Next Wednesday is a big day for the Class of 2019 as the traditional signing day arrives and programs put the finishing touches on their respective classes. Yes, Ohio State and the bulk of the country already have the majority of their signees in the fold thanks to December's early signing period, but Ryan Day and the Buckeyes still have a few big names on the radar.
Brace yourselves: Some people will inevitably be up in arms over a class that's going to finish outside of the top 10. But a deeper dive into things should make this an easier pill to swallow.
Two things to remember here – 1) Ohio State just lost one of the greatest coaches in college football history and 2) this is going to be a smaller recruiting haul. Instead of the 23-25 signees that we've gotten used to seeing, 2019 won't even hit 20. Here's to hoping the pessimists out there also remember the recent addition of a certain five-star quarterback who's likely to be leading the team this season. Things could be a heck of a lot worse, folks.
Meanwhile, Ohio State is already full steam ahead for the 2020 class, and right now that group checks in at No. 3 in the country behind only Alabama and LSU. This one should go back to what we're used to seeing in terms of the sheer numbers, and it's already shaping up to be a stellar class.
There are a few major areas of need, and it's never too early to speculate on the class composition. Next week we'll go a bit further and unveil our initial board for the 2020 class. A certain five-star Cincinnati offensive tackle was going to be No. 1 on the list, but he's already in the fold. Any guesses as to who's going to take home that prestigious honor like Jackson Carman and Zach Harrison of yesteryear?
The Justin Fields addition was absolutely huge, but there's still some depth concerns thanks to Tate Martell's departure and Dwan Mathis' flip to Georgia. Jack Miller is already committed, and the Arizona product is one of the best in the country. The Buckeyes are also on the prowl for a transfer at the position, but as of now we're expecting a pair for 2020.
Running Back: 2
Ohio State has Marcus Crowley on campus already and Steele Chambers is also signed for the current class. We'll have to wait and see if the latter ultimately ends up in the backfield or at linebacker. Brian Snead's departure and the possibility of J.K. Dobbins leaving after his junior season makes this an important position for the 2020 class. Darvon Hubbard is currently committed but I'm not totally sold on the nation's No. 16 tailback signing with the Buckeyes.
Wide Receiver: 4
It's going to be a big class for Brian Hartline, and the good news is that the Buckeyes already have two top receiver targets in the fold in four-stars Gee Scott Jr. and Jaxon Smith-Njigba. The top remaining names include a pair of five-stars in Julian Fleming and Rakim Jarrett. Our best guess at this point is that Hartline lands one of them and grabs another wideout to bring the total to four for 2020.
Tight End: 1
I'm not totally sure what to make of the tight ends in Ryan Day's offense, but let's just go ahead and assume the Buckeyes will sign one in 2020. Rashod Berry is now a senior while Jake Hausmann and Luke Farrell are both entering their junior seasons. That leaves Jeremy Ruckert and newcomer Cormontae Hamilton as the younger pups in the tight end room.
Offensive Line: 5-6
The offensive line is is probably the most important position group in the entire Class of 2020. Yes, the Buckeyes are still chasing a few for the current class, but this is a unit that needs addressed in a big way. With Paris Johnson Jr., Luke Wypler, and Jakob James already committed, Greg Studrawa and Ryan Day are off to a heck of a start. Ohio State will need to add another two or three before all is said and done.
Defensive Tackle: 1-2
While it's not a big need for 2019, Larry Johnson's late charge in signing North Carolina's Jaden McKenzie may turn out to be a significant thing in the trenches. Following the 2018 haul, this still shouldn't be too pressing of a need for 2020, but it's reasonable to pencil in one or two at the position. Haskell Garrett, Antwuan Jackson, Tommy Togiai, Taron Vincent, and Jerron Cage all have eligibility remaining beyond the coming season.
Defensive End: 2
The signing of Zach Harrison and Noah Potter will go a long way in improving the depth at the position even with Chase Young likely heading towards the 2020 NFL Draft. Jonathon Cooper and Jashon Cornell are both entering their final season, and the positional need may be dependent on the development of youngsters like Javontae Jean-Baptiste and Alex Williams.
Al Washington has plenty to work with as he'll look to get Ohio State's linebackers heading in the right direction. Any potential attrition (in addition to Keandre Jones) would likely shake things up a bit, but for now we're forecasting two at the position in 2020. Cade Stover, Tommy Eichenberg, and Craig Young are the newcomers this year and we'll be keeping an eye on Steele Chambers' trajectory as well.
Another big need for 2020, Ryan Day and Jeff Hafley will likely need to add a trio to help reload the cornerback room. The loss of Jordan Battle was a big blow to the 2019 class, and as things stand now it's not looking like the Buckeyes will sign a single cornerback. Damon Arnette is done after this season and no one would be surprised if Jeffrey Okudah tests the NFL waters as well.
I'm a huge believer in Josh Proctor's potential, and I'm guessing most have him pegged as the next big thing at the position. Players like Isaiah Pryor and Jahsen Wint haven't exactly delivered thus far but Brendon White was a pleasant surprise in the latter portion of 2018. Ronnie Hickman and Bryson Shaw enter the picture this year, so the need at the position isn't even close to the need at corner.
Special Teams: 1
This is almost impossible to predict thanks to the gray-shirting and other shenanigans that go on with special teams, but both Blake Haubeil and Drue Chrisman are juniors this year, so we will just stick with one special teamer for the time being.
That puts the magic number right in the 24-26 range which is just about what we've come to expect from all the recent recruiting classes. There are currently 17 seniors on the roster and then of course you have to factor in potential transfers and early NFL Draft declarations. Given the small size for 2019, it's reasonable to assume the Buckeyes bounce back with a bigger class in 2020.