We're a couple hours away from a SARS-level panic from sweeping over Ohio State fans on Twitter, message boards and anywhere else football recruiting is discussed. We're three-plus hours away from Penn State and first-year head coach James Franklin adding two more four-star commitments, both of whom were big targets for the Buckeyes. Brandon Wimbush, the nation's 5th-rated quarterback and offensive lineman Sterling Jenkins will become Penn State's 14th and 15th commitments for 2015.
Yes, James Franklin is proving his assertion that he'd "dominate the region" ring true. Now, here comes the tough part to digest: as a Buckeye fan you should be glad, yes glad, that Penn State is having this success. The stronger the Big Ten, the better for Ohio State, and Urban Meyer and his coaching staff will finish with a Top 5-10 recruiting class for 2015. Believing anything different is borderline lunacy. Meyer's history, his recruiting moxie and his unrelenting drive for perfection should quell any doubts you may have.
If anything, Meyer, who maybe has been too "comfortable" at Ohio State may be getting — and subsequently sending to his assistants — a bit of a wake-up call. As a psychologist disguised as a football coach, Meyer likes to create discomfort for his staff and players, to test them and push them to the limits of what they can achieve. He's getting his wish right now and I'd not bet against him.
In an effort to calm some nerves, let's take a renewed look at how 2015 could shape up for the Buckeyes, starting this week with the offensive side of the ball. We'll start at quarterback.
Somewhat related note: I've seen a number of people on this site, Twitter, everywhere talking about how Ohio State "slow played" Wimbush, and that's just not true. Sometimes, you just get beat.
With Wimbush off the list tonight, and Lorenzo Nunez off the list (later this week), Ohio State will have an interesting decision to make. Do they go all-in on Torrance Gibson and choose to not offer any other signal callers at this point? Gibson, who put the Buckeyes fourth on his Top 15 list (released yesterday) has been an important target for months and will visit Ohio State this summer for the first time.
Beyond Gibson, I believe Ohio State will make a decision to offer either California's Travis Waller or Indianapolis' Tommy Stevens. Buckeyes' quarterback coach Tom Herman will visit Waller next week and he'll also get back to check on Stevens in the near future.
Prediction: Ohio State will land one quarterback in 2015, a number that has dropped recently due to the increased confidence in Cardale Jones, J.T. Barrett and Stephen Collier. When it comes to Urban Meyer, just call me a Monkee 'cause I'm a believer: Ohio State will land Torrance Gibson.
The tailback position is another that I believe is undergoing a change, numbers-wise. Early in the recruiting cycle I thought we'd see two for 2015, but Curtis Samuel's emergence as a legitimate running back option gives Ohio State some flexibility. The university of Miami secured two commitments this spring from Buckeye targets, Dexter Williams and Jordan Cronkrite, but Ohio State continues to pursue their biggest fish: Damien Harris, Jacques Patrick, Mike Weber and L.J. Scott.
I think, as it sits, Ohio State is in the best position with the best player on that list in Damien Harris. The Buckeyes will need to fight off Alabama, Kentucky and yes, Michigan, in order to land the nation's top-ranked running back, and this is another case where Urban Meyer is fully in charge.
Prediction: It will be a fight to the end, but I think the Buckeyes nab Damien Harris from Kentucky although it's likely Ohio State will have a 2016 running back (George Hill) committed before they get one in 2015.
WIDE RECEIVER/TIGHT END
I know there's some debate as to the future of Eric Glover-Williams, but I'm operating under the pretense that EGW is still a member of Ohio State's 2015 class. I am not, however, operating under the pretense that he'll be on offense. I think the Canton McKinley product will start at defensive back for the Buckeyes which gives me three players at wide receiver to fill in.
There are the regular names we hear: Christian Kirk, Van Jefferson, George Campbell, Devante Peete, Damarkus Lodge etc. all still out there. Ohio State is in great shape for Kirk, who named them one of his two favorites (along with Texas A&M), and Jefferson. They'd love to get closer to Campbell but the Florida standout hasn't yet made an effort to get back north for a visit. Yesterday we featured another possibility in Houston's Kemah Siverand, and Missouri's Alex Ofodile and Texas rising-star JF Thomas are definitely in the mix. Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward's Alex Stump committed this past weekend to Kentucky, and I think he was only one solid camp day away from a Buckeye offer. Optimism is high for Jefferson but Ohio State needs to watch out for a potential "push" by LSU and a few others, including Georgia.
At tight end, the Buckeyes are still in hot pursuit of Chris Clark, Hale Hentges, Jackson Harris, and most recently, Miles Boykin. I believe Clark, who recently visited Ohio State and Michigan, is likely leaning towards Ann Arbor so the Buckeyes may very well ramp up their recruitment of Tennessee's Harris.
Prediction: Christian Kirk, Van Jefferson, JF Thomas and Hale Hentges.
Initially, I thought the Buckeyes could settle at three along the offensive line for 2015 but only taking one quarterback and one running back might open a spot along the line, both offensive and defensive. Operating under the pretense that four offensive lineman means Ed Warinner will another excellent haul after a terrific five man group in 2014.
Ohio State sits near the top of the list for a handful of big-time prospects including Ohio's James Daniels, Virginia stars Austin Clark and Matthew Burrell, Maryland standouts Pat Allen and Isaiah Prince and of course Memphis big-man Drew Richmond. There are still a couple of intriguing in-state prospects knocking on the door for offers like Westerville's Rob Dowdy, Winton Woods' teammates George Brown, Jr. and Noah Listermann and even West Virginia commitment Matt Jones from Hubbard.
Prediction: James Daniels, Austin Clark, Matthew Burrell and Rob Dowdy.
|QB||Torrance Gibson||Ft. Lauderdale, Florida||4|
|RB||Damien Harris||Berea, Kentucky||4|
|WR||Christian Kirk||Scottsdale, Arizona||4|
|WR||Van Jefferson||Brentwood, Tennessee||3|
|WR||JF Thomas||Dallas, Texas||3|
|TE||Hale Hentges||Jefferson City, Missouri||3|
|OL||James Daniels||Warren, Ohio||4|
|OL||Rob Dowdy||Westerville, Ohio||2|
|OL||Austin Clark||Lexington, Virginia||3|
|OL||Matthew Burrell||Woodbridge, Virginia||4|