This is the BPRT's recap of the recruiting class of 2016. MD Buckeye's comments are in BLUE; RB07OSU's in BROWN; Smudger's in GREEN; wadc45's in RED; and LordJeffBuck's in PURPLE.
- Another year, another top five recruiting class for the Ohio State Buckeyes. Offensively, you'd be hard pressed to find a better class in the country, IMO. The OSU staff landed the majority of their top targets on the offensive side of the ball, while also adding great depth to the OL & TE position groups. They also did a great job on the defensive side, adding top talent, but also taking chances on a couple projects. All in all, there's nothing to complain about with this class.
- All in all, this may be the best recruiting class I have seen come into Columbus. With so many players graduating or leaving early and so many spots suddenly open, I will admit that I thought there was a high likelihood that we would be reaching on a number of prospects to "fill spots." But never doubt the Urban, because not only did we fill those spots with elite talent, we unfortunately also had to turn away some great prospects towards the end. We landed some guys who I think are built to be instant impact, as well as some guys with huge upside that can develop into stars here.
- In what is becoming the norm in Columbus, Urban Meyer & Co. bring in yet another consensus top five class. Hitting every position of need & adding depth to those necessary, this class is outstanding across the board. Even when the doubters were questioning whether OSU would be able to finish strong down the stretch, the coaches proved yet again they are as good as it gets when it comes to sealing the deal in January, adding eight commitments during the final month of the recruiting cycle. There is a lot to be excited about with what the next generation of Buckeyes has to offer.
- Top five, schmop five. Did we finish higher in the recruiting rankings than Michigan/Alabama/Notre Dame/Florida State/etc.? That seemed to be many people's greatest concern down the stretch. I don't put as much faith in team recruiting rankings as some others but I also don't deny their relative validity as demonstrated by Alabama (from 2008 to 2015, eight straight top-5 classes, four national championships). What recruiting rankings don't address is need. And when it comes to OSU's greatest roster needs, Coach Meyer once again stockpiled an insane amount of talent. There were some misses...most notably at DT where Rashard Lawrence or Antwuan Jackson would have made this an A+ class. And there were some reaches...most notably at DB. But in an age where there is no such thing as a perfect class, OSU came quite close. Every team misses on certain players and goes out and finds the next best player available. Meyer does it as well as anybody. As an aside, let's just go ahead and say we could pencil Nick Bosa's name into most of the following categories and move on from there.
- Signing 25 prospects is great for winning the February recruiting title, but I'd rather have a class of sixteen and retain the services of the nine early entrants into the 2016 NFL draft (Joey Bosa, Vonn Bell, Ezekiel Elliott, Darron Lee, etc.). Recruiting is fun to follow and debate, but give me proven talent any day. As far as this class goes, ask me in three years.
- Nick Bosa. One Bosa leaves & another enters. Nick is the surest thing in the OSU class & should make an immediate impact this coming fall, provided his rehab stays on schedule.
- Nick Bosa. Easiest pick for sure, he was honestly college ready his junior season of high school and I do not jest when I say he would have been in our rotation this season if he was eligible for college. As long as his recovery keeps progressing, he will at the very least be in the two deep. I see him regularly rotating in with both Hubbard and Lewis. My other picks here would be Pridgeon, Mack, Cooper and Hausmann...I think you will see all of those guys play a lot early on.
- Malcolm Pridgeon. The Buckeyes don't tend to go the JUCO route very often, so when they dip into those ranks you know that the young man has to be special. With both starting tackles graduating, Pridgeon should compete immediately for one of those starting spots. He was not brought in to develop for his remaining eligibility but because the coaches believe he will contribute right away.
- Malcolm Pridgeon. You don't bring in a JUCO player to sit for a couple of years and develop. This kid is being brought in to compete for the right tackle job from day 1. Unfortunately he won't get to campus until June which will delay his working his way into the mix. It will be interesting to see how Coach Studrawa gets his five best OL on the field. Is Pridgeon going to play RT which means Jamarco Jones and Evan Lisle, among others, will battle for the RG spot? That is how I see things shaking out eventually. I suspect Austin Mack, who Coach Meyer singled out, and Nick Bosa, provided his rehab stays the course, will also factor in this discussion.
- Malcolm Pridgeon, who should be an immediate starter at right offensive tackle. If he's not, then he'll probably be an outright bust.
Most Star Potential
- Nick Bosa. His brother Joey is going to be a top pick in the upcoming NFL draft & many believe that Nick may be the better prospect coming out of high school. If that's the case, he may leave OSU as being the best defensive end in Buckeye history.
- It would be Nick Bosa and I could give him every positive superlative on here, but I am going to keep things interesting here and say Malik Barrow. Extremely underrated and was downright dominating at IMG before getting injured. Barrow is an explosive 3-tech that really only needs to work on some finer technique (i.e. hand placement) and put on a little bit of weight. I see Malik filling out in the 290 range and not losing any explosion.
- The obvious answer is Nick Bosa, that is a no-brainer. But instead of awarding him every honor here, I'll go with Keandre Jones. The man is a heat-seeking missile in the mold of Ryan Shazier. He arrives to the ball with bad intentions & his instincts are top notch. His quickness and closing speed are nothing short of extraordinary & you can expect him to excel early on special teams as well. I see another exceptional LB in what has been a long line of greats to roam the heart of that defense.
- I agree Nick Bosa is the easy answer. I mean we're talking about a guy who is being referred to as a more polished version of a guy who is going to be a top 5 pick in this year's NFL draft. But I will go with Dwayne Haskins, Jr. Granted he is going to find himself in a battle for the #2 spot next year with Joey Burrow but I just don't see him not having an impact on this program at some point over the next 4-5 years. He is one of the best pure throwers of the football that Coach Meyer has ever recruited and has enough athleticism to extend plays and run some read option, although he won't be a 20-carries-a-game kind of QB like JT Barrett. Couple all of that with his charisma, social media skills, and ability to connect with other recruits and you have the makings of a star.
Nick Bosa. There should be at least one more Bosa tree in the Buckeye Grove before Nick heads off to the NFL.
- Again, Nick Bosa. Committing to the Buckeyes in July, Nick has almost become the forgotten man of the OSU class. If Nick would've waited to announce his decision on Signing Day, the hype around it likely would've been tops in the country. He's easily the most college ready player in the class & should make an immediate impact at DE, while also sliding inside, just as his brother Joey did during his time at OSU.
- Absolutely would be Bosa but again, I will keep it fresh and say Dwayne Haskins. I have been adamant through the recruiting cycle that my top QB was Haskins and I was scratching my head when we went with Wallace instead. So of course I was elated when we got back in and landed Dwayne. He is one of the more polished QBs I have seen us bring in and I really think he is a JT clone in regards to efficiency. He is not quite as athletic from what I can tell but he gets the ball out of his hand super quick, has a very strong arm and is about the most accurate QB we have brought in. Nothing real flashy but with the playmakers we have here, I see Dwayne piling up the stats as a Buckeye and being a captain at least two years with his leadership skills. Others I would nominate are Mack, Gerald, Borland, and Fuller.
- Nick Bosa. You don't garner the superlatives he accrued at a national HS powerhouse without having the substance to back it up. He's going to have immense pressure on him, especially following the legendary career of his brother Joey, but nothing leads me to believe he wont be able to live up to that hype or even surpass it. He will most likely always be compared to his older brother, but whether or not that "shadow" has any impact on him remains to be seen. You'd have to believe having Joey achieve what he did at OSU can only help Nick prosper to great heights.
- Again pencil Bosa's name in here. But I'll go with Jonathon Cooper. This kid has proven over and over that he just will not be denied. He has a motor that does not have an on/off switch. He will work as hard as anyone in the program to make sure that he is competing for playing time. Yes, his size is about the only thing that kept him from being a consensus 5-star recruit, but the performances he put in at several events, including The Opening, Rivals 5-Star Challenge (where he was named DL MVP ahead of Rashan Gary and Dexter Lawrence), and Army Bowl week all showed that his stock deserved to be on the rise. I have no doubt that he will be a nightmare for B1G QBs at some point in the near future. The OSU coaching staff even told Cooper they had never seen anything like him before, meaning this kid breaks the mold and as such I expect him to have a fine career at OSU.
- Nick Bosa has some injury concerns, Dwayne Haskins has a lot of competition at quarterback, Jonathon Cooper is a bit undersized ... a kid who has a ton of talent, has always performed well, and has no apparent issues is WR Austin Mack. He is on campus already, will participate in spring ball, and should be ready to compete for serious playing time in the fall. Drue Chrisman also gets a mention because he is a punter, and as such will basically be given the job once current punter Cameron Johnston (a senior) heads to the NFL.
- Binjimen Victor. You can't teach 6'4", and while Victor is a great talent at this point, he isn't close to reaching his ceiling. OSU has done a great job landing slot/H-back WRs in recent classes, but they've lacked the true outside threat. Victor is a huge get.
- Keandre Jones. I absolutely love his game and really see a Shazier in the making. Jones just needs to put on some weight and learn the playbook and he can be a bigtime star. I would also say this is a toss-up with Binjimen Victor, who I think is a top-3 WR in the entire country this year and a future 1st round draft pick. I would also put Demario McCall on the watch list.
- Demario McCall. His versatility sets him apart & he will be able to get the ball in a plethora of ways, whether that be from returns, being in the backfield, or out in the slot. He is truly one of those dynamic players that can hurt you from a variety of areas, and with his supreme quickness & explosiveness, he possesses that big-play potential we all crave. One of those guys that makes it all look effortless & has that great vision to find those creases to take it to the next level.
- Nick Bosa, anyone? I'll go with Binjimen Victor. 6-foot-4 with the catch radius of a stork combined with the speed and athleticism to make plays downfield. Victor has as much upside as anyone in this class. He will certainly need some time to develop physically, which will only mean his craft will be even more refined once he finally sees the field. Obviously he will also need to prove that he can be a willing blocker in the OSU offense but the rewards should be tremendous as Victor appears to be the next big deep threat that OSU has lacked since Devin Smith's departure. This kid is one I am looking forward to seeing on the field in a couple of years.
- If "most upside" means "who will end up being the best player", then of course the answer would be Nick Bosa. However, if "most upside" means "who will be the most improved", then I'd have to select guard/center Jack Wohlabaugh. Jack enters Ohio State as a slightly undersized, somewhat unheralded recruit, but the Buckeye coaching staff has already proven that it can develop offensive linemen like him (see Jacoby Boren and Pat Elflein). Plus Jack's dad (Dave Wohlabaugh) played offensive line in the NFL for nine seasons, so Jack has the necessary bloodlines and upbringing to succeed at this level and beyond.
- Jahsen Wint. Clearly he was behind several other options in the defensive backfield & in my opinion, will be recruited over with the options in the 2017 class.
- Jahsen Wint. I was a little surprised to see a commitable offer go out to Wint as early as it did but the staff must have seen the writing on the wall for some other guys. Personally, I would have liked to see this spot go to WR Sam Bruce even with the need at DB.
- Rodjay Burns. Seems like more of a numbers/depth add after losing the early departures to the NFL and missing out on DB's higher on the board like Hamlin. With more glowing prospects on the near horizon & Jordan Fuller looking more likely to be a Safety, he will probably have to make his biggest impact on Special Teams along with Jahsen Wint. Altough quite an unheralded job, its still a crucial role on the team & I believe they both can help out here immeasurably.
- I could make a case for Rodjay Burns or Kierre Hawkins but I will go with one of the last additions to the class in Malik Harrison. What's undeniable is the size and athleticism. What's up for debate is what position he projects at. He has made it clear he would like to start out at WR, but at his size I think that just means an eventual move to TE where OSU is bringing in three other players this year. I think his best fit at the next level will be at LB where he will have to contend for playing time with guys like Jerome Baker, Justin Hilliard, Nick Conner, Keandre Jones, and Tuf Borland, all of whom are highly-rated prospects who have played quite a bit more LB so far in their careers. Can he take his natural abilities and translate that to football player? I certainly hope that he does but it will be interesting to see where he eventually fits in on this team.
- Jahsen Wint and Rodjay Burns might be "reaches", but they might just be under-the-radar defensive backs that Ohio State has a knack for finding late in the process (Bradley Roby, Chimdi Chekwa, Donald Washington III, Orhian Johnson, to name a few). Time will tell, but right now they are the most likely suspects for this dubious distinction.
- Malik Harrison. A great multi-sport athlete who could end up playing WR, DE, or LB. Get him on campus and figure out the rest later.
- Wayne Davis. I believe he is a composite 4-star recruit, but he usually does not show up in the top 100-300 lists, which I disagree with. He absolutely balled out against great competition and put up some excellent film. He is not as long as a lot of the corners we have been recruiting, but his coverage skills are impressive, plus he has the build to come up and play the run. I think Wayne could be in for big things here. Other nominees would be Tuf Borland, Malik Harrison, Gavin Cupp, and Kareem Felder.
- Antonio Williams. Quite unheralded at the time because his of low ranking across the services, he put together a stellar senior season and solidified the RB spot in the class after questions began to arise of Kareem Walker's intentions. Not much was known about him, but enough to make Urban Meyer & Tony Alford make the call that he was their guy. Being an early enrollee he's kind of flown under the radar a bit, but with Zeke departing early for the NFL, he may just be able to compete for early PT.
- Kareem Felder. A former Virginia Tech commit, I am very high on him and you can argue the staff is as well considering how early they targeted him. I think he and Wayne Davis have flown under the radar this year and were steals in this class. I would be more concerned about DB depth in this class had they not added Jordan Fuller but I think the addition of Fuller means Felder is a guy who could provide instant depth at safety. He should push for special teams time right away and could eventually end up being one of the steals of this class. You don't see a lot of 3-star guys with offers from Ohio State and Alabama which tells me this kid was probably rated a little low. His senior film wasn't the most exciting as most teams chose to eliminate the entire route tree from his half of the field.
- There are very few "sleepers" in a consensus top-5 recruiting class, but I will go with Kierre Hawkins. At 6-foot-4, 225-pounds, Hawkins has a unique skill set that could allow him to excel as a "flex" tight end, where he should have size mismatches against safeties and speed mismatches against linebackers. Hawkins could just as easily find himself without a position (too small for TE, too slow for WR, no room at DE) and become a bust.
- Dwayne Haskins. This one looked like it was over a few months ago, but OSU was able to land one of their top two prospects on the QB board, the other being Tennessee signee Jarrett Guarantano. The OSU staff did a great job getting back in the game & ultimately flipping Dwayne from his home state school.
- Binjimen Victor. Personally, I thought he was all Gator and getting his commitment when we did totally took me by surprise. Keandre Jones is right there as well, that came completely out of left field.
- Keandre Jones. Came out of nowhere & surprisingly flipped over to the good guys immediately following his official visit. Was expected to remain with Maryland despite interest from other schools, but his official visit to tOSU was also a bit of a surprise, as it was being reported during the midst of the visit & not ahead of time. You could also make the case he was Most Pleasant Surprise as well because he was such a sensational add to this class with what he brings to the table.
- Tuf Borland. The kid is a Wisconsin legacy and yet spurned an offer from the Badgers to be a part of OSU's class. I was worried there would be some serious scrambling after Carter Coughlin chose Minnesota but Coach Fickell and Coach Meyer immediately turned their attention to Borland and he committed back in April of 2015. His instincts are what show up immediately on his film...he is moving towards his assignment earlier and faster than anyone else on the tape. He is always around the ball, which is something you expect to see out of a LB prospect, and the fact that he enrolled early means he will improve his chances of seeing the field next year on either special teams or backing up one of the LB spots, most likely at Will or Mike.
- Kenadre Jones. This guy wasn't even on the radar until late January, then he suddenly flips from Maryland and becomes one of Ohio State's top-rated recruits for the class of 2016. That's a recruiting surprise that I can live with.
The One Who Got Away
- Rashard Lawrence. Likely would've pushed for PT his freshman year & made an instant impact at defensive tackle.
- Rashard Lawrence. Even though I had him going to LSU all the way until his commitment, we made him our top priority and definitely were in it for his signature. Also bummed to miss on Antwuan Jackson to Auburn, as I had him rated just as high as Lawrence. A stud DT was really the only one thing we were missing in the class of 2016. Others that I would have liked to see here (although we ultimately ended up fine at their positions) would include Sam Bruce, Carlos Becker, Terrell Hall, Donnie Corley, Damar Hamlin, and Brendan Ferns.
- Antwuan Jackson. Seemed like OSU was right in the thick of it for him from the start & actually had a realistic chance to land him throughout the process. That late visit to Auburn & their push to get his mom completely on board with the Tigers was a cruel blow. Unlike Rashard Lawrence, who it was always an uphill battle for, many believed the Buckeyes could overcome the obstacles in their way in order to pluck him from the South.
- Insert defensive tackle recruit here. Rashan Gary, Rashard Lawrence, Antwuan Jackson, Terrell Hall, Dexter Lawrence, Julian Rochester, Michael Onwenu, Jamar King. Any one of those guys would have been a welcome addition to this class. Malik Barrow was playing at about as high of a level as imaginable before being injured two games into his senior season. And there is decent depth on the roster with 5-6 players having underclassmen eligibility at defensive tackle going into next year. What there is not is proven talent. That is where another highly rated DT recruit could have had a big impact. In addition to DT, my feelings on Sam Bruce were very well known. I would have liked to see him fit in this class somewhere, although knowing what we know now I can understand why he did not. Slot WR, especially a slot WR with some possible baggage, was not a priority for the staff down the stretch. But I think if Kevin Beard had been let go at Miami a little sooner OSU might have made room for Sam in this class.
- You know the drill, it's the same every year - the Buckeyes search far and wide but can't seem to sign a stud defensive tackle. Pick your favorite from the names listed above - Ohio State could've used that guy. Maybe recent 2017 verbal Haskell Garrett breaks this perennial curse.
What This Class Lacks
- A second DT. Unfortunately, elite defensive tackles don't grow on trees and there's no doubting the OSU staff would've preferred landing another DT in this class. That being said, OSU is in prime position for several of the top defensive tackles in the 2017 class and I expect them to land more than one.
- Defensive Back talent. I love the upside of Fuller, Davis & Felder, but I question taking Burns & Wint. OSU obviously needed to add some depth here with the departures to the NFL draft, but I expect the two named may get recruited over in 2017.
- A second DT. The guy we did get in Barrow is going to be a star IMO, but we undoubtedly needed another DT. I was concerned that Lawrence and Jackson were staying south, and we went all in on two guys we missed on. Plus we put in some considerable effort on Gary and Dexter Lawrence, which were never going to materialize (although I do agree you have to try on those guys). Landing at least two stud DTs in 2017 is a priority and we are halfway there, just hope depth is not a thorn in our side in the interim.
- Top Tier DB talent. OSU missed on a number of their biggest DB targets, but despite this still added much needed depth to those positions as well as versatile players that can play anywhere in the secondary. The early departures to the NFL only compounded things, but there is much to be excited about with the DB prospects looming ahead in the '17 class that could trump any possible shortcomings in this class.
- Hard to say this class lacks anything other than a second stud at DT. Of course as I am writing this OSU gets a verbal commitment from Haskell Garrett (a highly-rated 2017 DT prospect from Las Vegas Bishop Gorman). But alas another stud at DT would have made this an A+ class for me. As I said I am cautiously optimistic that Felder and Davis paired with Fuller will see playing time earlier rather than later at OSU, as opposed to Wint and Burns who I think will need at least a couple of years before they are ready to contribute...although Wint has the look of a special teams demon. OSU was in on guys like Levonta Taylor, Chauncey Gardner, Trayvon Mullen, Lavert Hill, Damar Hamlin, Nigel Warrior, Brandon Burton, etc. who would have also been welcome additions to this class, but OSU did a nice job of stockpiling a decent mix of talent and potential and none of those misses were nearly as detrimental to me as were the misses on Lawrence and Jackson.
- Two words: defensive tackle. Three more words: another defensive tackle. Ohio State has been thin at this important position for years, and your defense can only go so far with guys like Joel Hale and Tommy Schutt manning the middle. The future is not bright at defensive tackle, but fortunately it is positively luminous at every other position, so the Buckeyes should still be able to compete at a very high level despite this chronic deficiency.
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