Ohio State Class of 2021 Prediction: Four Five-Star Prospects, Loaded Offensive Line and a Complete Defensive Backs Haul

By Zack Carpenter on March 28, 2020 at 9:20 am
JC Latham
JC Latham

Back in early November, we gave our first detailed look at what a No. 1-ranked 2021 class could look like for Ohio State, and so much has changed since then. (For one, there wasn't even an interior lineman in that initial prediction, which was malpractice in retrospect, though Donovan Jackson was eventually moved to offensive guard in his ranking.)

The Buckeyes seem to have completely fallen out of the race (whether by choice or not) from at least three or four of those players, and several new names have popped up that the program has in their sights. 

In February, we gave another class projection following some updates and information we picked up along the trail. Today, I want to give an updated prediction for the 2021 class, and I hope to make this a monthly prediction throughout this cycle and eventually the 2022 cycle down the road.

The class of 2021 could still end up looking quite different from what this following list looks like, but with 15 commitments already lined up, this is our prediction for the class based on the momentum that Ohio State has right now. (Uncommitted prospects in italics)

Prior to his commitment on Friday night, the momentum for five-star running back TreVeyon Henderson had become too strong to overlook, and that's one reason there should be optimism at this point in time for J.T. Tuimoloau, another five-star prospects whom the Buckeyes have emerged as the frontrunner to land.

At wide receiver, I'm predicting that Troy Stellato rounds out the class with Emeka Egbuka choosing either Washington or Clemson. I think the Buckeyes get one of them but not both, and I lean Stellato because of the longtime relationships and connections he has with Brian Hartline and Cardinal Gibbons (Fla.) grad Keenan Bailey.

We've also dropped Tony Grimes from the list, as a handful of other programs seem to have the best chances of getting him right now, especially Georgia, Penn State and Texas A&M.

Also of note is Najee Story, whose inclusion is a bit of a one-off for this prediction since this is a list of guys whom the Buckeyes have momentum for right now. As of March 27, I don't believe Story's commitment would be accepted. But I think that if 1) Tunmise Adeleye chooses Alabama, Oklahoma or another program over Ohio State and 2) Ohio State ends up landing the other top targets on this list along the defensive line (Tuimoloau and Marcus Bradley), it allows them to take someone who might be further down their board (Story) in hopes that he eventually meets their initial expectations for him when they originally offered. 

Larry Johnson is still very much recruiting Story, but there needs to be marked improvement from him this offseason and probably in his senior season for the commitment to be accepted – both in terms of his on-field production and his improvement after suffering a leg injury his sophomore season that he's still battling back from.

Using my favorite recruiting tool, the 247Sports Class Calculator, this 24-man haul comes in with a total score of 319.45, which would be the sixth-highest in the modern recruiting era just behind Alabama's 2013 class (319.50). The average per-player rating is 0.9490, which is a tick higher than the lauded 21-man class of 2017 that finished with the highest-ever average rating (0.9459). I calculated that three separate times, but please feel free to take the role of Gabe from my seventh-grade math class to peer review my work.

Other players to keep an eye on:

  • Linebacker Barrett Carter, though Georgia or Clemson seem to be the frontrunner, with Clemson gaining a ton of momentum after his teammate and good friend Jordan Hancock committed there. The two have made it clear that they want to play for the same college team. I did not have a second linebacker commit in the above prediction since the Buckeyes have Carter the highest on their radar and don't have a ton of momentum right now for many other 2021 linebackers. However, Jaylen Johnson could just as easily be slid into the linebacker category instead of safety since the Buckeyes' plans are to use him at outside linebacker and safety, with his frame suggesting OLB is more likely.
  • Offensive tackle Tristan Leigh, though Clemson, Notre Dame and Virginia, to name a few, seem to have a better line on him.
  • Tight ends Jordan Dingle of Bowling Green, Kentucky, and Jack Pugh of Hilliard Bradley (Ohio), who does not have an offer yet, are two of the Buckeyes' top tight end targets after Hudson Wolfe, and they will need to bring in two in this class to replenish the position.
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