Quick thoughts on the signees

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Last updated: 02/07/2013 2:55 PM
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Football Recruiting
Quick Thoughts on All 24 Ohio State Signees
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Harvest Day has come and gone, and there were no grim reapers to be found in Columbus. Urban Meyer's bushel of blue-chippers actually overflowed, leaving a few scattered on the ground for others to pick up.

Meyer and his assistants were finally able to take stock of their hard work, and they saw that it was good. Now the seeds have already been planted for future classes, and the ground has proven more than fertile.

Yesterday was a day unlike any we have seen around here before, and it's the first of more to come. Watching the signees roll in, it was impossible not to think about where each of these players may fit in down the road. So with that in mind, let's take a look at each of them and what we might expect from these newest Buckeyes.

Quarterback J.T. Barrett (6-1 225)
Prior to his senior season, 247 Sports had Barrett ranked the #1 dual threat quarterback in the nation. Think of him as a taller Troy Smith that won't need nearly the three years of seasoning that Smith needed. He's still recovering from a torn ACL, but could begin throwing again by the Spring. Amazingly, 50% of the scholarship quarterbacks on Ohio State's roster now come from Texas.

Cornerback Eli Apple (6-0 184)
Apple has been attending Ohio State camps for so long, that the first time they met, Jim Tressel was the taller of the two. He is now long, lean and physical. How does the physicality of a Malcolm Jenkins with the length of a Chris Gamble sound? Oh wait, that's Bradley Roby. Hey, how does another Bradley Roby sound?

Cornerback Cameron Burrows (5-11 200)
Burrows is thought by some to be an eventual safety, and even Everett Withers doesn't know where he will end up. Generally, it would be up to the player to show that they can play one position over the other. However, if they like his physicality, they could tag him pretty quickly as a safety like they did with Christian Bryant, who also came in as a cornerback.

Defensive End Tyquan Lewis (6-3 223)
I was told during the summer that Lewis was very impressive at Ohio State's camp and moved like a linebacker instead of a defensive end. He's done very well in camp and combine settings, so the potential is certainly there to marry those abilities to on-field production. With an entirely new defensive line, there will be opportunities for snaps. Lewis just has to show that he is ready.

Defensive Lineman Tracy Sprinkle (6-2 241)
Ohio State lists Sprinkle at 6-2 241, but I was told two months ago that he was measured in at just over 6-5 in shoes and 268 pounds. Regardless, with Sprinkle already enrolled, he'll be looking however it is that OSU wants him to look before too long. That will probably also determine where he ultimately ends up on the defensive line. Sprinkle was under the radar for most of his career, and Urban Meyer was perfectly fine with it. He has the type of tenacity that finds its way to the field pretty early.

Defensive Lineman Joey Bosa (6-5 270)
I remember the first time I saw Bosa at Ohio State's Friday Night Lights, he looked like a taller John Simon. He's got NFL bloodlines, and now he's got a stage to go along with it. I would expect him to immediately compete for a significant spot on the depth chart at strongside defensive end.

Cornerback Gareon Conley (6-2 170)
Conley is one of those raw athletes that tends to excel in the Ohio State secondary. Granted, that was under a different regime, but Urban Meyer has his own stellar history with defensive backs as well. Provided he stays on defense, Conley's size and speed will make him an interesting prospect, but he probably needs some more seasoning at this point. I can already hear Kerry Coombs yelling at him. I'm looking forward to the first "Gareon, my wayward son!" from Coombs.

Offensive Lineman Evan Lisle (6-6 290)
Lisle is one of those guys who impressed people with what he could ultimately become, but it looks like the future is coming a little quicker than people expected. Lisle played very well while he was in San Antonio at the Army All-American Bowl, and he should provide immediate depth to an offensive line that needs it. He is certainly a candidate to start in 2014, so they'll want to get him action in 2013.

Safety Darron Lee (6-2 205)
Ohio State calls him an athlete, and they're not wrong. They could also list him as a "leader", because that's exactly what he was for his New Albany high school team. Lee is a fantastic athlete, explosive and plenty fast enough to cover ground. He is a big hitter, but more than anything, he is simply a playmaker. Underestimate him at your own risk.

Defensive Tackle Billy Price (6-4 305)
Here I've been thinking that Price was a good candidate to switch to the offensive line if need be, but Urban Meyer said that because of Price's size and strength, he's the most game-ready defensive lineman in the class. Looks like that move to offensive line is going to have to wait. He could see early time like Joel Hale did in 2011 and Tommy Schutt did last year.

Wide Receiver Jalin Marshall (6-0 190)
I think of anybody in this recruiting class, I'm most anxious to see what type of player Marshall becomes. He is still learning the position of receiver, but he picked it up very well at the Under Armour All-American Game. There really is no limit to his potential, and expect him to get the ball in as many different ways as possible to expand that potential.

Offensive Lineman Tim Gardner (6-5 320)
Gardner doesn't have the offers or the accolades that you would expect an Ohio State signee to have, but the one thing that he does have is offensive line coach Ed Warinner's blessing, and that should be more than enough.

Safety Jayme Thompson (6-2 185)
Thompson is a tremendous athlete with good speed who will be able to learn for a year, but come 2014, there are going to be some safety jobs opening up, and it's going to be a battle. Thompson is just the fifth Toledoan signed by OSU in the last 10 years, and only two of the previous four (Dane Sanzenbacher, Jack Mewhort) stuck around.

Defensive Tackle Michael Hill (6-2 305)
Any time you can get a defensive tackle from the South who is coveted by the SEC, you have to be pleased. Hill is an explosive player may be able to add a bit more pass rushing than you would think from a player of his size. He will no doubt receive some comparisons to Johnathan Hankins, but won't be carrying as much weight. He should blossom under Mickey Marotti's watch and Mike Vrabel's tutelage.

Linebacker Mike Mitchell (6-4 225)
Elite athleticism and speed at middle linebacker are rare. In fact, in many instances, the slowest and least athletic linebacker is put in the middle. If Mitchell does end up in the middle, people are going to have to focus on other stereotypes, because slow and plodding just won't fit him. Some fans are hoping that he will step right in and start, and while some coaches may be hoping that as well, I doubt any of them are expecting it. The signing of Mitchell is a huge deal, and he is one of the jewels of this class, but people have to be careful not to put too many expectations on him before he even gets to campus.

Defensive Tackle Donovan Munger (6-4 290)
Talking to John McCallister about Munger, he really liked Munger's burst and overall athleticism. He has the feet to move quickly, and the punch to take advantage of his quickness. He is a player who has gotten better every year, and that should continue through college as well. The SEC came after Munger as well.

Slot Back Dontre Wilson (5-10 175)
Rather than typing "Percy Harvin Role" for the next 10 years, I think today I will simply start calling it the "slot back". Ohio State calls him a running back, which his 1,800+ yards rushing would agree with. But he can do so much more, and that's why the OSU coaches were visibly excited about Wilson's possibilities. He's as fast as he is elusive, and he can take a hit, which can't be ignored. I've heard him referred to as "DeAnthony Thomas Lite", which would still be plenty heavy.

Linebacker Trey Johnson (6-2 220)
The linebackers in the 2012 class, specifically David Perkins, will be getting a battle from Johnson once he arrives. He seems like a perfect fit at weakside linebacker, and with the possibility that Ryan Shazier leaves after this season, there will be a marquee job available in 2014. Johnson has a chance to stake his claim on that spot, but there will be some sophomores who will intend on doing the same.

Safety/Linebacker Chris Worley (6-3 195)
Worley probably still has to figure out where he fits in on the defense, but he is certainly the type of player who could be plugged into the special teams on the first day. He is fast, smart and not afraid of contact. If that doesn't sound like special teams, I don't know what does. Given his size, it's easy to say that he would ideally be suited to play the Star position, but that spot requires so many different skills that you can't really expect a freshman to make an impact there.

Wide Receiver Corey Smith (6-1 190)
Urban Meyer has brought in a ton of talented signees in this class, but relying on freshman receivers to make plays can be frustrating. Signing Corey Smith out of junior college alleviates some of that worry and frustration because he has played college football for two years already. No, it wasn't on the same level, but it was still another level of experience that freshmen don't have. He is expected to play right away, and with the way he attacks the football, he has the potential to make an impact.

Wide Receiver James Clark (5-11 170)
A few weeks ago when Clark's name first surfaced among Buckeye fans, not much was known about him. And then everybody started watching his highlight video and he suddenly became a must get. Watch the video yourself and see if you disagree. To me, he looks like a combination of Santonio Holmes and Ted Ginn, which sounds outrageous, but that's what I see. I'm not expecting Holmes or Ginn numbers, but I am expecting a play here or there next year that triggers your memory banks back to the mid-aughts.

Tight End Marcus Baugh (6-4 245)
Baugh is almost forgotten in this class, but he shouldn't be. He is the type of tight end that Urban Meyer and Tom Herman are looking for, which means that they have desired ways of getting him the ball. It may not be this year, because both coaches really like what they already have at tight end. However, Baugh is the future of what the position is going to look like at Ohio State, and how distant that future is should be known pretty quickly once the season starts.

Safety Vonn Bell (6-1 190)
When Bruce Feldman congratulated Tennessee for landing Bell an hour before Bell's public ceremony, Buckeye fans began their various stages of grief. However, given how the day went, they pretty much just stuck with "Acceptance", knowing that you can't win them all. And when Bell put the Ohio State hat on, not only did Buckeye Nation explode, so did the Tennessee fans who had taken Feldman's congratulatory tweet as gospel. It's one of the things that makes Signing Day so great, and for the first time in a while, a signing this big went Ohio State's way. Bell's speed and athleticism separate him from most, but he's also smart and physical. The Buckeye coaches had to work extremely hard to land him, and there was good reason for all of that effort. It will be interesting to see how quickly he makes his mark on the depth chart.

Running Back Ezekiel Elliott (6-0 210)
If Vonn Bell signing was the cherry on top of the dessert, then Ezekiel Elliott signing was the manager coming over to tell you that your meal had already been paid for. Elliott might just be the perfect running back for Urban Meyer's offense. He runs a sub-4.5, yet is completely comfortable running between the tackles. He is plenty fast enough to get wide, yet strong enough to break tackles. He is also a very dangerous receiver, and will certainly be used in the passing game, possibly very early. There are a lot of running backs on this roster now, but none may be as complete a package as Elliott.

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