With the commitments of Cleveland Glenville top-100 teammates Marshon Lattimore and Erick Smith at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, it seems like the recruiting class for the Ohio State football program is nearly set as the weeks until National Signing Day go by fast.
But to use a phrase that’s become sort of ubiquitous in college football – “Not so fast, my friend.”
LINK: Discuss Ohio State football and recruiting and get the inside scoop on our Ask the Insiders message board!
There’s always drama in recruiting, and that’s especially true at a high-profile place like Ohio State coached by a man in Urban Meyer who is among the best closers in college football. So even though the Buckeyes appear to be on solid ground with a nation’s-best 10 Scout 100 commits, 21 total prospects and a national No. 5 ranking, expect a wild finish in the days up to National Signing Day.
And that drama might even start at the two Glenville prospects whose commitments could help shore up a defense that was among the worst in the country when it comes to defending the pass in 2012.
Even though Lattimore and Smith made their choices at the nationally televised all-star game, there were rumblings before the game that both – who were thought to be OSU leans for a long time before the announcements – were considering other schools.
LINK: Lattimore commitment capsule
LINK: Smith commitment capsule
As a result, Scout.com recruiting analyst Bill Greene said, don’t expect things to be completely over in that regard until the letter of intent comes across the wire.
“I think Ohio State is still going to have to recruit them,” Greene said. “They may have averted an issue down in San Antonio with Erick saying he wasn’t committing and Marshon telling the world he was going to take visits, but visits out of those two kids would not stun me.
“It’s a long way from Signing Day. I think Ohio State still has to recruit both of them very hard. The commitment means they’re interested and will probably go to your school, but I would not look at Lattimore and Smith as done on the recruiting front. I think you still have to recruit those kids until you get the fax.”
There was also some question about whether Glenville offensive lineman Marcelys Jones, the first commit to OSU’s class of 2014, would enroll for spring semester after signing an early financial aid agreement with both the Buckeyes and Kentucky, but the Army Bowl alum has in fact arrived for January classes.
With that, the 13-year pipeline between Ohio State and Glenville, which has included one signee in every class since eventual Heisman winner Troy Smith in 2002, will continue in 2014, thanks in part to legendary Glenville head coach Ted Ginn Sr.
“I think he kind of got to them and said, basically, ‘Let’s stick with what works. Let’s not throw away nine months of planning and research because you’ve been in Texas for 48 hours,’ ” Greene said. “Ted wasn’t with them (in San Antonio) at first. I think they got their heads turned by talking to some other kids who were uncommitted. There were also a lot of kids from that game who were committed but have since decommitted. I think a lot of those kids got in their head, but when Ted Ginn Sr. got down there he got them back on track.”
The Buckeyes will also look to continue finishing up the class, something Meyer has proved to excel at since his hiring at OSU. He nabbed 10 prospects from the time he was hired in 2011 until signing day in ’12, including a pair of high-impact, five-star defensive linemen in Noah Spence and Tommy Schutt.
With a year under his belt as the head coach a year ago, Meyer finished strong again, picking up nine commitments once the calendar flipped to 2013. Included in that group were freshman contributors Dontre Wilson, Vonn Bell and Ezekiel Elliott as well as five-star linebacker Mike Mitchell.
The first domino that could fall this year in the final weeks leading up to signing day is offensive lineman Brady Taylor, a Virginia Tech commit from Columbus Bishop Ready who received an Ohio State offer yesterday and will visit over the upcoming weekend.
LINK: Taylor talks OSU offer, visit.
He is expected to be joined by four-star defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi (6-2, 295), a Virginia Beach (Va.) Ocean Lakes prospect who checks in as the No. 4 defensive tackle in the nation.
OSU also remains in the running for a pair of five-star prospects as well in the No. 1 safety in the country, California’s Juju Smith, and Texas defensive end Solomon Thomas. Offensive linemen Roderick Johnson (Florissant, Mo.) and Frank Ragnow (Chanhassen, Minn.) and defensive lineman Malik McDowell (Southfield, Mich.) also remain in the mix as the Buckeyes try to shore up the trenches for future years.
“They want one defensive lineman and one offensive lineman,” Greene said. “Also, if some superstar at a different position fell into their laps, they would certainly take him.”
And with Meyer at the controls and the coaching carousel in full swing, that could certainly happen.
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