The final National Signing Day of 2019 is right around the corner – just 51 short weeks away!
A lot is going to change between now and then. At least four players are going to leave the program before fall camp even starts. Then the 2018 season will play out. Some guys will get hurt. After the year, a talented group of seniors will leave. Other players may get frustrated and transfer, and still more will leave early for the NFL Draft.
By the middle of next January, roughly a quarter of the current roster may be gone, and by the first week of February, we will know exactly who will be stepping in to fill their shoes.
It’s college football’s version of the Circle of Life, and just as Elton John said, some of us fall by the wayside and some of us soar to the stars.
So how many spots will be open for members of the 2019 class, and how many guys will Urban Meyer’s staff be targeting at each position? It’s an almost completely blank slate at the moment. The Buckeyes hold only one 2019 commitment, from OT Doug Nester out of Huntington, West Virginia.
Let’s take a way-too-early shot at figuring out what the rest of the class could look like. There is a chart showing the current roster, broken down by class and position, at the bottom of this page if you want to play along at home.
There are nine guys listed as seniors, so that’s a good baseline to start with. Another 12 or so are at least plausible NFL early-departure candidates, and there are usually a handful of transfers and a medical hardship retirement or so per season. The Buckeyes have lost six, nine, and three players early the last three years, and it’s reasonable to think they could lose at least six or seven after this season. Add it all up, and the target number will probably be somewhere around 23. It could end up more like 25 or 26 if there is a mass exodus to the NFL. Again… there a lot of moving parts here.
We will start today by looking at the Ohio State offense.
Quarterback: There is an outside chance that the Buckeyes could have just two scholarship quarterbacks on the roster by next January. There are four right now, but if whoever fails to win the starting job out of camp ends up transferring, they will be down to three. And if the guy who wins the job leaves early for the NFL after the year, they would be down to just two. It’s an iron-clad rule of recruiting that you take a quarterback every year, regardless of need. If they are down to two guys, they may either take two high school recruits, or grab one and also look to add a grad transfer to provide a veteran presence and immediate on-field impact. Prediction: 2
Running Back: Mike Weber seriously considered departing for the NFL after the 2017 season, so it’s likely he will make that jump next January. At that point, J.K. Dobbins would have one more season before he could declare for the NFL. Antonio Williams is expected to get a redshirt year after suffering an injury in 2016. He could have two more seasons after this one. The Buckeyes brought in two true running back prospects in 2018, Brian Snead and Master Teague. They figure to add one to two more next year. Prediction: 1
Wide Receiver: This is one of the trickier spots to figure out. Three members of #Zone6 will be gone for sure. Johnnie Dixon, Parris Campbell, and Terry McLaurin will all be out of eligibility. It’s possible that K.J. Hill, Austin Mack, and Binjimen Victor could join them. The Buckeyes’ WR room could go from six returning starters to three… or even zero. The Bucks planned ahead and loaded up with four recruits here in 2017 (five if you include Jaelen Gill), so there isn’t a dire need. But it’s reasonable to think they’ll aim for two or three more in 2018. The final number will depend on how many underclassmen jump to the NFL. Prediction: 3
Tight End: Rashod Berry is the kind of athletic freak that could jump to the NFL if he has a good junior season this fall. The Bucks brought in an immensely-talented recruit in Jeremy Ruckert this year, but after Marcus Baugh completed his eligibility, Kierre Hawkins transferred, and A.J. Alexander was forced to retire due to knee injuries, things are a little thin. The Buckeyes will definitely grab one tight end this cycle, and possibly a second. Prediction: 1
Offensive Line: Given how fluid spots along the line can be, we’ll just take the whole line as a unit rather than going position-by-position. OSU has four seniors here, and it’s possible that Michael Jordan could jump to the NFL following his third year as a starter at guard. The Buckeyes already have a commitment from OT Doug Nester, a 4-star prospect out of West Virginia who currently ranks as the no. 52 player overall in the country. It’s a big year for top-notch tackles in bordering states. Both Michigan native Devontae Dobbs and Huntington, WV’s Darnell Wright are ranked as 5-star prospects at the position.
The line will be a major focus this cycle. The roster is loaded with upperclassmen – eight of the 15 names will either be juniors or seniors this year – and it typically takes at least one year of development before linemen see the field. The younger guys are immensely talented. Coaches and players have raved about sophomore Thayer Munford, and OSU has two redshirt freshmen guards (Wyatt Davis and Josh Myers), two true freshman tackles (Nick Petit-Frere and Max Wray) and a true freshman center (Matthew Jones) who were all top-125 recruits nationally. Expect them to take a full class of five guys here to supplement the 2016 and 2017 hauls. Prediction: 5
That accounts for 12 spots in the class and leaves about 11 for the other positions. Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at defense and special teams.