Predicting the Rest of the Class
By Michael Chung
Ohio State’s highest 2014 recruiting goal has been achieved: replenish the offensive line. With 22 verbal commits, the Buckeyes are assured a top 5 finish in virtually every recruiting service. OSU is currently #2 in both Rivals and 24/7, #3 in Scout and #6 in ESPN.
Recruiting is literally a Reality TV show, which changes, surprises, and shocks. Demetrius Knox is now reportedly taking an official visit to UCLA. He once had UCLA in the lead, so there was previous interest. In the past, I have known recruits to go on official visits mainly for fun—current Florida Gator Daniel McMillian comes to mind — but it is late in the game and Knox going to UCLA could be more than just a vacation. It is still ten days till Jan 31—his scheduled visit date— so there is a chance Knox could cancel. Ezekiel Elliot visited Mizzu last year during the 11th hour but came back into the fold quickly. What are the last few weeks of recruiting without significant drama?
Ohio State was in really good shape with three remaining DL targets—Solomon Thomas, Derrick Nnadi, and Malik McDowell—but out of the blue, Bill O’Brien tabbed former OSU DL coach Mike Vrabel to come with him to the Houston Texans.
Recruiting is all about relationships and Solomon Thomas proved that changes in coaches have one of the greatest impacts on recruiting. Thomas eliminated Ohio State along with Texas, both whom had coaching changes at the DL.
One time OSU lean and Texas commit Jermaine Roberts reaffirmed his verbal and cancelled his OSU visit once he was visited by the new UT regime and reassured that burnt orange is the color he wants to wear.
But there was good news as Ohio State offered former VT commit Brady Taylor to be a Buckeye and flipped his commitment. Again, relationship had a lot to do with it as VT lost their OL coach—Jeff Grimes—to LSU and Taylor had the tightest relationship with him. Frank Beamer called and tried to persuade Brady to stay but a perfect storm of an OSU offer coupled with the OL coach leaving and OSU had their 22nd verbal commitment for 2014. Recruiting is drama and excitement rolled up into one.
There is a chance that Ohio State is finished for 2014 but then there is Urban Meyer who never stops. Ohio State is already one scholarship over their allotted 82 and would like to add at least two more so look for up to three current players to leave . from the current team via transfer etc.. There are still some names out there so in this issue of “predicting the finish” I will discuss the remaining visitors and their chances of committing to Ohio State as well as those who have already recently visited.
Demetrius Knox (6’4” 300, OL, 2014, Fort Worth, TX)
I would be shocked if Knox de-committed from Ohio State but I have also learned that in covering recruiting, expect the unexpected, especially during the last few weeks before National Signing Day. Meech is tentatively scheduled to visit UCLA January 31 and if he goes, drama will ensue to no end. Johnny Townsend de-committed last year practically on signing day; could Meech match this drama?
David Njoku (6’4” 215 ATH/WR, 2014, Cedar Grove, NJ)
Mike Gesicki has reaffirmed his PSU commitment and OSU wants another H-back/TE type player. Njoku visits January 31st and now has an OSU offer. If there is anyone else that will commit to Ohio State for 2014, Njoku is the most likely. Temple, Rutgers, Miami (FL), Penn State, and the Buckeyes are his top 5 and I think OSU has a good chance of landing him based on Gesicki’s PSU reaffirmation.
Derrick Nnadi (6’1” 300 DT, 2014, VA Beach, VA)
No news is bad news in the case of Nnadi. He visited OSU and sources said that his visit went well but there has been no news since he left.
Mike Farrell of Rivals believes Florida State leads with Virginia Tech second, not good news after someone has just left the campus on a visit. Nnadi is declining any media interviews until Feb 5th, which happens to be National Signing Day.
As long as Nnadi does not officially eliminate OSU there is hope until Feb. 5 when he will announce. Though reports favor FSU and VT, last year, OSU seemed to be #3 for Vonn Bell. Could history repeat itself?
Roderick Johnson (6’6” 315 OL, 2014, Florissant, MO)
Johnson surprised the OSU recruiting world by taking an official visit. Most have Johnson an FSU lean. The Seminoles have four returning OL who started as well as 6 OL committed for 2014, two being Chad Mavety and Brock Ruble, who were once OSU targets. I could see playing time being an issue for Johnson. Though OSU is finished for the OL, they would accept Johnson’s commitment. He will announce at 10am on Feb 5 on ESPN. Look for him to wear the Seminole hat but OSU could make an eleventh hour run.
Malik McDowell (6’7” 290 DL, 2014, Detroit, MI)
McDowell is scheduled to visit on January 31 but I will not be surprised if this visit is cancelled. Mike Vrabel to the Texans already cost the Buckeyes any shot at Solomon Thomas and I believe McDowell will follow suit. Reports are that MSU and FSU will fight it out. I interviewed him at the Army Bowl but could not get a read on his interest. He did a good job not revealing his cards. If he ends up coming Jan 31st, then OSU is back in the game but at this point, I think McDowell stays in Michigan or heads to warmer weather in Tallahassee.
No one expected Demetrius Knox to be headline recruiting news but what would dealing with 16-19 year olds be without a little drama. Do not be surprised if a new name, an old name not being talked about, or just a complete surprise happens these last two weeks. OSU currently has one of the top classes in the country and not adding another player will likely not prevent OSU from finishing top 5 in most of the major recruiting services so Buckeye recruitniks can already chalk up 2014 as a major success.