Of the 26 scholarship players that Ohio State brought in as part of its recruiting class of 2015, only 13 of those players remain with the Buckeyes.
Following Joe Burrow’s decision to transfer from the program on Tuesday, half of Ohio State’s 2015 recruiting class is already gone.
At first glance, that seems like a high number. With that class going into its fourth year out of high school, its members are supposed to be a core portion of this year’s team, and 50 percent of it is already gone.
Since Urban Meyer arrived at Ohio State, however, losing about half of a recruiting class before its senior year has been par for the course.
Ten out of 23 players from Ohio State’s 2014 recruiting class were gone before what would have been their fourth seasons as Buckeyes. Twelve of 24 players from Ohio State’s 2013 recruiting class were done playing for the Buckeyes before the 2016 season. Thirteen of 25 players from Urban Meyer’s initial recruiting class in 2012 had ceased playing for the Buckeyes before the 2015 season.
Such attrition is expected at Ohio State, and the Buckeyes prepared accordingly; after all, Ohio State is still working its way back down to the 85-man scholarship limit for the upcoming season, having continued to bring in large recruiting classes in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
Among the 13 members of the 2015 recruiting class who are still with the Buckeyes, many of them are set to play key roles for their team in their senior/redshirt junior seasons.
Defensive tackles Dre’Mont Jones and Robert Landers, right tackle Isaiah Prince and cornerback Damon Arnette are all set to be starters in 2018. Running back Mike Weber and wide receiver K.J. Hill will rotate in regularly at their positions. Liam McCullough is going into his third season as the Buckeyes’ primary long snapper.
Justin Hilliard will continue competing in preseason camp for the chance to start at middle linebacker. Branden Bowen and Joshua Alabi are expected to be key backups on the offensive line, while Jashon Cornell and Davon Hamilton will rotate in on the defensive line. Rashod Berry has the potential to be a receiving weapon at the tight end position, though his role for the upcoming season is unclear.
Those 13 players, along with seven fifth-year seniors remaining from the 2013 recruiting class, give the Buckeyes a solid core of upperclassmen, and a similar number of fourth- and fifth-year scholarship players as they’ve had in other recent seasons.
It is notable, though, that only two of the early departures from the 2015 recruiting class – Denzel Ward and Jerome Baker – have been for players leaving early to enter the NFL draft, while others who could have, such as Jones and Weber, decided to return for another season as Buckeyes.
The rest of Ohio State’s early exits from its class of 2015 have come from transfers, medical disqualifications or dismissals from the program.
By comparison, five of Ohio State’s 10 early departures from the 2014 class were for NFL draft entry (Marshon Lattimore, Malik Hooker, Curtis Samuel, Raekwon McMillan and Noah Brown), while six of the Buckeyes’ 12 early departures from the 2013 class were for players going pro (Joey Bosa, Ezekiel Elliott, Eli Apple, Darron Lee, Vonn Bell and Jalin Marshall).
Burrow is the third member of the class of 2015 to announce he would transfer from Ohio State since last season, joining Matthew Burrell and Kevin Feder. Burrell, like Burrow, announced his decision after failing to earn the standing on the depth chart he hoped for in spring practice; he announced Tuesday that he will play next season at the FCS level at Sam Houston State. Feder, who announced his intention to leave the program as a graduate transfer in January, has not yet announced where he will play next season.
Joshua Norwood, a cornerback from the class of 2015, transferred last year to West Virginia. Wide receiver Alex Stump transferred to Vanderbilt last March. Offensive lineman Grant Schmidt, who transferred from Ohio State after just one year in the program, is now at South Dakota State after a one-year stint at Cincinnati.
A.J. Alexander, a tight end from the class of 2015, was placed on medical scholarship in December after missing the entire 2017 season with a knee injury. Linebacker Nick Conner was medically disqualified last season after battling knee injuries throughout his three years on the team. Cornerback Jamel Dean failed to receive medical clearance upon arriving at Ohio State as an early enrollee at 2015, and now plays at Auburn.
The other two early exits from the 2015 recruiting class, Torrance Gibson and Eric Glover-Williams, were forced out for disciplinary reasons. Gibson, who was suspended prior to the 2016 season and never returned to the Buckeyes, is now attempting to make it in the Canadian Football League with the Edmonton Eskimos. Glover-Williams, whose time with the team came to an end prior to last season, enrolled at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College with the intention of resuming his football career at another school, but has yet to land with another team.