According to 247Sports’ in-depth process for churning out player rankings, Ohio State has received commitments from a whopping 40 five-star recruits since 2000. Of that group, 13 are either on the current roster or committed to future classes (i.e. Garrett Wilson).
This impressive number spans four Ohio State head coaches, and is more than twice as many as Michigan has managed in the same time frame. That tidbit of information isn’t necessarily relevant to this write-up. However, passing up an easy dig at Michigan football isn’t something for which I’d forgive myself.
Now, since I love lists, I’ve ranked those remaining 27 five-star recruits whose days as a Buckeye has passed. Many, like Nick Bosa, will appear on this same ranking in a matter of months, but with careers still being defined, I felt it was best to leave them off for now.
This list, from least productive to most, only includes the individual’s career while at Ohio State. If their playing career at OSU was nonexistent, then I used their collegiate careers elsewhere as a tiebreaker.
10. Adolphus Washington
Adolphus Washington, of Taft High School in Cincinnati, originally committed to Ohio State as a weakside defensive end. The tremendous athlete was not only a Parade Magazine and U.S. Army All-American for football, but the Gatorade Ohio Player of the Year in basketball in 2012. Although veterans like John Simon, Johnathan Hankins, and Nathan Williams were on the d-line, Washington still managed to play in ten games as a true freshman, registering three sacks in his nine tackles for the undefeated Buckeyes.
It’s worth noting that Washington, between his commitment and his arrival on campus, had put on over 50 pounds! His jump in size, along with the arrival of Joey Bosa in 2013, cemented his position on the interior line. He played in twelve games as a sophomore, battling through a groin injury for a good part of the year, but still earning five starts.
He broke out in 2014, snagging 10.5 tackles for loss and honorable mention All-Conference honors. The big, talented lineman improved in his senior year, becoming a second-team All-Big Ten selection and earning a first-team All-American nod from the Sporting News.
Unfortunately, a lapse in judgement led to an arrest, citation for solicitation, and a suspension for what would have been his last game as a Buckeye (Fiesta Bowl). Despite that embarrassing blemish on his record, Washington was drafted by the Buffalo Bills. Their third-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft remains a valuable part of their defense.
9. Terrelle Pryor
Terrelle Pryor, of Jeannette, PA, was ranked by nearly every site as the nation’s top quarterback recruit. Pryor stood 6’6″, 235 pounds, and could jump out of the gym (which he did frequently as he earned All-American honors in basketball). He could also toss around would-be tacklers with a stiff-arm usually reserved for bruising running backs. His list of awards and accomplishments in high school is far too long to name. So, let’s just say that if it was out there as an option, he probably had his name by it.
He came to OSU in 2008 and supplanted Todd Boeckman as the Buckeyes’ starting QB after an embarrassing loss to USC. In his first start against Troy, he broke a freshman school record by throwing four touchdown passes. He led the team to a conference title and the Fiesta Bowl, where he even lined up at wide receiver and caught a TD pass, displaying his freakish athleticism.
He earned All-Conference honorable mention honors on top of Big Ten Freshman of the Year. His encore as a sophomore led to another conference championship, as well as a Rose Bowl win against Oregon. In that game, he showed that he could be a scary passer and earned himself another honorable mention in the conference.
His junior year brought more of the same, as he took OSU to another BCS bowl game (a win over Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl). He, once again, received honorable mention in the conference and was just edged out by Michigan’s QB Denard Robinson for MVP of the Big Ten. However, prior to his bowl game, stuff had started to hit the fan regarding “Tat-gate.” Suspensions came soon, and Pryor opted to forego his final year of school, putting himself into the NFL’s Supplemental Draft.
Once in the league, he struggled at the quarterback position and eventually rebuilt himself as a wide receiver. He’s had varying levels of success at the new position, with plenty of time to possibly cement himself as a solid NFL pass catcher.
8. Alex Boone
Another mountain of an offensive lineman (6’8″, 295 lbs.), Alex Boone committed to Ohio State in the 2005 class. Along with his intimidating size, Boone brought a ferocious attitude that most coaches and fans love seeing in their big fellas up front. Boone was the top-ranked player in Ohio (Lakewood St. Edward) and didn’t need much convincing to come to Columbus. In fact, he was able to graduate high school and enroll early in order to get started as a Buckeye in the winter sessions instead of summer.
Alex saw significant playing time as a true freshman, even stepping into a starting role for three weeks when Kirk Barton went down with an injury. By his second year, Boone was a staple at the left tackle position, only relieving his duties because of an injury late in the year. By the National Championship game, he was back in his normal spot.
He managed to hold on to that coveted offensive line position throughout the remainder of his Buckeye career, earning multiple O-Lineman of the Week honors (Jim Parker Award). In addition, Boone was a second and then first-team All-Conference selection in his junior and senior seasons, respectively. He was also a second-team Walter Camp Football Foundation All-American in his final year. It’s also worth noting that he won a Big Ten title in each of his four years with the Bucks.
Boone went undrafted into the NFL, largely due to concerns about alcohol. He was signed by the 49ers, where he played for seven years. He’s also been a member of the Vikings and Cardinals in the past two seasons. He was also a Pro Football Focus All-Pro in 2012.
7. Raekwon McMillan
Raekwon McMillan was a five-star middle linebacker from Georgia, and a major steal from the south for Urban Meyer and company in the 2014 class. At 6’2″ and 242 pounds, McMillan was built like a prototypical middle linebacker and his play on the field only confirmed it. As a senior in high school, he racked up over 150 tackles, including 35.5 tackles for loss. This play earned him first-team All-American honors by just about every publication that has a say in those matters.
The young linebacker wasted no time in making his presence known, as he stepped in and, alongside his mentor (Curtis Grant), took on a share of the middle linebacker role as a true freshman. Despite his shared time, he finished eighth on the team in tackles, had seven TFLs, and even had an INT that he returned for a touchdown.
In 2015, McMillan’s tackle total (119) was the most by a sophomore Buckeye since Steve Tovar in 1990. In his first year as the main inside linebacker, he accumulated first-team All-Big Ten, second-team All-American, and third place in the Butkus Award honors.
His third year on campus saw a repeat of what he’d done in 2015. He earned the same honors as before and added in a Lott Award semifinalist to the mix. McMillan left for the NFL after his junior season, owning conference and national titles, and a plethora of individual honors.
McMillan went back to the south, as he was drafted in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins. A torn ACL derailed his rookie season, but he’s looking to bounce back strong in 2018, and is joined by a former-Buckeye, Jerome Baker.
6. Donte Whitner
One of many in the long line of Glenville High School athletes to make their way onto a football roster at OSU, Donte Whitner still attributes much of his success to his former coach, Ted Ginn. It was there that he helped perfect his work ethic that would eventually lead to him becoming a U.S. Army All-American and five-star commit to OSU in the 2003 class.
Like others on the list, he honed his skills as a freshman on special teams. Then, as a sophomore, Whitner broke through and became a force on an already stacked Buckeye defense. He finished the year with 69 tackles and, despite a mediocre year as a team, emerged as a leader for the 2005 season.
His junior year was one of the best in recent memory, as he and the 2005 defense were in the top five in most national categories. Whitner had 74 tackles, four sacks, and two interceptions. His performance not only helped to win a Big Ten title, but earned him first-team All-Conference and All-American honors.
Whitner declared for the NFL Draft after his junior year at OSU, was selected 8th overall by the Buffalo Bills. He played for a handful of teams and was a top defender in the league for a decade. He earned multiple Pro Bowl appearances, was on the All-Rookie Team in 2006, and is currently a free agent.