Comparing Meyer’s First Three Classes at Ohio State
By Brandon Castel
Urban Meyer didn’t hesitate on Wednesday; not when he was asked whether his 2014 recruiting class was the best – or at least the most complete – of his three so far at Ohio State.
“Best class here? Oh, yeah,” Meyer said, not long after wrapping up a consensus top recruiting class for the Buckeyes.
“I think so. We'll see. Who knows?”
That, in its essence, is the nature of recruiting. Some can’t miss kids – Braxton Miller, Beanie Wells, Ted Ginn Jr. – turn out to be stars, while others – Curtis Grant, Mike D’Andrea, Eugene Clifford – never live up to the hype of being one of the nation’s top high school prospects.
If we’ve learned anything from Nick Saban’s success at Alabama, however, it’s that recruiting matters. Rarely is there such a thing as one kid, or two kids, making or breaking a recruiting class, but over the long haul, coaches like Saban and Meyer have proven that reeling in the nation’s best high school talent on a consistent basis will pay dividends on the football field.
“I hear people say it's not important. I disagree,” Meyer said of the recruiting rankings.
“I think as long as you're keeping score, we're going to try to win. I'm disappointing we weren't the No. 1 recruiting class in the country. Our staff knows we're disappointed about that.”
The Buckeyes finished behind Alabama and LSU, the consensus top two classes in the country. They were in the mix with schools like Florida State, Tennessee and Texas A&M for the No. 3 spot.
Where they landed depends largely on which recruiting service you use. While this year’s class may not rank higher than the one Meyer signed last February – the Buckeyes actually won the recruiting title away from Alabama last year according to Scout.com – it certainly filled just about every need Ohio State had across the board.
Biggest Need on Defense: Linebacker
“Emphasis is on linebacker,” Meyer was quick to point out on National Signing Day, “that's far too many mistakes have been made in either lack of development or whatever and it's just not where we need to be.”
So Meyer and his staff went out and landed the consensus No. 1-ranked linebacker in the country, along with three other guys who were ranked among the top 5-6 at their position by at least one of the major recruiting services.
Raekwon McMillan, Sam Hubbard, Kyle Berger and Dante Booker could all be in the mix for playing time this fall, with Hubbard and McMillan already on campus. Booker was Mr. Football in the state of Ohio this past year, and Meyer thinks Berger could very well have been the best recruit in the entire state.
Biggest Need on Offense: Offensive Line
The Buckeyes wanted to take five offensive linemen in this recruiting class. That’s a lot, but that tells us a lot about the state of the offensive line currently. They only took two offensive linemen in the 2013 class and one of them, Timothy Gardner, didn’t make it. They moved Billy Price over from defensive tackle, but the Buckeyes really needed some big, tall, long tackles on the outside.
They ended up with three of them in Jamarco Jones, Kyle Trout and Brady Taylor. Jones was the key to the group, and this class would have been incomplete had he elected to sign with Michigan State on Wednesday instead.
“Jamarco Jones, that would have been a fake smile in here today if we didn't get him,” Meyer said of the highly-rated tackle out of Chicago.
The Buckeyes did miss out on 4-star JUCO transfer Chad Mavety, as well as 6-7 Missouri product Roderick Johnson, both of whom elected to sign with Florida State. This left Meyer and his staff scrambling a bit, especially with things in limbo with Jones up until Tuesday night.
They originally made a run at Alex Bookser, who signed with Pitt, and eventually settled on 3-star Brady Taylor out of Bishop Ready in Columbus. Taylor had been committed to Virginia Tech, but it took him more time to sneeze than it did to switch his commitment to Ohio State.
Meyer and Ed Warinner ended up with the right number of linemen, but they probably came up a little short in terms caliber of prospect they were looking for, although we should know by now that star ratings are not always the best predictor of future success.
National Team Ranking – Ohio State
2014 – Consensus #3/4 Class (Alabama)
Rivals – #3 Overall
247 Sports – #3 Overall
Scout – #4 Overall
ESPN – #7 Overall
2013 – Consensus #2 Class (Alabama)
Rivals – #2 Overall
247 Sports – #2 Overall
Scout – #1 Overall
ESPN – #3 Overall
2012 – Consensus #4 Class (Alabama)
Rivals – #4 Overall
247 Sports – #5 Overall
Scout – #3 Overall
ESPN – #6 Overall
Top of Their Class
2014 – LB Raekwon McMillan (Rivals #19, 247 #22, ESPN #13)
2013 – DB Vonn Bell (Rivals #4, 247 #27, Scout #21, ESPN #50)
2012 – DE Noah Spence (Rivals #9, 247 #5, Scout #18, ESPN #4)
Five Star Status
2014 – LB Dante Booker (247)
2014 – LB Sam Hubbard (Scout)
2013 – WR Jalin Marshall (Scout)
2013 – LB Mike Mitchell (Rivals, Scout)
2013 – DE Joey Bosa (Scout)
2013 – DB Eli Apple (ESPN)
2012 – DE Adolphus Washington (Rivals, 247, Scout)
2012 – DL Tommy Schutt (Scout)
2012 – RB Bri’onte Dunn (Scout)
2012 – Cardale Jones
2013 – JT Barrett
2014 – Stephen Collier
2012 – Warren Ball, Bri’onte Dunn
2013 – Ezekiel Elliott
2014 – None
2012 – Michael Thomas, Frank Epitropolous, Riquan Southward (transferred)
2013 – James Clark, Corey Smith
2014 – Johnnie Dixon, Noah Brown, Terry McLaurin
2013 – Dontre Wilson, Jalin Marshall
2014 – Curtis Samuel, Parris Campbell
2012 – Blake Thomas
2013 – Marcus Baugh
2012 – Taylor Decker, Kyle Dodson
2013 – Evan Lisle
2014 – Kyle Trout, Brady Taylor, Jamarco Jones
2012 – Jacoby Boren, Pat Elflein, Joey O’Connor (transferred)
2013 – Billy Price, Timothy Gardner
2014 – Marcelys Jones, Demetrius Knox
2012 – Adolphus Washington, Noah Spence, SeVon Pittman (transferred), Jamal Marcus
2013 – Joey Bosa, Tyquan Lewis, Tracy Sprinkle
2014 – Jalyn Holmes and Darius Slade
2012 – Tommy Schutt
2013 – Michael Hill, Donovan Munger
2014 – Dylan Thompson
2012 – Josh Perry, Camren Williams, Luke Roberts, David Perkins (transferred)
2013 – Trey Johnson, Mike Mitchell, Darron Lee
2014 – Raekwon McMillan, Kyle Burger, Dante Booker, Sam Hubbard
2012 – Armani Reeves, Najee Murray (transferred)
2013 – Eli Apple, Cam Burrows, Gareon Conley
2014 – Damon Webb, Marshon Lattimore
2012 – Tyvis Powell, Devan Bogard
2013 – Vonn Bell, Jayme Thompson, Chris Worley
2014 – Erick Smith, Malik Hooker
2013 – Cam Johnston
2014 – Sean Nuerenberger