Too Early to Call 2009 Class a Bust?
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The word bust has to be one of the worst phrases in all of sports terminology.
It just does.
Think about it.
We (as a collective group) decide to project how someone is going to develop as an athlete and as a person, ultimately, because a lot of what happens on the court and the field is determined by how a player chooses to spend his time and energy.
Then, if that player does not meet our expectations of what they should be at a certain point in their career, we decide they are busts. We decide they are the ones who failed us.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Take for instance Duron Carter and Jamie Wood, two players from Ohio State’s 2009 recruiting class. Both players were highly-rated by all the major recruiting services, although Wood was actually ranked higher by most than Carter, the son of former OSU wide receiver Cris Carter.
Neither player contributed much for the Buckeyes, especially Carter, who lasted one season in Columbus before fizzling out because of academic issues. He spent one year at a junior college and still hasn’t made it back to Division I football.
Compare that to Wood, at one time rated as a 5-star safety by Rivals.com. The Pickerington Central product was buried on the depth chart when he got to Ohio State and he has been slowed by injuries.
Photo by Jim Davidson
He recorded 13 tackles as a special teams player in 2010, but had only four this past season. Wood underwent shoulder surgery in January, and there is no telling if and when he might see the field for the Buckeyes.
So who was the bust? Both? Neither? The one who flunked out or the who came to practice every day?
Regardless of what we want to call them, Ohio State’s 2009 recruiting class certainly has not lived up to its billing as one of the top classes in the country. It recently appeared on “The Unlucky 13,” a list of classes that were ranked in the top 10 by Rivals.com but underachieved.
Steve Megargee, a former colleague of mine, put the list together for Rivals, and he pegged Ohio State’s 2009 recruiting class as the ninth biggest letdown.
But is too early to call the class a bust?
Boom or Bust?
Of the 25 guys who signed with Ohio State in February, 2009, only 17 remain on the active roster for the Buckeyes. Three of the top six rated players in the class are already gone, including 5-star linebacker Dorian Bell, Under Armour All-American running back Jaamal Berry and, of course, Carter.
Bell transferred to Duquesne after being suspended for the 2011 season. He was also implicated as the sixth member of the “Tattoo Five” scandal that led to the end of Tressel’s career at Ohio State.
Photo by Jim Davidson
He and Gateway teammate Corey Brown were the prize catches in the class, at least according to recruiting “experts.” Brown’s career has looked much like Jamie Wood’s. He has switched positions twice and missed most of the 2010 season with a knee injury.
Brown cracked the two-deep for OSU at safety last year, but he has yet to play more than a handful of meaningful snaps on defense.
Berry was just recently dropped from the team, along with fellow 2009 class member Dominic Clarke, who was booted out of Ohio State by Urban Meyer after violating team rules.
Blue-chip defensive end Melvin Fellows recently received a medical hardship waiver, and his playing career is over before it ever really started. He has never been healthy during his time in Columbus.
Wide receiver James Jackson, offensive tackle Sam Longo and linebacker Jonathan Newsome all left the program last year. Linebacker Jordan Whiting joined them this off-season with his transfer back home to Louisville.
Of three top guys from this class who are still at Ohio State—Brown, Wood and Marcus Hall—only Hall is expected to be in the starting lineup to open the 2012 season.
Not All is Lost
It has not lived up to much of the hype as the No. 3 class in the country, but the 2009 group has not been a complete failure at Ohio State. Rather it has been some of the sleepers in the class who have carried the banner for this group as it heads into its fourth season in Columbus.
Photo by Jim Davidson
John Simon and Zach Boren, two of the lowest-rated players in the class, have been two of the “bell cows” in this class for Ohio State, along with 4-star defensive back C.J. Barnett.
At the time this class signed, Boren was talked about as a throw-in, a guy who really only got an offer because the Buckeyes wanted to lure his big brother away from Ann Arbor. In time, the younger Boren has turned out to be a critical member of the OSU offense and will continue to be even as Meyer transitions to a spread attack this fall.
Simon and Barnett have both become multi-year starters on defense, and they will be two of the leaders on the 2012 Silver Bullets defense. Defensive lineman Adam Bellamy will also be in the mix on the defensive line and linebacker Storm Klein should compete for the starting Mike linebacker spot during fall camp.
On offense, both Carlos Hyde and Jordan Hall should be key members of Tom Herman’s offense in 2012, and Reid Fragel will likely be the team’s starting right tackle after bulking up to 300 pounds this off-season for the switch from tight end.
He could join 2009 classmates Jack Mewhort and Corey Linsley in the starting lineup for Ohio State, with the probability of Marcus Hall being in there at right guard as well. That is four players from this class who will be starting up front for the Buckeyes this fall.
Even quarterback Kenny Guiton, one of the last members of the 2009 recruiting class, could make an impact in 2012 as the backup to starter Braxton Miller.
Here is a complete breakdown of the 2009 class:
FB Zach Boren
OL Jack Mewhort
RB Jordan Hall
DE John Simon
DB C.J. Barnett
LB Storm Klein
Potential 2012 Starters
RB Carlos Hyde
OL Reid Fragel
OL Corey Linsley
OL Marcus Hall
QB Kenny Guiton
WR Chris Fields
FB Adam Homan
DL Adam Bellamy
DB Corey Brown
DB Jamie Wood
DE Melvin Fellows
Left the Program
RB Jaamal Berry
WR Duron Carter
WR James Jackson
OL Sam Longo
LB Dorian Bell
LB Jonathan Newsome
CB Dominic Clarke
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