Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel welcomed in 23 recruits Wednesday but added that one more could still be on the way.
The Buckeyes finished the day with 24 verbal commitments but one player did not sign his letter of intent. That would be offensive lineman Chris Carter from Cleveland John F. Kennedy, who was arrested Tuesday night after being accused of fondling girls at his high school.
In his opening statement to reporters inside the team meeting room at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, Tressel said the Buckeyes had welcomed in 23 signees “to this point.” Asked later to clarify whether or not the class could still grow, the coach declined to discuss specifics but did not rule out the addition of one more player.
“There’s a possibility,” he said. “I think everyone is aware that we had something pop up yesterday we didn’t know much. (We) can’t talk about it because the only thing we’re allowed to talk about today is the kids who have signed letters with us. We don’t know what the situation is, so it could be larger and it might not.”
Tressel was not asked further about the topic in the five minutes during which he took questions. As for the players he did sign, Tressel praised the overall balance of a class rated third in the nation by Scout.com.
“We’ve got a little bit of everything, which we like to do,” he said. “We’ve got guys that are versatile, so I think it’s balanced and versatile. These guys have done a lot of different things. There has to be a little bit of projection in talking about what you need. There are guys that we feel very good about who they are. We feel good about the skills that they have.”
Of the 23 signees, 13 hail from the defensive side of the ball. Nine will play on offense and one – long snapper Bryce Haynes – is a specialist.
During the press conference, Tressel had each of his position coaches discuss the new recruits at his position. Each coach showed highlight clips of the new Buckeyes and discussed what the coaches liked about the player at hand.
A common refrain throughout the afternoon was that the recruiting class was full of players who meshed well with the current players, who are coming off a Sugar Bowl victory against Arkansas.
“We feel very good about the fact that they have great interest in Ohio State and they meshed well with the people that were here,” the coach said. “That’s really what it’s all about, and more than one of the coaches talked about that. They felt at home with the other teammates.
“They know it’s not going to be easy. They know it’s going to be a struggle at times. They know there’s always a bulls-eye on Ohio State and all the rest but I think the versatility, the balance, the attitude (is good).”
Five players have already enrolled for winter courses and were on hand for interviews as well. Those players were Braxton Miller (quarterback), Jeff Heuerman (tight end), Jeremy Cash (safety), Joel Hale (defensive line) and Ryan Shazier (linebacker).
“The first week was hard to adjust to, but now I’m cool,” Miller said.
In all, Tressel said OSU hosted 30 players on official visits and landed commitments from 23 of them not including Carter.
Sixteen members of the class including Carter had issued verbal pledges before the month of June was up. The Buckeyes missed out on a few national recruits in the final days before signing day but landed the top outside linebacker prospect in the nation Wednesday when Curtis Grant pledged to them on national television.
“In April, May and June, when you get a good start, you feel wonderful about that,” Tressel said. “You can’t discount that. Then when you get in those last two weeks of January and you get a good finish, you feel good about that. In both cases, we didn’t get everyone but a lot of times when you don’t get someone, it opens up the opportunity and the availability for a space for someone else and you end up with, ‘Boy, we are lucky that we had space for that person.’
“I love the beginning and I love the end.”