Football Recruiting

Why Ohio State Had To Tell Some Recruits ‘No Thanks’

Ohio State football head coach Ryan Day

Ohio State’s 2020 recruiting class finished as one of the very best in the nation.

Top prospect Cameron Martinez signed his Letter of Intent after delaying his decision in December.

The class included four players ranked as 5-star prospects by 247 Sports, and finished No. 5 overall.

In a sport where having even half of your class ranked as a “blue chip” prospect (4 or 5 stars) is considered enough to be a national championship contender, Ohio State brought in 17 blue chips out of 25 recruits (68 percent).

But it’s possible that the class could have finished even stronger.

There were several top players who were still considered possible additions to the OSU class as recently as January, but none of them panned out.

The most notable was 4-star running back Jahmyr Gibbs, who was planning on visiting Columbus before being told the Buckeyes didn’t have room for him.

The issue was that Ohio State was already on track to be over the NCAA-mandated scholarship limit for the season.

As a reminder, every FBS team is limited to 85 scholarship players at the start of fall camp. That’s still about six months away, and OSU is only over by four at the moment.

In a normal season of attrition, most programs lose at least that many guys to transfer or injury retirement. But Ryan Day said he didn’t want to take any chances.

“These things have their way of working themselves out, as we know. But that’s also a tricky thing,” he said. “We had to walk away from a couple of guys here in February because I didn’t want to be put in that situation.”

You can find a full scholarship chart at the bottom of this article, showing each of the 88 players currently projected to be on scholarship this fall.

CJ Saunders, a wide receiver, is on there even though he has not yet been granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA. Saunders missed the entire 2019 season with an injury, and has applied for an extra year. There’s no guarantee that he will get it.

Martinez is now on that chart, listed as a cornerback. He could end up as a wide receiver or safety, but he had to go somewhere.

Kourt Williams, who was listed as a linebacker on recruiting sites, is included with the safeties because he is projected as a Bullet at OSU.

However it happens, four of the names on that chart below won’t be there when fall camp opens in August. The tricky part for Day and his staff is figuring out how many guys are actually likely to move on.

If more players depart through transfer or medical retirement than they project, they could end up playing this year a little short-handed, and have missed out on recruits this month.

If fewer guys leave than they expect, they could be in for some uncomfortable conversations.

One scholarship player has already left the program this offseason. DE Alex Williams transferred to Vanderbilt. But how many more players will follow Williams out the door after spring practice or over the summer?

Every year, some do. But projecting the exact number isn’t easy.

Day said he and his staff tried to play it safe to avoid having to usher someone out of the program who didn’t really want to leave.

“Obviously with the transfer portal we never want to lose anybody. But you also have to forecast that out a little bit so you’re not short, and there’s also medicals and different things that way,” said Day. “They have their way of working themselves out and we’ll just try to forecast the best we can.”

Players marked with an asterisk (*) have already used their redshirt season.

QBJack Miller
C.J. Stroud
Justin FieldsGunnar Hoak *4
RBSteele Chambers *
Miyan Williams
Marcus Crowley
Master Teague *
Demario McCall *
Trey Sermon
WRMookie Cooper
Julian Fleming
Gee Scott
Jaxon Smith-Njigba
Kamryn Babb *
Garrett Wilson
Jameson Williams
Elijah Gardiner *
Jaylen Harris *
Chris Olave
C.J. Saunders *11
TEJoe Royer
Cade Stover *
Jeremy RuckertLuke Farrell *
Jake Hausmann *
OLJosh Fryar
Ryan Jacoby *
Jakob James
Paris Johnson
Trey Leroux
Grant Toutant
Enokk Vimahi *
Luke Wypler
Dawand Jones
Matthew Jones *
Harry Miller
Nick Petit-Frere *
Max Wray *
Wyatt Davis *
Josh Myers *
Gavin Cupp *
Thayer Munford
DETy Hamilton
Noah Potter *
Zach Harrison
J. Jean-Baptiste *
Tyler Friday
Tyreke Smith
Jonathon Cooper *
DTJacolbe Cowan
Cormontae Hamilton *
Darrion Henry
Jaden McKenzie *
Taron Vincent *Jerron Cage *
Tommy Togiai
Haskell Garrett
Antwuan Jackson *
LBCody Simon
Tommy Eichenberg *
Mitchell Melton
Craig YoungDallas Gant
Teradja Mitchell
K'Vaughan Pope
Justin Hilliard *
Tuf Borland *
Baron Browning
Pete Werner
CBLejond Cavazos
Cameron Martinez
Ryan Watts
Tyreke Johnson *Sevyn Banks
Cameron Brown
Shaun Wade *
Marcus Williamson8
SAFRonnie Hickman *
Lathan Ransom
Bryson Shaw *
Kourt Williams
Marcus Hooker *Josh Proctor6
KBlake Haubeil1
PDrue Chrisman1

6 Responses

  1. If Mr. Gibbs had been interested early on he would have had a home in Columbus. The waiting game can backfire on both sides. I think its good for recruiting – if a kid knows that the Buckeyes are willing to walk away – they may want to make the decision a tad earlier if they are really interested. Just my humble opinion.

  2. So we didn’t take Gibbs so Saunders could get a 6th year of not playing. Great move

    1. it is an interesting move, Jneuey…. ;-{)} It suggests our coaches are considering more factors than… what rank the gurus are selling.

      in other grus for those in the Size Club, Alex Williams was our tallest lineman… and all of a sudden…he portaled….

      1. …and there’s this “300 lb size line” where after you cross it, you ‘can’…


    2. It’s more like “they’re decent human beings who recruited players to come to Ohio State and don’t want to be put in the position of having to arm-twist someone to transfer away from a school and football program where they still want to be.”

      There’s no guarantee that Saunders gets the sixth year, or that he chooses to stay at OSU if he does.

      They just don’t want to be in a position where they have one too many players.

  3. It’s a good problem to have when a school can select, not just recruit.

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