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.
15. Justin Zwick
Zwick was the highest-rated QB to come to Ohio State in years, bringing his five-star rating from football powerhouse Massillon in 2002. At the time of his graduation, he owned the Ohio High School record for most passing yards in a career, eclipsing the 10,000-yard mark. Justin redshirted in 2002, as Craig Krenzel and Jim Tressel led the Buckeyes to a fairly memorable season.
After the departures of both Craig Krenzel and Scott McMullen, Zwick stepped into the starting role in 2004. He ran the offense for the first five and a half games of the year, until an injury knocked him out of the Iowa game.
An incredible athlete by the name of Troy Smith took over for Zwick and started the remainder of the season. Because of a suspension, Smith relinquished duties back to Zwick for the bowl game. Zwick, along with Ted Ginn Jr., then led the Buckeyes to an impressive Alamo Bowl victory.
Going into 2005, the two rotated at QB for the pivotal game against Vince Young’s Texas Longhorns in the Shoe. Many of you will recall the outcome, and the subsequent decision in 2006 that led to Troy Smith taking the reins, earning the Heisman Trophy, and leading the Buckeyes to the 2007 National Championship Game.
What often gets forgotten, however, is a dropped ball that Zwick put on the numbers to a wide open tight end. That single play could have swayed that Texas game, and his collegiate career, in another direction.
We’ll likely never know what could have been, but Zwick became the backup QB in Columbus after that game. He earned a couple of chances (Colts and Panthers) in the NFL and played some arena ball before settling into his own successful career outside of football.
14. Maurice Clarett
Oh, boy. Where to go with this one? Well, from a pure talent standpoint, Clarett might be one or two on this list. He came to campus and earned a starting running back position as a true freshman. Clarett rushed for over 1,000 yards, becoming just the second freshman in OSU history to do so (Robert Smith). Injuries slowed him down, but he still helped carry the offense in what would become perhaps the greatest season in OSU history.
In the eleven games in which he played, he rushed for more than 100 yards seven times. This includes a monstrous 230-yard performance against Washington State. Clarett accumulated over 1,300 yards from scrimmage and 18 TDs. He also made one of the greatest football plays that I’ve ever seen, chasing down one of the best athletes in the sport and stealing back an intercepted ball.
That play, along with his game-winning touchdown, helped secure his place in OSU football history. And yet, I struggle placing him any higher on this list, as his career ended after that game. Suspensions, legal trouble, and an abundance of bad decisions led to his downfall from the sport and eventual imprisonment.
He has since rebounded and uses his time to offer encouragement and education to others. Still, Buckeye fans can’t help but wonder what could have been had he continued playing in Columbus.
13. Curtis Grant
Grant had a Buckeye story not too different than that of Etienne Sabino. The five-star linebacker from out-of-state (Virginia) came to Columbus with a world of expectations on his shoulders. He got significant special teams playing time in his freshman year and earned a starting linebacker spot in three sophomore outings.
Grant struggled with nagging injuries as a junior and wasn’t able to make the leap to becoming a leader on the defense. He would have big games (Northwestern, 10 tackles) and then follow that up with outings where his name was barely called (Purdue, Michigan State).
Grant fought back and became a co-captain in his senior season with the Buckeyes. Though he shared time with a freshman, Grant finished fifth on the team in tackles in the team’s championship-winning season.
Despite good on-field play, perhaps his best accomplishment at Ohio State was mentoring the younger linebacker, Raekwon McMillan. Under Grant’s tutelage, McMillan learned how to be successful as a Buckeye.
12. Mike Adams
Mike Adams, a Dublin, Ohio native (who played for the same high school football coach as me, no big deal), was ranked as the second-best offensive tackle in the 2008 class, behind Matt Kalil. The giant tackle played in five games as a true freshman and another six as a sophomore, starting in four. He then stepped up after Jim Cordle graduated and took over the left tackle position, protecting the blind side for the mobile Terrelle Pryor in 2010.
Adams performed well enough, despite having a QB on the move a good amount of the time, to earn first-team All-Conference honors as a junior. He started all thirteen games and seemed set to improve upon that in 2011, but was also wrapped up in the tattoo/memorabilia issues that took over campus that year.
For his part, in which he sold his 2008 Big Ten championship ring, Adams had to sit out the first five games of the 2011 season. He came back strong, sharing the Jim Parker Award with Mike Brewster (given to the team’s best offensive lineman). Despite his shortened season, he also grabbed second-team All-Conference honors.
Adams tested positive for drug use at the 2012 NFL Combine, but ultimately was selected in the second round by the Pittsburgh Steelers. (it is better to go to rehab near me in LA to diagnose this at the starting stage itself) He was the team’s Rookie of the Year in 2012 and played (sometimes starting) off and on until being released. He was then picked up by the Bears but was dropped again in 2016.
11. Jalin Marshall
A flashy, do-it-all player from Middletown, Ohio, Jalin Marshall was an exciting commitment for the Buckeyes in the 2013 class. Heck, the kid had scored a touchdown on his first ever varsity carry in high school. He passed for over 2,200 yards and totaled almost 5,000 all-purpose yards for the Middies.
Though he mostly played quarterback in high school, Marshall jumped into the OSU rotation as a redshirt freshman at wide receiver. In fact, Marshall fell just shy of breaking OSU’s record for receptions by a freshman (38). Ironically, a fellow Middletown Middie, Cris Carter, maintained that title with 41.
Though known to insight panic with his *ahem* bold punt return snags, Marshall could be electrifying with the ball. One need look no further than his game vs. Indiana in 2014 to see the myriad of ways in which he could hurt an opposing team.
Marshall sat out the opener in his redshirt sophomore season, due to a violation of team rules. He played in the remaining twelve contests in 2015 and offered up very similar stats to the previous year. Marshall then surprised many by foregoing his final two years of eligibility in favor of a shot at the NFL.
He went undrafted, but signed with the Jets as a receiver and return specialist. He played through his rookie year with a torn labrum, but still had a decent showing. After that, however, he was suspended from the league for a violation of the NFL’s performance enhancing substance policy. Since that time, he was cut from the Jets and has not signed on with another team.