2020 Season Preview: A Closer Look at the Makeup of Ohio State's Roster

By Dan Hope on October 18, 2020 at 7:15 am
Garrett Wilson
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Ohio State’s efforts to build a roster full of some of the most talented college football players from all over the country will be evident once again in 2020.

The Buckeyes enter the season with a roster ranked third in 247Sports’ team talent composite rankings, including 14 players who were five-star composite recruits – the second-most in the country, behind only Georgia. And Ohio State’s roster is as national as ever, populated with players from 22 different states, including players from all four corners of the continental United States and even Hawaii.

With less than one week to go now until that roster will finally take the field for its season opener against Nebraska, we take a look at the makeup of the 2020 Buckeyes – who are currently at the exact limit of 85 scholarship players and are just one below the permitted total of 120 players – including how many of them were top-ranked recruits, which states are most represented on the roster and the 15 high schools that produced multiple players on this year’s team.

14 Five-Stars on the Roster

Player Pos Rating
JUSTIN FIELDS QB 0.9998
JULIAN FLEMING WR 0.9979
NICHOLAS PETIT-FRERE OT 0.9963
PARIS JOHNSON JR. OT 0.9953
BARON BROWNING LB 0.9940
ZACH HARRISON DE 0.9933
SHAUN WADE CB 0.9904
GARRETT WILSON WR 0.9903
TARON VINCENT DT 0.9884
WYATT DAVIS G 0.9876
TYREKE JOHNSON CB 0.9876
HARRY MILLER G 0.9868
JAXON SMITH-NJIGBA WR 0.9856
JUSTIN HILLIARD LB 0.9851

Five-star prospects make up nearly one-sixth (16.5%) of Ohio State’s scholarship roster and include some of the team’s biggest stars, including the Buckeyes’ three Big Ten preseason honorees (Fields, Wade and Davis). Petit-Frere, Browning, Harrison, Wilson and Miller are also all projected to be starters (or at minimum, regular contributors at their positions) this season, and every one of them are also surrounded by big expectations entering the 2020 season.

The Buckeyes’ five-star contingent spans six years of Ohio State recruiting classes, as Hilliard came to Ohio State all the way back in 2015 while Fleming, Johnson Jr. and Smith-Njigba are the crown jewels of Ohio State’s 2020 recruiting class. Hilliard has overcome injuries to become a team captain as a sixth-year senior, while the three five-star freshmen are all potential immediate impact players.

Vincent, who missed all of last season with a shoulder injury, and Johnson, who’s played only sparingly so far as a backup cornerback, aren’t likely to begin the 2020 season as starters but will look to start to break through as redshirt sophomores this year.

52 Four-Stars

Player Pos Rating
TYREKE SMITH DE 0.9816
JONATHON COOPER DE 0.9811
JEREMY RUCKERT TE 0.9810
C.J. STROUD QB 0.9780
TERADJA MITCHELL LB 0.9771
DEMARIO MCCALL RB 0.9767
JOSH MYERS C 0.9757
TOMMY TOGIAI DT 0.9721
GEE SCOTT JR. WR 0.9702
HASKELL GARRETT DT 0.9678
CODY SIMON LB 0.9660
MATTHEW JONES G 0.9652
JOSH PROCTOR S 0.9640
KAMRYN BABB WR 0.9629
JAMESON WILLIAMS WR 0.9621
MOOKIE COOPER WR 0.9574
TYLER FRIDAY DE 0.9560
LUKE WYPLER C 0.9523
CADE STOVER TE 0.9487
RONNIE HICKMAN S 0.9485
MAX WRAY OL 0.9473
ENOKK VIMAHI OL 0.9445
JAKE HAUSMANN TE 0.9439
DALLAS GANT LB 0.9322
DARRION HENRY-YOUNG DE 0.9321
JACOLBE COWAN DE 0.9297
KOURT WILLIAMS S 0.9291
ANTWUAN JACKSON DT 0.9290
LATHAN RANSOM S 0.9286
JAYLEN HARRIS WR 0.9254
MARCUS WILLIAMSON CB 0.9250
LUKE FARRELL TE 0.9233
TREY SERMON RB 0.9232
RYAN WATTS CB 0.9206
K'VAUGHAN POPE LB 0.9170
JAVONTAE JEAN-BAPTISTE DE 0.9168
SEVYN BANKS CB 0.9166
MASTER TEAGUE RB 0.9132
STEELE CHAMBERS RB 0.9126
JERRON CAGE DT 0.9105
RYAN JACOBY G 0.9031
PETE WERNER LB 0.8994
THAYER MUNFORD OT 0.8985
CAMERON BROWN CB 0.8971
TOMMY EICHENBERG LB 0.8966
CAMERON MARTINEZ DB 0.8958
NOAH POTTER DE 0.8958
JACK MILLER III QB 0.8951
TUF BORLAND LB 0.8933
MITCHELL MELTON LB 0.8931
LEJOND CAVAZOS CB 0.8927
MARCUS CROWLEY RB 0.8917

Four-star recruits make up the majority of Ohio State’s scholarship roster (61.2%) and nearly half of the entire roster; the Buckeyes’ 52 four-stars are also the second-most in all of college football, behind only Alabama. Ohio State’s contingent of four-star prospects include multiple players at every single position group on the roster.

Some of those four-star prospects weren’t far off from being five-star prospects; 17 of them were ranked as top-100 overall prospects in their respective recruiting classes, for a total of 31 top-100 recruits on the Buckeyes’ roster.

This large group of four-stars will make up the core of Ohio State’s roster this season; Myers, Cooper, Borland, Werner, Togiai, Munford, Sermon, Teague, Williams, Ruckert, Farrell, Smith, Friday, Jackson, Banks, Williamson, Brown and Proctor are all among the players expected to take on major roles for the Buckeyes this fall.

20 Three-Stars

Player Pos Rating
CHRIS OLAVE WR 0.8875
JOE ROYER TE 0.8862
GRANT TOUTANT OT 0.8811
GAVIN CUPP G 0.8791
JOSH FRYAR OL 0.8776
BRYSON SHAW S 0.8756
CORMONTAE HAMILTON DL 0.8754
CRAIG YOUNG LB 0.8735
MARCUS HOOKER S 0.8701
MIYAN WILLIAMS RB 0.8693
JADEN MCKENZIE DT 0.8661
TY HAMILTON DT 0.8635
JAKOB JAMES G 0.8594
DRUE CHRISMAN P 0.8529
DAWAND JONES OT 0.8527
ELLIJAH GARDINER WR 0.8518
TREY LEROUX OT 0.8493
GUNNAR HOAK QB 0.8485
JAKE SEIBERT K 0.8405
BLAKE HAUBEIL K 0.8321

The fact that less than a quarter of Ohio State’s 2020 roster consists of three-star recruits is one reason why the Buckeyes are expected to be one of the best teams in college football once again this year. But it’s also because the Buckeyes have been able to find hidden gems in the three-stars they have brought to Columbus, showing that they’re not only able to lure top-ranked recruits to Ohio State, but also that they’re able to evaluate talent and find potential stars who have been overlooked.

Chief among that group is Olave, who just barely missed out on being a composite four-star but has proven to be a five-star talent for the Buckeyes, as he’s now one of college football’s best receivers. The next breakout star from the group might be Hooker, whose older brother Malik was also a three-star recruit before he became an All-American at Ohio State, and who also appears set to play a major role at safety in his third year at Ohio State. Chrisman and Haubeil have both proven to be well worth their scholarships as specialists. 

Most of the other three-stars on the roster are expected to be backups this season, but Jones has emerged as a top backup and likely future starter on Ohio State’s offensive line while McKenzie and Ty Hamilton are both candidates to have roles in the defensive tackle rotation this year.

Seibert is not yet on scholarship, and therefore does not yet count against the 85-man limit, but the grayshirting kicker is eligible to play this season and is expected to be placed on scholarship in 2021.

33 Walk-Ons

Player Pos
J.P. ANDRADE QB
JAGGER LAROE QB
DANNY VANATSKY QB
XAVIER JOHNSON RB
MITCH ROSSI RB
ROBERT COPE RB
CHRIS BOOKER WR
MARVIN DAVIES WR
AUSTIN KUTSCHER WR
SAM WIGLUSZ WR
PATRICK GURD TE
COREY RAU TE
NATHAN BROCK OL
JACK JAMIESON OL
CHRIS KUHN OL
RYAN SMITH OL
ZACH STEVENSON OL
AARON COX DE
ZAID HAMDAN DT
CADE KACHERSKI LB
BEN SCHMIESING LB
TRAYVON WILBURN LB
LLOYD MCFARQUHAR CB
DARRYL SINCLAIR CB
CAMERON KITTLE DB
ALEC TAYLOR DB
RYAN BATSCH S
KEVIN DEVER S
DOMINIC DIMACCIO K
ZACH HOOVER P
MICHAEL O'SHAUGHNESSY P
ROEN MCCULLOUGH LS
BRADLEY ROBINSON LS

Now that C.J. Saunders is no longer eligible to play, Ohio State does not currently have any former walk-ons on scholarship; all 85 scholarship players were recruited to the Buckeyes as scholarship players, and because Ohio State lost only two players to transfers this offseason (Jaelen Gill and Alex Williams), no scholarships opened up for any of the current walk-ons to earn one.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t some quality players in Ohio State’s walk-on crop, and several of them will likely even contribute this season, even if only on special teams. Robinson is set to be the Buckeyes’ new long snapper. Johnson, Rossi and Kacherski were already regulars on special teams units last season. Johnson and Andrade were both three-star recruits who eschewed scholarship offers from smaller schools to become Buckeyes, while Rau was a scholarship player at SMU before transferring to Ohio State. Wiglusz recently drew praise from Marcus Hooker as one of the toughest receivers he has to cover in practice.

Given the Big Ten’s policy that forces any player who tests positive for COVID-19 to sit out 21 days, Ohio State has told its walk-ons that they need to be ready, as the likelihood that they could be called upon to play this season is higher than usual.

Players from 22 States

State Total Players
OHIO 54 RYAN BATSCH, NATHAN BROCK, JERRON CAGE, JONATHON COOPER, ROBERT COPE, AARON COX, GAVIN CUPP, MARVIN DAVIES, KEVIN DEVER, DOMINIC DIMACCIO, TOMMY EICHENBERG, LUKE FARRELL, DALLAS GANT, PATRICK GURD, ZAID HAMDAN, TY HAMILTON, JAYLEN HARRIS, ZACH HARRISON, JAKE HAUSMANN, DARRION HENRY-YOUNG, JUSTIN HILLIARD, GUNNAR HOAK, ZACH HOOVER, RYAN JACOBY, JAKOB JAMES, JACK JAMIESON, PARIS JOHNSON JR., XAVIER JOHNSON, CADE KACHERSKI, CAMERON KITTLE, CHRIS KUHN, AUSTIN KUTSCHER, TREY LEROUX, DEMARIO MCCALL, ROEN MCCULLOUGH, LLOYD MCFARQUHAR, THAYER MUNFORD, JOSH MYERS, MICHAEL O’SHAUGHNESSY, NOAH POTTER, JOE ROYER, BEN SCHMIESING, JAKE SEIBERT, DARRYL SINCLAIR, RYAN SMITH, TYREKE SMITH, ZACH STEVENSON, CADE STOVER, ALEC TAYLOR, DANNY VANATSKY, SAM WIGLUSZ, TRAYVON WILBURN, MIYAN WILLIAMS, MARCUS WILLIAMSON
TEXAS 8 BARON BROWNING, LEJOND CAVAZOS, ELLIJAH GARDINER, JAGGER LAROE, JAXON SMITH-NJIGBA, COREY RAU, RYAN WATTS, GARRETT WILSON
CALIFORNIA 5 J.P. ANDRADE, WYATT DAVIS, CHRIS OLAVE, C.J. STROUD, KOURT WILLIAMS
FLORIDA 5 SEVYN BANKS, MARCUS CROWLEY, TYREKE JOHNSON, NICHOLAS PETIT-FRERE, SHAUN WADE
GEORGIA 5 STEELE CHAMBERS, JUSTIN FIELDS, ANTWUAN JACKSON, HARRY MILLER, TREY SERMON
INDIANA 5 DRUE CHRISMAN, JOSH FRYAR, DAWAND JONES, PETE WERNER, CRAIG YOUNG
MISSOURI 5 KAMRYN BABB, CHRIS BOOKER, CAMERON BROWN, MOOKIE COOPER, JAMESON WILLIAMS
NEW JERSEY 5 TYLER FRIDAY, RONNIE HICKMAN, JAVONTAE JEAN-BAPTISTE, CODY SIMON, LUKE WYPLER
TENNESSEE 4 CORMONTAE HAMILTON, MITCH ROSSI, MASTER TEAGUE III, MAX WRAY
MARYLAND 3 MITCHELL MELTON, BRYSON SHAW, TARON VINCENT
MICHIGAN 3 CAMERON MARTINEZ, BRADLEY ROBINSON, GRANT TOUTANT
NEW YORK 3 BLAKE HAUBEIL, MATTHEW JONES, JEREMY RUCKERT
ARIZONA 2 JACK MILLER III, LATHAN RANSOM
NORTH CAROLINA 2 JACOLBE COWAN, JADEN MCKENZIE
PENNSYLVANIA 2 JULIAN FLEMING, MARCUS HOOKER
VIRGINIA 2 TERADJA MITCHELL, K’VAUGHAN POPE
HAWAII 1 ENOKK VIMAHI
IDAHO 1 TOMMY TOGIAI
ILLINOIS 1 TUF BORLAND
NEVADA 1 HASKELL GARRETT
OKLAHOMA 1 JOSH PROCTOR
WASHINGTON 1 GEE SCOTT JR.

As you might expect, Ohio is by far the most represented home state on Ohio State’s roster. Only half of those 54 in-state products are scholarship players, though, as all but six of the Buckeyes’ walk-ons are from Ohio.

The rest of the roster is representative of Ohio State’s nationwide approach to recruiting. The Buckeyes have only 10 players on their roster from states that neighbor Ohio, and half of those players are from Indiana, as the Buckeyes currently have only three Michigan natives and two Pennsylvania natives.

California, Texas and Florida are the nation’s three most populous states, so it’s no surprise they are all among the most represented states on Ohio State’s roster. Georgia, the eighth-most populous state, consistently produces as much football talent as any state in the country. All five Missouri natives are from the city of St. Louis, which has emerged as a hot zone for Ohio State recruiting in recent years. Ohio State has had regular success attracting top talent from the entire Mid-Atlantic region, with 11 total players from New Jersey, Maryland and New York as well as four additional players from Virginia and North Carolina.

15 High Schools with Multiple Buckeyes

School Location Players
IMG ACADEMY BRADENTON, FLORIDA LEJOND CAVAZOS, TARON VINCENT, MARCUS WILLIAMSON
TRINITY CHRISTIAN ACADEMY JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA MARCUS CROWLEY, TYREKE JOHNSON, SHAUN WADE
CHRISTIAN BROTHERS COLLEGE ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI KAMRYN BABB, CAMERON BROWN
CLEVELAND HEIGHTS CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, OHIO JAYLEN HARRIS, TYREKE SMITH
DUBLIN JEROME DUBLIN, OHIO ROBERT COPE, CADE KACHERSKI
ELDER CINCINNATI, OHIO JAKOB JAMES, JOE ROYER
FRANKLIN FRANKLIN, TENNESSEE MITCH ROSSI, MAX WRAY
LA SALLE CINCINNATI, OHIO DRUE CHRISMAN, JAKE SEIBERT
MENTOR MENTOR, OHIO RYAN JACOBY, NOAH POTTER
NEW ALBANY NEW ALBANY, OHIO PATRICK GURD, MICHAEL O'SHAUGHNESSY
OLENTANGY ORANGE LEWIS CENTER, OHIO ZACH HARRISON, ZACH STEVENSON
PRINCETON CINCINNATI, OHIO DARRION HENRY-YOUNG, PARIS JOHNSON JR.
ST. IGNATIUS CLEVELAND, OHIO TOMMY EICHENBERG, JACK JAMIESON
ST. JOHN BOSCO BELLFLOWER, CALIFORNIA WYATT DAVIS, KOURT WILLIAMS
WINTON WOODS CINCINNATI, OHIO JERRON CAGE, MIYAN WILLIAMS

A pair of Florida high schools are tied for the most players on Ohio State’s roster, but none of the players who came to the Buckeyes from IMG Academy – which attracts top athletes from all over the country – are actually from Florida. The three Buckeyes from Trinity Christian Academy are all Jacksonville natives, though, with Johnson and Crowley following Wade’s lead to Ohio State.

Among the other 13 pairs of Buckeyes who came from the same high school, seven of them came to Ohio State together as part of the same class: Babb and Brown, Jacoby and Potter, Henry-Young and Johnson Jr., James and Royer, Harrison and Stevenson, Wray and Rossi and Kacherski and Cope.

Four of the 10 Ohio high schools with two players on the roster are located in Cincinnati, and those eight players are among a total of 13 players from Cincinnati high schools, along with Jake Hausmann (Archbishop Moeller), Justin Hilliard (St. Xavier), Xavier Johnson (Summit Country Day), Trayvon Wilburn (Mount Healthy) and Danny Vanatsky (Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy).

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