There's no denying it.
Losing offensive tackle JC Latham to Alabama on Friday was a blow to Ohio State's recruiting efforts in the 2021 cycle. He could have been top offensive line commit in the class, a potential future starting left tackle and the fifth five-star rising senior to join the Buckeyes.
As much as anything else, it proved Ohio State isn't invulnerable. For so long this cycle, Ryan Day reeled in seemingly everyone he and his assistant coaches wanted. Latham also would have greatly aided in the Buckeyes' ongoing effort to secure the best class both of the 2021 cycle and, even more impressively, of the modern recruiting era, which dates back to 1999.
For the past decade, Florida's 2010 recruiting class has held the record as the highest-rated class of the millennium with a score of 324.62 points.
Even with Latham committed to the Crimson Tide, Ohio State can surpass the Urban Meyer-led Gators' class of a decade ago if – and it's a big “if” without much wiggle room – it can secure its top remaining targets.
Right now, the Buckeyes' 2021 class has accumulated 301.38 points with 19 commitments. To put that into perspective, here's where the unfinished class ranks among Ohio State's classes of the past decade.
|YEAR||TOTAL POINTS||AVG. PROSPECT RATING||FIVE-STAR COMMITS|
|2018||317.06||0.9429||PETIT-FRERE, VINCENT, JOHNSON|
|2017||312.14||0.9459||YOUNG, OKUDAH, BROWNING, WADE, DAVIS|
|2021||301.38||0.9534||SAWYER, HENDERSON, JACKSON, MCCORD|
|2020||295.08||0.9180||FLEMING, JOHNSON, SMITH-NJIGBA|
|2019||261.18||0.9187||HARRISON, WILSON, MILLER|
In order for Ohio State to break the mark set by Florida in 2010, it'll have to smash its program record of 317.06 points set in 2018. Yet with only 19 commitments and the highest average prospect rating it has ever had, it's an achievable feat.
The Buckeyes are still chasing a number of top-100 recruits, including a few who are arguably the best at their respective positions.
Say hello to defensive end J.T. Tuimoloau and wide receiver Emeka Egbuka, a pair of five-star prospects from Washington. Tuimoloau is the No. 2 overall prospect and 24th-best recruit in the modern recruiting era, and Egbuka is ranked No. 8 overall and as the top wide receiver in the 2021 cycle. Despite living across the country, they're both viewed as Ohio State leans at this point.
In order to have a shot at securing the best recruiting class of all-time, the Buckeyes essentially have to get them both.
If they reel in Tuimoloau and Egbuka, their total points would jump from 301.38 to 316.04. That score, with only 21 commitments, would put them within 8.58 points of Florida's 2010 class. Notably, the score of Ohio State's unfinished 21-person class would also be high enough to be the top-ranked recruiting class in the 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016 and 2020 cycles.
Getting Tuimoloau and Egbuka to go along with a class that already features Jack Sawyer, Kyle McCord, TreVeyon Henderson and a host of other heralded recruits would make Ohio State's 2021 class an absolute monster. Day, Mark Pantoni and the assistant coaches would get heaped with praise, and all of it would be deserving.
But in order to top the Gators for the top class of the modern recruiting era, the Buckeyes would have to round out the class by securing commitments from a couple of their other top targets.
Turning the tides on a couple of four-stars they've been chasing who appear to be trending elsewhere – namely tight end Hunter Wolfe and offensive guard Jager Burton – would be boons for the class' score. But as of now, they're not the most likely options, and neither is five-star linebacker Raesjon Davis who told Eleven Warriors he plans to visit Ohio State in the fall but remains committed to LSU. Five-star cornerback Tony Grimes would be a massive addition, but the Buckeyes are widely believed to be trailing in his recruitment, and while they'd love to add four-star cornerback Jordan Hancock, he's committed to Clemson. They'll still pursue Latham, too, though flipping him will be tough.
Davis, a Pennsylvanian whose dad has Ohio ties, is the No. 55 overall prospect and second-ranked safety in the class. The Buckeyes are sitting in a good spot right now, vying with Penn State, Clemson, LSU and others. Malone, a long way from deciding between Ohio State, Texas A&M, Tennessee, Mississippi, Rutgers and others, would fill the Buckeyes' hole in recent recruiting classes at nose tackle. The New Jersey native is ranked No. 56 overall and No. 4 among defensive tackles.
Let's do the math: If Ohio State lands Tuimoloau, Egbuka, Davis and Malone, it would have 23 commitments in its 2021 class for a score of 323.18, per the 247Sports class calculator. Incredibly, despite that being possibly the best-case realistic scenario, it still wouldn't alone be enough to top 2010 Florida's score of 324.62.
To get over the hump and break the modern recruiting class record, the Buckeyes would have to add one or, more likely, two additional commitments. Maybe they target a second tight end if they miss on Wolfe. Or they could look for a fourth wide receiver, such as Christian Leary. They might look to a lower-ranked offensive tackle, possibly taking a look at some in-state options.
Here's an example of how Ohio State could wrap its class up in a way that would break the previously set record.
|NAME||POSITION||RANKING||OHIO STATE'S 2021 CLASS RATING|
|J.T. TUIMOLOAU||DE||No. 2 overall||309.47|
|EMEKA EGBUKA||WR||No. 8 overall||316.04|
|DERRICK DAVIS||S||No. 55 overall||320.01|
|TYWONE MALONE||DT||No. 56 overall||323.18|
|RAYSHAUN BENNY||OT||No. 194 overall||324.52|
|MITCHELL EVANS||TE||No. 501 overall||325.18|
|25 TOTAL COMMITS||—||—||325.18|
So...is it still possible to top Florida for the best recruiting class of the modern era? Yes, it's doable. Will it require a near-perfect finish, including multiple five-star prospects and other top-100 recruits? Pretty much.
Recruiting crowns aren't national titles. There's a lot of time between when this class can sign in December and when they'll be chasing trophies in Ohio State jerseys. But if you don't think landing the best class both of the cycle and the modern recruiting era would matter, you're simply wrong. It would only add a ridiculous influx of talent to a program that already has arguably the nation's most talented roster.
As Urban Meyer used to say, if anybody's ranking anything, the Buckeyes want to come in first. Since Florida's mark is in sight, while it'll be difficult to reach, they're aiming for it.