The 2019 class is in the books and to say it's been an interesting cycle would be a vast understatement. Ohio State went through plenty of turmoil dating back to the Zach Smith firing, Urban Meyer's suspension, and Ryan Day ultimately being named as his successor.
Despite all of that, it was yet another Big Ten Championship run that culminated with a win over Washington in the Rose Bowl. Now, after all of the letters of intent have been submitted, we can take a look at Ohio State's 2019 recruiting class and get a feel for what went right and what areas remain a bit of a concern.
Signees: (1) Justin Fields (Transfer)
I am obviously well aware that Justin Fields signed with Georgia in December of 2017 and spent his freshman season in Athens. Still, you just have to factor him into the equation for the 2019 class. He's the highest-rated prospect ever to come to Columbus and – assuming everything goes as planned with the waiver process – should be Ohio State's starting quarterback this season.
Fields' talent is impossible to ignore, but it's also difficult to ignore the depth chart concerns at the position. Dwan Mathis flipping to Georgia and Tathan Martell's transfer to Miami have the Buckeyes in a bit of a tight spot at quarterback. An incoming transfer remains a possibility, but for now it should be the Fields/Baldwin show in 2019.
Running Back: B
Signees: (2) Marcus Crowley, Steele Chambers
The loss of Brian Snead and Mike Weber's decision to test the NFL waters made this a pretty important unit for the Buckeyes. I'm of the belief that Marcus Crowley is extremely underrated, and I think Miami fans would have told you the same thing three months ago before he flipped to Ohio State. The kid was the Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Florida, and that certainly says a lot about his skill set. It also helps that he enrolled early and should be a factor as a true freshman.
I'm also a fan of Steele Chambers. This is a player Notre Dame had prioritized as a top-of-the-board tailback target and he's also an extremely intelligent kid. My only question is whether he best projects in the backfield or linebacker at the next level. Other targets included Sampson James (Indiana), Devyn Ford (Penn State), and Noah Cain (Penn State).
Wide Receiver: A
Signees: (2) Garrett Wilson, Jameson Williams
I was expecting Brian Hartline to sign a trio of wideouts for 2019, but it's tough to argue with the duo the Buckeyes are bringing in. Wilson is a five-star who's pretty dang good at just about every facet of the game. He's already in town and should see immediate playing time as a true freshman. Jameson Williams is a speedster who chose Ohio State over the likes of Alabama and Oregon.
K.J. Hill's return was a surprise and the 2020 class is already off to a fantastic start as well. The immediate and foreseeable future remains extremely bright at the position. Jadon Haselwood (Oklahoma), David Bell (Purdue), and Wandale Robinson (Nebraska) were other targets at the position.
Tight End: B
Signees: (1) Cormontae Hamilton
I don't get too worked up over the tight end position in this offense, but I am a fan of Memphis' Cormontae Hamilton. We all know the Greyhound bus story by now which only adds to this man's legendary status, and that's something we'll probably never forget. At 6-foot-2 and 263 pounds, he's got some strange measurables for the position, but he's also got tremendous hands and an amazing Southwest Tennessee accent. I am jealous of the media members who get to speak to this guy for the next four years.
Offensive Line: C-
Signees: (4) Harry Miller, Ryan Jacoby, Enokk Vimahi, Dawand Jones
My grade for this unit doesn't speak so much to the players that did sign with Ohio State. Rather it speaks to the way the position was handled from start to finish. The Buckeyes waited too long to offer several in-state prospects and, when they finally did throw their hat into the ring, it was too late as guys like Nick Samac and J.D. Duplain both signed with the Spartans. Five-star tackle Darnell Wright (Tennessee) was also a real option early on in the process, but that one totally fizzled and the Buckeyes weren't even a factor in the end.
This is an area of concern moving forward and it would be ideal for Ohio State to land a transfer like Rutgers' Jonah Jackson. Losing Doug Nester also stings but nabbing Vimahi and Dawand Jones at the last minute were two big wins for Ryan Day and Greg Studrawa. Vimahi's potential mission trip complicates things a bit and Jones is more of a developmental guy, but Ohio State absolutely had to add depth to the unit.
The 2020 class is off to a tremendous start and the Buckeyes will probably sign upwards of six linemen in the next class. The Studrawa criticism will likely continue, but he's got a chance to be the star of the staff this next cycle.
Defensive Line: A-
Signees: (3) Zach Harrison, Noah Potter, Jaden McKenzie
Ohio State signed three defensive linemen in Zach Harrison, Noah Potter, and Jaden McKenzie. Three isn't typically the ideal number, but it's tough to complain about what the Buckeyes are bringing in. Defensive tackle wasn't a need and honestly I think they could have gotten away without taking a single one. Larry Johnson needed at least two defensive ends and he's getting two very different players. Zach Harrison's athleticism gives him what may be the highest ceiling in the entire class. Potter also looks like someone who's physically ready to compete right away.
Zach Harrison doesn't know how much he'll play this season, but he eventually wants to leave a legacy that has people calling him one of the greatest to come through Ohio State. https://t.co/xpknZJjOk9
— Eleven Warriors (@11W) February 7, 2019
Signees: (3) Cade Stover, Tommy Eichenberg, Craig Young
Al Washington already has a talented linebacker room to work with and he's adding three big pieces for next season. Cade Stover was the No. 4 player in the state and he's about as versatile as they come. The late push for Tommy Eichenberg was a smart move as the former Boston College commit blew up during his senior year. He should give the Buckeyes a thumper in the middle but also has some sneaky athleticism.
I think this class may be defined by Craig Young's development. He's a very talented athlete who doesn't really have a true position at this point but is expected to start out as a linebacker. Some of the misses from the class include Kane Patterson (Clemson), Brandon Smith (Penn State), and Jestin Jacobs (Iowa).
Defensive Back: C-
Signees: (2) Ronnie Hickman, Bryson Shaw
Simply put—Ohio State wasn't able to get it done in the defensive backfield and this is going to be yet another important unit for 2020. Losing Jordan Battle to Alabama was a major blow to the class and the Buckeyes ended up without a single cornerback signee. Ronnie Hickman will look to bounce back from a torn ACL and three-star safety Bryson Shaw is probably a little underrated, but this was far from what we've grown accustomed to seeing in the secondary.
Jeff Hafley impressed everyone when he spoke with the media yesterday. He'll have the opportunity to do the same with next year's defensive back class.