Final Recruiting Rankings Show Buckeyes Out Ahead of B1G Pack
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The four major recruiting services have recently finalized the top of their 2014 rankings, and the Buckeyes have found themselves well above the rest of the Big Ten heap in that regard. Granted, these are not final numbers listed below, as commitments can change, but as it stands currently, if this was a race, Ohio State would be lapping the field.
For the naysayers, recruiting isn't the be-all end-all, as Ohio State and Michigan State have recently shown, but it's the best predictor there is for future successes. The Buckeyes are annually in the top two of Big Ten recruiting rankings, and they have the wins to show for it. So as much as people want to down play recruiting rankings, there is an undeniable correlation that can't be ignored.
What the numbers show below is that what was thought six months ago to be a talent-picking free-for-all contest between Ohio State and Michigan has turned into anything but. While the Wolverines have more top 100 commitments than any Big Ten school other than Ohio State, the gap between the two at the top of the rankings is significant. Recruiting is inexact, but bringing in more of those players who are thought to be the best is still the safest and surest way to success.
Let's take a quick look at what the recruiting rankings of each service has to say about the Big Ten. (Of note, there are five conference teams that do not appear on any of these lists: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Purdue and Big Ten Champion Michigan State.)
Rivals Top 100 (12 total commits)
Ohio State 8
Rivals tabs the Big Ten as having 12 commitments in their top 100, with Michigan commitment Jabrill Peppers heading the class as the #3 player overall. Peppers, a cornerback, is expected to help right away, and that could even happen on special teams or offense. For the other Michigan commitment, you have to go all the way to #92 and offensive lineman Mason Cole from Tarpon Springs, Florida. Given the state of the Michigan offensive line, Cole might find a role early. Nebraska's lone commit is #82 Tanner Farmer, an offensive lineman out of Illinois. Minnesota is on the list due to in-state running back Jeff Jones, who is listed at #44. Jones has blown up a bit over the last month, so at this point it would be somewhat of a surprise if he sticks to his Gopher commitment.
The highest-ranked Buckeye is 5-star linebacker Raekwon McMillan, who is the #19 player in the class per Rivals. Next on the list is #40 Damon Webb, a cornerback out of Detroit. Offensive lineman Demetrius Knox is next at #45, followed by athlete Curtis Samuel at #49. Glenville safety Erick Smith received quite a boost following the Army All-American Bowl, and is now the #51 player in the class. Defensive end Jalyn Holmes checks in at #55, and the reigning Mr. Football in the state of Ohio – Dante Booker – is ranked #63. The final Buckeye on the list is offensive lineman Jamarco Jones out of Chicago. The next-closest Buckeye is receiver Johnnie Dixon at #117.
Scout Top 100 (15)
Ohio State 10
Scout likes the Buckeye commits better than any of the other services, putting 10 of them in their top 100. Michigan again has the top commit in the Big Ten, as they will in every service, as Jabrill Peppers is rated the #3 player in the 2014 class. Joining Peppers as Michigan commits are receiver Drake Harris at #52 and defensive tackle Bryan Mone at #88. Gopher commit Jeff Jones comes in at #78, and receiver Saeed Blacknall gives Rutgers the #69 player in the class.
The highest-ranked Buckeye on Scout's board is 5-star linebacker Sam Hubbard at #29. Damon Webb and Erick Smith are back to back at #42 and #43, respectively. They are followed back to back by Raekwon McMillan and Marshon Lattimore at #50 and #51. Athlete Curtis Samuel comes in at #60, and Jamarco Jones is close behind at #63. Linebacker Kyle Berger, who missed the entire season with a knee injury, fell a bit, but still found himself ranked the #67 player overall. Fellow linebacker Dante Booker is #76, and athlete Parris Campbell “brings up the rear” at #85. The closest Buckeye outside of the top 100 was offensive lineman Demetrius Knox at #107, and defensive end Jalyn Holmes was right behind him at #108.
247 Sports Top 100 (18)
Ohio State 9
Penn State 1
The Big Ten gets a little bit more respect from 247 Sports as seven conference teams landed a commitment in their top 100. Jabrill Peppers again leads the way as the #4 player. Future Michigan teammates Bryan Mone (#83), Mason Cole (#87) and Drake Harris (#88) join him on the list. Wisconsin nabbed the #47 player with in-state offensive line commit Jaden Gault, while Jeff Jones (#55) again puts the Gophers on the board. Tight end Mike Gesicki, the #58 player, is committed to Penn State, and quarterback Clayton Thorson (#74) is committed to Northwestern. Defensive end Jesse Aniebonam (#95) finally gets Maryland on the board.
Dante Booker (#13) is the highest-ranked Buckeye in this top 100, and gives Ohio State three different linebackers rated as 5-stars by at least one service. Raekwon McMillan (#28) is also given five stars by 247 Sports. Damon Webb, Marshon Lattimore and Curtis Samuel appear in rapid succession at #43, #44 and #46, respectively. Jalyn Holmes appears at #51, while Erick Smith (#61) and Johnnie Dixon (#62) follow soon after. The final Buckeye on the list is Jamarco Jones, who is ranked #76 overall. The closest Buckeye miss was Sam Hubbard at #124.
ESPN Top 100 (11)
Ohio State 5
Penn State 1
This won't come as a surprise to anybody, but no service was as unimpressed with the Big Ten commitments as ESPN. That being said, no service had Jabrill Peppers (#2) ranked higher, so that will probably make you feel better about the whole thing. Drake Harris (#81) and Bryan Mone (#91) are the other Wolverines on the list. Jesse Aniebonam (#98) barely gets Maryland on the list, and North Carolina athlete De'Andre Thompkins (#73) puts Penn State on it as well. Cornerback Parrker Westphal caps it off at #95 for Northwestern.
Raekwon McMillan (#13) is the highest-rated Buckeye, as ESPN gives him five stars. Fellow southerner Johnnie Dixon is the next-highest at #34. Marshon Lattimore comes in at #45, Damon Webb is at #58, and Jamarco Jones finishes things off at #74. The next-highest ranked Buckeye commit is Dante Booker at #130.
This was a relatively small sampling of the verbal commitments to the various Big Ten schools, but it does show the schools that are targeting – and landing – the best players in the nation according to the recruiting services. It also shows you which schools those players are eying.
A successful football program will always come down to player development, which is why a team like Michigan State can not appear on this list and feel pretty okay about their situation. (They will still likely land at least one top 100 player in the next two weeks, so don't weep for the Spartans just yet.)
Ohio State is guaranteed of nothing moving forward, but they do have quite the array of raw materials to work with, and as the data above shows, certainly more than anybody else in the Big Ten.
Donate by Check :
1380 King Avenue
Columbus, Ohio 43212
Help us bring you more Buckeye coverage. Donate to the-Ozone.
Click here to email this the-Ozone feature to a friend...or even a foe.
(c) 2010 The O-Zone, O-Zone Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, rebroadcast,rewritten, or redistributed.