COLUMBUS, Ohio — When Urban Meyer and his coaches went to bed on Tuesday night, they were hoping to finish with a class of 23. Their hopes were realized on Wednesday, though the identity of the 23rd signee was probably a bit different than what they had initially anticipated.
Buckeye Signing Day Note and Quotebook
By Tony Gerdeman
They were hoping that five-star defensive lineman Malik McDowell would sign with the Buckeyes at his school ceremony on Wednesday morning, but when that fell through they still made the best of it by the surprise landing of New Jersey defensive end Darius Slade, who eschewed his Michigan State verbal commitment to sign with the Buckeyes.
There is no such thing as an uneventful signing day with Urban Meyer in Columbus, and apparently the only way to be surprised the next time would be for there to be no surprises.
The Linebacker Situation. Meyer was blunt, telling his linebacker coach Luke Fickell that the four linebackers that the Buckeyes signed in the 2014 class absolutely need to play this season. That may put some pressure on the players, but it puts even more pressure on Fickell to get it done.
Linebacker was an emphasis for Meyer in this class, and for good reason.
"There are some obvious strengths and weaknesses, but the linebacker position is one that is going through an overhaul right now," he said.
"Far too many mistakes have been made in either lack of development or whatever, and it's just not where we need to be."
There are no plans to redshirt any of the four linebackers, and that includes Kyle Berger, who missed his senior season with an ACL tear.
We will have more on the linebacker situation in the very near future.
The Secondary Situation. Urban Meyer also used the "overhaul" word for his secondary, and it was understandable given that three starters will need to be replaced. He did mention a few players in this class that he expected to be on the depth chart immediately.
"Damon Webb, I anticipate he'll be in the depth next year," Meyer said.
"Marshon Lattimore from Glenville is going to be in the mix as well. Erick Smith, he's a guy I'm really excited to get here. He played corner in the [Army All-American Bowl], but we plan on putting him at safety, and once again, immediately in the depth."
Pennsylvania safety Malik Hooker will likely be given more time to develop because he's only been playing the game for two years.
Who's Ready on the Offensive Line? Ohio State signed five offensive linemen on Wednesday, and Meyer expects two of them to make it into the depth chart immediately.
"Of the five, the two that I see the maturity, Jamarco Jones and Demetrius Knox, are guys that I would like to see," he said.
"Typically you don't put freshmen in there early, but these guys have mature bodies, and they're fairly mature young men."
Calling on Collier. The Buckeyes signed one quarterback in this class, that being Stephen Collier out of Georgia. Meyer termed him a "developmental guy", but added that he has a nice release and that he likes the attributes that Collier possesses.
Collier came to OSU's camp and earned his offer, which is how Meyer prefers that it be done. He doesn't like offering quarterbacks that he hasn't watched throw in person, but admitted that recruiting is moving so quickly now that they are having to adjust their own rules for offering quarterbacks.
The Case for Curtis Samuel. We will have more on Curtis Samuel soon, but for now, just know that both Urban Meyer and running backs coach Stan Drayton are excited to have him on board.
According to Drayton, Samuel brings speed to the Ohio State backfield that they haven't had before. Yes, that's the same backfield that will feature Braxton Miller, Ezekiel Elliott and Dontre Wilson in 2014.
Samuel, who is called "electric fast" by Meyer, will start out with the running backs. There was no in-fighting between Drayton and receivers coach Zach Smith for Samuel as there was last year for Dontre Wilson.
"Curtis is going to play running back," Smith explained.
"I'm gonna take Dontre. I guess it was an eye for an eye. He gets Curtis and I get Dontre. I'll take that."
Catching Up With the Pass Catchers. The Buckeyes signed four wide receivers in this class, which is something that should make Zach Smith pretty happy.
One of the positive aspects is the wide variety of receivers that were signed. Johnnie Dixon is a polished 5-11 receiver, while Noah Brown is a brute who stands 6-2 and weighs 225 pounds. Parris Campbell is an exceptionally fast running back transitioning to receiver, and Terry McLaurin is an exceptionally fast receiver transitiong absolutely nowhere.
Smith has no ideal receiver, however, he just wants playmakers.
"You want great players on the field," he explained.
"I don't care if they're 5-foot-1 and 110 pounds, or if they're 6-foot-5 and 220. It really doesn't matter. What matters is that they're a great player and they're ready to go make a play, and when the game is on the line they will make the play.
"I like electric guys that are going to take the football and put it across the end line. I want it in the endzone. I don't care how big you are. It doesn't matter. Just get it in the endzone. It's nice to have size, but I like playmakers."
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