It isn't a secret: Ohio State remains above the NCAA-mandated scholarship limit with National Signing Day in the books. Urban Meyer and Mark Pantoni probably won't admit it, but they know the Buckeyes have more than 85 players on football scholarships.
“I'm not even sure where today puts us at,” Pantoni, Ohio State's Director of Player Personnel, said on Wednesday.
The Buckeyes signed 12 players on Wednesday, adding to the nine who graduated high school early and enrolled for Spring Semester in January. Roster attrition happens every year to every single program at all levels of any sport but Ohio State's will earn special attention this cycle. With the 21 new players in the fray, the Buckeyes sit at 89 guys on football scholarship — four above the limit.
Six players left school early for the NFL Draft even though they had eligibility remaining. Cornerbacks Gareon Conley and Marshon Lattimore, safety Malik Hooker, linebacker Raekwon McMillan, H-back Curtis Samuel and wide receiver Noah Brown all elected to forgo at least one more year of college football that was available to them and turn pro.
Three players also transferred out of the program: reserve offensive linemen Kyle Trout and Evan Lisle and quarterback/wide receiver Torrance Gibson. The latter was suspended for the 2016 season for violating the student code of conduct, is in the process of earning an Associate's degree at Cincinnati State. He signed with former Ohio State defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Luke Fickell at Cincinnati on Wednesday. Redshirt junior quarterback Stephen Collier also announced two weeks ago his playing days were over.
Meyer confirmed those exits on signing day but only when prompted. He did not elaborate on the other pieces that need to fall by the wayside in order for the Buckeyes to reach 85 by August, however.
“Let me get through today,” Meyer told reporters. “I don't want to misspeak. I've been traveling and everything.”
That is a fair statement. After all, Ohio State enjoyed a relatively uneventful and unstressful signing day on its way to putting together a brilliant recruiting class. Every commit they had in the fold before Wednesday stayed and Thayer Munford joined the fray. The only real disappointment was missing out on defensive tackles Jay Tufele and Marvin Wilson, though it wasn't all that surprising that neither elected to sign with Ohio State.
The Buckeyes have more than six months to get its number from 89 to 85. Included in those months is a long summer, where players often have a change of heart and decide to transfer out for a better opportunity at playing time.
So yes, Ohio State knows it remains over the limit. And that is OK.
“We will be at 85 come August when we need to be,” Pantoni said.
Ohio State's scholarship chart after National Signing Day:
|QB||J.T. BARRETT (R)||–||JOE BURROW (R)||DWAYNE HASKINS||TATE MARTELL|
MIKE WEBER (R)
PARRIS CAMPBELL (R)
TERRY MCLAURIN (R)
JOHNNIE DIXON (R)
ALEX STUMP (R)
K.J. HILL (R)
|TE||MARCUS BAUGH (R)||–||A.J. ALEXANDER (R)||
BILLY PRICE (R)
DEMETRIUS KNOX (R)
BRADY TAYLOR (R)
MALCOLM PRIDGEON (R)
BRANDEN BOWEN (R)
MATT BURRELL (R)
KEVIN FEDER (R)
LIAM MCCULLOUGH (R)
TYQUAN LEWIS (R)
SAM HUBBARD (R)
DARIUS SLADE (R)
DYLAN THOMPSON (R)
RASHOD BERRY (R)
MICHAEL HILL (R)
TRACY SPRINKLE (R)
JOSHUA ALABI (R)
DAVON HAMILTON (R)
ROBERT LANDERS (R)
DRE'MONT JONES (R)
JASHON CORNELL (R)
|LB||CHRIS WORLEY (R)||
DANTE BOOKER (R)
NICK CONNER (R)
JUSTIN HILLIARD (R)
JOSHUA NORWOOD (R)
DAMON ARNETTE (R)
|–||JORDAN FULLER||JAHSEN WINT||ISAIAH PRYOR|
|K||SEAN NUERNBERGER||–||–||–||BLAKE HAUBEIL**|
*Plans to gray shirt and thus pay his own way next fall. He will be put on scholarship in January of 2018 but is listed here for eligibility purposes and does not count toward the 85.