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.
5. Beanie Wells
Chris “Beanie” Wells was a scary running back prospect from Akron Garfield who joined OSU’s 2006 recruiting class. The five-star had a unique blend of size (6’1″ and 225 lbs.) and speed (4.5 40-yard dash) that practically screamed “OSU’s next big RB.” His high school playing did little to diminish those huge expectations, as he ran his way to over 4,000 yards in his final two seasons. He was a Parade All-American and the U.S. Army All-American Bowl MVP, as he graduated and enrolled early at Ohio State in December of 2005.
Beanie shared carries with incumbent running back Antonio Pittman in the 2006 season. He averaged 5.5 yards per carry, but his biggest freshman moment came in the historic #1 vs. #2 installment of The Game, in which he took a hand-off, spun free of a blitzing defender, and then ran 52 yards to pay-dirt.
His sophomore campaign saw him dominate the backfield in terms of carries, running the ball 274 times for over 1,600 yards. Again, he helped lead OSU to a championship game, and also first-team All-Conference and second-team All-American honors. Though he faced some injuries in his junior year, he was again voted the team’s MVP at the end of yet another Big Ten championship season.
Despite only playing three years, and just two as the sole starter, Beanie left as the school’s fourth-leading rusher with almost 3,400 yards on the ground. He was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the first round and played all of his seasons with them before retiring in 2013 due to an Achilles injury.
4. Michael Brewster
Another player to make the journey up north for college, Michael Brewster was the country’s best center in the 2008 class. He committed to Ohio State after cruising to All-American honors in high school at Edgewater in Orlando. Brewster teamed up with the aforementioned Mike Adams and J.B. Shugarts (four-star offensive tackle from Texas) in what was one of the best offensive line hauls in recent memory.
Brewster became an iron man of sorts for the Buckeyes, stepping in due to injury in his freshman year and then never allowing anyone to take a start from him until he departed. He finished his career with his 49th-consecutive start at the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl in 2011. Once he took over in 2008, he earned Freshman All-American honors and helped OSU win the Big Ten.
Brewster became a four-year letter winner and second and first-team All-Big Ten (depending on whether you ask coaches or media). He was also a first-team All-American, Jim Parker Award winner, and a Rimington Trophy finalist.
Brewster went undrafted into the NFL, landing with the Jaguars as a free agent. Unfortunately, injuries limited him from there, and he was unable to see much action in the league beyond 2012.
3. Vonn Bell
Much like Raekwon McMillan, Vonn Bell — a Georgia high schooler — was a huge “get” for the Buckeyes. Thought to be an SEC lean favoring either Tennessee or Alabama, he ultimately chose Columbus for his college ball. Most sites ranked him as the second-best safety in the nation. Bell’s athleticism, like many on the list, helped carry his team to a state championship appearance.
Once on campus, Bell saw action in every game as a true freshman, but finally earned a starting position as the nickel back for the Orange Bowl game against Clemson. I still can’t wrap my brain around why he wasn’t the starter for the entirety (or at least majority) of the season, but that’s a separate write-up. In his first start, Bell timed up his coverage and placed himself between Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins and grabbed a much-needed interception.
As a starting safety in 2014, Vonn Bell certainly made his name known. He finished second on the team in tackles and earned honorable mention in the Big Ten. He also helped to win the Big Ten, Sugar Bowl (really helped!) and National Championship. As a junior, in 2015, Bell continued his defensive domination. In fact, he played well enough to earn first-team All-Big Ten and first-team All-American honors.
From there, it was likely an easy decision for the former five-star. He entered into the NFL Draft and was taken in the second round by the New Orleans Saints. Bell has over 80 tackles in each of his two NFL seasons, and looks to do so again in 2018.
2. Ted Ginn Jr.
The most electrifying player that I’ve ever seen in a Buckeye jersey stands at number two on this list. Ted Ginn Jr. was listed as a defensive player by most recruiting sites, including 247Sports. He was the top cornerback in the 2004 class, and a USA Today and SuperPrep Defensive Player of the Year. In addition to those accolades, Ginn was also a national champion in track by his junior year of high school.
He enrolled at OSU in 2004 and saw playing time immediately on offense and special teams. On just his sixth touch (his third career return), Ginn returned a punt for a touchdown.
I could go on for hours about how amazing it was to watch Ginn break into the open field. In his three-year career at Ohio State, he gained over 4,000 total yards. He was selected as an honorable mention All-Big Ten player as a sophomore and made the first-team as a junior. Ginn Jr. was also a first-team All-American as a returner or all-purpose player in each of his three years.
The Miami Dolphins selected him ninth overall in the 2007 NFL Draft. Ginn Jr. made the All-Rookie Team that year and has since bounced around to different franchises. He remains a valuable wide receiver and return man for the New Orleans Saints. He’s amassed 29 receiving touchdowns and seven return touchdowns in the league. And, for what it’s worth, he will be faster than you until the day that he leaves this Earth. No offense… just facts.
1. Braxton Miller
Perhaps the only candidate to conceivably battle Ted Ginn Jr. for “most exciting to watch,” Braxton Miller came to Ohio State amid turmoil in 2011. He originally committed to Jim Tressel in 2010, then held fast to Luke Fickell after Tressel’s departure. Miller excelled at the QB position in high school, becoming a Mr. Football Award finalist and competing in the Under Armour All-American Game. He enrolled at OSU and was already a fan favorite. As soon as OSU registered a loss that season, Miller surpassed Joe Bauserman and took over the starting quarterback role.
His freshman year was a tough one, not just for him, but for the entire program. Despite highlights, like the last-minute heroics to beat a ranked Wisconsin team, the Buckeyes had one of the worst seasons in school history. They finished with a losing record following a bowl loss to Florida.
But that season led to the hiring of Urban Meyer, and he and Miller would make for a dangerous pair. Under Meyer’s offense, Miller flourished. He had already managed to earn Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors, but that was just the start. He would go on to be a first-team All-Conference selection in his sophomore and junior years. In those seasons, he was also the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year and Most Valuable Player.
In what should have been his senior year, Miller was unable to play at all. He suffered a torn labrum just prior to the start of the 2014 season. Despite losing Braxton, the team went on to greatness, but he was not done yet. Unable to throw as confidently and powerfully as before, Miller made a position change to wide receiver. He caught 26 passes and had 42 rushes in 2015, totaling over 600 yards of offense and four TDs. He was the jack-of-all-trades in Urban’s offense… someone the defense constantly had to be aware of.
His incomparable agility, attitude, and knowledge of the game led him to the Houston Texans. He became their third-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Miller remains a Texan and looks to make a big impact on the 2018 season.