Five for Friday: The Five Recruits With Whom the Buckeyes Need to Close
by Tony Gerdeman
We are just over three months away from Signing Day, but it may as well be a lifetime. So much can happen over the next three months that trying to project anything at this point is bound to end with errors.
A year ago at this time, the Buckeyes were still looking for commitments from five-star prospects Mike Mitchell and Vonn Bell. Dontre Wilson was still committed to Oregon, and Trey Johnson was still committed to Auburn.
To say that there's a lot left to be written in this story would be an understatement. That being said, I'm going to try to sum up that story by giving you the five players that Urban Meyer and his Buckeyes need to get signed, sealed and delivered.
1. Chad Mavety, OT (Juco) – Garden City, NY
After Ohio State's bowl game in January, the Buckeye offensive line will be looking for four new starters. It's an unenviable position to be in, unless you're a junior college offensive lineman. Chad Mavety is one of the nation's top junior college offensive tackles, and with the Buckeyes being loaded down with youth next season, a JUCO transfer with two years of experience under his belt could have quite an advantage.
2. Raekwon McMillan, MLB – Hinesville, GA
Rated the #1 inside linebacker in the 2014 class by 247 Sports, Raekwon McMillan has been a Buckeye lean for a while now. Or at least he had been. How he's leaning now, however, may depend on the day. Ohio State brought in two very good linebackers in the last class, as well as a couple of safeties who are becoming linebackers. However, the depth isn't where Urban Meyer wants it. There is a chance that the Buckeyes could be returning all three of their starting linebackers next year, but there's also a chance that Ryan Shazier will be taking his 4.4 speed to the NFL. The linebacker position has been a concern since Meyer arrived, and the one way to alleviate that concern is to continue to bring in the nation's best prospects.
3. Thomas Holley, DT – Brooklyn, NY
The defensive tackle position for Ohio State was so thin this season that guard Chase Farris was brought over to defense and actually started against Florida A&M. They will get 2013 signees Donovan Munger and Michael Hill back next year, as both are redshirting this season due to medical issues, but the coaches are always looking to add. Thomas Holley is a five-star prospect per 247, and currently the smart money is on the Buckeyes here. Ohio State won't lose any defensive tackles after this season, so they don't necessarily need anybody in this class, but they'll be losing Michael Bennett and Joel Hale after 2014, and a guy like Holley could make those losses easier to handle. Texas defensive end Solomon Thomas could fit here as well, but considering he plays strongside defensive end and the Buckeyes are currently trying to find time for both Joey Bosa and Adolphus Washington, Ohio State is pretty okay at that spot for the next few years.
4. Marshon Lattimore, CB/WR – Cleveland, OH
Cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs has said in the past that his job is to sign two of the best cornerbacks in the nation. He already has Detroit's Damon Webb committed, and Marshon Lattimore would be number two. Considering that most believe Lattimore – a Glenville student – will end up a Buckeye, losing him would almost be devastating. There is also the fact that the Buckeyes brought in three cornerbacks in the 2013 class and two of them are redshirting. The third – Cam Burrows – has only recently seen time at cornerback in an actual game, and that's been due to the trickle-down effect of Christian Bryant's injury more than Burrows' need to get on the field. Ohio State will be losing Bradley Roby after this season, and then they will only have Doran Grant and Armani Reeves with any real experience. There are depth issues here as well, and Lattimore could help clear up some of those issues.
5. Juju Smith, S/ATH – Long Beach, CA
Of the names on this list, Juju Smith's is probably the least likely to end up a Buckeye. However, since he's already taken an official visit to Ohio State, he's clearly very interested. Ohio State will be replacing three safety starters next season, if you include Tyvis Powell, who will likely move from star to safety. This season, 2013 signee Vonn Bell has been Powell's backup at star, but he's slated to be the starter at free safety opposite Powell next year. The Buckeyes signed quite a few safeties last year, but they are still looking for depth, and clearly they'd love to add Smith. As we've seen this year, Everett Withers doesn't really have a problem putting an inexperienced player in the depth chart at the star position, and a freshman safety in 2014 could use the opportunity much like Bell has used it this year. Smith is the nation's top safety per Scout, and he will decide at the Under Armor All-American Game in January. Few coaches close like Urban Meyer, so expect this one to go down to the wire.
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