COLUMBUS, Ohio — As you are well aware, Signing Day 2014 has finally come and gone, and the Buckeyes did quite well per the experts. They also did quite well according to the Ohio State head coach.
Sunday Recruiting Rundown — February 9th
By Tony Gerdeman
"I think we won today," Urban Meyer said on Wednesday. Asked if this was his best class at Ohio State, he added, "I think so."
The 2014 class was a consensus Top 10 class per the four major recruiting sites. Here is the breakdown:
Scout: #5 class overall; #1 class in the B1G
Rivals: #3 class overall; #1 class in the B1G
247Sports: #2 class overall; #1 class in the B1G
ESPN: #7 class overall; #1 class in the B1G
Oh, and if you were wondering how the University of Michigan did, here's their breakdown:
Scout: #27 class overall; #4 class in the B1G
Rivals: #31 class overall; #4 class in the B1G
247Sports: #18 class overall; #3 class in the B1G
ESPN: #18 class overall; #2 class in the B1G
Michigan only had a class of 16, however, so their rankings were going to be relatively low. If you look at their "per star average", they finished #10 according to Scout with 3.56. Ohio State was fifth with 3.78.
According to Scout, Ohio State signed 10 Top 100 players. The rest of the Big Ten signed a total of seven. The Buckeyes were the only Big Ten team to sign more four star prospects than three star prospects.
Three Big Ten schools — Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan — all still have an opportunity to improve on their recruiting class given that five-star defensive lineman Malik McDowell still hasn't signed with a school yet.
His story has been well-documented. He committed to Michigan State on signing day, but his mother has refused to sign his letter of intent because she absolutely does not want him at Michigan State.
Right now the situation is at a stand still, but ultimately he doesn't need his mother's permission to attend Michigan State, he just needs to sit, wait, and enroll when the time comes. That being said, a resolution could happen this week.
A Virginia Pipeline on the Way?
The Buckeyes have signed a total of three Virginia high schoolers since 2001, beginning with defensive back LeAndre Boone in Jim Tressel's very first class. It was another decade before they would land another Virginian, however, signing linebacker Curtis Grant in 2011.
They went back to Virginia for defensive end Jalyn Holmes in this past class, and now it looks like they'll be back a lot more frequently. Currently, Ohio State has offered roughly a dozen prospects from the state of Virginia, and at least half of those offers are probably committable.
At the top of the Virginia list is five-star defensive tackle Tim Settle (Manassas, VA) and five-star linebacker Ricky DeBerry (Richmond, VA). Settle (6-3 310) has liked the Buckeyes for a while now, and are even considered the favorite to land him by some.
Back on January 14, DeBerry (6-2 240) tweeted "Larry Johnson going to Ohio State is perfect!!", so that should give you some idea of his interest in the Buckeyes. He will be visiting Columbus next weekend.
There is also Jahvoni Simmons (6-2 230), the nation's #3 middle linebacker per Scout, as well as Scout's #2 defensive end Josh Sweat (6-4 230), and #6 offensive tackle Matthew Burrell (6-6 285). None of the three would be considered Ohio State leans, but each of them has expressed an interest in visiting OSU in the near future.
Receivers coach Zach Smith has laid the groundwork on each of these prospects, and now with Larry Johnson on the staff, he is expected to get involved as well.
Is Conner Next?
Dublin Scioto linebacker Nick Conner (6-3 215) is the #7 inside linebacker in the nation according to Rivals, but as of yet he is without an Ohio State offer. That could be changing shortly as he has a visit scheduled to OSU this coming week.
Conner currently holds offers from the likes of Cincinnati, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Pittsburgh and North Carolina State. The Buckeyes have their eyes on plenty of highly-ranked linebackers from other parts of the nation, and if they can go ahead and lock one up from their own state, it would seem to be an easy decision.
Ohio State has already offered two linebackers from Ohio, as Justin Hilliard (6-2 225) and Jerome Baker (6-1 205) received offers a while back. Baker could also end up at running back or safety.
Given Conner's close proximity to the Ohio State campus, if the Buckeyes do extend an offer, they would be the overwhelming favorite to land the local linebacker.
Along with the linebackers already mentioned above, the Buckeyes are also looking at Jacksonville's Jeffery Holland (6-2 230), who is the #2 outside linebacker in the nation per the 247 Composite ranking.
Another linebacker to keep an eye on is Sh'mar Kilby-Lane (6-2 215) out of Hallandale, Florida. He appears to be a Buckeye lean at the moment, and has offers from OSU, Florida State, Alabama, LSU, USC, Florida and Florida State.
With the linebackers that Urban Meyer has signed in 2013 and 2014, the 2015 haul could eventually have the Buckeyes as deep at linebacker as they are on the defensive line.
New Offers for Damien Harris
You might remember 2015 Kentucky running back Damien Harris (5-11 205) as a one-time Michigan commit, but since his decommitment he has continued to pick up offers. USC, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Auburn have all offered Harris in the last week or two, and each of those universities has their own storied history at the running back position.
This still looks like a race between Ohio State and Michigan, however. With the Buckeyes not taking a straight-forward running back in the 2014 class, a true tailback will absolutely be a need in 2015. Ohio State finished second to Michigan when Harris originally committed to the Wolverines, and Urban Meyer and his staff will be trying to keep that from happening a second time.
2015's Pied Piper?
Many times it takes just one verbal commitment to serve as a catalyst to get other like-minded players to commit. Great players want to play with other great players, and for the Buckeyes, Fort Lauderdale quarterback Torrance Gibson could be the type to entice others to follow.
Gibson (6-4 200) is the nation's #1 dual-threat quarterback, and he is very interested in the Buckeyes. Most believe that Gibson is so athletic that he could have a future at the next level as either a receiver or a quarterback. In fact, he is so athletic that Alabama has even offered, even though everybody knows Nick Saban only plays pro-style quarterbacks.
When Ohio State hired Urban Meyer, it didn't take a large leap of logic to realize that the Buckeyes would be taking an increased look at the high schools in Florida, and that has absolutely happened. If Meyer could lock up Gibson early enough, there would undoubtedly be other Florida prospects who would want to follow.
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