Ohio State's side of National Signing Day 2014 is in the books, and unsurprisingly, Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes landed another highly-rated recruiting class. One-time Ohio State commitment Lonnie Johnson penned the term "Dream '14" as a name for Ohio State's 2014 recruiting class. Despite his decommitment, the term endured.
It started with a pledge from Cleveland Glenville prospect Marcelys Jones on Christmas day in 2012. Almost a year after Jones pledged, Ohio State was able to land two of their top targets, five-star linebacker Raekwon McMillan and four-star wide receiver Johnnie Dixon. Jones, McMillan and Dixon have already enrolled at Ohio State, along with four other signees.
The Buckeyes welcome in the nation's top linebacker haul, according to 247Sports. They also recognize Ohio State for their number one athlete recruiting haul, as well as defensive backs. The wide receiver and offensive lineman class also made the top five in the country. Overall, Urban Meyer's third class in Columbus is another top three haul for the closer. Today, Ohio State added a surprise commitment when Darius Slade, a New Jersey defensive end who had committed to Michigan State signed with the Buckeyes late in the afternoon.
While Stephen Collier, Johnnie Dixon, Marcelys Jones, Raekwon McMillan, Sean Nuernberger, Curtis Samuel and Kyle Trout enrolled in early January, 15 National Letters of Intent arrived at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center today to complete the class of 23.
Now, let's get to know the class.
- Cleveland, OH (St. Ignatius)
Berger committed to Ohio State in early April and instantly became one of the key members of Ohio State's 2014 recruiting class. He participated in Nike's The Opening and was instrumental in helping the Buckeyes secure the commitments of a number of other pledges, including Raekwon McMillan. Injured in his team's final preseason scrimmage, Berger is recovering from a torn ACL but is a player the Buckeyes could count on in 2014, especially with his ferocity on special teams. Berger chose the Buckeyes over rival Michigan.
The second of two members of Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary's state championship team, Dante Booker made noise with his talent wherever he went this past year, but maintained his humble and reserved demeanor off the field. He participated in Nike's The Opening and was named the US Army Defensive Player of the Year. Booker is projected to play outside linebacker for the Buckeyes, but could eventually move to a down position along the defensive line. He's big, he's fast and he's incredibly cerebral, always finding a way to make plays around the football.
- Sparta,NJ (Pope John Paul XXIII)
One of Ohio State's biggest targets at wide receiver, Noah Brown chose the Buckeyes in mid-September and became the first member of the class from New Jersey. Brown is a big-bodied wide receiver, a position that Ohio State was searching for in the last two recruiting classes, but he could also line up in the offensive backfield or as an H-back. Soft-spoken and intelligent, Brown brings versatility and athleticism to the Buckeyes. He chose the Buckeyes over South Carolina and his homestate Rutgers.
- Akron,OH (St. Vincent-St. Mary)
The youngest player in Ohio State's recruiting class, Parris Campbell is lightning in a bottle when he gets the ball in his hands. A threat to score each and everytime he's on the field, Campbell impressed people everywhere he went but is perhaps overlooked a bit in the class due to his very early commitment and the fact that he didn't really consider any other schools once the Buckeyes made him an offer. A state champion for the Irish of Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary, Campbell was the youngest participant of all 2014 The Opening attendees. He could play any number of positions at Ohio State, but look for his career to start off in the slot, a là Dontre Wilson.
- Leesburg,GA (Lee County)
Ohio State's quarterback for 2014, Stephen Collier burst onto the national scene after winning MVP awards in Elite 11 regional quarterback competitions, an achievement that led to his inclusion in The Opening and the Elite 11 finals. He led his Lee County Trojans to the state playoffs in Georgia for only the second time and instantly became a leader of the "Dream '14" when he pledged to the Buckeyes in June, just moments after receiving his scholarship offer from the Buckeyes, an offer he earned by impressing Urban Meyer in person at Ohio State's one-day camp in early June. Collier has enrolled early at Ohio State, and chose the Buckeyes over Wake Forest and Cincinnati, among others.
- Palm Beach Gardens,FL (Dwyer)
Perhaps the biggest "surprise" of Ohio State's 2014 class, Florida standout Johnnie Dixon shocked many when he picked the Buckeyes over Miami and Alabama in late December, but it was never a question for Dixon. He attended Ohio State's home win against Wisconsin in late September and fell in love with Buckeye nation. The Buckeyes' biggest target at wide receiver for 2014 was recruited and won over by Buckeyes' wide receiver coach Zach Smith. Dixon participated in the The Opening has enrolled already at Ohio State, where he hopes to make an impact in his freshman season.
- Norfolk,VA (Lake Taylor)
At one time Jalyn Holmes was a surefire "lock" to become a Florida State Seminole, but one visit to Columbus changed everything for the Norfolk star. A pure, nasty, pass rushing defensive end, Holmes committed to Ohio State on his first visit and gave Zach Smith his first major recruiting "win" as a Buckeye assistant. Despite some injury issues and a mid-year suspension due to an on-the-field incident, Holmes persevered and became a leader in the "Dream '14, becoming instrumental in the Buckeyes landing Raekwon McMillan. Holmes participated in The Opening and should push for playing time as a freshman because of his nose for the quarterback.
- New Castle,PA (New Castle)
One of the least recognizable athletes in the Buckeyes' class but perhaps the best overall athlete, Malik Hooker was a college basketball prospect who happened to excel on the football field as well. His talents translated very well to defensive back, and Hooker will likely start his Ohio State career at safety. He's big, he's fast and he can jump out of the gym. He's known for his spectacular highlight reel plays, but don't be fooled: he can play the game. Hooker chose Ohio State over Michigan and Pitt.
- Cincinnati,OH (Moeller)
Sam Hubbard became Ohio State’s sixth commitment when he flipped from Notre Dame’s lacrosse team. Hubbard is quite possibly the best athlete in Ohio State’s class, playing safety in high school at 6-foot-6 and 225 pounds. Ohio State plans on using Hubbard as a strong-side (SAM) linebacker, which could be a scary proposition for opponents given both his size and ability in pass coverage. The Cincinnati Moeller product shot up the recruiting rankings after a phenomenal senior season and he is only getting better. Hubbard arrives at Ohio State as a critical member of the nation’s top-ranked linebacker class, a position that all of a sudden has excellent young depth.
- Cleveland,OH (Glenville)
Marcelys was the first member of the 2014 recruiting class to pledge to Ohio State. Despite plenty of speculation of a potential flip to Kentucky, the Ohio native has already taking classes in Columbus. Jones is one of five offensive linemen that signed with Ohio State, which will be important, as the Buckeyes will look to replace four starters up front. The Glenville pipeline continues with Marcelys Jones being joined by a pair of teammates, Marshon Lattimore and Erick Smith.
- Chicago,IL (De la Salle Institute)
The Buckeyes landed a commitment from Jamarco Jones in late June, but it wasn’t until yesterday that he would confirm his intentions to sign with Ohio State. One of the nation’s top offensive lineman prospects, Jamarco was a key piece to this highly rated class. The All-American should have an opportunity to compete for playing time as a freshman with four spots to fill on the line.
- Fort Worth,TX (All Saints Episcopal)
Demetrius Knox is the first Eleven Warriors member to sign a letter of intent with Ohio State. Like fellow lineman Jamarco Jones, his recruitment was the subject to rumors regarding potential late visits. The consensus four-star prospect could be a candidate to start at guard, as a freshman, for the Buckeyes. Knox drew rave reviews during The Opening. The one-time Texas Longhorn verbal has maintained that he was always an Ohio State fan, but wanted to make the best decision for himself.
The third member of Ohio State’s trio from Cleveland Glenville High School, Marshon Lattimore was always expected to be a Buckeye. The potential shutdown corner committed during the Army All-American game. His size and athleticism makes him a factor to contribute as a freshman, whether that is in the secondary or on special teams. Lattimore was named as one of four finalists for the prestigious U.S. Army Player of the Year Award. The Buckeyes’ secondary issues could be helped with the signing of the nation’s top defensive back haul, according to 247Sports.
- Indianapolis,IN (Cathedral)
Ohio State’s 13th commitment came from four-star wide receiver Terry McLaurin in late June. McLaurin camped at Ohio State multiple times and wowed the coaching staff with every opportunity he got. His hard work would finally be rewarded after multiple camps. At the time, many wondered if the staff had reached, but the speedster would silence any doubters with his senior year showing. Indiana’s Mr. Football has seen his stock rise from a three-star sleeper to one of the top 200 prospects in the nation.
- Hinesville,GA (Liberty County)
Urban Meyer was able to seal the deal with top target Raekwon McMillan. The five-star linebacker was the top prospect on Ohio State’s board. McMillan drew plenty of praise from multiple writers for his professionalism and maturity throughout the recruiting process, where he would select the Buckeyes over Alabama and Clemson. As one of the members of the nation’s top linebacker hauls, Raekwon will compete with Curtis Grant for instant playing time. The Under Armour All-American is already enrolled and has been working out with the football team.
- Buckner,KY (Oldham County)
Sean Nuernberger is the most likely candidate in the class to earn a starting job as a freshman. Already campaigning for recognition with his Twitter handle “Sean4Heisman,” Nuernberger is next in line to take over the kicking duties at Ohio State. Sean is a three-star and one of the best kickers in the country after an incredible season that saw him hit multiple long field goals, including a school-record 57-yarder. Sean also excelled as a punter, averaging over 40 yards per kick. His strong leg also resulted in touchbacks on nearly every kickoff. Nuernberger enrolled early to get a leg up on the competition and should be another great kicker at Ohio State.
Curtis Samuel may very well be the most electric player in a class filled with athletes. Samuel was the New York Gatorade Player of the Year and was a semi-finalist for the U.S. Army Player of the year award. Samuel has good size at 6-foot and 185 pounds, while running a legit 4.36-40 yard dash. Like many Buckeye commits, Samuel attended the prestigious football camp The Opening this past summer and wowed people with his athleticism. Samuel enrolled at Ohio State in January and is already gearing up for spring ball. Ohio State plans to use Samuel in a variety of ways that include running back, slot back and wide receiver. In the Army All-American game, Samuel showed that he is an All-American level defensive back too. Samuel comes to Ohio State as a part of the top “athlete” class in the country according to 247Sports.
A surprise late addition to the Buckeyes' class, Slade committed and signed with Ohio State on signing day when he decided to take another look at Ohio State rather than signing with Michign State. The Spartans offered an ultimatum to Slade, letting him know they'd not take him if he didn't sign with them today, so he instead has signed with the Buckeyes. A fierce pass rusher who amassed an incredibly 37 sacks in his junior and season seasons of high school, Slade is the first true "win" for new Ohio State defensive line coach Larry Johnson, Sr. Slade initially committed to Nebraska before flipping to Michigan State. The Buckeyes never want to turn down talented defensive lineman, and with Slade they've added another to their stable.
Erick Smith continues the Glenville-to-Ohio State tradition as another star Tarblooder. Smith played high school football with Ohio's top-rated defensive back, Marshon Lattimore, but in the Army All-American game Smith showed that he is an elite defensive back in his own right. Considered a Buckeye "lock" for a while, Smith announced his decision to be a Buckeye with Lattimore at the Army All-American game, joining the top defensive back class in the country. Smith's athleticism and versatility will give him a chance to compete for early playing time, likely on special teams next year. Smith is a consensus four-star and ranked as the third-best prospect in Ohio.
- Columbus, OH (Bishop Ready)
Brady Taylor became Ohio State's 22nd commit just recently, when he "flipped" from Virginia Tech upon receiving a scholarship from Ohio State. Taylor is a local product, playing high school ball at Columbus' Bishop Ready High School. Taylor was always a Buckeye fan, so receiving the Ohio State offer was a dream come true. Taylor didn't pick up an offer until late, but make no mistake - he can really play and has all of the necessary tools to be a top offensive tackle at Ohio State.
- Lombard,IL (Montini Catholic)
Dylan Thompson was Ohio State’s fifth commitment for the 2014 class, picking Ohio State over offers from USC, Clemson, Tennessee, Ole Miss and others. Thompson found the “perfect situation” for himself at Ohio State and didn’t wait to accept the offer. He led the state of Illinois Class 5A with 13.0 sacks in 11 games in 2013. Thompson looks to follow in Joey Bosa’s footsteps by making an impact at the strong-side defensive end position as a freshman. Dylan actually already has a good relationship with Chris Ash, who was his primary recruiter at Arkansas prior to taking the job at Ohio State.
- Lancaster,OH (Lancaster)
Trout was Ohio State's third commitment for the 2014 class and their second offensive lineman. Trout has prototypical size, strength and athleticism for an offensive tackle, a huge need for Ohio State. Trout is a consensus four-star, the top lineman in Ohio, and participated in The Opening. He enrolled early at Ohio State with hopes to challenge for a spot in the two-deep on the offensive line - something that is very difficult to do as a freshman. Trout considers himself "freakishly competitive," a trait that Urban Meyer loves and one that should bode well for Kyle at Ohio State. Trout joins four other offensive line commits at Ohio State that 247Sports considers the No. 2 offensive line class in the nation.
- Detroit,MI (Cass Tech)
Damon Webb surprised some people when he became Ohio State’s second commit way back in January, 2013. Being from Cass Tech, Michigan’s biggest pipeline, many assumed Webb would be a Wolverine as well. Instead, Webb has been one of Urban Meyer’s biggest recruiters, trying to bring several of his Cass Tech teammates with him to Ohio State. Webb is a consensus four-star, top-two player in Michigan, and one of the top defensive backs in the country. Webb provides needed help to a defense that gave up 268 passing yards per game, as he joins the top defensive back class in the country according to 247Sports.