Here’s something that’s not a secret: Urban Meyer and his Ohio State coaching staff have this whole recruiting thing figured out. Under Meyer, the Buckeyes have consistently turned in top-10 recruiting classes.
Recruiting is an inexact science. Every year there are five-star players who don’t live up to the hype and three-star kids who few took a chance on that turn into college stars. The key to landing a top class, though, is finding the perfect blend. Since it’s nearly impossible to land a class filled exclusively with four- and five-star talents, the highly-touted kids must pan out and the unheralded guys in the class must develop once they get on campus.
That’s what Meyer and Co. have done thus far at Ohio State. It’s what all of the top coaching staffs in the country are capable of doing.
Fresh off a national championship season, the Buckeyes are loaded with talent in 2015. Some of that was unheralded in the recruiting world, though.
According to 247Sports’ composite rankings, five of Ohio State’s 22 projected starters for the 2015 season were three-star recruits. That number would jump to six should Cardale Jones win the starting quarterback position. Thirteen of the Buckeyes’ starters were four-star prospects in high school. Should J.T. Barrett win the starting job at quarterback, that number would jump to 14. And, finally, three of Ohio State’s projected starters were five-star recruits. There would be four if Braxton Miller winds up as the Buckeyes’ signal caller.
Let’s take a deeper look at the three-star guys who are projected starters for Ohio State this season.
Thomas exploded onto the scene last season in his first as a starter and racked up a team-high 54 catches for 799 yards and nine touchdowns. Hailing from Woodland Hills, Calif., Thomas had just three scholarship offers coming out of high school, according to his 247Sports profile. The others to offer him were Oklahoma State and Oregon State.
Now, he’s a legitimate NFL prospect who, should he opt to declare for the NFL Draft following his redshirt junior season, be taken in the early rounds.
A little undersized to play his position of center, there were questions about Boren’s ability to play at the Big Ten level. But, because his two older brothers played at Ohio State and Zach Boren was one of Meyer’s favorite players during his first season in Columbus, there was never really a doubt Jacoby Boren would wind up a Buckeye.
According to his 247Sports profile, Boren was just the 30th-ranked offensive guard in the country and was only Ohio’s 36th-ranked player.
In his first year as a full-time starter, Elflein was an All-Big Ten performer at right guard and emerged as Ohio State’s second-best offensive lineman behind All-American candidate Taylor Decker.
Elflein, like Boren, hails from just outside Columbus and went to Pickerington North High School where he was just Ohio’s 62nd-ranked player in the 2012 class and the 56th-ranked offensive guard in the country. Elflein had nine scholarship offers, according to 247Sports with Indiana and Northwestern as the only other Big Ten schools who offered him.
By now, just about everyone knows Lee’s story. He was a high school quarterback who didn’t have a true position at the college level. He camped at Ohio State a couple times before finally earning an offer from the Buckeyes.
Now, he’s a preseason All-American and one of the best linebackers in the country after starring during his redshirt freshman season for Ohio State. Lee recorded 81 tackles (16.5 for loss) and 7.5 sacks during his first year playing linebacker and has turned himself into a first-round NFL talent.
Powell was an Ohio kid who dreamed of playing for the Buckeyes and was the first player to commit following the firing of Jim Tressel. Now, he’s set to enter his second year as a starting safety after recording four interceptions and 76 tackles a year ago.
The Bedford, Ohio native was the nation’s 36th-ranked athlete in the 2012 class and had 11 scholarship offers, according to his 247Sports profile. Michigan State and Minnesota were the only other Big Ten schools to offer him.