Heat Check: Unveiling Our Inaugural Board for Ryan Day's First Full Recruiting Class in Columbus

By Andrew Ellis on February 12, 2019 at 2:15 pm
Mekhail Sherman debuts at No. 1 on our 2020 recruiting board.

Recruiting is all about momentum. Sometimes you're gaining it, sometimes you're losing it. What prospects are trending up with Ohio State? Let's take a look.

Ohio State put the finishing touches on the 2019 class just last week, and it's now full steam ahead for 2020. Ryan Day has already shown what he can do on the trail, but this next class is going to feel more like "his" with Urban Meyer no longer at the helm.

While the most recent class finished behind only Alabama and Georgia in terms of the average rating per signee, there are still some pretty big areas of need moving forward. Right now those needs are primarily along the offensive line, skill positions, and at cornerback. The good news? 2020 is already off to a tremendous start with some key pieces in place at those positions of need.

In an effort to better keep up with the movement on the recruiting front, we will once again be releasing a monthly board to help monitor some of the more noteworthy occurrences from the previous 30 days. 

Our annual reminder on the process:

  • This isn't based on any one particular factor. We consider it a combination of positional needs, reciprocated interest, player caliber, and how hard the staff may be pushing. It's absolutely not an exact science.
  • It's only February, and this is going to change a lot over the coming months. Prospects are going to commit to various schools and we've seen before how a single pledge can impact numerous programs across the country.
  • Keep in mind that as the season gets underway, we'll get a much better feel of the personnel – including players who could leave early – and what to expect beyond just 2019; certainly another variable to consider when looking at recruiting needs. 
  • Again, it's only February, and we only include 11 spots. Some familiar names we've frequently discussed may not be making an appearance now, but as signing day draws near, it gets a bit easier to narrow things down.

Without further ado, the initial 11W board for the Class of 2020:

MEKHAIL SHERMAN OLB 1 ★★★★★ Washington, D.C. Bama•Clemson•UGA•PSU
KELEE RINGO CB 2 ★★★★★ Scottsdale, AZ Washington•Texas•USC
DARRION HENRY DE 3 ★★★★ Cincinnati, Ohio Michigan•Penn State
FRED DAVIS II CB 4 ★★★★★ Jacksonville, FL Bama•Florida•FSU•Miami
KENDALL MILTON RB 5 ★★★★★ Clovis, CA Bama•USC•Oklahoma
RAKIM JARRETT WR 6 ★★★★★ Washington, D.C. Bama•Florida•LSU•USC
TURNER CORCORAN OT 7 ★★★★ Lawrence, KS Nebraska•Oklahoma
BRYAN BRESEE DL 8 ★★★★★ Damascus, MD Bama•Clemson•Georgia•PSU
HENRY GRAY  CB 9 ★★★★ Hollywood, FL Miami•Clemson•PSU
GEIREAN HATCHETT OG 10 ★★★★ Ferndale, WA Washington•Michigan•Oklahoma
R.J. MICKENS SAF 11 ★★★★ Southlake, Texas TAMU•Clemson•Florida

The 247 Sports composite rankings list Washington D.C's Mekhail Sherman as the country's No. 15 overall prospect. We've got the St. Johns' defender at the top of the board and there's reason to be fairly confident with Ohio State's chances at the moment. His crystal ball favors the Buckeyes and the five-star has made multiple trips to Columbus dating back to the summer.

At 6-foot-3 and 234 pounds, Sherman projects as an outside linebacker or defensive end at the next level. He's developed quite the relationship with Urban Meyer, so keeping Meyer on campus – even in a new role – could be a factor here. He had been looking at a summer decision timeline but now plans on waiting until closer to signing day. 

Ohio State failed to sign a single cornerback in the Class of 2019 thanks to Jordan Battle's unfortunate flip to the Crimson Tide. There's a real shot the Buckeyes look to sign up to three at the position for 2020, and Scottsdale, Arizona's Kelee Ringo is likely at the top of the list for Jeff Hafley and Ryan Day. 

A native of the Pacific Northwest, Ringo is a 6-foot-2, 205-pound corner who relocated to Arizona back in 2017. That means the nation's No. 2 player at the position is just a stone's throw from four-star Buckeye pledge Jack Miller. Ringo doesn't seem close to a decision, but Miller is already doing what he can to help the cause.

Cincinnati (Princeton) defensive lineman Darrion Henry debuts at No. 3 on the board. Already up to 260 pounds, the country's No. 46 overall prospect may end up on the interior portion of the line. He was in Columbus just over a week ago and I get the feeling this one could be done and finished sooner rather than later. 

Ohio State will look to keep the Jacksonville Trinity Christian pipeline flowing with five-star cornerback Fred Davis II. The Buckeyes have signed a prospect from the Conquerors each year dating back to 2017. It started with Shaun Wade and then Tyreke Johnson and Marcus Crowley followed suit in 2018 and 2019. Davis is the nation's No. 3 corner and the five-star has tremendous size at 6-foot-2 and 177 pounds. Multiple insiders from the Sunshine State recently submitted crystal balls in favor of Ohio State.

Brian Snead's departure – along with the chance of J.K. Dobbins bolting after 2019 – means that the Buckeyes should be hunting for a pair of tailbacks. First, let's get this out of the way: I don't think current pledge Darvon Hubbard ends up in this class. Something just feels off with that one and I'm guessing the backfield need ends up getting filled elsewhere. 

Clovis, California's Kendall Milton checks in as the nation's second-best tailback and he's No. 5 on our board. This recruitment is just getting started but the five-star already has plans to head to Columbus this April for an unofficial visit. This is big news as it will allow Ryan Day and Tony Alford to get him back in the fall for an official. Bama, USC, Oklahoma, and several others are also very much in the picture.

Brian Hartline could look to take as many as four wideouts in the class, and Rakim Jarrett is likely the priority target at the moment. Gee Scott Jr. and Jaxon Smith-Njigba are already in the fold, and that's the only reason Jarrett isn't a bit higher on our board. The five-star is a guy who's probably going to play the recruiting game for a while, but the Buckeyes are in a tremendous spot. A teammate of Sherman's, it goes without saying that the coaching staff will be spending plenty of time in our nation's capital.

Note: Catawissa, Pennsylvania's Julian Fleming is also a very real option at wideout. He's the nation's No. 1 player at the position and Hartline has done a fantastic job of cultivating that relationship. Still, it seems like a bit of a long shot for the Buckeyes to land both he and Jarrett. Fleming has seemingly made dozens of trips to Happy Valley and is off the board for the time being.

Offensive line is the biggest need for the Class of 2020. I realize we only have a pair of linemen on our initial board, but that's solely because the Buckeyes already have three great ones in the fold with Paris Johnson Jr., Luke Wypler, and Jakob James. The staff should try to nab three tackles in the class and I'd say they already have 1.5. Johnson Jr. is the best tackle prospect in the country while James could end up at guard or tackle. 

Turner Corcoran is probably the top tackle target on the board right now as Ohio State, Nebraska, and Oklahoma are three of the top contenders. It's looking like Scott Frost and the Huskers may be tough to beat here as the Kansas product has been to Lincoln six times since Frost took over. Aurora, Colorado's Reece Atteberry didn't make our initial list but he too is one to watch moving forward.

Washington's Geirean Hatchett comes in at the No. 10 spot, and while he'll be another tough pull from out West, I believe he's a more realistic option than five-star Oak Park, Michigan guard Justin Rogers; at least for the time being. Hatchett is the nation's No. 5 guard prospect and he's already made two cross-country trips to Columbus. Washington is the current crystal ball favorite for the four-star. 

Damascus, Maryland's Bryan Bresee is the country's top overall prospect regardless of position (per 247 Sports). At 6-foot-5 and 290 pounds, he certainly seems destined to be an interior lineman rather than an edge rusher. Ohio State led the early crystal ball charge before Penn State, Georgia, and now Clemson all seemed to gain momentum. The Buckeyes will have a shot here as long as Larry Johnson is around, but they're probably running third at best right now—regardless of what the crystal ball is saying. 

Two more defensive backs help to complete our initial board with a pair of four-stars in cornerback Henry Gray and safety R.J. Mickens. Gray decommitted from Miami in December and now it looks like Ohio State and Clemson could be the leaders in the clubhouse. It's worth noting that Bill Greene and Miami insider Andrew Ivins both have him pegged to Columbus. 

Mickens checks in as the country's No. 1 safety prospect and the Texas A&M legacy seems like anything but a lock to Aggieland. He camped at Ohio State last summer and has since made trips to Georgia and Clemson. The 6-foot-1, 188-pounder is clearly one of America's more coveted prospects, and while safety isn't as critical of a need as corner, Mickens rounds out our board at No. 11. 

It should be a class that gets back up to the 23-25 range, which means Ohio State could once again challenge for the recruiting crown. Ryan Day is off to a heck of a start and the class checks in at No. 4 in the country behind four of the usual recruiting powers. It's a good time to have plenty of spots since the Buckeyes also have plenty of needs to fill. 

A strong year in the state of Ohio also could spell good news as Day may be on track to sign all five of the state's top prospects. Obviously there are several names that didn't make the list who seem to be on track to end up in the class. That includes guys like Akron's DeaMonte Trayanum and Dublin's Michael Drennen II

It's going to take some getting used to seeing the name "Fred Davis" this go around. Those of you who have been following this for a while probably remember the five-star Toledo (Rogers) wideout who caused the meltdown of all meltdowns when he sided with Pete Carroll over Jim Tressel back in 2004. Pretty sure there were several 100-page message board threads dedicated to that whole fiasco.

As always, our recruiting board will certainly evolve as new offers are extended, prospects commit to various programs, etc etc. Ryan Day's touch has been tough to resist thus far, and he'll look to keep that going with his first full class in 2020. 

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