With 23 new recruits already committed to play for Ohio State next season and a couple more who might join the team on national signing day, the future of Ohio State football is looking as bright as ever.
Urban Meyer hit the recruiting trail hard in preparation for a successful run with the Buckeyes. His team’s 12-0 season in 2012 laid the ground work, but it’s Meyer’s track record that has some of the nation’s best high school players ready to take on the Big Ten next season.
Meyer did a terrific job recruiting prospects from all over the country. Ohio State secured commitments from 13 players from outside Ohio, including cornerback Eli Apple (96 rating from 247Sports) and 4-star linebackers Trey Johnson and Mike Mitchell.
While not every new commit will see much action on Saturdays next season, this class will be a solid foundation on which the Buckeyes can build. We’ll take a look at this year’s recruiting class, position by position.
*All rankings courtesy of 247Sports.
Ohio State only secured a commitment from a single quarterback this year, but it isn’t a position of need at the moment. Braxton Miller will be under center in 2013, and the Buckeyes have Kenny Guiton and Cardale Jones waiting in the wings. Next year may be a different story, but for now, Meyer doesn’t need to worry about the quarterback position.
J.T. Barrett is a 4-star dual-threat quarterback recruit who chose OSU this offseason, but he likely won't see any time under center in the near future. He has potential, and he'll have time to develop it from the sidelines.
There’s nothing much to report at the running back position, either. The Buckeyes have tons of depth at the position, and with Jordan Hall, Rod Smith, Bri’onte Dunn, Carlos Hyde, Warren Ball and Darryl Wood all ready to go for the 2013 season, adding to the position wasn’t a necessity this year.
Ezekiel Elliott (4-star all-purpose back) will join the Buckeyes in 2013, but with a logjam at the position, he probably won't see much action early in his career. Elliott was a nice signing, and at 6'0" and 212 pounds, he'll certainly find a fit on the team in the coming years. It just won't be this year.
Wide receiver and tight end
Meyer’s up-tempo offense calls for a little more speed, and the Buckeyes found it in this year’s recruiting class.
Four-star receivers Jalin Marshall and Corey Smith committed to OSU this offseason, and both have a chance to see some action almost immediately. Both are short but speedy, and both are rated a 95 overall by 247Sports.
The Buckeyes had a young receiving corps in 2012, and it will get even younger this year with the addition of Marshall and Smith. Given Meyer’s propensity for fast, versatile skill players, the duo should find a strong fit in Ohio State’s offense in the coming years.
Tight end Marcus Baugh also committed to OSU for next year. At 6’4” and 225 pounds, the 4-star tight end doesn’t exactly fit the mold of Meyer’s former tight ends, but he’s a perfect fit for Big Ten football.
Baugh is big and physical with room to grow, and he’ll prove to be a valuable asset stretching the middle of the field. He’ll need to work on blocking, but with a 95 overall rating, he has incredible potential at the college level.
The Buckeyes’ recruiting class wasn’t all that deep at offensive line positions, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t talented.
Offensive tackle Evan Lisle is rated a 95 by 247Sports, and while he likely won’t see much action in his first year with the team, he has a very high ceiling. Lisle is listed at just 260 pounds, and he’ll have to add some mass to play at the college level. With a strong returning offensive line corps, rushing him into a starting role won’t be necessary.
Ohio State also receiving a commitment from 4-star offensive tackle Timothy Gardner, whose frame is much more suited for a more immediate role with the Buckeyes offense. Gardner is a 6’5”, 310-pound mauler who will fit well in a Big Ten offense. He needs some polish, but Gardner could garner some playing time early in his career.
The defensive line is the strength of this Ohio State recruiting class, and with Johnathan Hankins and John Simon leaving for the NFL draft, adding depth at the position was a necessity.
The Buckeyes added three defensive ends and three defensive tackles this offseason, five of which are of the 4-star variety.
Defensive end Joey Bosa could see immediate playing time with the Buckeyes next season. The 4-star strongside end is versatile, tough and talented, and at 270 pounds, he has the frame to hold up almost anywhere on the line at the college level.
Donovan Munger and Michael Hill are both defensive tackles with 90 ratings from 247Sports. At 315 pounds, Hill could be the big body OSU needs to replace Hankins on the defensive line. He still has to work on his technique, but it won’t be long before Hill is clogging up running lanes and taking down Big Ten running backs.
Ohio State’s linebacker class isn’t deep, but the talent is undeniable. The Buckeyes secured commitments from two of the best linebackers in this year’s class.
Mike Mitchell and Trey Johnson have the potential to be the future of the Buckeyes’ linebacking corp. Each was given a 94 rating by 247Sports, and neither has that far to go before being ready to start at the college level.
Johnson projects as an inside linebacker due to his solid recognition skills and willingness to shoot gaps and take on opposing blockers. He’ll have to bulk up a little, but he has the frame (6’2”, 218 pounds) to be a sideline-to-sideline defender.
Mitchell is one of the Buckeyes’ most highly regarded incoming freshman. With some holes to fill at outside linebacker, Mitchell has a chance to start immediately on Saturdays. He’s quick, intelligent and extremely tough, and he’ll only get better with a little coaching.
As if Ohio State’s defensive recruiting class weren’t strong enough, Meyer managed to secure commitments from several quality defensive backs.
At 96 overall, cornerback Eli Apple is Ohio State’s best incoming freshman. He’s a 6’1”, 185-pound speedster with all the tools coaches look for in a highly versatile pass defender.
The Buckeyes also added cornerback Cameron Burrows, safety Jayme Thompson (both 4-star recruits) and 3-star cornerback Taivon Jacobs. With an infusion of young, talented defensive backs, Big Ten offenses will have trouble passing on the Buckeyes in the coming years.
Meyer also has a chance to land one of the best safety prospects in the nation on national signing day in Vonn Bell. According to Brad Bournival of ESPN, Bell is considering Ohio State as one of his three choices for next season. Tennessee appears to be leading the race, but there is always the chance Bell will change his mind on February 6.
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Notre Dame has a national championship appearance in the BCS era, a coach that rebuffed NFL offers and a talented group of younger players to replace the ones leaving for the NFL. That being said, it's not surprising recruits are lining up to head to South Bend, and that this will be head coach Brian Kelly's best recruiting class to date.
Top to bottom, Notre Dame figures to be loaded next season—both in current players and incoming recruits from the 2013 class.
QB Everett Golson will continue to improve under Kelly's tutelage and with the experience he gained as the signal-caller for a one-loss team. Louis Nix III is returning on defense, and the skill players on the outside will grow the same way their QB is slated to.
Recruits are noticing that the Irish are on the rise.
Different scouting groups have different rankings on schools each year, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a credible site that ranks the Irish anywhere out of the top five when it comes to overall ranking. When you have guys like Jaylon Smith, Max Redfield, Hunter Bivin and Greg Bryant wanting to come play for you, it's no surprise.
Sure, the prestige of Notre Dame will usually be enough to help the Irish jump into the top 20 of ranking boards when national signing day is over—they did it for years when the program was struggling under Charlie Weis.
However, the feel around the Golden Dome is different these days, and you need look no further than some of the recruits that have held true to the Irish during what could have been a disaster period for both the school and the recruits themselves.
For starters, Kelly fielded NFL offers less than 24 hours after his Irish lost to Alabama in the National Championship, reportedly declining an offer from the Philadelphia Eagles at the end of the process.
Then, the Manti Te'o scandal broke, and the University looked extremely embarrassed with both their own handling of the situation and the fact that they let the most publicized player from the school in the last decade be involved in something so disheartening.
Recruits have been largely unfazed, and the list keeps growing.
Smith rebuffed a late push from Michigan (h/t Detroit Free Press) to remain in South Bend, and his quote over the weekend helped prove that he's a Golden Domer through and through—without a day of class under his belt:
He told me there was still a spot at Michigan for me if anything changed, Smith said. I appreciated that, but nothing was going to change. The Golden Dome isn't going anywhere.
The 5-star LB from Indiana headlines the list of recruits for the Irish that are sticking with South Bend despite many distractions, but he's not the only one.
Tarean Folston is headed to the University of Notre Dame, confirmed by his head coach (via MaxPreps) just a little under a week until the Feb. 6 event. He and Bryant will likely battle it out for carries as first-year players, but the Irish got two blue-chip running backs to come to town without much opposition.
Five kids enrolled early, including Corey Robinson—the freakish athlete and son of former NBA star David Robinson—and the Irish have also picked up late recruits over the past two weeks. One of those is Durham Smythe, the Texas native and TE prospect that decommitted from the Texas Longhorns earlier in the process.
Notre Dame got a verbal commitment from Smythe after his visit on Jan. 27, and there's sure to be a few more pieces that fall into place (CB Mackensie Alexander and OT Laremy Tunsil come to mind).
Simply put, the Irish are quietly dominating this year's recruiting class, and with a solid national signing day, they could very well end up as the No. 1 school when it's all said and done.
Success will do that to a program.
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team.
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National signing day takes place on Wednesday, Feb. 6, and while some players have committed to certain schools, there is still an unpredictable nature to their ultimate decision.
Just because a player has committed to a school doesn't necessarily mean he will sign there, and that could make for some huge surprises come the big day. Other players simply haven't made up their minds yet, thus further giving an opportunity to multiple schools for their services.
Let's take a look at some of the top recruits in this year's class and examine why they are so unpredictable.
Vonn Bell, 5-Star Safety
Alabama and Ohio State were the two early favorites to land Bell (per 247Sports.com), but after an enjoyable recent trip to Tennessee (per Patrick Brown of the Chattanooga Times Free Press), the Volunteers are now in serious contention for the talented safety.
Just this week, Bell met with Alabama and Ohio State, who made their respective last-second pitches.
JC Shurburtt of 247Sports.com let us in on just how hard this decision is for Bell:February 2, 2013
Looks like this one will come down to the wire.
MacKensie Alexander, 4-Star CB
Alexander has several teams in contention for him with Auburn, Mississippi State, Clemson and Rutgers being at the top of the list (per 247Sports.com).
Initial reports had Alexander committed to Mississippi State, but Luke Stampini of 247Sports.com refuted that news:
Mackensie Alexander denies committing to Miss. St. Take it for what it's worth. mississippistate.247sports.com/Board/59413/No…— Luke Stampini (@LukeStampini) January 19, 2013
JC Shurburtt of 247Sports.com projected that Alexander will land with Auburn:January 30, 2013
Just when you thought things might be clear for this defensive stud, Shurburtt threw a wrench into everything, admitting nothing is certain about Alexander's future:
We will stick with that prediction, but honestly, MacKensie Alexander could end up anywhere. bit.ly/1165QTP— JC Shurburtt (@jcshurburtt) January 30, 2013
News on Alexander has been all over the place, so take any information about his decision with a grain of salt at this point. The only way to truly know where he will go is to watch his announcement.
Altee Tenpenny, 4-Star RB
Toward the end of January, Tenpenny committed to Alabama and head coach Nick Saban (per 247Sports.com), but after a recent successful visit to his home school of Arkansas (per Richard Davenport of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette), that commitment isn't so certain:
North Little Rock running back Altee Tenpenny said he enjoyed hanging out with his two hosts, cornerback Tevin Mitchel and offensive lineman Cordale Boyd. He said the players told him the same as others and to be a Hog and stay in-state. He wants to go back home and talk to his parents and see how they liked the trip. He said the staff seemed down-to-earth and were hungry to win. He'll make his final decision on signing day.
Did you read that?
Tenpenny will make his decision on signing day, so clearly Alabama hasn't landed him just yet. Arkansas seems like a better choice from both playing time and sentimental standpoints, but there's no question Alabama will give him the best chance to win.
We'll see whether home or winning matters more.
Carl Lawson, 5-Star DE
Lawson has been committed to Auburn for nearly a year now, but he is also interested in Clemson and Tennessee (per 247Sports.com).
However, also listed in his preferred destinations is Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets have by no means been a favorite all this time, but thanks to the hiring of a new defensive line coach, that could change.January 31, 2013 February 1, 2013
With a late entry into this race for one of the best defenders in the nation, Lawson could land at just about any of his desired schools.
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