This is the BPRT's recap of the recruiting class of 2017. RB07OSU's comments are in in BROWN; wadc45's in RED; LordJeffBuck's in PURPLE; and MD Buckeye's in GRAY:
Another year, another phenomenal class. We lost a little momentum at the end and failed to get that "elite DT" down the stretch again, but it is easy to forget the amazing haul we brought in throughout the last 1-2 years to form this class. What stands out to me generally is the high end talent that we brought from all over the country. Locking down a multitude of 5 stars from Florida, California, Nevada, Texas...it was really unprecedented. While stars don't mean everything, the amount of top-shelf talent is as good as I have seen.
We always knew this class would not reach a full 25. But what it did was fill some significant gaps with premium talent and it did so early on in the process so the staff could target some big fish down the stretch. So while this class lacked the big BOOM on signing day that we have grown accustomed to, this class had almost half it's enrollees arrive early. We sound like broken records but what this staff is doing on a national level is remarkable, especially considering '17 was somewhat of a down year in-state. The letters each commit penned and were tweeted out yesterday were another new innovation by Pantoni and Co.
A great class, to be sure, despite the underwhelming stretch run. Urban Meyer's legendary closing skills were certainly not on display this year. In the three weeks leading up to Signing Day, the Buckeyes lost blue chipper Tyjon Lindsey and closed the class with three projects (Jaylen Harris, Elijah Gardiner, and Thayer Munford). Even with the disappointing close, this smallish class should produce 12 to 15 starters and four or five All American candidates.
The best class, on paper, during the Urban Meyer era at Ohio State. I know fans were let down without having any signing day drama/surprises, but you really can't complain about this class. Top talent across the board, even with limited numbers to work with. The staff did a GREAT job addressing areas of need, especially in the secondary with three starters departing early for the NFL Draft.
Earliest ImpactShaun Wade. This is really tough because there are so many other DB's who I think will see playing time next year (see Sheffield, Okudah, Riep and maybe Pryor). Despite the available playing time at DB, Grimes is another easy pick at WR (see my comments below).
Easy answer is Kendall Sheffield. He comes in with more experience than any other DB recruit and is walking into a situation where OSU has graduated two starting corners. He should be OSU's nickel at worst and at best he is manning a corner spot this fall.
Right guard Billy Price is moving to center next season. His two back-ups (Kyle Trout and Evan Lisle) are both transferring. That leaves a huge gap in the offensive line and I think consensus five-star recruit Wyatt Davis would fill that spot nicely. 2017 could be the second year in a row that a true freshman earns a starting spot on the Buckeyes' offensive line.
Kendall Sheffield. As stated in my general thoughts, three starters are on their way to the League, which gives Kendall the easiest path to seeing the field early, if not a starter on day one. It's also been confirmed that he's enrolling in March, just in time for Spring Practice. He's a major talent at a huge area of need.
Most Star PotentialThis is nearly impossible with this class but I am going with Tate Martell here. I have watched this kid since his sophomore year of high school be absolutely remarkable against the best competition in the country. It is not just the stats, the undefeated record, and national championships...he is an excellent leader and puts the team on his back. In our offense, he is going to have a chance to light it up and I cannot wait to see it. That being said, each position has at least one guy with star potential...any of Dobbins (RB), Grimes (WR), Myers (OL), Young (DE), Browning (LB), Okudah/Wade (DB) could all easily fit the bill.
Baron Browning for me. He combines the talent with the personality. Listening to Coach Meyer talk about their ongoing prank war yesterday was refreshing. He is an absolute freak of nature when you look at his combination of size and speed and will probably become a household name to Buckeyes fans based on that first. But then when people get to see the kind of kid he is, he could be the stuff of legend at OSU.
Tate Martell is a great player in the perfect system to showcase his abilities. He will have plenty of talented playmakers surrounding him. Plus he's a quarterback, and the quarterback is always in the spotlight. All that combines to give Martell optimum star potential. That being said, he's far from a sure thing and he will face plenty of competition for the starting QB role. Boom or bust prospect.
Trevon Grimes. The Buckeyes haven't landed a WR prospect like Grimes in quite some time, arguably ever. Provided he's fully recovered from tearing his ACL, I expect him to be on the field early & often during his freshman season, catapulting himself towards a monster career at Ohio State.
Trevon Grimes. Honestly, he had perhaps the best junior film I have seen at the position since A.J. Green and Julio Jones. Elite size, amazing speed and body control, crazy good hands, and can just as easily make a routine short-intermediate pass as he can the spectacular play where he takes it to the house. I don't say this lightly but barring injury, I just do not see how Trevon is not a future 1st rounder.
Wyatt Davis is the recruit that I think will most easily reach the lofty rankings and the expectations that come with that. I'm not calling him underrated because he was Mr. Football in the state of California. OL is always tough to project, and even moreso when trying to determine if a kid will better project at guard or tackle. Davis is a guard all the way, and will be a force to be reckoned with before he is done at OSU.
Blake Haubeil will finally solve the kicking problems that have plagued the Buckeyes for the past three seasons.
Kendall Sheffield. The Buckeyes don't often go the JUCO route, so it's obvious they think Kendall can make an early impact & will likely start this fall. I'm not sure some fans realize how big of a get Kendall is, but they'll certainly realize it this fall. There's a major chance that he's a one and done player at Ohio State.
Chase Young. He already showed a lot of improvement in the last year and really put on some muscle and got stronger at the point of attack. He is only going to put more muscle on his frame and develop his technique under LJ Sr. Not sure he plays next year with so much talent playing in front of him, but with a year to add some extra strength, better his technique and learn under the likes of Lewis, Hubbard, Bosa, Cooper, etc., he can have unlimited potential.
Young has all the makings of a future 1st rounder. He's another guy that will likely be here three years before hearing his name called at the NFL Draft. His size and speed are remarkable but what makes him even more impressive is his ability to make himself small coming off the edge while using his hands like a pro. His talent combined with LJ Sr.'s coaching means this kid is the definition of "can't miss". Isaiah Pryor is another guy that has a high ceiling in my opinion
Ditto on Chase Young, who looks like an NFL star in the making. But with a talented, experienced, and deep defensive line, expect somewhat of a slow start to his career as he works his way into the mix. By the end of the 2017 campaign you should start to see the [INSERT NFL GREAT HERE] comparisons.
Agree 100% with Chase Young. Already a force on the field...when Coach Marotti & the rest of the strength staff get their hands on him, look out.
Biggest ReachSome years this is not so hard, but it was really, really hard this year. Elijah Gardner is all I have...after losing Lindsey, a slot receiver, we then chased the likes of Martin and Robinson, but landed yet another receiver pretty similar to Harris (who I definitely do not think is a reach). While I like Gardner's film, this might have been a round peg in a square hole.
Elijah Gardner is the easy answer. Late offer after the staff had to scramble thanks to Tyjon Lindsey and that whole mess. I have concerns about Jerron Cage being buried on the depth chart early but I hope he is able to work his way up the ladder over the next couple of years without being recruited over. You know DT will be an emphasis in '18 and '19.
After wide receiver Tyjon Lindsey decided that Nebraska's low-octane offense was a better venue to showcase his skills, the Buckeye staff seemed to panic a bit. They panicked a bit more when their next two targets chose smoking weed (allegedly) and synchronized swimming over playing football in Columbus. Consensus three-star project Elijah Gardiner was the last man standing and he received the offer that had previously been held by a top-50 prospect. That's pretty much the definition of a "reach".
Agree with Elijah Gardner. I'll also add Thayer Munford here, only to provide another answer. Munford was obviously down the list of targets that the staff was pursuing for the OL and there have been some questions regarding his academics in the past.
SleeperJaylen Harris. I have always been in his corner big time and he has a rare blend of size, speed, and is silky smooth. He can be a matchup nightmare, particularly with defenses trying to key on Grimes on the other end. I think he can blow it up in our offense.
Jaylen Harris would be my answer too because I don't think people realize just how good he is because of how quiet his recruitment was. Blake Haubeil is a guy that is also never talked about, being a kicker and all, but after what we saw down the stretch this past season I think he is another guy who will outperform his ranking. Lastly I think Amir Riep is being overlooked because of the depth being brought in at DB. He is a gamer and can be a difference maker, most likely at safety, at some point in his career.
A "sleeper" is a "reach" who you think will end performing like a blue chipper. I don't like any of the reaches in this class, so I don't think we'll see any sleepers come from that admittedly small group. One player who is underrated in my opinion is safety Isaiah Pryor. Now it's tough for a consensus four-star, top-100 prospect to be underrated, but I think Pryor has All American potential and he's been somewhat overlooked with all the headliners in this class (Wade, Okudah, Davis, Myers, Browning, Young, Grimes, Martell).
I'll go with Brendon White here. A great athlete that could play a variety of positions, and has already been moved once since hitting campus (LB to WR). Once the staff finalizes where they want him, I suspect he'll surprise some people.
Biggest SurpriseWyatt Davis. The surprises were aplenty in this class but this one really took me by surprise...California guy without deep Ohio ties, we had not recruited him that long and it was a perceived USC/Bama battle. Never wavered a bit. Coming in a close second is Shaun Wade, who I thought would flip for almost 2 full years.
Haskell Garrett committed to OSU without ever stepping foot on campus. Same can be said for JK Dobbins. And I also had my concerns about Wade for a long period of time but I was more optimistic he would stick than others. I was worried about Garrett from the moment he committed but he quickly put a lot of those concerns to rest after he finally visited Columbus. I can't think of a commitment that was more out of left field this year than Garrett's.
Tate Martell. I know that Ohio State wants to sign a quarterback every year, but I thought the staff would be looking more for an insurance policy in 2017 as the reins were transferred from J.T. Barrett to Dwayne Haskins and eventually to 2018 verbal commitment Emory Jones. Martell is certainly not that guy, and he could blow up the QB room as early as next season in the same way that Tim Tebow did as a true freshman at Florida. Again, Martell is far from a sure thing, but he has superstar potential and I didn't anticipate Ohio State getting that type of QB talent in this class.
Shaun Wade signing with Ohio State. As Coach Meyer mentioned in his Signing Day Press Conference, it is EXTREMELY difficult to hold on to players out of the Sunshine State, let alone for over a year. Kudos to the staff for continuing to recruit Shaun & his family and making them a priority.
The One Who Got Away
Jay Tufele. I know he was going to likely stay out west no matter what, but we were in the thick of it and I see him as a top DT in the country. However, Tyjon Lindsey was right there...he was so explosive and fun to watch, I was elated to see him commit and equally as disappointed to see him decommit. Plus we never really replaced him in my eyes, and he was such an upgrade over Bruce Judson.
Wilson and Tufele are easy answers because of their late decisions. Wilson is the guy I would have preferred but if I had to pick one guy it would be Trey Smith. Another elite OT would have been just what this class needed, if anything. In Ohio, Joel Honigford is a kid I really wanted to see OSU go after and I'm worried they let another very talented in-state player head north in James Hudson. I really wanted Lindsey as well, after OSU was forced to pass on Sam Bruce last year. Oliver Martin would have made up for that miss as well. Cam Akers was a tough miss but I was never convinced he was really considering OSU that strongly and I'm not convinced OSU really wanted him enough to jeopardize Dobbins.
Easy - offensive lineman Jake Moretti, because he actually did get away (as opposed to guys like Marvin Wilson and Jay Tufele who merely went elsewhere). Moretti was one of the first verbal commitments in the class of 2017, but a knee injury and a dispute over early admission caused him to break his pledge to Ohio State and look elsewhere. A big loss, and one that was entirely preventable in my opinion.
The easy answer for me is Marvin Wilson. Larry Johnson did a terrific job recruiting Marvin, but ultimately distance & the honey fried chicken at Florida State won out. He's easily the top DT prospect in the country & would've made an instant impact at Ohio State.
What This Class Lacks
Let me start by saying I think this is a well balanced class and there is little room to complain. But it was another year where we chased a few elite DT's to the finish line and whiffed again. To be clear, I really like both of Cage and Garrett. However, it is impossible to look away at what Bama and Clemson are doing in the DT department and not see where we have trailed. We will be fine in this area, but I do want to see us land a guy like Wilson or Tufele next year. Also would have liked a slot guy like Lindsey but also think we are more than fine there.
Nothing really. I was okay with missing on guys like Darnay Holmes, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Cam Akers and Anthony Hines. It happens. I was okay with them letting guys like Bubba Bolden, Lamont Wade, Trey Sermon, Emmanuel Greene, Matt Dotson, Antjuan Simmons, Darnell Ewell, Paris Ford and Matt Bockhorst walk. The only guys that would have made a huge difference to me would have been Trey Smith, Marvin Wilson, Richard LeCounte or Jay Tufele. Could they have used another OL? Sure maybe. Could they have used a TE? Not really. Could they have used a truly elite 1-tech? Definitely. But this really might be Coach Meyer's finest class to date.
Ohio State didn't sign a stud defensive tackle in the class of 2017. So what's new? Haskell Garrett is definitely a talent, but at 280 pounds he's not the monster in the middle that the Buckeye defense has been lacking at least since Jonathan Hankins left after the 2012 season. Jerron Cage is another three-star reach at the position (see Robert Landers, DaVon Hamilton, Dylan Thompson, Donovan Munger, Tracy Sprinkle....).
You really have to nitpick when it comes to answering this, as this class is arguably the best in the country. Despite missing on their top two defensive tackle targets (Wilson & Tufele), I'm still very happy with landing Garrett & Cage. Here's to landing that elite 1-tech in the 2018 class....
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