Dominoes are falling

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Last updated: 07/03/2014 7:31 PM
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Football Recruiting
With Hilliard and Cornell in the Fold, the Dominoes are Starting to Fall
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS, Ohio — It's not every day that a college football program lands a pair of five-star recruits, especially within mere minutes of each other. In fact, it's more rare than a perfect game in baseball or a Cleveland Browns playoff appearance.

But when the Buckeyes did just that on Wednesday by securing commitments from linebacker Justin Hilliard and defensive end Jashon Cornell, it signaled a shift into overdrive that could very well carry Ohio State all the way to Signing Day.

While some Buckeye fans were worried about the 2015 recruiting class, others remembered that this is still Ohio State and Urban Meyer is still the head coach.

Some folks forgot that there is an inevitability with OSU recruiting because it is a top-flight program, and when you combine that with Urban Meyer at the helm, there can sometimes be a "Tom Jones Effect" going on, but instead of panties being thrown on the stage, it's commitments that come flying from High School prospects.

No, it wasn't normal when Ohio State had just two commitments in late May, but here we are five weeks or so later and the Buckeyes' 2015 class now has a dozen members.

After nearly being off the board completely when it comes to recruiting rankings, the Buckeyes jumped up 17 spots with Wednesday's commitments in ESPN's class rankings. They are now sixth, ahead of the likes of LSU and Florida State.

Ohio State is also currently in the top 15 of the other three recruiting service rankings, but that should all change here shortly, as it looks like July commitments are just getting started.

Next Friday should kick things off as Cleveland Benedictine athlete Jerome Baker is announcing his decision on July 11. He is reportedly down to Ohio State and Florida, and the Buckeyes are the overwhelming favorite.

Baker is rated by Rivals as the #36 prospect in the nation overall, and the top player in Ohio. Rivals lists him as the #3 athlete in the 2015 class, but the Buckeyes are looking at him as a Sam linebacker. He is also a tremendous running back.

Hubbard running back L.J. Scott tweeted two weeks ago that he would be committing in July as well, and right now his decision looks like it will be coming down to Ohio State and Michigan State. He is rated the #4 running back in the nation per the 247Sports Composite ranking.

Then there is the increasing buzz that Damien Harris, the nation's top running back, could be looking to make his decision much earlier than anticipated. The Buckeyes are thought to be the comfortable leaders at this point, and an earlier decision would absolutely point to Ohio State here. Could it happen this month yet? It wouldn't surprise some if it happened.

The month will then end with OSU's Friday Night Lights camp, and that will see a large number of the nation's best prospects in attendance. Could a commitment or two happen then? It is absolutely possible, but even if it doesn't, it will certainly help the Buckeyes' cause down the road.

Quarterback Joey Burrow got things started on May 27 when he committed to the Buckeyes, and June saw seven commitments alone. July probably won't top that number, but the talent that could be brought in should more than stand on its own.

And then come the official visits during the actual football season. This is where Ohio State will be in a battle until the very end for prospects like receiver Christian Kirk, defensive end Josh Sweat and defensive tackle Neville Gallimore.

They may not lead for any, but there is still plenty of time to remedy that. Just look at the quick turnaround they made for Jashon Cornell. Or look at the work Urban Meyer did when he first arrived, securing Noah Spence almost immediately.

A month ago, you really only needed to look at the past and the future to know that Ohio State's present recruiting class was going to be just fine. And now we are seeing that all come to fruition.

In his time at OSU, Meyer has had three top-five recruiting classes. Can he do it again with the 2015 class? It may be too early to say, but looking back and looking forward, why even doubt it at this point?

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