best class by Scout, while Rivals and 247 Sports each had the Buckeyes with the second-best class of 2013.
On the offensive side of the ball the Buckeyes signed nine players: ATH Jalin Marshall, RB Ezekiel Elliott, QB JT Barrett, ATH Dontre Wilson, WR Corey Smith, WR James Clark, TE Marcus Baugh, OT Evan Lisle, and OT Tim Gardner.
On defense, the Buckeyes added fifteen players: S Vonn Bell, CB Eli Apple, DB Cam Burrows, DE Joey Bosa, LB Mike Mitchell, LB Trey Johnson, DB Gareon Conley, S Jayme Thompson, LB Christopher Worley, ATH Darron Lee, DT Michael Hill, DT Billy Price, DE Tyquan Lewis, and DT Donovan Munger.
Not all of these new or soon to be freshmen will play in 2013, but Ohio State will need a couple of these young men to step up and put in some serious time from day one.
Today we are going to discuss which three offensive signees and which three defensive signees will make the biggest impact on the football field from day one on.
Safety Vonn Bell, Rossville (GA) Ridgeland
Bell's commitment was the a pleasant surprise for Buckeye fans on National Signing Day 2013. Bell, considered a 5-star recruit by most recruiting services has a great opportunity to play and play early. While it isn't very likely he'll start at safety, as veterans CJ Barnett and Christian Bryant form one of the best tandems in the nation, Bell is the type of player that's just too talented to keep on the bench. It's a safe bet the Ohio State coaching staff will get Bell on the field in some capacity.
Linebacker Trey Johnson, Lawrenceville (GA) Central Gwinnett
Johnson committed to Auburn early in the process, but flipped to Ohio State shortly after the Tigers fired Gene Chizik. It's a good thing that happened as the Buckeyes are very thin at the linebacker position. Ryan Shazier is the only sure-fire starter at linebacker, with Curtis Grant also penciled in to start. That sill leaves one spot open, which could be filled by Johnson or fellow freshmen linebacker Mike Mitchell. I'm going to go out on a limb and say Johnson will be a starter in 4-3 sets for Ohio State.
Cornerback Eli Apple, Voorhees (NJ) Eastern
With the departure of Travis Howard and with Doran Grant moving into a starting spot across from star corner Bradley Roby, the Buckeyes need another corner to step up and add depth to the nickel spot. I think Apple is the guy. In my opinion he is the most physically ready of the Buckeye cornerback signees. I think he'll impress in this role from day one.
Athlete Jalin Marshall, Middletown (OH)
When you ask a Buckeye fan which recruit they're most excited to see, more than a few will mention Marshall's name and it's hard to blame them. A quarterback in high school, Marshall has begun his transition to wide receiver. He showed good signs of development at the Under Armour All-America Game in January and I think he'll see a lot of playing time this fall.
Wide Receiver Corey Smith, Scooba (MS) East Miss. CC
Yeah, yeah. As a JUCO transfer, Smith isn't truly a freshman, but he is a part of the class of 2013. Smith has three academic years in Columbus to play two seasons on the football field. If Smith cannot help this team immediately he would be considered a bust because as I mentioned before, he only has two years on the football field in Columbus. I expect him to see plenty of time at wide receiver this year. I think he exceeds all expectations and becomes Ohio State's second best wide receiver by the season's end.
Athlete Dontre Wilson, DeSoto (TX)
Wilson was once committed to Oregon, but chose the Buckeyes after Chip Kelly's departure for the NFL. A pure burner, Wilson is extremely fast – maybe the fastest player the Buckeyes signed – making him a very good fit in the slot to start his career at Ohio State. I'm not sure how many touches he'll get this year, but when he does touch the ball, think big play.