A Look Ahead: Predicting Ohio State’s 2014 Class
By Michael Chung
With the drama called the 2013 recruiting season (hopefully) coming to an end on Wednesday, college football programs around the country will reboot and reload towards the 2014 recruiting season.
Coaches may take the evening to celebrate a successful class, but attention is quickly turned towards the next crop of star players just over the recruiting horizon.
Urban Meyer already amassed a top 5 class during his first few months on the new job, and he should easily have another for 2013. With scholarship limits in its final year for 2014, Ohio State will likely have no more than 20 spots but could be closer to 18 if there is little to no attrition. If OSU does not add anyone else to the 2013 class, 2-3 extra scholarships are available for Meyer to bank for 2014. With offensive lineman Marcelys Jones and cornerback Damon Webb already accounting for two spots, we try to predict the remaining 16-18 who will join them in 2014.
This could be tricky, but things will pick up quickly for the 2014 class after National Signing Day on Wednesday. Predicting Urban Meyer in recruiting is like trying to predict the stock market, or the changing winds.
Meyer has already made close to 105 offers for the 2014 class. Look for OSU to take as many as five offensive linemen (four more if Jones is OL) and at least three but likely four more LBs and one quarterback.
The list is very incomplete and will change drastically because of Urban Meyer’s relentlessness and, well, so is recruiting. My current list lacks a TE and D-lineman and Meyer has made four offers to TEs and 15 offers to D-linemen so look for this list to be more complete as the dust settles from 2013 and the 2014 picture becomes clearer. The predictions list is a little heavy right now on skill people like ATHs, WRs and DBs and will be pared down in future predictions.
Without further adieu, here is my first attempt at a way too early prediction for 2014.
Jonathan Haden (5-8, 190, Washington D.C.)
With a name like Haden, he has to be good. Having been offered scholarships from schools ever since he was in the 8th grade. Young Jonathan grew up watching Urban Meyer. He saw his older brother Joe thrive at Florida and is currently in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns. Jonathan told the-Ozone months ago that Ohio State leads and has done nothing since our the-Ozone interview to deter this. Look for young Jonathan to follow in his brother’s footsteps and play for Urban Meyer.
Jalen Hurd (6-2.5, 210, Hendersonville, TN)
Jalen Hurd is the ideal Percy Harvin candidate. He can rush the ball with the best in the country; setting a state record 3,357 yards and 43 touchdowns in 2012 and can catch the ball, with 31 catches, 437 yards and 3 TDs in 2011. Hurd has Ohio State and Florida as his top two right now but everyone in the country has offered including Alabama, Georgia, Notre Dame, and Michigan. Do not be surprised if he and Jonathan form an unstoppable one-two punch. With Carlos Hyde and Jordan Hall gone after this season, the Bucks will likely take two RBs in 2014.
Raekwon McMillan (6-3, 235, Hinesville, GA)
He told the-Ozone back in August of 2012 that Ohio State was his leader and after visiting a number of schools, it does not appear that Ohio State has left this 5-star prospect’s mantle as the No. 1 choice. Look for Raekwon to lead an exodus of Georgia talent up into B1G country making Ohio State the SEC of the north. Players know Meyer’s focus is on the BCS Championship, they know that he is trying to recruit the best and McMillan is one of them.
Clifton Garrett (6-3, 220, Joliet, IL)
This kid was no ordinary 16 year old when I interviewed him. He is so poised and mature in his speech but does it translate into linebacker greatness? Garrett has already formed friendships with some other 2014 targets like Raekwon McMillan so look for this Illinois product to be part of the “Fab . . . three or four or five” at the linebacker position in 2014.
Dante Booker (6-3, 210, Akron, OH)
He and Raekwon have already talked about playing with each other as far back as Friday Night Lights. Raekwon told the-Ozone that Dante has OSU interest and that both would like to play together and play together they will. Meyer will work hard to make sure the best of the best in state stay in state and will challenge Dante to be part of SEC north in Columbus.
Kyle Berger (6-3, 205, Cleveland, OH)
The saying the early bird gets the worm could ring very true for Berger. Before any school – even MAC universities – offered, Ohio State made it clear that they wanted Kyle to be part of the 2014 class. He seems to receive D-1 scholarships on a weekly basis and would like to decide sometime in the spring but that could be harder given all his options. Michigan will be a threat and have offered as well as Stanford if they offer. He has told me he will visit Boston College. He desires to study Pre-Med and Ohio State has a former football player, John Frank, who not only donned the Scarlet and Gray but also had a short career in the NFL before heading off to medical school and now practicing as a medical doctor. Look for Berger to follow.
Drew Barker (6-4, 205, Hebron, KY)
Ohio State has only offered DeShaun Watson, a Clemson commit, but it is not likely that he will flip given Braxton’s likely return for his senior season and Tajh Boyd being in his last year, opening up the QB spot for 2014. With J.T. Barrett ahead, it looks like OSU will offer another QB and with all the competition, Drew Barker may be the one who is offered. A natural leader, Barker does not have an offer but fits Tom Herman’s offense where one needs a solid passer and a run threat.
Kyle Trout (6-6, 280, Lancaster, OH)
This kid is a gentle giant but impressed Ohio State enough to garner an offer. He will have his former high school teammate, Luke Roberts, to help him through the breaking down and building up process as this tall giant is more of a teddy bear personality wise but should develop into a solid OL. A nice kid who will develop some nastiness under Ed Warinner, but will have Roberts there to help him through the tough times of freshman year.
Jamarco Jones (6-5, 285, Chicago, IL)
Many in college football will hotly pursue Jones and Meyer will be one of those. Look for him to be part of an Illinois exodus to Ohio and one of the cornerstone prospects of the future OL, which will lose 4 starters off the 2013 squad.
Alex Bars (6-6, 275, Nashville, TN)
He has a brother who plays at Michigan, another at Penn State and he currently lives in Tennessee. BTW, his father played at Notre Dame so that means Bars has to be his own man and come play for Urban. Look for all the afore mentioned schools as well as the Volunteers to challenge for this Bars.
Orlando “Zeus” Brown (6-9, 375, Duluth, GA)
The city he lives in has already produced Cameron Heyward and Bradley Roby, so why not add an offensive lineman into the mix? His dad, the late Orlando Brown, had a stint with the Cleveland Browns, so Zeus already has some Ohio in his blood. His top 8 is out and Ohio State is one of them but recently picked up an offer from Oklahoma, a team he cheered for during childhood. It would be a surprise if Zeus committed anywhere early and whatever school is in the running will wait for him.
Thaddeus Snodgrass (6-2, 175, Springfield, OH)
Rumors were that Snodgrass wanted to commit early to Ohio State but no commitment ever came for whatever reason. A source that knows Snodgrass mentioned to me that he felt OSU was No. 1. Michigan State, Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Notre Dame will be the primary challengers but look for this Ohio WR to stay close to home.
Drake Harris (6-3, 175, Grand Rapids, MI)
This current Michigan State commit has expressed lots of interest in other schools, so much so that local Michigan State fans have already written Harris off for the Spartans. Ohio State is pursuing hard along with Michigan, Alabama, Florida, and Notre Dame so Harris de-committing from Mark Dantonio is a strong possibility.
Myles Autry (5-11, 170, Norcross, GA)
Myles Autry himself has told the-Ozone that Ohio State is one of his top choices. He knows Urban Meyer is trying to recruit the South because the top athletes are there and knows Urban Meyer is trying to build an Alabama type dynasty. His brother plays for Georgia Tech but do not be surprised if Autry comes north with other fellow Georgians continuing a Georgia pipeline that has already produced players like Anderson Russell, Cam Heyward, and Bradley Roby.
Montae Nicholson (6-3, 200, Monroeville, PA)
Montae told the-Ozone that he grew up following Ohio State and was born in Columbus. He now lives in PA and many of his coaches played for PA schools so look for Pitt and Penn State to be threats.
Parrker Westphal (6-0, 170, Bolingbrook, IL)
Parrker told the-Ozone that he already has a really good relationships with coaches Vrabel and Coombs, two of the best recruiters period. He surprised both at the Michigan games but will not be a surprise if he comes to the Shoe with other Illinois prospects.
Marshon Lattimore (6-0, 175, Cleveland-Glenville, OH)
With Marcelys Jones in the fold, the pipeline is already flowing for 2014. Lattimore can play either CB or WR and will be one of the top players in OH for 2014. He and Marcelys and Chris Worley would like to play together so Lattimore will have to pledge Buckeye for that to happen. With Michigan losing out on Damon Webb, look for Brady Hoke to come at Marshon hard. Some of it maybe personal.
Erick Smith (6-1, 185, Cleveland-Glenville)
This safety prospect has an Ohio State offer and will hopefully follow Chris Worley and Marcelys Jones to Ohio State. With offers from West Virginia, Michigan, Louisville, and NC State, Smith will not come to OSU easy but will be part of the class if he decides early enough like Marcelys Jones.
*That is it for now. Look for this list to change. OSU will take one of the four TEs they have offered if they commit and would like to take a D-lineman if they decide to keep Marcelys Jones at OL). Meanwhile, Urban Meyer will undoubtedly continue to scour the country in search of the countries top talent. He has already made 10 offers for 2015 and one for 2016 so look for this relentless recruiting train to continue rolling for years to come.