247Sports.com is a website that utilizes “ratings and rankings of major media recruiting services” to form a composite index. According to their site, there are approximately 32 prospects in any given recruiting class that receive the honor of earning five out of five stars. The number of such outstanding athletes is chosen to replicate the first round of the NFL Draft.
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.
Be patient, the beginning of this list may have you cringing a bit, but the end is worth it.
27. Louis Irizarry
An immensely talented tight end from Youngstown, Irizarry signed with Jim Tressel in the 2003 class. Despite the hype, he never made an impact for the Buckeyes. An arrest for robbery led to his downfall and dismissal from the school. He later reemerged in his hometown at Youngstown State and even played a game in The Shoe against the Buckeyes in 2007. Still, his inability to get onto the field for the Buckeyes, and lack of success thereafter, puts him at the bottom of this list.
26. Alphonso Townsend
Alphonso “Biggie” Townsend, a defensive tackle from Lima, Ohio, originally signed with the Bucks in the 2000 recruiting class. He then reclassified, attended Fork Union (VA) Military Academy for a year/season, and instead signed on as a Spartan in East Lansing. Despite his size and talent, he had a minor impact on their team over his tenure there.
25. Derek Morris
Morris, not the father of Zack, standing 6’6” and weighing about 350 pounds out of high school, never appeared in a game for the Buckeyes. He was not ruled academically eligible in his freshman year in Columbus and decided to transfer to North Carolina State. Morris declared for the NFL Draft after his junior year, but went undrafted. He bounced around the league for a few years, but ultimately had to give up that dream due to clotting in his lungs.
24. Marco Cooper
Marco Cooper was a skilled outside linebacker from enemy territory (Detroit) who signed with Ohio State as a member of the 2000 class. He saw the field sporadically, largely on special teams, as a freshman and sophomore. Then, at the start of his junior season, one in which many thought he would earn a starting linebacker role, he was arrested and subsequently removed from the team. He was charged with possession of a concealed weapon and, well, a whole lot of different drugs and drug paraphernalia. And that, unfortunately, was the end to Cooper’s playing career at Ohio State and beyond.
23. Eugene Clifford
A resident of Cincinnati, Clifford dominated high school opponents at football powerhouse Colerain High School. He earned Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2006 (Division I) and All-American honors from USA Today and Parade. Like Irizarry before him, Clifford’s story at OSU ended poorly. He was suspended for the championship game against LSU for violating team rules, then arrested the following summer for an assault at a bar. Clifford transferred to Tennessee State, where he finally saw some on-field success. He was picked up and released in 2011 by the Baltimore Ravens and then played some indoor football in Texas.
22. Dorian Bell
A top recruit out of Monroeville, PA, Dorian Bell backed up Ross Homan at linebacker as a freshman in 2010. Bell played well at linebacker and had an immediate impact on special teams. However, repeated team violations (suspended as a part of “Tattoo Gate”) did him in as well. He transferred back home to Duquesne University, where he saw great success in the FCS, becoming a third-team All-American selection.
21. Robert Rose
One of the top two prospects in Ohio in the 2006 recruiting class, Robert Rose came to campus from Cleveland Glenville, as many others before and since have. The defensive lineman battled through injuries and setbacks, but never made a tremendous impact on the field. Although he became a part of the rotation on the d-line, Rose eventually landed a suspension for the 2010 Rose Bowl, thus ending his OSU career. He had been one of several involved with the infamous tattoo scandal, and admitted to selling/trading memorabilia. Rose bounced around the NFL for two years, playing in the 2010 preseason for the Seahawks and making a practice roster (and active roster for one month) with the Dolphins. After that, he played for several arena league teams, including the Cleveland Gladiators.