Needs and Numbers: Forecasting the Positional Breakdown for Ohio State's 2019 Recruiting Class

By Andrew Ellis on February 13, 2018 at 2:15 pm
Ohio State's 2019 recruiting class will likely be heavy in the trenches.

Ohio State is fresh off of its latest recruiting class, and after finishing No. 2 in America for 2018, it's full speed ahead into the new cycle.

We're 51 weeks away from signing day, and it'd be stating the obvious to say that a whole heck of a lot is going to change between now and Feb. of 2019. Early NFL Draft entries, transfers, and injuries are all things that Ohio State and every other team in the country will deal with, and they will of course have a heavy influence on the scholarship picture.

Still, with the focus now entirely on the next great recruiting class, we can start piecing together what the position breakdown might look like for the Buckeyes' 2019 haul.

Quarterback: 1

I'm of the belief that a quarterback should be taken in every class, and it should be no different in 2019. The Buckeyes have two on the roster with experience, and Tate Martell will be a redshirt freshman this season. Is there a possibility that Dwayne Haskins – assuming he's the guy – sets the world on fire and has a decision to make come next January? Could someone end up looking for opportunities elsewhere? It's certainly worth monitoring.

Running Back: 1

Ohio State just signed two pure running backs in Brian Snead and Master Teague. Jaelen Gill is probably going to fill the H-back role but may also see time in the backfield. J.K. Dobbins is only going to be a sophomore. It wouldn't be a stretch to see the staff elect to bring in a pair, but right now I'm sticking with one running back for the 2019 class. 

Wide Receiver: 3-4

Kamryn Babb, L'Christian Smith, and Chris Olave will all be true freshmen this season. 2018 signee Cameron Brown may also end up at wideout, but the staff may experiment with him in the secondary. Parris Campbell, Johnnie Dixon, and Terry McLaurin are all entering their final seasons while K.J. Hill, Austin Mack, and Binjimen Victors will all be juniors. 

The 2019 class will be an important one for Zach Smith and #Zone6. We'll include the H-back position in here so that could stretch things a bit further. 

Tight End: 1-2

The best high school tight end in the country is headed to Columbus, but the need at the position will likely be determined by a pair of 2016 signees. Jeremy Ruckert deserves the fanfare he's receiving and should play as a true freshman. Jake Hausmann and Luke Farrell are entering their third season with the Buckeyes, and one of them will likely have to step up as a redshirt sophomore. Rashod Berry will be a junior, and while he's a converted defensive end, it does look like the Lorain native has settled in at tight end.

Offensive Line: 5

Greg Studrawa will have three new linemen in the 2018 arsenal, and it certainly doesn't hurt that both Max Wray and Matthew Jones are already on campus and taking classes. The signing of five-star tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere may have been Urban Meyer's biggest win on the trail, and we really cannot overstate the importance of landing the nation's No. 7 overall prospect. Still, I personally was hoping for three tackles in the class and a total of at least four linemen.

The Class of 2019 is going to be heavy in the trenches, and I'd look for the Buckeyes to bring in five – perhaps even six – at the position. One has to think the staff will try to bring in at least two true tackles. Doug Nester is already in the fold and is listed as No. 8 tackle prospect, but he may project best along the interior part of the line. A trio of tackles and two on the inside for a total of five sounds about right.

My esteemed colleague Andrew Lind touched on it in Sunday's Hurry Up, but this past weekend saw several talented linemen head to Columbus for the Buckeyes' junior day.

Defensive Line: 5

Loading up on pass rushers will once again be a priority. The good news is that defensive tackle won't be a pressing need thanks to the ridiculous 2018 haul. The additions of Taron Vincent, Tommy Togiai, and JUCO star Antwuan Jackson mean Larry Johnson will be able to focus along the edge. My guess is that the class will feature three or four edge rushers and one or two tackles. 

More good news? The state of Ohio has a nice crop of 2019 talent at the position, including a five-star who may very well be the biggest freak in the entire country. 

Linebacker: 2-3

Dante Booker will be the only senior this coming season, but the junior class still has its question marks in guys like Justin Hilliard and Nick Conner. This unit is a bit of a question mark but there's certainly plenty of young talent on the roster. Teradja Mitchell, K'Vaughan Pope, and Dallas Gant enter the fray this year. 

Defensive Back: 4-5

Sevyn Banks is the only pure cornerback addition for 2018, so that is expected to be a need for the 2019 class; even with former five-star Shaun Wade taking a redshirt in his first season. Tyreke Johnson should be versatile enough to play a number of spots, but for now is planning on making his mark at corner. Right now the biggest question marks in the backfield would have to be Jahsen Wint and Wayne Davis; both of whom will be redshirt sophomores in 2018. 

Special Teams: 1

Sean Nuernberger will be a senior while Blake Haubeil and Drue Chrisman are both sophomores this year, so there's not really a pressing need at either kicker or punter. We'll go with one as the magic number on special teams, but it's typically one of the more unpredictable units considering the different paths such as walking on and taking a grayshirt.

The roster is set to feature nine seniors, but again there's bound to be plenty of other attrition in one form or another. The new recruiting rules are now in play, and while the most talked about change revolves around the early signing period, the new "hard cap" at 25 signees doesn't seem to be fully understood just yet. 

In earlier years, schools could count early enrollees toward the previous signing class, thus allowing them to go over the 25. It seems as though that loophole is now gone and 25 will in fact be the max. The Buckeyes signed 26 in 2018, but that included one JUCO in the aforementioned Antwuan Jackson. 

It's probably reasonable to expect another fully loaded class for 2019.

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