From Top to Bottom: Ohio State's Lowest-Rated Signees Should Also Have Significant Roles While in Columbus

By Andrew Ellis on February 10, 2019 at 8:30 am
Dawand Jones' was Ohio State's lowest-rated signee for the 2019 class.
Via @KyleNeddenriep (Indy Star)

It was an unusually small class, but Ohio State's crop of 2019 signees certainly isn't lacking in star power. Ryan Day – along with an assist from Urban Meyer – signed a trio of five-star prospects in Zach Harrison, Garrett Wilson, and Harry Miller. And while we're all expecting big things from these touted prospects, each year we also like to examine the Buckeyes' less-heralded newcomers and what the expectations should be.

For the Class of 2017, it was defensive tackle Jerron Cage, linebacker Pete Werner, and kicker Blake Haubeil. Cage has yet to make an impact, but both Werner and Haubeil have been prominent figures thus far in their careers. Ohio State's linebacker play hasn't been spectacular of late, but Werner recorded 67 tackles and forced two fumbles while seeing plenty of playing time as a sophomore. Haubeil nailed 37 of 37 extra pointed and connected on 10 of 13 field goals as a sophomore in 2018. 

Last cycle featured wideout Chris Olave, edge rusher Alex Williams, and defensive back Marcus Hooker as the class's bottom-three signees. Olave burst onto the scene against Michigan with two first-half touchdowns and later went on to get the assist on a blocked punt that Sevyn Banks housed for a score. The California native looks to be one of the bright young stars of Brian Hartline's wide receiver room. We'll have to see what the future holds for Williams and Hooker.

Lowest-Rated Signees: Class of 2019
Player Hometown Pos. Measurables Pos. Rank Nat. Rank
Craig Young Fort Wayne, IN ATH 6-foot-4, 200 pounds No. 34 No. 611
Jaden McKenzie Wake Forest, NC DT 6-foot-3.5, 280 pounds No. 58 No. 769
Dawand Jones Indianapolis, IN OT 6-foot-8, 360 pounds No. 87 No. 1048

Out of the names on this year's list, Fort Wayne's Craig Young was the first to hop on board. The versatile athlete became commitment No. 11 back in June of 2018, and the three-star absolutely had to work for his spot in the class. While an offer was extended last January, it took about four trips to campus – along with camp performances – to truly get the green light from the coaching staff. He had been listed as a wide receiver prospect before being switched over to athlete.

Young is a speedster who's proved it time and time again on the track circuit while also excelling on the hardwood. As for the gridiron, Urban Meyer personally watched him work out at several positions, though it seems his future is likely at linebacker. He's extremely raw and could be a bit of a boom-or-bust player, but once Young settles in along the defensive side of the ball, the sky may very well be the limit. For now, any early impact should be limited to special teams.

Defensive tackle wasn't the biggest need in 2019, but I think the expectation had been for the Buckeyes to sign one at the position. One of the country's top-rated players at the position was just down the road in Cincinnati, but the coaching staff never showed much interest in Walnut Hills' Jowon Briggs; who signed with Virginia back in December.

North Carolina's Jaden McKenzie was a name we talked about a bit throughout the cycle, but I get the vibe that there was way more going on behind the scenes in that recruitment. Larry Johnson flirted with Devon Ellies (Penn State) and Jared Harrison-Hunte (Miami), but we should have been paying more attention to McKenzie. Most thought he was bound for Chapel Hill until the Tar Heels' coaching shakeup. 

McKenzie lined up primarily at defensive end in Wake Forest High's 3-4 front, and he's slated to man one of the interior spots when needed in Columbus. With guys like Haskell Garrett, Tommy Togiai, Taron Vincent, and Antwuan Jackson all ahead of him on the depth chart, it will likely be a few years before McKenzie sees meaningful playing time. 

If you're looking for upside then Indy's Dawand Jones (Ben Davis) could be one of your favorites from 2019. Four months ago it looked as though he wouldn't even play college football and would focus on his Division I basketball offers. Jones didn't play football as a sophomore and didn't see his recruitment take off until this past winter. 

“My son eats, drinks and sleeps basketball,” Deanna said. “If you had a basketball team, he would ask to play on your team. If you ask him anything about basketball, he could probably tell you about it.” Via

With only two full years of varsity football experience, he is definitely more of a project. But he's a project that caught the eye of schools like USC, Auburn, Penn State, Florida and Ohio State. The Buckeyes fended off the Trojans and a late push from the Nittany Lions to sign the two-sport star.

Jones is 6-foot-8 and 360 pounds and plays at a premium position. We've mentioned it before, but he'll need to shed some pounds before seeing action at the next level. Still, Dawand Jones' size and athleticism makes him one of the more intriguing signees in the Class of 2019; even if he was ranked outside of the country's top 1,000.

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