By the time the first Early Signing Period closes on Friday, we could be talking about Ohio State locking in the vast majority of the No. 1 class in America.

If it does happen, you’re sure to hear about it. Whether it’s Ohio State fans, its own athletic department or even some of its, um, home-happy media, you’ll hear about that No. 1 ranking. That’s a given.

And frankly, why wouldn’t that kind of accomplishment be shouted from the mountaintops? The Buckeyes are closing in on finally besting Alabama, which would mark the first time that anyone not named “Nick Saban” pulled in the nation’s top recruiting class. Urban Meyer’s 2018 class will be celebrated before it ever plays a game.

Therein lies the problem.

Some will say that this is Meyer’s top class he ever signed when it fact, we don’t know if that will prove to be true. While it could be Meyer’s top-ranked* class he ever signed at OSU, that won’t matter a whole lot. In all likelihood, Meyer will give the 2018 group the same talk that he’s been giving the last few years.

The message is a simple one — if you really are worth the hype, you’ll do what the 2013 class did.

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It’s funny to think about OSU’s 2013 class not being ranked No. 1 that year. After watching the talent that it yielded, it’s no wonder it was the driving force behind a national championship run. It’s hard to believe it didn’t win at least two titles.

Just in case you need a little reminder of all that 2013 group was a part of, here’s a list of some of those accomplishments:

  • First College Football Playoff National Champions (2014-15)
  • 38-4 overall record, 23-1 B1G record from 2013-15
  • 60-8 overall record, 39-3 B1G record from 2013-17
  • New Year’s Six bowl every year
  • 5 first-round NFL draft picks (not counting Billy Price)
  • 5 All-Americans
  • Most productive QB in program history (J.T. Barrett)

The numbers are staggering. Every program in America would take that kind of success with a recruiting class. And obviously a lot of those 2013 recruits left Columbus after the 2015 season, but the point remains.

Ohio State’s 2018 group has an awfully high bar to reach. It won’t matter if they exceed the 2013 group’s 10 top-100 recruits (they’re tied right now).

What will matter is if they can take the program to the next level. Despite all the success that 2013 class had, the Buckeyes are again in need of a group that can kick it up a notch.

This will be the third straight year that OSU has failed to score a point in the Playoff. Compare that to 2011-13, when the Buckeyes were entering the beginning of the Meyer era. Even after going 24-2 to start off the Meyer era in 2012-13, OSU capped its third consecutive season without a postseason victory. It got the ultimate shot in the arm from the sophomores in 2014.

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We’ll have to wait a bit to see if the 2018 group can provide that same kind of impact. Who knows what a bigger, better version of Taron Vincent will look like or if Jeremy Ruckert can finally be that game-changing tight end the Buckeyes have been lacking.

If you recall, that 2013 group wasn’t just great because it got the blue chip recruits like Joey Bosa and Eli Apple. It was unheralded guys like Price, Darron Lee and Tyquan Lewis who really made that class a program-changer.

Will those type of guys pop up in the 2018 class? They’ll have to. Those are how national championships are won. That’s how the really good classes become once-in-a-generation classes.

Back when Meyer signed his 2013 group, he looked exhausted but pleased when he addressed the media. It was his first full recruiting cycle at OSU and without the sanctions, he didn’t have the same type of cloud hanging over him like he did in 2012. Still, as Meyer said that day, he’d been around long enough to know when to be excited about a class. That 2013 class was worth getting excited about.

When Meyer talks to the media about the 2018 class, it’ll be interesting to see if he references the 2013 class at all. Is that too high of a bar to set? Of course not.

Frankly, it’s still the only bar worth striving for.