Hype Not New to OSU Football Recruiting
By Rob Ogden
Every few years, a freshman comes along and brings with him an incredible amount of hype. Some live up to it, some don't, but that's not important to this list.
Whether they're an all-time great, an all-time bust or something in between, here are the top 10 most-hyped Ohio State players during The Ozone era (1996-present).
Would you have ordered the list differently? Is there anyone we left off the list? Let us know in the comment section below.
No. 10: Mike D'Andrea
The 2002 Ohio State recruiting class was a loaded one. Ranked by many as the best in the county, the class was headlined by a five-star linebacker out of Ohio. No, not A.J. Hawk or Bobby Carpenter, but Mike D'Andrea.
D'Andrea was six-foot-three, 235 pounds and could run a 4.5 40-yard dash. One recruiting service labeled him as the top-ranked linebacker in the country.
An "Andy Katzenmoyer clone… Arguably the nations #1 LB prospect," his biography read.
"The freak", as some called him, could do it all, except stay on the field. A series of injuries – his shoulder first, then his knee – limited him to only 30 games played for the Buckeyes during his career. He registered 44 tackles in four years, and was quickly bypassed on the depth chart by the aforementioned Hawk and Carpenter.
Photo by Dan Harker
No. 9: Braxton Miller
Coming off the heels of Terrelle Pryor's departure, Buckeye fans needed a new hero to turn their hopes towards. Miller provided just that. The dual-threat quarterback was ranked by some as the top quarterback prospect in the country, and his high-school highlight videos were jaw-dropping.
As a senior, the Huber Heights product accounted for 34 touchdowns and led Wayne High School to the state championship game.
as an OSU freshman
No. 8: Maurice Clarett
A five-star prospect out of Warren, Clarett was ranked by most as one of the top five running back recruits in the country. He was named Mr. Football in Ohio and enrolled early at Ohio State.
Clarett really created a buzz when he became the first true freshman to ever start at tailback for the Buckeyes in a season opener, rushing for 175 yards and three touchdowns against Texas Tech to kick off the 2002 season.
Despite battling through injuries, Clarett still managed to rush for 1,237 yards on 16 touchdowns during his only season as a Buckeye.
No. 7: Andy Katzenmoyer
While Clarett's 2002 season might be the greatest offensive performance by an Ohio State freshman, Katzenmoyer likely holds the great defensive season by a freshman. The "Big Kat" as he was known, became the first true freshmen to ever start the season opener at linebacker for the Buckeyes in 1996.
A local product from Westerville South High School, Katzenmoyer was a blue-chip recruit, and lived up to it. As a freshman, Ketzenmoyer had 23 tackles for loss and 12 sacks, both Ohio State records that still stand. In 1997, he became the first Buckeye to win the Dick Butkus award as the nation's top linebacker.
Photo by Jim Davidson
No. 6: Justin Zwick
Part of the same vaunted 2002 recruiting class as D'Andrea and Clarett, Zwick was a can't-miss prospect.
A tall, strong-armed quarterback from Massillon, Zwick was destined to be the next great Ohio State quarterback.
An Oct, 2001 article from The Lantern called Zwick "the best quarterback prospect to enter OSU since Art Schlichter."
"The weight of Saturdays in Ohio will rest squarely on his shoulders starting in 2002," the article read. "Zwick is expected to build something great. The frustration that was No. 8 will be gone. The untested that is Scott McMullen, Craig Krenzel and Rick McFadden will be left over."
Zwick wasn't named the starter in 2002. In fact, he was redshirted. His time to shine finally came in 2004, but Zwick failed to impress, then was injured in a 33-7 loss at Iowa – the Buckeyes' third straight – and was replaced by eventual Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith.
Chris "Beanie" Wells
takes to the air and jumps over a would-be tackler.
Photo by Jim Davidson
No. 5: Beanie Wells
A five-star prospect from Akron Garfield High School, Beanie Wells was the top-ranked running back recruit in the country and one of the most highly regarded recruits at any position.
Often compared to Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson, Wells was called on to end a three-year stretch of mediocre running backs at Ohio State.
As a freshman, Wells rushed for 576 yards and seven touchdowns while sharing time with Antonio Pittman. A year later, as the full-time starter, Wells dominated, rushing for 1,609 yards and 15 touchdowns.
No. 4: Dontre Wilson
Photo by Dan Harker
The inspiration for this list lands at No. 4. Dontre Wilson has yet to play a down for the Buckeyes, but this list only measures preseason hype, and Wilson has created quite a stir.
Ever since Miller said that Wilson was the best looking freshman on the team last month, players and coaches have been raving about the speedy running back from DeSoto, Texas.
Even Coach Urban Meyer, who originally tried to subdue the hype, said that he imagines Wilson will see plenty of playing time this fall.
With running backs Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith out for the season opener against Buffalo, Wilson is sure to get his share of looks from Miller.
No 3: Ken-yon Rambo
Ken-yon Rambo was an absolute stud, a surefire NFL prospect who would step in and immediately contribute for the Buckeyes.
Most recruiting services labeled Rambo as the top receiver prospect in the nation.
A 1997 article from The-Ozone put it this way: "I don’t think I can remember a high school athlete whose recruitment stirred as much passion in Ohio as that of Ken-yon Rambo," wrote the-Ozone editor John Porentas. "The fleet wide receiver from Long Beach, California, was one of the real prizes in this year’s recruiting wars, and when the word was out that he might come to Ohio State, Buckeye fans began to await with eager anticipation national signing day when Ken-yon would make it official that he would indeed become a Buckeye."
Stuck on the depth chart behind guys like David Boston and Dee Miller, Rambo caught only 12 passes and had one touchdown his first two seasons as a Buckeye. He finally showed some of that unprecedented potential as a junior and senior, catching 92 passes for 1,562 yards and eight touchdowns. However those seasons were marred by off-the-field issues and Rambo never became the NFL star most presumed he would be.
No. 2: Ted Ginn Jr.
Tedd Ginn Jr.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Not only was Ted Ginn Jr. one of the top-rated offensive prospects in the country, he was the top-ranked defensive prospect in the country, as well.
The fastest guy on the field, no matter the opposition, Ginn was a state track champion in high school and was named the Gatorade National Defensive Player of the Year as a senior at Cleveland Glenville.
Though he was a star on defense, Ginn quickly became the focal point of Ohio State's offense in 2004. In his three-year career, Ginn accounted for 2,156 yards from scrimmage and 24 total touchdowns.
No. 1: Terrelle Pryor
Photo by Dan Harker
There wasn't a school in America that didn't have interest in Terrelle Pryor, the clear-cut No. 1 overall prospect in the 2008 recruiting class.
A "once-in-a-decade-talent", Pryor became the first player in Pennsylvania high school history to rush and pass for more than 4,000 yards.
His senior year, Pryor amassed 3,691 yards in total offense and led his Jeannette High School team to a state championship with a dominant 16-0 record.
Buckeye fans rejoiced when Pryor made his decision to sign with Ohio State in March, nearly six weeks after signing day.
During his three-year career, Pryor showed flashes of brilliance, most notably in a Rose Bowl win against Oregon in 2010. Though accuracy issues and off-the-field troubles kept him from being the superstar everyone expected.
Related Article - What They're Saying About Dontre Wilson; by Tony Gerdeman
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