Football Recruiting

Recruiting Commentary: Volume 25, Installment 2

Nolan Rucci Ohio State Football Buckeyes Recruiting

In yesterday’s return of this column we promised to start getting into some of the specifics of this year’s recruiting class.  Before we do that however we’d like to look at just one more perspective on this year’s overall class success.

As noted yesterday, 24/7’s average rating of players committed to the 2021 OSU class currently stands at a whopping 94.94, the highest such rating in the nation. We wondered how that rating compared to other top classes nationally in recent years, specifically teams that have found their way in the national championship playoffs. Here’s what that looks like.

2020 Georgia 92.69
2020 Clemson 93.45
2020 Alabama 93.56
2020 LSU 93.27
2020 Oklahoma 90.40
2020 Oregon 90.19

2019 Alabama 94.38
2019 Georgia 92.59
2019 LSU 90.75
2019 Oklahoma 91.20
2019 Oregon 90.60
2019 Clemson 89.76

2018  Georgia 94.23
2018 Alabama 91.94
2018 Clemson 93.45
2018 Oklahoma 90.95
2018 Oregon 89.18
2018 LSU 90.11

From the looks of those numbers Day is collecting talent at a level that will allow the Buckeyes to be serious national playoff contenders.

Breaking Down the Players

If you didn’t already know, the Buckeyes currently have 19 verbal commitments in this class and are expected to sign 24 to 26 players. We’re going to take a position-group by position-group look at how their current class breaks  down and who might still be on the recruiting board in those groups.  We’re going to  start today with offensive linemen.

As of this date the Buckeyes have two offensive linemen committed to this class. All ratings are 24/7 composite ratings. The commitments are as follows:

Donovan Jackson – 6-4, 308. Rated the number one offensive guard prospect in the class and the 20th-best player nationally at any position. Rated a five-star player, he is ranked the sixth-best offensive lineman overall among centers, guards and tackles. From Bellaire, Texas.
Ben Christman – 6-6, 299 – Rated the number six offensive guard and 113th-best player nationally at any position. He is rated the 20th-best offensive line prospect overall among centers, guards and tackles. He is rated a four-star player and is from Richfield, Ohio.

The Buckeyes have two good players along the offensive line committed at the moment, but that’s probably about two-fewer than they would really like to  have.  OSU’s offensive line recruiting took a major blow when offensive tackle JC Latham committed to Alabama. Latham was long-considered a heavy OSU lean but surprised a lot of people when he announced his commitment to the Crimson Tide.  At 6-6, 305 Latham is rated the fifth-best tackle prospect in the class and fifth-best offensive line prospect overall, one place ahead of Donovan Jackson. He is rated a five-star player and the sixteenth-best player at any position nationally and would have been a welcome addition to this class, but he will not be part of it.

With Latham off the board the Buckeyes are probably looking for at least one and probably two more offensive linemen. The most solid prospect right now is offensive guard Jager Burton. At 6-4, 271 Burton has 75 percent of his crystal balls pointed at OSU and 25 percent pointed at Kentucky. Burton is from Lexington, Kentucky and rated the seventh-best guard prospect and 21st-best offensive line prospect overall, one spot below OSU commit Ben Christman. Burton is ranked a four-star player and the 118th-best player at any position nationally.

If the Buckeyes land Burton they will have three very good offensive line prospects in this class, but all three are considered offensive guard prospects. OSU recruited well at tackle the last two years, but really needs to  land at least one tackle prospect in this class. The good news is that the Buckeyes are still in on some very good offensive linemen, the best of which may be offensive tackle Tristan Leigh.  At 6-6, 270 Leigh is ranked the fifth-best offensive tackle in this class and the fifth-best offensive linemen overall.  He is rated a five-star player and the 11th-best player at any position in this class. Leigh was long-thought to be leaning toward Clemson or Penn State but when he announced his final five last week the Nittany Lions were not on his list. Instead his list included LSU, Clemson, Oklahoma, Alabama and Ohio State. Leigh currently has 58 percent of his crystal balls pointed to  Clemson and the rest undecided. Despite that, Leigh insists that his recruitment is still an open proposition among his five finalist. OSU commit Ben Christman has been actively recruiting Leigh as has the OSU coaching staff. Leigh has not made an official visit to  Ohio State. Getting that official visit may be the key to OSU gaining his services.

Another top-50 prospect who still lists the Buckeyes as a possibility is Rocco Spindler from Clarkson, Michigan. Many see Spindler’s recruitment as being a two-team fight between Michigan and Notre Dame with Notre Dame seen as a slight leader, but like Leigh, Spindler insists he is considering more than two teams and the Buckeyes are one of them. Spindler is considered a guard prospect, but at 6-4.5, 315 pounds, has the size to  play anywhere along the offensive line. He is considered the third-best guard prospect and 10th-best offensive line prospect overall.  A four-star player, he is rated the 48th-best player at any position nationally.

Among other prospects who have visited the Buckeyes is Nolan Rucci (6-8, 295) from Lilitz, Pennsylvania. Rucci is considered the fourth-best offensive tackle and fourth-best offensive lineman in the class. The Buckeyes are considered a long shot to gain his services but the five-star Rucci thinks enough of the Buckeyes to have made a visit. He is pictured at the top of this article.

In our next installment of Recruiting Commentary we’ll look at the defensive line. Look for that on the-Ozone on Thursday or Friday.