Ryan Day Inherited the Most Loaded Ohio State Football Roster Since the Turn of the Century

By David Regimbal on July 29, 2019 at 2:45 pm
Ohio State head coach Ryan Day

Ohio State head coach Ryan Day won't be able to complain about a lack of talent this season.

The first-time head coach kicks off fall camp on Friday, and when his football team reports to camp, it'll be the most loaded assembly of talent Ohio State's had since the turn of the century.

At least, that's what the recruiting rankings suggest.

Looking at the list of top recruits to play at Ohio State since 2000, Day's first Buckeye team boasts 17 of the top 50 players, according to 247 Sports. The breakdown is as follows:

Current Buckeyes Rated in the Top 50 as Recruits since 2000
Player Position Star-Rating Ranking Since 2000
Justin Fields QB 5-star (.9998) No. 1
Nicholas Petit-Frere OT 5-star (.9963) No. 10
Chase Young DE 5-star (.9957) No. 11
Jeffrey Okudah CB 5-star (.9955) No. 12
Baron Browning LB 5-star (.9940) No. 13
Zach Harrison DE 5-star (.9933) No. 15
Shaun Wade CB 5-star (.9904) No. 22
Garrett Wilson WR 5-star (.9903) No. 23
Taron Vincent DT 5-star (.9884) No. 29
Wyatt Davis OG 5-star (.9876) No. 31
Tyreke Johnson S 5-star (.9876) No. 32
Harry Miller C 5-star (.9868) No. 34
Justin Hilliard LB 5-star (.9851) No. 35
Jaelen Gill APB 4-star (.9831) No. 44
Tyreke Smith DE 4-star (.9816) No. 47
Jonathon Cooper DE 4-star (.9811) No. 50
Jeremy Ruckert TE 4-star (.9810) No. 51

Ruckert was included because two future Buckeyes (5-stars Jack Sawyer and Julian Fleming) appear in the top 50.

Those numbers are staggering, even considering the absurd level Urban Meyer's recruiting reached in his final three cycles. From 2016-18, Meyer signed classes that ranked No. 4, No. 2 and No. 2, highlighted by a staggering nine 5-star prospects and 17 players who ranked inside the top 50 of their respective recruiting cycles.

To put that in perspective, the rest of the Big Ten combined to sign just eight 5-star prospects and 14 players inside the top 50 of their recruiting classes.

Simply put, whenever Ohio State steps on the field this fall, it'll have the talent advantage. That would be the case until the Buckeyes face the likes of Clemson, Alabama or Georgia in a hypothetical playoff run. If they get there, the talent level would be a push, from a recruiting rankings perspective.

Amazingly, some of the players expected to make the biggest contributions this fall don't appear on the list above. There's J.K. Dobbins (who checked in at No. 54), who's primed for a big year in a primary role at running back. Teradja Mitchell (No. 60) is pushing returning starter Tuf Borland for the middle linebacker spot and Josh Meyers (No. 64) all but locked up the starting center position in spring practice.

Then there are the players who don't even make the top 100. Like K.J. Hill, the team's leading receiver who has a chance to crack Ohio State's top five career receiving yards list this year. The Buckeyes also return their top two tacklers from a season ago in linebacker Malik Harrison and safety Jordan Fuller, as well Rose Bowl defensive MVP Brendon White.

The talent level Day inherited is one of the biggest advantages for his first season as a head coach. Meyer made it a priority to leave the Ohio State program in good shape, particularly after it was perceived he left Florida in a less-than desirable state in 2010.

After Will Muschamp took over the Gators team in 2011, they lost their championship mentality, going 22-16 in the three seasons following Meyer's departure. A common theme that developed was that Meyer left the cupboard bare in Gainesville, Florida, and Muschamp (and the coaches that followed) had a rebuild on their hands.

"[Blaming players] drives me insane," Meyer said last year, according to Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com. "[That Florida team] had Jeff Driskel, Chris Rainey, Jeff Demps, that whole defense got drafted," Meyer pointed out.

He later added, "That's like, when I got [to Columbus], everybody wanted me to say Jim Tressel left the cupboard bare. If I heard any assistant coach [say that], they'd be gone. You're done.

"Those are your players. I hear TV guys [say], 'Wait until they get their own players in there.' They're our players. What do you mean 'their players?' The minute you sign a contract, they're your players."

So these are Day's players. Seventeen of the top 50 highest-rated recruits since 2000, with more than a handful of others expected to play at All-Big Ten or potentially All-American levels.

That's not a bad way to start your head coaching career. 

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