Ryan Day and Ohio State signed 24 players on Wednesday, with perhaps a couple more to follow suit in February.
The Buckeyes are still very much in the lead for Michigan athlete Cameron Martinez, who will sign in February but just wanted to see what Day does to replace Jeff Hafley.
Another player or two may emerge, but the Buckeyes are pretty much at their limit in terms of class size.
The 2020 class is comprised of 14 players on offense, nine on defense, and one place-kicker, with one more defensive player likely to be added in Martinez down the road.
As is the case with all recruiting classes, this one had some drama. Some sure things — like 5-star Arizona running back Bijan Robinson — fell victim to the distance factor, and the post-signing day defection of 4-star California cornerback Clark Phillips to Utah was a blow.
Ultimately, however, every class is judged by the players that were signed, not by the ones who got away.
Ryan Day’s first full recruiting class has plenty of answers, but also a handful of questions.
Let’s start with the offensive side of the ball.
Did the quarterback situation get fixed?
I don’t know if it got fixed, but the coat hangers being used to hold the muffler in place were replaced by a couple of longer-term fixes. By signing 4-star QBs CJ Stroud and Jack Miller, Ryan Day will have his desired number of four scholarship quarterbacks. He will likely lose it after 2020, however, when Gunnar Hoak’s eligibility is gone and Justin Fields leaves early to be a Top 5 pick. The 2021 Buckeyes will open camp with — presumably Miller, Stroud, and 2021 commit Kyle McCord. So while things will be better next year than they were this year, the situation still isn’t great.
How do you keep two quarterbacks happy?
Both CJ Stroud and Jack Miller know they won’t be coming into camp this spring looking to beat out Justin Fields. They will, however, absolutely be in the mix with Gunnar Hoak to be the Buckeyes’ backup. So how do you keep them happy? Well, there are two schools of thought here. The first school, which follows OSU running backs coach Tony Alford’s thinking — it’s not the coach’s job to make the players happy. It’s the players’ job to make the coaches happy. There is a tremendous opportunity available to be the backup quarterback at Ohio State next year, which is then a huge leg up to be the starter in 2021. That being said, you can keep each guy happy by giving them some playing time. There should be enough blowouts to get both guys playing time. Will Ryan Day play both guys four games so that they can maintain their respective redshirts? Or play them both throughout the season because you’re probably gonna lose one to transfer before those five years can be completed and you’ll want everyone to have as much game experience as possible when somebody takes over in 2021.
How did the Buckeyes do in replacing Bijan Robinson?
Five-star Arizona running back Bijan Robinson was all but a verbal commitment to Ohio State for a while, but distance became too much to overcome and he stayed closer to home by committing to Texas. Most of the nation’s top tailbacks were already locked up when Robinson began trending away. Ohio State went searching around the nation, but ultimately they came back home to Miyan Williams of Winton Woods. Williams is the No. 18 player in Ohio and the No. 46 running back in the nation. He rushed for 5,823 yards in high school, so he has been productive for a while now. He’s a big back — 5-10 225 — and isn’t the explosive runner than Robinson is. Williams is still able to get the job done. He would be an interesting change-of-pace back when the Buckeyes are looking for a bruiser. That being said, they seem to have more thunder than lightning right now already.
Who are the signees in the two-deep in September next year?
Just speaking of the offense, I think everyone would be surprised if Paris Johnson isn’t somewhere in the two-deep at offensive tackle, whether Thayer Munford returns or not. Johnson is incredibly nimble for his size. He will be able to put his entire skill set on display for everyone this year. Losing Branden Bowen and Josh Alabi will make Johnson’s emergence a necessity. If Munford chooses to leave early for the NFL, Johnson may need to start. Interior lineman Luke Wypler could also be in the two-deep. Expect Harry Miller to compete for a spot at guard next year, leaving the Buckeyes in need of a backup center behind Josh Myers. Receivers Gee Scott, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and Julian Fleming could all be in the two-deep. Losing KJ Hill, Austin Mack, and Binjimen Victor will leave openings at all three spots — and it just so happens the three freshmen have the skill sets to help fill those spots. As far as the quarterbacks, it will be interesting to see if either of them can overtake Gunnar Hoak with two camps worth of practice to get it done.
Where is the strength of this class?
There are certainly numbers on the offensive line, with six signed across the front five. And landing two quarterbacks is definitely strong. But in terms of overall strength from top to bottom, it’s hard to go against the wide receivers here. Along with the three mentioned above, the Buckeyes also added powerhouse slot receiver Mookie Cooper (5-9 195). Due to a high school transfer rule, Cooper didn’t play his senior season, but he will be itching to get started this winter for the Buckeyes. All four receivers are Top 100 players and landed within the Top 15 receivers in the nation. Of the top six players in OSU’s class — according to the rankings — four of them are receivers. Here’s where the receivers land overall: Julian Fleming – No. 1 WR, No. 2 player overall; Jaxon Smith-Njigba – No. 5 WR, No. 33 overall; Gee Scott – No. 12 WR, No. 62 overall; Mookie Cooper – No. 15 WR, No. 82 overall.
What is the biggest area of concern?
Speed at running back is lacking, which generally means explosion at running back is lacking as well. Miyan Williams is productive and strong, but he’s not going to be confused for JK Dobbins. The offensive line may be top heavy with Paris Johnson and Luke Wypler, but the development of linemen is always key. These may be the only two concerns on offense in the 2020 class.
Who was the biggest coup?
Quarterback CJ Stroud is the answer here. Yes, getting Julian Fleming out of Penn State’s backyard was great, and offering Jaxon Smith-Njigba early on was smart, and going into Washington for Gee Scott was surprising, but landing a commitment from CJ Stroud at the 11th hour was the biggest coup of the class on offense. Stroud is ranked the No. 2 pro-style passer in the nation and the No. 83 player overall. And he committed and signed even with Ohio State already having Jack Miller on board in the 2020 class. Ryan Day needed two quarterbacks in this class and he got two of the best.