Five Star DL Streak

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Last updated: 02/16/2014 5:00 AM
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Football Recruiting
Malik McDowell the Key to Keeping 10-Year Streak Alive for OSU, Meyer
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Malik McDowell, the unsigned 2014 five-star defensive lineman out of Southfield, Michigan, is still floating about in recruiting limbo. His desire to sign with Michigan State has to this point been overruled by his mother's desire for him to end up anywhere but Michigan State.

With unofficial visits still tentatively scheduled to Ohio State, Michigan and Florida State, McDowell possesses the last chance for OSU and Urban Meyer to keep a pretty impressive streak alive.

This story dates all the way back to September 15, 2004 when a 6-foot-7 defensive end named Doug Worthington committed to play for the Buckeyes.

Doug Worthington as a member of the 2006 Buckeye football team.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Doug Worthington

Worthington was a five-star defensive line prospect out of Athol Springs, NY, and his selection of OSU began a nine-year stretch where either Ohio State or Urban Meyer landed a five-star defensive lineman.

Following Worthington's 2005 class, the Buckeyes signed Robert Rose out of Glenville in 2006. While Ohio State did sign future first-round draft pick Cameron Heyward in 2007, he was only a four-star prospect. The five-star defensive lineman that year came from Urban Meyer at Florida, where he signed a whopping four.

The Gators signed defensive tackles John Brown and Torrey Davis, as well as defensive ends Carlos Dunlap and Justin Trattou. It was a very impressive haul according to the gurus at the time.

In 2008 Meyer signed five-star defensive tackle Omar Hunter out of Georgia while the Buckeyes were "slumming it" with three and four-star players like Garrett Goebel and Nathan Williams.

Ohio State got back into the flow in 2009 by signing defensive end Melvin Fellows and defensive manimal John Simon. The Buckeyes went barren again in 2010, having instead to settle for a middling three-star tackle who wasn't good enough to play for Michigan's defense, named Johnathan Hankins.

Johnathan Hankins as a member of the 2010 OSU football team.
Photo by Dan Harker
Johnathan Hankins

Meyer didn't blink, however, as he was busy signing the top two defensive tackles in the nation in Sharrif Floyd and Dominique Easley, as well as the top defensive end, Ronald Powell.

Meyer took 2011 off, but the Buckeyes kept things going by signing five-star Canton McKinley defensive end Steve Miller. Four-star defensive tackle Michael Bennett was a nice throw-in that year, but obviously he was one star short.

It was the 2012 recruiting class when the two superpowers of Urban Meyer and Ohio State finally combined. It resulted in the signing of five-star defensive linemen Noah Spence, Adolphus Washington and Tommy Schutt.

Freshman All-American Joey Bosa was a five-star signee in 2013 for Ohio State, and his performance as a rookie may have made it much more difficult to sign a five-star lineman in 2014. There weren't too many top prospects knocking on the door to play behind the big Floridian for the next two seasons.

So here we are with the 2014 class, still missing its annual five-star defensive lineman. That's not to say that the defensive line class is lacking, because it isn't. After all, four-star defensive end Jalyn Holmes played like a five-star prospect at the Army All-American Bowl last month.

But if we are going to stick to the letter of the law, then we have to keep with the ranking systems; and right now, there is only one player left on the board who can keep the Buckeyes' five-star hopes alive, and his name is Malik McDowell.

If Ohio State and Urban Meyer could actually pull this one out and keep their streak going, it would be the most remarkable story of this entire 10-year run. It would essentially be the recruiting version of a successful challenge flag.

If they don't pull it off, the Buckeyes should still end up pretty okay. Let's not forget that the history above has shown that the number of stars doesn't dictate defensive line success. There are quite a few five-star prospects listed above that never ended up playing up to their expectations.

Stars are fun, and they are important, but it's the player attached to the stars that matters. That being said, nobody ever wants to be the one to end a positive streak, and if the Buckeyes can somehow land McDowell, the streak will miraculously live for yet another year.

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