Christmas Recruiting Wishlist: Putting a Bow on the 2014 Class

By John Brandon on December 20, 2013 at 4:30p
42 Comments
 

Santa Urbz delivered some early Christmas presents this week when he landed commitments from Raekwon McMillan and Johnnie Dixon in back-to-back days. More importantly, Meyer delivered over $5,000 in toys to the Nationwide Children's Hospital.

The recent commitments have given the Buckeyes some much-needed momentum and the Buckeyes are on a roll. At this point, the natural question is: who will the Buckeyes finish the class with?

With several highly-touted prospects still on the board and only a few spots left to fill, it looks to be another exciting finish for OSU recruiting.

Join us after the jump as we take a look at the remaining targets on Ohio State's board and the likelihood of them being Buckeyes.

Scholarship Numbers

As the Buckeyes' class continues to fill up, one question always seems to be ever-present at this time of year: how many spots does Ohio State really have left?

As many of you know, attrition is very difficult to predict. Who knew Joey O'Conner would transfer, Blake Thomas would suffer a career-ending injury or Tim Gardner wouldn't even make it to fall camp? One thing is certain, however, attrition happens. When we looked back at the 2012 recruiting class a couple of weeks ago, we learned that seven of the 25-member class have already left the program. These players left for a variety of reasons: injury, lack of playing time, being far from home or some combination of these factors. Seven is a pretty high number of defections and isn't too likely to be repeated, but 3-5 is certainly a possibility.

Ohio State currently has 64 returning freshmen, sophomores and juniors on scholarships, leaving 18 spots in the 2014 class, as the scholarship restrictions allow for 82 scholarship players. Add in Roby and Shazier likely leaving early, and a fairly safe estimate of four players lost to attrition, and I expect the class to finish with 24 players. So with that number in mind, how might the class finish?

Remaining Needs

At this stage, Ohio State has filled many of their needs: linebacker, receiver/running back, and quarterback. They are also sitting in a pretty good position at offensive line. That being said, looking at who they are targeting, they are primarily focused on offensive line, defensive line and defensive backs.

I think the Buckeyes would like one more offensive lineman, one more defensive lineman and at least a couple more defensive backs. While they already have four offensive linemen in the class, Ohio State will lose four to graduation this year, as well as losing Joey O'Connor and Tim Gardner early to attrition. I think they would like to round out the class with a fifth offensive lineman.

Ohio State only has two defensive linemen in the class after back-to-back classes that featured several defensive line prospects. While it seems they are pretty comfortable moving forward with the current depth situation, they've made it pretty clear they would like another defensive lineman in the class.

As for the defensive backfield, Ohio State loses three of their four starters in the defensive backfield, plus the uncertainty surrounding Christian Bryant's future. In addition, the defensive backfield may not be quite as deep as you would think. Ohio State will only have one senior and two junior defensive backs next year (assuming Bryant is not back). While the Buckeyes had seven freshman defensive backs this year, they only have two committed thus far in the 2014 class and look to be wanting to add at least a couple more.

TARGETS: OFFENSIVE LINE

Ohio State has already put together an excellent offensive line class with four four-star commits already in the fold (two guards and two tackles) but has been trying to land one more tackle to close out the class. After missing out on Chad Mavety, four primary offensive line targets remain for the Buckeyes: Damian Prince, Frank Ragnow, Roderick Johnson and Brady Taylor.

Damian Prince (5-star, District Heights, MD)

Prince is an elite offensive tackle (#2 OT in 247 Composite) that Ohio State recruited hard and at one point appeared to be in the driver's seat for. Things have changed however, and Prince has since shifted towards Maryland and Florida State. Prince actually cut Ohio State a couple of weeks ago when he named a top 5 of Maryland, Florida State, Florida, Miami and South Carolina. But, since this is a wish list and he's a guy that many Buckeye fans hope Urban can snag I thought we'd include him on the list. The Eleven Warriors Recruiting team currently has him predicted to go to Maryland. Buckeye Odds: Going take a Christmas Miracle (less than five percent)

Roderick Johnson (4-star, Florissant, MO)

Johnson is a guy that Buckeye fans may have not heard too much about. He visited for The Game in 2012, but things were fairly quiet between him and Ohio State for much of the year. Florida State has been Johnson's top school for quite some time, but he recently told ESPN that Ohio State was the team right behind Florida State. Johnson visited Florida State last weekend, but still hasn't committed to the Seminoles despite having them as his leader for so long, while Florida State continues to stockpile offensive lineman. Florida State already has six offensive linemen committed for the 2014 class, while continuing to pursue Johnson, Frank Ragnow and Damian Prince.

With Ohio State already losing targets Chad Mavety and Brock Ruble to Florida State, one has to wonder how many offensive lineman Florida State can take. Do they really want seven? It's certainly possible, but taking that many could have an impact on Johnson's decision. While Florida State is his leader, Johnson has mentioned being interested in possibly visiting Ohio State in January. While I still think the Seminoles are the team to beat for Johnson, if Johnson makes it to Columbus in January and Florida State's offensive lineman class fills up, Johnson could be a Buckeye. Buckeye Odds: Not good, but not out of the realm of possibility (10-15 percent).

Frank Ragnow (4-star, Chanhassen, MN)

Ragnow appears to be leaning towards Minnesota and Florida State recently, as Ohio State hasn't been recruiting him all that hard. With the recent commitments of Mavety and Bookser however, Ohio State may go after Ragnow a bit more aggressively. With Florida State, the same logic from the Roderick Johnson section can be applied here. Ragnow officially visited Florida State last weekend and has also visited Minnesota multiple times. I would expect him to visit Ohio State in January, which would provide a better idea of the Buckeyes chances. For now, I think he's Minnesota-bound, but it all depends on the potential Ohio State visit in January. Buckeye Odds: Not great, but better than the other two so far (25 perent).

Brady Taylor (3-star, Columbus, OH)

Taylor is an interesting prospect, he's from Columbus and really likes Ohio State but is committed to Virginia Tech and doesn't hold an Ohio State offer. That being said an Ohio State offer could be coming soon for Taylor, putting him in an interesting predicament. While he remains faithfully committed to Virginia Tech amongst the swirling rumors, an offer from the Buckeyes would likely be very difficult for Taylor to pass up. I think there is a pretty good chance Taylor gets the offer, and if he does, I think there is a pretty good chance he commits. Buckeye Odds: Pretty good, if they offer (55-60 percent)

Wrapping it up: I think Brady Taylor is the most likely pick to round out the Ohio State offensive line class, while Ragnow and Johnson remain possibilities. There is also a chance that Ohio State doesn't take another offensive lineman at all, but I think Taylor (while still committed to V. Tech) is the most likely outcome.

Targets: Defensive Line

Defensive line recruiting has been a major highlight for the Buckeyes under Urban Meyer, as he has brought in several highly-touted prospects that have already made an impact on the field. One thing is for certain, Meyer seems to have his way with 5-star defensive linemen. Three major targets remain on the board here: Solomon Thomas, Derrick Nnadi and Malik McDowell.

Solomon Thomas (5-star, Coppell, TX)

Thomas is a stud, ranked as the No. 2 strong-side defensive end in the country and holding offers from nearly every major program. Texas was the early leader for quite some time, but has since shifted his focus to Stanford and Ohio State.

2014 5-star Solomon ThomasWill Thomas be a Buckeye?

While many continue to pick Thomas to Stanford, it's the Buckeyes who are gaining momentum with him. When he made multiple unofficial visits to Columbus, Thomas signaled that he has serious interest in Ohio State. He has since had an in-home visit with Buckeye legend Mike Vrabel and scheduled an official visit to Ohio State for January 31st. Yesterday, he named a top five that included the Bucks.

What makes the visit a bit more interesting is the fact that it is Thomas' final official visit and that it comes only two days before the quiet period and less than a week before signing day. What this basically means is that Ohio State is the last school that will have any in-person contact with Solomon before he commits, as the quiet period runs until April.

Many factors are working in the Buckeyes favor: Urban Meyer's closing ability, Tom Herman's connections in Texas, Mike Vrabel's relationship with Thomas, Vrabel's ability as a recruiter and defensive line coach, as well as the timeline. In addition, Thomas' primary recruiter at Stanford, Mike Sanford, recently left for Boise State. While I don't expect Sanford's departure to have a huge impact, it is noteworthy and David Shaw to Texas or the NFL rumors will continue to swirl.

While many "experts" continue to pick Thomas to Stanford, Ohio State continues to make more sense and many deciding factors are pointing to Ohio State. The Eleven Warriors recruiting team continues to predict Thomas to Ohio State, beginning with Birm in October. Stanford will be tough to beat, but I like the Buckeyes' chances. Buckeye Odds: Pretty Good (60 percent)

Derrick Nnadi (4-star, Virginia Beach, VA)

Nnadi is probably a newer name to many Buckeye fans. Ohio State offered him in April, but there hasn't been a whole lot of talk about him since then. He recently scheduled an official visit to Ohio State for January 15th and is a highly-touted defensive tackle. After passing on Thomas Holley, it was questionable whether or not Ohio State would pursue a defensive tackle in this class, but Nnadi is one they would be interested in taking. He had been thought to be favoring Virginia Tech, but after visiting Florida State last weekend, he said that Florida State, Virginia Tech, Penn State and Ohio State were all even. After visiting Ohio State, Nnadi will visit Virginia Tech on the 24th of January. Ohio State is in the hunt, but the January visits will go a long way to determining where he lands. Buckeye Odds: Not bad, not great (less than 20 percent)

Malik McDowell (4-star, Detroit, MI)

McDowell has been considered a Michigan lean for quite some time now, but things are beginning to change. While it sounds like McDowell is feeling some pressure to go to Michigan, he is now starting to look elsewhere. He's already visited Alabama (who "set the bar") and Florida, with visits scheduled to Florida State, LSU and Ohio State. Like Thomas, McDowell visits Ohio State on January 31st, likely giving them the last in-person contact before he makes his decision. I'm not sure Ohio State is interested in taking both Thomas and McDowell, though it is a possibility. Right now, McDowell's recruiting picture is a little fuzzy. Michigan is probably still the leader, but the official visits in January will be telling. Buckeye Odds: Better than you might think (25-30 percent)

Wrapping it up: I think Ohio State should end up with at least one of these prospects, more likely Thomas, with a small chance of landing two of them.

Targets: Defensive Backfield

To call the defensive backfield a weakness for the Buckeyes on the field this year would be a major understatement. However, the Buckeyes have recruited the position area well and some of the younger guys have shown promise in limited action. Ohio State currently has one cornerback and one safety committed for 2014 but is looking to add to that.

Tony Brown (5-star, Beaumont, TX)

Brown has always been a bit of a longshot for Ohio State, but he did come up to Columbus for an official visit in October and likes Ohio State a lot. Ohio State continues to show a lot of interest in Brown, as Meyer visited him about a week ago. Ohio State will continue to recruit him but the chances of him going anywhere but LSU are slim. Buckeye Odds: Slim (5 percent)

John 'JuJu' Smith (5-star, Long Beach, CA)

Smith also visited Ohio State officially in October and has continued to like Ohio State for some time. He recently spoke to the Cleveland Plain Dealer and was very positive on Ohio State as well. That being said, Ohio State is going to have a hard time pulling him out of Southern California. While he claims he is not a "USC lock," they were his favorite team growing up and it's hard to see him going anywhere else. Still, JuJu said Ohio State will "be there until the end" and he "has a strong interest in the program." Of the "longshots," I've always liked Smith's chances more than most, but it would be a pretty big surprise if he picked the Buckeyes. Buckeye Odds: Not too good (10 percent)

Mike Rogers (3-star, Smyrna GA)

A couple of months ago, Ohio State offered Rogers (a UCF commit) a scholarship and it seemed like almost a sure thing that he would eventually flip to Ohio State. Things have quieted down a bit, as the Ohio State coaches could be waiting to see if they have a chance with Brown or Smith before pushing for Rogers. I still expect Rogers to make a visit to Columbus some time in January and I think he remains a strong candidate to close out the 2014 class with. Everett Withers was his primary recruiter, but I don't think him leaving will have too big of an impact on Rogers' decision. The way I see it, if Ohio State wants Rogers he will be a Buckeye. Buckeye Odds: Good if they choose to pursue him (60 percent)

Marshon Lattimore/Erick Smith (4-stars, Cleveland, OH)

Lattimore and Smith are dynamic play makers in the defensive secondary who Ohio State has been all over for a very long time. Ohio State continues to remain heavy favorites for the duo, who would be huge additions to an already great class. They will both be announcing their decisions at the Army All-American Bowl on January 4th. Buckeye Odds: Nothing's guaranteed except death and taxes, but this is pretty close (90 percent)

Wrapping it up: I think the most likely outcome is Ohio State adding Lattimore, Erick Smith and Mike Rogers, while Ohio State has a very small shot at landing Brown or John Smith. The second most likely outcome would probably adding the Glenville duo and nobody else, though I think Ohio State wants to add three more DBs.

Putting it all together

With plenty of targets and only a few spots, the Buckeyes find themselves once again poised for an exciting finish. It looks like Ohio State has about five spots left and is looking to add an offensive lineman, one or two defensive lineman and a few defensive backs.

With that in mind, if I had to predict how Ohio State finishes, I would say with Marshon Lattimore, Erick Smith, Solomon Thomas, Mike Rogers and Brady Taylor. Excluding Solomon Thomas, this is a fairly conservative prediction and I wouldn't be surprised to see Meyer pull someone out of left field, much like last year with Dontre Wilson.

The January visits will be huge and will provide a better idea for how things close, but, for now, this is how I think it will play out. Be sure to continue to frequent Eleven Warriors as the landscape will likely change between now and signing day, and follow our recruiting team on Twitter for even more info.

42 Comments

Comments

Joe4's picture

Even your conservative prediction sounds pretty darn good.

John Brandon's picture

I think some new names will emerge over the next month or so too so things will change 

45has2's picture

Urban The Recruiting Machine Meyer. Dude must have some serious living room chops.

"I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people." -W.W. Hayes

German Buckeye's picture

Anyone here is icing on an already good cake.  Keep it up Urbanator...

mh277907's picture

That would give this class a a team rating of 301.20 according to 247. Only 5 classes have reached the 300 point mark since '06 - Bama twice* ('13, '12, and probably '14*), Ohio State once* ('13, possibly '14*), Texas ('10), and Florida ('10). I know that recruit rankings are far from an exact science but what Urban has done since he has been here is only rivaled by Nick Saban -or, in other words, extremely impressive.

buckeyebobcat

John Brandon's picture

Good info, thanks for sharing

Oldschoolbuck's picture

That's some really good stuff, MH. Thanks. I always followed Buckeyes in the Draft and the League more than recruiting. Since UFM has arrived, however, the playing field between those categories has leveled.
Birm, Jordan, et. al. - you guys continue to knock it out of the Shoe! This stuff really shouldn't be free, you know!

cinserious's picture

 what Urban has done since he has been here is only rivaled by Nick Saban -or, in other words, extremely impressive.

Pre-Buckeye Urban Meyer might not even keep up with the new Urban!

Gone ham, be back soon...

John Brandon's picture

Like people said when he took the job, take Urbans recruiting ability and pair it with Ohio States brand and it will be a machine. Same thing that Bama has done with Saban

BABuckeye's picture

So that Florida '10 class was among the best of all time and Gator fans and Will Misschamp still claimed Urban left the cupboard bare?! Somehow, empirical evidence seems to be lost on SEC fans--whether it's recruiting data or Strength of Schedule data, or even scores of games played.

45has2's picture

What position does Caption play? I don't see his profile. :)

"I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people." -W.W. Hayes

dubjayfootball90's picture

Great read! Appreciate the info! I have been at my fiance's for the past few days with no internet, and I have been glued to the computer reADING 11W to try and get my fix. I have been itching for some news!!!

John Brandon's picture

Haha nice man happy to help

DeepSouthBuckeye's picture

Nice work John. I would have to imagine covering recruiting for a team like tOSU is pretty dang fun. We appreciate all you guys do!

Loving all things Buckeye from SEC country in Alabama.
"How firm thy friendship....O-HI-O"

John Brandon's picture

It absolutely is a lot of fun, just wait til January, these last couple months before signing day could be crazy 

Osu2105's picture

With recruiting classes coming in like this it is hard to envision this team not winning double digit games for the foreseeable future. Even with uncertainty next year(4 new lineman, no Hyde, possible new qb, 3/4 dbs and maybe Shazier) there is no way this team will lose more than 1 or 2 games(and that's worst case scenario IMO). I'll tell you what, its a damn good time to be a Buckeye!!

John Brandon's picture

Just a matter of developing players. On paper the team is only getting more talented as they recruit at a new level. Keep in mind Hyde and the O-line were nowhere near this good 2 years ago, Warinner/Urban/Drayton developed them. As for consistently winning, the difference between being consistently great and not could come down to whether or not Meyer can hang onto his assistants as they have been instrumental in the improvement of this team over the past few years

BuckeyeStrong1993's picture

You mean Cray Cray lol

GoBucks!

740buckeye's picture

Call me crazy, but I expect a little bit of a surprise when things come down to the end. Highly unlikely, I'll admit, but this is a wish list of sorts, and I have a bit of a gut feeling that wouldn't be surprised to see Quin Blanding being a late flip. With that said, if he were to flip, that may open the door for Andrew Brown, since Virgina is basically a dumpster fire. 
So, tell me I'm insane, but I dare you to tell me you wouldn't be ecstatic. At this point I wouldn't be surprised by anything UFM does.
Lattimore, Smith, Thomas, Taylor, Blanding, and Brown. Now back to the sugarplums dancing in my head...

John Brandon's picture

Blanding and Brown would be something, we'll see if they have any second thoughts down the stretch

Squirrel Master's picture

im still thinking that BoB will leave PSU for a nice NFL HC job.
if that happens, i say Mike Gesicki flips. i still think Urban would find room.
 

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

John Brandon's picture

If BoB leaves Gesicki becomes an interesting possibility 

BABuckeye's picture

And the Bucks could use a TE.  With Blake Thomas' career ended by injury, the Buckeyes only have one TE (Baugh) in the last three classes.

Ericgobucks's picture

I love your optimism and certainly hope you are right!

Jbucks's picture

This class is gonna be BEAST, though I would love to land Nnadi, which 1 of our recruits called him the best D-Lineman hes faced, either way its always good to have those big dudes in the middle being able to rotate? Lattimore to me is the most important recruit left, yeah of course Thomad would be great, but to me Lattimore has the speed & Playmaking ability that our backfield is lacking right now.

quick question, did Marcus Baugh leave the team? I heard somthing of it earlier in the year, & nothing since

Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it-John 1:5 SEC meet Ohio State, Ohio State meet SEC

740buckeye's picture

Baugh just recently had his black stripe removed actually. Good things on the horizon, hopefully.

John Brandon's picture

I really like Nnadi too, hope he becomes a buckeye and I would agree Lattimore is the most important guy left.

as for Baugh, check this out: http://www.elevenwarriors.com/forum/football/2013/12/marcus-baugh-update

Jbucks's picture

oh thanks for the Baugh update John and 740, its good ta know we atill got him always thought this guy could be a huge target for our QB's in the future

Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it-John 1:5 SEC meet Ohio State, Ohio State meet SEC

John Brandon's picture

Yeah I think he's gonna be quite a player. Unusual size and athleticism at TE

edr4225's picture

Urban is a machine!!!!!!!!!! The Urban Assault coming to a living room near your!!!!!!

lets go bucks!!

BuckSince79's picture

John, just wanted to say thanks and appreciate the hard work.  It was nice to see the potential recruit breakdown by positions and OSU need.  It is a great time to be a Buckeye.  Any combination of 5 players from your list would definitely put this class over the top.  I do agree that it does start and end with Lattimore being one of those 5 though.

1stYrBuckIClub's picture

I still would love to know more than 'the staff stopped recruiting him' regarding the situation w/ Thomas Holley. He seemed to be there for the taking. Unless the staff had information on a DL they had higher on their board and only one spot available (Solomon Thomas perhaps), I can never see them giving him an ultimatum to commit which is the rumor that I've seen going around. If we get Lattimore, Smith, and Thomas, it's all gravy to me. I'd love a 4-star/plus guy in the secondary if we can add to that, and a 4 star OL (why you gonna leave us like that Damian?) if we can, but if Warinner is a hot name for the Army HC job, I'd prefer a project secondary guy over a project OL guy any day. 

John Brandon's picture

For whatever reason Holley didn't fit what the staff was looking for, that's all I really know.

Jordan Wagner's picture

I definitely think we should keep a close eye on who officially visits Ohio State in January. Also, keep a close eye on who Urban Meyer brings in to replace Withers. I'm sure Urban will prefer to have a coach in place when visits start up again on Jan. 16. That coach could help us with a prospect that is not currently on the radar. We'll see. After Lattimore and Smith, almost nothing would surprise me. 

Jbucks's picture

staying on topic of replacing Withers, when do u think we start hearing real canidates? b4 bowl or right after?

Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it-John 1:5 SEC meet Ohio State, Ohio State meet SEC

Jordan Wagner's picture

I'd assume no interviews will take place until after the bowl. I'm sure there will be some twitter buzz about potential candidates, soon. 

BuckToAsT's picture

I used to tune into recruiting only on NSD.  Thanks to UFM and 11W, I'm glued to it 24/7--and have been since November 2011.  
 
I can't wait to see how this class finishes!

2014nationalchamps's picture

Urban has taken recruiting to the next level. I thought Tressel did a great job, consistently raking in top 10 classes. Urb has turned TOSU into a SEC powerhouse playing in the B1G. Great time to be a buckeye fan. The golden era is upon us.

O-H-I-O  for life

MN Buckeye's picture

This is a great breakdown, John! Thanks for putting this together. 
Reading 11W has been good therapy for recovering from the CC game, and the recruiting success has been incredible. I look forward to the upcoming developments and would be thrilled if we closed with your list.