Ohio State recruiting primer: Buckeyes may be ready to knock Tide off perch
If there’s a program that can unseat Alabama as the King of Recruiting for 2021, it will be the one located in Columbus, Ohio.
The Ohio State Buckeyes have been on a historic recruiting run recently, and it continued Friday, when the nation’s No. 1-ranked wide receiver prospect, Emeka Egbuka, out of Steilacoom, Wash., committed to the Buckeyes. The pledge solidified Ohio State’s 2nd-place spot in the national rankings and put them ever closer to overtaking the Crimson Tide.
Whether that occurs is really of no consequence. Once a program hits this kind of rarefied recruiting air, the difference in projected talent between No. 1 and No. 2 is pretty arbitrary.
What matters is that the Buckeyes are establishing themselves as a nationwide recruiting monster, especially when it comes to the skill positions (this class also includes the top-ranked running back in America). The Buckeyes started all of this last season, when they finished 5th overall in the national recruiting rankings (and again brought in the best wide receiver in the country in Julian Fleming) and they look to continue this dominance next season, where they already have the No. 1 -ranked recruiting class for 2022.
The point? Get used to seeing Ohio State at the top of these rankings — and then, by extension, at the top of the national polls. The next round of great Buckeyes players will put pen to paper for the Early Signing Period starting
By the numbers
- B1G rank: 1
- National rank: 2
- 5-stars: 5
- 4-stars: 13
- 3-stars: 3
Top player: Jack Sawyer, 5-star strong-side DE
This is the next man up.
In the long line of uber-talented defensive ends produced by Ohio State over the past few years — think the Bosa brothers, and Chase Young — Jack Sawyer has been pegged as the next great one since he was a sophomore in high school. It’s something he does not shy away from, and this is good, because the 6-foot-5, 240-pounder out of Pickerington, Ohio, can’t hide from much.
Sawyer is ranked as the 4th-best prospect in the country, and he is the highest-rated recruit in Ohio State’s 2021 class. The kid is so focused on living up to this reputation that he opted out of his senior season and focused on getting bigger and faster. He will come in to the program ready to make a difference.
Oh, and one other thing to know — when he was 8 years old, he earned the nickname Diesel because he was so big. The funny thing? He didn’t stop growing — he just kept getting bigger. Now he’s going to play for the Buckeyes.
Class strength: Wide receiver
This says as much about wide receivers coach Brian Hartline as it does about the incoming class of stud receivers. Once again, Hartline has locked down an incredible crop of athletes, including No. 1-ranked receiver Egbuka, followed by 4-star talents Jayden Ballard of Massillon, Ohio, and Marvin Harrison Jr. of Philadelphia. It’s an embarrassment of riches when you think of whom the Buckeyes got last year (Fleming, as well Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Gee Scott Jr., to name a few).
Will it create a logjam? Will everyone be happy? Who knows and who really cares. As for right now, all the athletes are saying the right things: They want to compete and prove themselves against the best, and clearly, the Buckeyes are recruiting the best right now.
Hartline, who was rated as the best recruiter in the nation after last year’s haul, has now moved up to No. 5 this season, too. It’s a remarkable run, and it means Ohio State will be loaded at the receiver position for the foreseeable future. (Proof? He already has the commitment of the No. 1 receiver for next season, too — Caleb Burton out of Texas).
Class weakness: None?
I’m not sure there is one. This class needed to address the weakness in the secondary, so what did the Buckeyes do? They’re bringing in 5 defensive backs, including 4-star corner Jakailin Johnson, from St. Louis. They needed defensive linemen (who doesn’t?), so they went out and got one of the best in the country in Sawyer, as well as 2 4-star defensive tackles in Mike Hall from Streetsboro, Ohio, and Tyleik Williams from Virginia.
They could use a superstar workhorse running back, so they went out and got the No. 1-ranked back in the nation, 5-star TreVeyon Henderson, from Virginia.
They even addressed a possible upcoming need at punter, going the Australian route to get 3-star Jesse Mirco.
Basically, what Ohio State needs, they go and get, on a national level.
Grading the QB class
While not necessarily a position of need (last season, the Buckeyes inked 4-star quarterbacks C.J. Stroud and Jack Miller), it was still nice to add the 3rd-best QB in the class (and the No. 25 player in the country) in 5-star Kyle McCord from Philadelphia.
Will McCord factor in to the quarterback competition in 2021? Probably not, but it’s always nice to have more options, right? And McCord will be the first 5-star quarterback to come to Columbus since Braxton Miller.
It’s clear the kid was sold on becoming the next great leader of one of the most potent offenses in America, and he says he plans on enrolling early so he can add weight and speed and be ready to compete with Stroud and Miller in the spring. And McCord will want to separate himself as much as possible, because there could be a logjam in the future.
Ohio State already has a commitment in the 2022 class from Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers, who recently became the Buckeyes’ highest-ranked recruit. Ever. Ewers became the 6th player ever to earn a perfect rating from analysts — and only the 2nd quarterback behind Vince Young. Other perfect recruits included Jadeveon Clowney, Robert Nkemdiche, Rashan Gary and Ernie Sims.
Did they close the borders?
In a word, yes. But the Buckeyes really don’t worry about that. They recruit on a national level.
Still, when there are top-ranked players in the state, Ohio State will snag them. Six of their recruits hail from the state of Ohio (the most of any state), including studs in Sawyer, Hall and Ballard.
So did they get what they needed from inside the state? I’d say yes.
This class will, overall, be remembered as one of the highest-ranked classes (if not THE highest) that Ohio State has ever recruited.
Getting the nation’s best receiver and running back, and 1 each of the best quarterbacks, corners and defensive linemen, is historic, as is the run that Hartline has personally been on.
The scary thing? The Buckeyes may have an even better haul next season. That should make the B1G, as well as the nation, sit up and take notice.