Each player on the Ohio State 2019 roster took a different path toward becoming a Buckeye.
As the backend of Ohio State’s 2020 class approaches and most of the class seems locked in place with only a few moves left for the Buckeyes to make, it’s beneficial to take a look at how the tectonic landscape shifted to fit the pieces in place for Ohio State in recent recruiting cycles.
There has been a history of prospects decommitting late in cycles or taking official visits as close to a week before National Signing Day, and the final season before signing day does have an influence over where recruits fatefully end up.
Each current Buckeye took a different path toward becoming a part of the Ohio State 2019 roster. This is each of their recruiting stories.
Justin Fields – five-stars, No. 2 overall, No. 1 quarterback, No. 2 in Georgia
Justin Fields has had an interesting path since he began his recruitment. Rated the eighth-best composite prospect of all-time, he was once committed to Penn State before decommitting in June 2017 and taking visits to Georgia, Florida State, LSU, Florida, Auburn and Alabama. He then committed to Georgia and transferred to Ohio State. He and Dwayne Haskins had a friendship before his transfer and both worked with quarterbacks coach Quincy Avery.
Gunnar Hoak – three stars, No. 872 overall, No. 40 pro-style quarterback, No. 37 in Ohio
Out of Dublin Coffman High School, Hoak committed to Kentucky out of the Class of 2016 and transferred to Ohio State this offseason in what was likely a depth addition at the position.
Chris Chugunov – three stars, No. 1,128 overall, No. 46 pro-style quarterback, No. 24 in New Jersey
Chugunov committed to West Virginia’s 2015 class and started the final three games of West Virginia’s 2017 season before transferring to Ohio State with two years of eligibility remaining. This season will be his last in college football.
Danny Vanatsky –2018 walk-on out of Cincinnati
Jagger LaRoe – 2018 transfer out of Texas A&M
J.P. Andrade – 2019 preferred walk-on out of La Verne, California
J.K. Dobbins – four stars, No. 46 overall, No. 2 all-purpose back, No. 6 in Texas
Dobbins was offered by Ohio State in early-March of 2016, and two weeks later, he committed to Ohio State. He had never visited the campus at that point. Now, he’s looking at an opportunity to leave early for the NFL at the end of 2019 after having already recorded two 1,000-yard-plus seasons in his true freshman and sophomore seasons.
Demario McCall – four stars, No. 44 overall, No. 2 all-purpose back, No. 3 in Ohio
Former North Ridgeville star Demario McCall recorded 2,300 rushing yards and 35 touchdowns in his junior year alone and became the eighth commitment of Ohio State’s 2016 class, choosing Ohio State over programs like Georgia, Notre Dame and Tennessee. As a redshirt junior, he has an opportunity to take the spot directly behind Dobbins in the 2019 backfield.
Marcus Crowley – four stars, No. 370 overall, No. 26 running back, No. 44 in Florida
Crowley came from Jacksonville through Trinity Christian Academy, which is becoming fertile recruiting ground for the Buckeyes. Late in the 2019 cycle, Crowley announced his flip from Miami to Ohio State, where his former teammate Shaun Wade was playing. He had received his Buckeye offer just a month before in October and then enrolled early. Now he’s vying for a spot behind Dobbins already.
Master Teague – four stars, No. 228 overall, No. 11 running back, No. 6 in Tennessee
When Teague committed to Ohio State, he was a three-star prospect and was joining a 2018 class that featured Jaelen Gill and Brian Snead. Now, with Snead out of the program and Gill contributing at H-back, the path opens up slightly for Teague to have an opportunity behind Dobbins. Teague suffered a serious ankle injury as a senior, though, and redshirted his first season in Columbus.
Steele Chambers – four stars, No. 231 overall, No. 11 athlete, No. 26 in Georgia
When Chambers signed with Ohio State in December 2018, it wasn’t clear whether he would play running back or linebacker, but it’s obvious now that he is a staple at running back. He cleared the 1,000-yard mark and the 20-touchdown mark in each of his last three seasons at Blessed Trinity Catholic in Roswell, Georgia, and had offers from Alabama, Auburn, Clemson and others.
Xavier Johnson – three stars, No. 1,138 overall, No. 170 wide receiver, No. 44 in Ohio, 2018 preferred walk-on
Amari McMahon – 2017 preferred walk-on out of Dublin Scioto High School
Mitch Rossi – 2017 preferred walk-on out of Franklin High School in Tennessee
Robert Cope – 2018 preferred walk-on out of Dublin Jerome High School
K.J Hill – four stars, No. 153 overall, No. 16 wide receiver, No. 1 in Arkansas
Hill, who seemed like a lock to Arkansas or Alabama, committed to Ohio State close to the Class of 2015’s signing day in February. Former Ohio State defensive coordinator Chris Ash, who was an assistant at Arkansas less than two years previous, played a big role in getting Hill to Columbus.
Austin Mack – four stars, No. 72 overall, No. 9 wide receiver, No. 2 in Indiana
Mack committed to Ohio State over Michigan in the summer of 2015 and never wavered. He accounted for more than 1,000 yards receiving in his junior season in 2014 and competed in The Opening Finals. He was on track for his best season in Columbus during the 2018 season before injuring his foot in October.
Binjimen Victor – four stars, No. 97 overall, No. 12 wide receiver, No. 16 in Florida
Victor committed in mid-January of 2016, just a few weeks before Dwayne Haskins flipped from Maryland, and at the time, it gave Ohio State another top-100 wide receiver commitment, in addition to Austin Mack. The trio was expected to change Ohio State’s passing attack in a major way, and the two receivers have yet to make that kind of a mark. They have a big show to follow in 2019 after Haskins’ historic year in 2018 and three receivers headed to the NFL.
Garrett Wilson – five stars, No. 20 overall, No. 2 wide receiver, No. 3 in Texas
Wilson is the strongest brand burned into the minds of Ohio State fans, as he signed to Ohio State’s 2019 class and enrolled early in January. After narrowing it down to Texas and Ohio State, split between his current home, Austin, and his former home, Dublin, he chose the Buckeyes. He put on a show in the spring game and is expected to make an impact in 2019 already.
Jaelen Gill – four stars, No. 30 overall, No. 2 all-purpose back, No. 2 in Ohio
Gill seemed destined to land in Columbus for his collegiate football career, but on the way there, he lost his grandfather, played for three head coaches at Westerville South and hurt his ankle late in his career. His football career has been full of adjustments that he’s bounced back from. Now in his redshirt freshman year, he’s adjusting to the H-back position, where he is battling for the backup spot behind K.J. Hill.
Jaylen Harris – four stars, No. 177 overall, No. 28 wide receiver, No. 4 in Ohio
Jaylen Harris was offered by Ohio State after a summer camp in 2016, but he took his time before committing to Ohio State. He made several visits, including officials to Michigan State and Penn State, but it almost cost him the opportunity to commit to Ohio State, as Trevon Grimes and Tyjon Lindsey were already committed, with Donovan Peoples-Jones potentially on his way too. But Peoples-Jones chose Michigan and Lindsey reopened his recruitment. Harris then committed and is now the only wide receiver from that class on the 2019 roster.
Chris Olave – three stars, No. 399 overall, No. 68 wide receiver, No. 47 in California
Olave was considered an underrated recruit in the Class of 2018, and it was thanks in large part to transfer rules that required him to sit out his junior year. He didn’t have too many offers going into his senior year, but then he posted 93 catches for almost 1,800 yards and 26 touchdowns. Ohio State extended him an offer, along with several other top Power Five programs, and he eventually settled on Columbus as his landing spot. Zach Smith didn’t bring in receivers until later in the class, as Kamryn Babb would later commit to Ohio State in December.
Jameson Williams – four stars, No. 82 overall, No. 13 wide receiver, No. 1 in Missouri
Ohio State has been doing a lot of work on St. Louis receivers in the last three classes, as the Buckeyes brought in two St. Louis wideouts – Kamryn Babb and Cameron Brown – in 2018 and earned the commitment of 2020 wideout Mookie Cooper. The St. Louis wideout in between was Jameson Williams, who earned an offer from Ohio State in the summer of 2017 and committed in September 2018. Williams was likely the fastest player in the 2019 class and might be the fastest currently on the roster. He has lost his black stripe in fall camp and is now working on getting into the receiver rotation for 2019.
C.J. Saunders – 2015 walk-on, earned a scholarship in 2017
Kamryn Babb – four stars, No. 73 overall, No. 13 wide receiver, No. 3 in Missouri
Babb was one of the unfortunate stories where a highly rated prospect suffers major injuries that causes his high school production to suffer. He suffered two major injuries in his junior and senior seasons and didn’t get on the field very often, but his talent resounded loud enough to earn the confidence of the Ohio State staff. He suffered another ACL injury when he arrived in Columbus that caused him to miss his first year in 2018, and he has suffered another knee injury that will potentially end his 2019 season as well. That’s four knee injuries in as many years.
Ellijah Gardiner – three stars, No. 795 overall, No. 115 wide receiver, No. 116 in Texas, signed in 2017
Sam Wiglusz – 2018 preferred walk-on out of Brecksville-Broadview Heights in Brecksville, Ohio
Austin Kutscher – 2018 preferred walk-on out of Massillon High School
Chris Booker – 2019 walk-on out of John Burroughs School in St. Louis, redshirted freshman year at Dayton, played 2018 for Ohio State’s club program
Luke Farrell – four stars, No. 191 overall, No. 7 tight end, No. 9 in Ohio
Farrell, who was rated at the No. 7 tight end out of Perry, Ohio, was actually the second tight end to commit to Ohio State in the Class of 2016. Jake Hausmann had committed earlier and was rated higher, as the No. 4 tight end. He chose the Buckeyes over Michigan State and Notre Dame.
Rashod Berry – three stars, No. 728, No. 35 defensive end, No. 33 in Ohio
Like many tight ends and defensive ends, Rashod Berry was recruited out of Lorain as an athlete by Ohio State. The Buckeyes wanted to get him on campus and determine where he would play. But his recruitment came down to Ohio State and Michigan State, who offered him as a defensive end. He and Davon Hamilton rounded out the bottom of the 2015 class.
Jeremy Ruckert – four stars, No. 37 overall, No. 2 tight end, No. 1 in New York
As Jeremy Ruckert’s career at Ohio State progresses, Buckeye fans will always have sky-high expectations for him after Urban Meyer said Ruckert was the best tight end he’d ever recruited. Meyer went so far as to text Ruckert’s girlfriend and send letters to her mother as well. Meyer wanted Ruckert badly, and eventually, it was enough, as the New York tight end committed to Ohio State over Michigan, Notre Dame and Wisconsin in the 2018 class.
Jake Hausmann – four stars, No. 121 overall, No. 4 tight end, No. 5 Ohio
Hausmann was brought into Ohio State after catching 93 passes in high school, but he has only served a special teams role and has yet to catch his first pass for the Buckeyes.
Cormontae Hamilton – three stars, No. 584 overall, No. 25 tight end, No. 18 in Tennessee, signed in 2019
Derrick Malone – 2015 walk-on out of Dayton
Brock Davin – 2016 walk-on out of Cincinnati
Thayer Munford – four stars, No. 285 overall, No. 28 offensive tackle, No. 14 in Ohio
The tail end of Munford’s high school career brought quite a bit of drama, as what the Ohio High School Athletic Association declared a violation of bylaws was clarified by his mother and Massillon head coach Nate Moore. He was allowed to play in the final four games for Massillon. Then, Munford took an official visit to Ohio State just two weeks before signing day near the end of January 2017. Once he received the Buckeye offer, he committed, and in 2019, he will likely be starting at left tackle.
Branden Bowen – three stars, No. 543 overall, No. 61 offensive tackle, No. 6 in Utah
Bowen is one of the 2019 Buckeyes that is hunting for a starting job this season but wasn’t rated highly when he arrived in Columbus. Before his commitment and signing with Ohio State, he was rated even lower, as the 84th offensive tackle and well above the 700-mark overall. Meyer and his staff knew what Bowen could offer, though. While committed to his home-state school, Bowen made an official visit to Ohio State and then decommitted from Utah 10 days later. Two weeks after that, he committed to Ohio State.
Nicholas Petit-Frere – five stars, No. 7 overall, No. 1 offensive tackle, No. 3 in Florida
When Jackson Carman, the No. 2 offensive tackle in the nation out of Fairfield, committed to Clemson after being a near-lock to Ohio State, it looked like Ohio State would miss on bringing in top talent at the position for its 2018 class, even though it was a position of great need. But once Petit-Frere’s senior season ended – he suspended his recruitment to focus on school – Greg Schiano, whose children attended Berkeley Prep when he was with the Buccaneers, made contact with him to get him on an official visit to Columbus in early February. That visit was enough to earn Petit-Frere’s signature just a few days later. Now, Petit-Frere is fighting Bowen for the right tackle job in 2019.
Joshua Alabi – three stars, No. 555, No. 30 defensive end, No. 9 in Michigan
Alabi appeared to be going anywhere but Ohio State when he traveled to Columbus for the 2014 Friday Night Lights camp. He had received an Ohio State offer in April 2013 and made a couple visits beforehand, but he unprecedentedly committed to Ohio State between reps at the camp in June. After that commitment, he only made visits to Ohio State.
Max Wray – four stars, No. 121 overall, No. 9 offensive tackle, No. 3 in Tennessee
Wary had been committed to Georgia for nearly a year before decommitting. Only after he committed did Ohio State extend an offer to him and his brother, Jake. A month after decommitting from Georgia, Wray committed to Ohio State in April 2017. His brother had also committed to Ohio State but decommitted after Urban Meyer’s departure and is now headed to Colorado.
Dawand Jones – three stars, No. 1,043, No. 86 offensive tackle, No. 13 in Indiana, signed in 2019
Kevin Woidke – 2015 walk-on out of Cleveland, earned a scholarship in spring 2019
Nathan Brock – 2016 walk-on out of Powell
Chris Kuhn – 2018 walk-on out of Sandusky
Jonah Jackson – three stars, No. 1,733 overall, No. 170 offensive tackle, No. 39 in Pennsylvania
Jackson might be the most underrated Ohio State starter in terms of recruiting ratings. He only had four offers when he committed to Rutgers. The other three were from Monmouth, Albany and Massachusetts. Jackson played four years at Rutgers, was named team captain and All-Big Ten Honorable Mention in 2018 and started 11 of 12 games for Rutgers at right guard.
Wyatt Davis – five stars, No. 24 overall, No. 1 offensive guard, No. 5 in California
When Wyatt Davis committed to Ohio State’s 2017 class over Notre Dame and Michigan, he knew it was going to be foundational in terms of the future in Columbus. With Josh Myers already committed, Davis added another top-tier interior lineman. Then Ohio State added Thayer Munford. Those three are predicted to start along the line in 2019.
Matt Jones – four stars, No. 68 overall, No. 1 offensive center, No. 2 in New York
Ohio State had a stranglehold on Jones’ recruitment for the majority of its duration, as Jones picked the Buckeyes over Penn State and Clemson, though his commitment had been anticipated far ahead of when it came. Ohio State had also earned signings from Curtis Samuel and Jahsen Wint from Erasmus Hall in Brooklyn, so his commitment to Ohio State wasn’t a surprise in the 2018 class. For now, Jones is a depth player along the line, but he will find a spot when something in the interior opens up.
Gavin Cupp – three stars, No. 413, No. 42 offensive tackle, No. 14 in Ohio
Enokk Vimahi – four stars, No. 124 overall, No. 7 offensive guard, No. 2 in Hawaii
Ohio State had not been recruiting Vimahi for the entire 2019 recruiting cycle, but when Doug Nester decommitted from Ohio State after Urban Meyer’s departure, the Buckeye staff needed to add an interior lineman. Vimahi remained unsigned and had spent time with Zach Harrison, Garrett WIlson and Harry Miller at the All-American Bowl. He had planned to announce his commitment to USC, Oklahoma or Notre Dame in January but pushed it to National Signing Day, giving himself enough time to make an official visit to Ohio State. Ryan Day and the staff then flew to Hawaii for one day to visit him. He eventually signed with the Buckeyes after the coaching staff’s hustle.
Ryan Jacoby – four stars, No. 283 overall, No. 23 offensive tackle, No. 7 in Ohio
Jacoby was expected to commit immediately after receiving his offer from Ohio State in January 2018, but he waited until March and didn’t take a visit to another school. He enrolled early and was able to participate in the spring game in April.
Zach Stevenson – 2019 walk-on out of Lewis Center
Ryan Smith – 2019 walk-on out of Valley City
Brandon Pahl – 2015 preferred walk-on out of Cutler
Jack Jamieson – 2018 walk-on out of Lakewood
Josh Myers – four stars, No. 53 overall, No. 2 offensive guard, No. 1 in Ohio
Ohio State was naturally involved in Myers’ recruitment very early in the process, since he was rated as the No. 1 recruit in the state. He took visits to programs like Alabama, Notre Dame, Michigan and Tennessee, but Ohio State was the clear leader and eventually earned Myers’ commitment in January 2015, two years before his signing day.
Harry Miller – five stars, No. 30 overall, No. 2 offensive center, No. 6 in Georgia
Ohio State knew early in the 2019 cycle that it wanted Harry Miller on the team in 2019. He’s already garnered plenty of praise, but he was getting that kind of praise for his contributions on and off the field before he ever committed or signed. The only perceived hiccup between Miller and Ohio State was when the Zach Smith-Urban Meyer news broke in August. Miller’s mother, who was once a victim of domestic abuse, spoke out in support of Meyer, though.
Chase Young – five stars, No. 7 overall, No. 2 defensive end, No. 1 in Maryland
Chase Young was another example of Larry Johnson’s strong recruiting in the DMV area. The Buckeyes reached in and plucked the top Maryland prospect out of Terps territory, earning Young’s commitment shortly after he visited for the Friday Night Lights camp. His recruitment ultimately came down to Maryland and Ohio State, and now he’s looking at an opportunity to head to the NFL after three years in Columbus.
Jonathon Cooper – four stars, No. 33, No. 3 defensive end, No. 2 in Ohio
Luke Fickell and Larry Johnson jumped on Cooper early, as Ohio State does with top in-state talent, and it wasn’t much of a competition. Cooper committed to Ohio State in November 2014 and signed in February 2016. He will be starting along the defensive line and has taken on a leadership role on the team in 2019 as he prepares for a breakout season statistically.
Tyreke Smith – four stars, No. 34 overall, No. 4 defensive end, No. 3 in Ohio
Smith had reduced his offers list to Ohio State, Penn State, Oregon, USC and Alabama, but Penn State and Ohio State were at the top, though Penn State had worked out quite a lead on the Buckeyes. Once Brenton Cox reopened his recruitment later in the cycle, Ohio State pushed hard for Smith, who then turned away Penn State for in-home visits twice.
Tyler Friday – four stars, No. 93 overall, No. 6 defensive tackle, No. 4 in New Jersey
There were almost too many connections between Friday and Greg Schiano for the marriage to not work. Ohio State hadn’t been recruiting Friday much at all, but when Brenton Cox decommitted and Micah Parsons was closer and closer to Penn State, Schiano was in New Jersey, his home state, talking to Friday’s head coach, who played for him at Rutgers. Friday seemed destined for Michigan before Schiano’s efforts, but he selected Ohio State in January 2018.
Zach Harrison – five stars, No. 12 overall, No. 2 defensive end, No. 1 in Ohio
Harrison went into the Early Signing Period unsure of whether he would sign with Ohio State, Michigan or Penn State. For Ohio State, he was a must-get, since he lived just 15 miles away from Ohio Stadium and the Buckeyes had lost the top 2018 prospect, Jackson Carman, to Clemson the cycle before. Harrison’s recruitment was very close to his chest, and no one seemed to know where he was headed. But he signed with Ohio State, and if he doesn’t make a big impact on the field in 2019, he certainly will in 2020.
Javontae Jean-Baptiste – four stars, No. 219 overall, No. 16 outside linebacker, No. 6 in New Jersey
Jean-Baptiste’s Ohio State recruitment came as a product of the defensive end shifting that occurred at the end of the 2018 class that saw Brenton Cox decommit, Micah Parsons and Jayson Oweh look to Penn State and Christopher Oats commit to Kentucky. Meyer and his staff scrambled to bring in Tyler Friday and then fought off Texas A&M and Nebraska in the waning weeks of the 2018 cycle to earn the commitment of Jean-Baptiste as well. Now, he's adding weight to his frame to become a stronger edge rusher.
Alex Williams – three stars, No. 615 overall, No. 24 defensive end, No. 26 in Ohio, signed in 2018
Noah Potter – four stars, No. 334 overall, No. 23 defensive end, No. 9 in Ohio, enrolled early in 2019
Jashon Cornell – four stars, No. 95 overall, No. 7 defensive end, No. 1 in Minnesota
Cornell was rated all over the top-100 overall prospects, even being rated as high as No. 1 overall by ESPN. But Ohio State really separated itself after the May 31 visit Cornell made and then pushed harder for Cornell’s favor after he had a solid performance in the Nike camp the next day. From there, it didn’t take long for him to commit to Ohio State over Notre Dame and Michigan State on July 2. As a senior in 2019, Cornell will have a major role in the interior of the Ohio State defensive line.
Taron Vincent – five stars, No. 1 defensive tackle, No. 2 in Florida
Vincent was in a similar position as 2020 all-purpose back Jaylan Knighton when he was being recruited for the 2018 class. Living In Florida and attending IMG Academy, he could choose to stay in Florida and pick Florida State or go to Columbus with the Buckeyes. He picked the Buckeyes, becoming one of the first handful of Ohio State commitments in the 2018 class.
Davon Hamilton – three stars, No. 998, No. 63 defensive tackle, No. 46 in Ohio
Pickerington Central standout Davon Hamilton’s recruitment began slowly and then took off near the end, as teams needed to fill defensive line spots in the 2015 class. He had been in contact with Larry Johnson and the staff but nothing was really forming from their discussions, so he committed to Pittsburgh in June 2014. Then, he flipped in Kentucky in November. Then he took his official and another unofficial to Ohio State in January and flipped to the Buckeyes a week before National Signing Day.
Robert Landers – three stars, No. 481, No. 28 defensive tackle, No. 26 in Ohio
As Landers’ signing day approached in the Class of 2015, the best offer he had was West Virginia. He was rated No. 857 overall when he committed to the Mountaineers in October 2014. Then Tim Hinton and Larry Johnson offered him in hopes of filling out the defensive line class with him and Hamilton. Four days later, Landers flipped to the Buckeyes. Now, he and Hamilton will see the field in positive ways in 2019.
Tommy Togiai – four stars, No. 55 overall, No. 3 defensive tackle, No. 1 in Idaho
Tommy Togiai was the best player in Idaho during his ascent through the Class of 2018, and Ohio State wanted him involved with what would be one of its best defensive tackle classes in recent years. The Buckeyes had missed on several defensive tackles – Rashan Gary, Terry Beckner, Dexter Lawrence and more – but they brought in Taron Vincent and added JUCO commit Antwuan Jackson as well before it was time to added Togiai. Once Ohio State added the first two tackles, Johnson worked hard to convince Togiai that committing to Ohio State wouldn't mean sitting behind other talented players. Now, as a sophomore in 2019, he has worked into the three-man rotation at nose tackle and will be the top guy at the position as a true junior in 2020 if he doesn’t take that crown from Landers and Hamilton this season.
Antwuan Jackson – five stars, No. 1 overall JUCO, No. 1 defensive tackle, No. 1 in Georgia
Antwuan Jackson was recruited heavily by Ohio State during the 2016 cycle, but Jackson ultimately chose Auburn. Deciding after his first season that Auburn wasn’t the place or him, Jackson sought to transfer to Ohio State, but Auburn blocked Ohio State, Clemson and all other SEC schools. Remaining dedicated to the Buckeyes, Jackson enrolled at Blinn College, where Ohio State had recently signed Kendall Sheffield from. Ranked as the top JUCO transfer in the 2018 class, Jackson was able to commit and sign with Ohio State and played in four games in 2018.
Haskell Garrett – four stars, No. 68 overall, No. 6 defensive tackle, No. 4 in Nevada
Jerron Cage – four stars, No. 235 overall, No. 14 defensive tackle, No. 10 in Ohio
Jaden McKenzie – three stars, No. 765 overall, No. 58 defensive tackle, No. 34 in North Carolina
Zaid Hamdan – 2018 preferred walk-on out of Mason
Noah Donald – 2016 walk-on out of Uniontown
Aaron Cox – 2017 walk-on out of Mantua
Brett Novick – 2019 walk-on out of Katonah, New York
Malik Harrison – three stars, No. 683 overall, No. 48 athlete, No. 26 in Ohio
As Ohio State welcomes in a good amount of three-star prospects in its 2020 class, Harrison’s recruitment is one that has been pointed to in recent months as justification. What seemed like an in-state, local addition to Ohio State’s roster has turned into an NFL-caliber linebacker and a player who will need to be relied upon heavily during the 2019 season. He wasn’t exactly out of nowhere. He was getting interest form Michigan and Oklahoma and had offers from Wisconsin, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan State and others. Luke Fickell knew what he was getting in Harrison, and the Columbus native has taken advantage.
Pete Werner – four stars, No. 277 overall, No. 14 inside linebacker, No. 2 in Indiana
Werner was a massive recruiting victory for Ohio State in the Class of 2017. Werner was committed to Notre Dame, who has an intensely strong pipeline from Indianapolis Cathedral, for nine months before making his decisive visit to Columbus for the Michigan game. Notre Dame had fired its defensive coordinator, Brian VanGorder, and went 4-8 that season, which was enough for Werner to take the exit and land in Columbus. Werner has earned a lot of praise from new Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Mattison and seems like a potential starter at Mike linebacker to begin the season.
Teradja Mithcell – four stars, No. 44 overall, No. 2 inside linebacker, No. 2 in Virginia
Luke Fickell’s reputation for developing linebackers at Ohio State was a strong one. His effectiveness is clear when looking at the struggles to develop most prospects at the position since Fickell left before the 2017 season. When Mitchell was being recruited, he made it known publicly via Twitter that he wanted to visit Ohio State because he wanted to develop a relationship with Fickell. But in the time that Mitchell has been at Ohio State, Fickell has been at Cincinnati, yet, after surprising recruiting experts by choosing Ohio State over Florida State, Mitchell has developed into a linebacker that can and will see the field on his own terms in 2019.
Tuf Borland – four-stars, No. 324 overall, No. 22 outside linebacker, No. 4 in Illinois
Borland shocked the recruiting world in a few days after attending Ohio State’s 2017 spring game. He was expected to commit to Wisconsin, where his father played and the state where his uncle was coaching, but he decided to commit to Ohio State instead.
Baron Browning – five stars, No. 11 overall, No. 1 outside linebacker, No. 4 in Texas
One look at Browning’s stat sheet had nearly every program in the country knocking down his door. He recorded a combined 155 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, four sacks, 14 pass deflections, eight forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, four turnover returns for touchdowns and three interceptions between his junior and senior seasons. Browning was going to announce his commitment before his official to Ohio State in November 2016, but he pushed it back. Then, after his visit, Urban Meyer, Tim Beck, Greg Schiano and Luke Fickell all made an in-home visit to Browning, which sealed the deal.
K’Vaughan Pope – four stars, No. 217 overall, No. 9 inside linebacker, No. 4 in Virginia
Pope was a big commitment for Ohio State because he chose the Buckeyes over Alabama, who sent Mike Lcoksley, a former coach at Maryland with strong ties to the DMV, to recruit him, and Clemson, who sent Brent Venables, a noted top recruiter in the country, to recruit him. Pope, now in his true sophomore season, will likely back up Pete Werner at Sam linebacker and will see the field.
Cade Stover – four stars, No. 114 overall, No. 7 outside linebacker, No. 4 in Ohio
Stover chose to stay close to his home in Mansfield by committing to Ohio State in April 2018 despite receiving interest from programs like Oklahoma, Notre Dame and Texas. His monster senior season that featured 175 total tackles has Ohio State fans setting high expectations for the in-state star.
Dallas Gant – four stars, No. 166 overall, No. 10 outside linebacker, No. 5 in Ohio
Gant was another in-state linebacker that chose to commit to Ohio State early in his recruitment. He received offers from Oklahoma, Michigan, Notre Dame and others, but he remained committed to Ohio State. He’s also been said to be one of the most improved linebackers on the 2019 roster.
Justin Hilliard – five stars, No. 35 overall, No. 3 outside linebacker, No. 1 in Ohio
Hilliard committed to Ohio State during the summer of 2014, but that didn’t mean he was a lock to land in Columbus. He also made an official visit to Iowa in October 2014 and was talking with Michigan and Notre Dame as well. But Luke Fickell and Kerry Coombs sealed his signature in the first months of 2015. His career hasn’t taken off as much as some would have hoped, and he suffered an Achilles injury that stunted his spring and summer in 2019.
Tommy Eichenberg – four stars, No. 327 overall, No. 19 inside linebacker, No. 8 in Ohio
Eichenberg was the opposite of most prospects looking at Ohio State as a potential landing spot in the 2019 cycle. Once Urban Meyer retired on Dec. 4, Eichenberg actually committed to Ohio State two days later. He had been in contact with the Buckeyes for months but hadn’t received an offer until after he decommitted from Boston College. Then Ohio State and Michigan battled for his commitment.
Craig Young – three stars, No. 609 overall, No. 34 athlete, No. 11 in Indiana
Young was the product of a summer camp, as Urban Meyer and Kevin Wilson knew of his athleticism but wanted to see him in person. He was a star receiver and played everywhere on the field for Wayne High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana, but he expected to be looked at as a safety by most top programs. When he arrived in Columbus that June, he worked out at safety, linebacker and defensive end. His athletic package was too much to pass on, as Ohio State offered him, and three days later, Young committed. Now, he’s training at linebacker with a lot of upside.
Trayvon Wilburn – 2018 walk-on out of Cincinnati
Ben Schmiesing – 2018 walk-on out of Piqua
Cade Kacherski – 2018 walk-on out of Dublin
Logan Hittle – 2018 walk-on out of Nashport
Damon Arnette – three stars, No. 653 overall, No. 62 cornerback, No. 81 in Florida
Arnette is another former three-star recruit that people can point to as a prospect that developed into a top talent at his position within the Ohio State roster. Ohio State and Michigan pushed for Arnette late in the 2015 cycle, when Arnette was committed to South Carolina. He had also taken several visits to Columbus, where his former teammate, Joey Bosa, played and where his then-teammate Nick Bosa was nearing a commitment to as well. An official visit to Columbus in late-January produced a flip just three days later before National Signing Day. Arnette was one of the lowest-rated prospects in the class for Ohio State, ahead of just Rashod Berry and Davon Hamilton and was the lowest-rated of the five cornerbacks that committed in that class. Denzel Ward was No. 2 in that group.
Jeff Okudah – five stars, No. 8 overall, No. 1 cornerback, No. 2 in Texas
For being a top-10 prospect in the 2017 class, Okudah leaned toward Ohio State fairly quickly and for a long time before he eventually committed in the beginning of January 2017. He took official visits to Oklahoma, Georgia and Florida State but saved his last official visit for Ohio State’s game against Michigan, when the Buckeyes won, 30-27, in overtime. He attributed Ohio State’s ability to put NFL-caliber cornerbacks into the League, something that’s still attributed today by current cornerback commits like Clark Phillips and Lejond Cavazos.
Shaun Wade – five stars, No. 17 overall, No. 2 cornerback, No. 4 in Florida
The same day as Ohio State was slated to play the first College Football Playoff Championship Game in 2015, the Buckeyes earned the commitment of No. 2 2017 cornerback Shaun Wade, who committed two years before he was scheduled to sign. While he took official visits to Alabama, Notre Dame and Virginia Tech, his commitment to Ohio State never faltered. Later in the class, Jeff Okudah, the No. 1 corner in the country, also committed. The Buckeyes went on to win that championship against Oregon, 42-20.
Sevyn Banks – four stars, No. 221 overall, No. 23 cornerback, No. 41 in Florida
Banks had a very quiet recruitment, which was due to an ACL injury that kept him out his junior year and then a commitment the next April. He posted a Nike rating that ranked top-10 nationally, including a 42-inch vertical. He also made an impact as a freshman, playing the final five games, highlighted by the Big Ten Championship and Rose Bowl victories.
Marcus Williamson – four stars, No. 24 cornerback, No. 5 in Florida
Williamson committed after Ohio Stat’s 2016 spring game, when he was still attending Westerville South. He would later move to IMG Academy in Florida. At the time, he was rated as the No. 5 cornerback in the country and committed to a class that already featured Shaun Wade, the No. 2 cornerback.
Tyreke Johnson – five stars, No. 21 overall, No. 2 safety, No. 5 in Florida
Johnson used his former high school teammate, Shaun Wade, as a resource when considering, and eventually committing to, Ohio State. The two were very close friends at Trinity Christian Academy in Jacksonville.Kerry Coombs brought Johnson into Columbus, and while Johnson only had one season with Coombs, Jeff Hafley isn’t a bad position coach to work with either.
Cameron Brown – four stars, No. 323 overall, No. 54 wide receiver, No. 6 in Missouri
Amir Riep – four stars, No. 186 overall, No. 26 cornerback, No. 6 in Ohio
Lloyd McFarquhar – 2018 walk-on out of Cleveland
Darryl Sinclair – 2017 preferred walk-on out of Solon
Jordan Fuller – four stars, No. 134 overall, No. 6 athlete, No. 4 in New Jersey
Fuller was not unfamiliar to the recruiting process once it was his turn. His brother, Devin, went through the process when he committed and signed with UCLA, and he said at Big Ten Media Days that Devin nearly committed to Rutgers, where Jeff Hafley was the cornerbacks coach at the time. When Fuller chose the Buckeyes over Michigan, Notre Dame and Penn State two days before his signing day in 2016, he picked Greg Schiano, who had just been named defensive coordinator, and Jerry Coombs, who has been replaced by Hafley since January.
Isaiah Pryor – four stars, No. 63 overall, No. 8 safety, No. 10 in Florida
Pryor chose the Buckeyes over Georgia, Oklahoma and Notre Dame, pushing the Ohio State 2017 class to No. 1 fairly early in the recruiting cycle. That class would eventually finish No. 2 in the nation, thanks to seven defensive back commits.
Josh Proctor – four stars, No. 71 overall, No. 7 safety, No. 2 in Oklahoma
Proctor ending up at Ohio State has become somewhat of an anomaly at this point. He was the only player on Ohio State’s roster from Oklahoma when he committed and signed, and he remains the only player on the roster form Oklahoma. Ohio State doesn’t typically recruit out of Oklahoma, and that lack of a presence left the door ajar for speculation about Proctor’s potential flip to the Sooners. Taking the No. 2 prospect in the state out of Oklahoma’s grasp wasn’t easy, as Proctor made some more visits to Oklahoma after his commitment, but Greg Schiano locked him down until signing day.
Marcus Hooker – three stars, No. 640 overall, No. 60 cornerback, No. 19 in Pennsylvania
It’s not surprising that Ohio State would want to bring in the younger brother of former Buckeye safety Malik Hooker.
Bryson Shaw – three stars, No. 575 overall, No. 45 safety, No. 10 in Maryland
Kevin Dever – 2017 walk-on out of Cleveland
Ryan Batsch – 2018 walk-on out of Loveland
Owen Fankhauser – 2018 walk-on out of Stow
Brendon White – four stars, No. 126 overall, No. 3 athlete, No. 2 in Ohio
White's father, William, played at Ohio State and went on to the NFL, so when it came time to recruit White out of Powell, Ohio, it only made sense for Ohio State to pursue the No. 2 prospect in the state. White committed early – October 2015 – and became one of the defensive backs in a secondary-heavy Class of 2017. Now, as a junior, he has an opportunity to initiate the Ohio State bullet position in a philosophy change the Buckeye staff could never have seen coming.
Jahsen Wint – three stars, No. 871 overall, No. 61 athlete, No. 2 in New York
Drue Chrisman – No. 1 punter in Class fo 2016
Chrisman averaged 46 and 43 yards per punt in his senior and junior years respectively and aided La Salle to back-to-back state titles. He should compete for the Ray Guy Award in 2019.
Blake Haubeil – No. 2 kicker in the Class of 2017
Haubeil is the only kicker on scholarship and has handled all kickoffs for the last two seasons. He went 17-of-22 on career field goals at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York. His longest field goal was 61 yards during his junior season, which marks the second-longest in New York state history.
Liam McCullough – No. 1 long-snapper in Class of 2016
McCullough is just the second long-snapper in Ohio State history to earn a scholarship out of high school. He and Chrisman were both selected to participate in the U.S. Army All-America Game.
Roen McCullough – 2018 preferred walk-on long-snapper and younger brother of Liam
Michael O'Shaughnessy – 2019 walk-on punter out of New Albany, Ohio
Jake Metzger – 2017 transfer and walk-on punter out of Penn State and Doylestown, Pennsylvania
Zach Hoover – 2018 transfer and walk-on punter out of Iowa State and Toledo
Bradley Robinson – 2017 walk-on long-snapper out of Troy, Michigan
Phillip Thomas – 2017 walk-on long-snapper out of Louisville
Dominic DiMaccio – 2018 walk-on punter out of Powell
Jack Deneher – 2019 walk-on kicker out of Dover