Ohio State Football Recruiting: Updates on 2014 Commits and Targets
With national signing day fast approaching, Urban Meyer has Ohio State primed for a big recruiting finish.
The Buckeyes, who have already secured verbal commitments from 22 prospects, boast one of the top recruiting classes in the country. Ohio State still has some holes to fill, and, of course, Meyer is targeting some of the most coveted players in the country to fill out his 2014 class.
Looking for consistent updates on Ohio State's 2014 commits and targets? Find all the news and analysis on the Buckeyes' recruiting efforts—all the way up to national signing day—right here.
All recruit rankings and stats per 247Sports.com.
For additional updates, follow David Regimbal on Twitter.
Update: Jamarco Jones, Ohio State's top-ranked offensive line commit, visited Michigan State last weekend, as previously reported.
Good news for Buckeyes fans—Jones didn't flip his commitment on the trip, so Meyer just needs to hold on for two more days.
Update: Urban Meyer and Luke Fickell paid a visit to Kyle Berger and his family on Monday. According to Berger's Twitter account, Meyer is quite the ping pong player.
Recruiting is weird.
Update: Meyer visited with 5-star defensive end Malik McDowell on Monday, and according to 247 Sports, the Detroit product will visit Ohio State on January 31.
This doesn't appear to be a courtesy visit. Via 247 Sports' Crystal Ball feature, the Spartans are trending for Jones.
Update: Four-star guard and Ohio State commit Demetrius Knox has scheduled a visit to UCLA for January 31. A number of Buckeyes coaches were in Forth Worth, Texas to visit with Knox on Wednesday, and offensive coordinator Tom Herman not-so-cryptically tweeted confidence about their situation.
Update: Despite already having five receivers committed, Urban Meyer isn't done stockpiling depth for the position. According to Ari Wasserman of The Plain Dealer, Ohio State has offered 3-star receiver David Njoku out of Cedar Grove, N.J.
The Buckeyes wanted five offensive linemen in this year's class, and with Taylor's commitment, they've hit that number.
Update: The Buckeyes already have five receivers in the fold, but Urban Meyer was still recruiting 4-star prospect Trevion Thompson out of Durham, N.C. On Sunday night, Thompson ended his recruitment by committing to Clemson.
Update: Days after de-committing from Nebraska and opening his recruitment back up, 3-star defensive end Darius Slade, who was showing interest in the Buckeyes, has committed to Michigan State.
Update: Following the end of the recruiting "dead period," Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes staff hit the road to visit their top remaining targets. Most notably, tight ends coach Tim Hinton stopped in at 4-star Mike Gesicki's basketball game last night.
"I like the people at OSU, but I'm still committed to Penn St. Just trying to get a feel for where that program (PSU) is heading."
Update: According to Adam Friedman of Rivals, Ohio State sent out an offer to 3-star defensive end Darius Slade, who recently de-committed from Nebraska. Via his 247 Sports profile, Meyer and Ed Warriner made the offer during a face-to-face visit on January 16.
Update: The Buckeyes want one more offensive lineman for this year's class, and Meyer has targets a local product.
Brady Taylor, a 3-star offensive tackle who is currently committed to Virginia Tech, recently received an Ohio State offer. The 6'5", 276-pound offensive tackle is from Columbus, Ohio and is scheduled to visit the Buckeyes' campus on January 17.
Update: Dante Booker, Ohio State's 4-star linebacker commit, looked good in practice leading up to the US Army All-American Bowl. 247 Sports' JC Shurburtt says Booker looked the part, and his length and athleticism was showcased in San Antonio.
Update: With the commitments of 5-star linebacker Raekwon McMillan and 4-star wide receiver Johnnie Dixon, Ohio State has moved ahead of Miami, Texas A&M and Tennessee to claim the No. 2 spot in the 247Sports composite class ranking. Alabama, with 23 total commits, remains at No. 1.
Ohio State has 19 recruits in the fold, including one 5-star and 13 4-star prospects. With departing seniors and players leaving early for the NFL, the Buckeyes have five or six scholarships remaining in the 2014 recruiting cycle.
Stephen Collier: 3-star dual-threat QB, 6'4", 208 pounds, Leesburg, Ga.
2013 stats: 146-of-304, 2300 YDS, 24 TDs, 12 INTs, 163 CAR, 1,021 YDS, 20 TDs
After Ohio State missed out on their initial quarterback targets—Deshaun Watson and Kyle Allen—Urban Meyer focused his attention on Collier. The little-known, dual-threat quarterback had offers from programs such as Cincinnati and Boston College, but his impressive showings at summer camps, including an invite to the Elite 11 finals, piqued Meyer's interest.
After the Buckeyes' coaching staff got a firsthand look at Collier during a Columbus summer camp, offensive coordinator Tom Herman extended him an offer. Collier accepted that offer immediately, according to Tim May of The Columbus Dispatch.
Curtis Samuel: 4-star athlete, 6'0", 185 pounds, Brooklyn, N.Y.
2013 stats: 91 CAR, 1,047 YDS, 13 TDs, 12 REC, 187 YDS, 3 TDs
Ohio State has more depth at running back than any other position on offense, so Urban Meyer doesn't have a pressing need here. Samuel, though, is a special talent who surged during summer camps. He has speed—he runs a 4.36 40-yard dash, according to 247Sports—and his versatility makes him a great candidate to play the flex position Dontre Wilson featured this year.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
David Njoku: 3-star wide receiver, 6'4", 220 pounds, Cedar Grove, N.J.
2013 stats: 39 CAR, 334 YDS, 6 TDs, 40 REC, 981 YDS, 11 TDs
Johnnie Dixon: 4-star wide receiver, 5'10", 187 pounds, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
2013 stats: 6 CAR, 94 YDS, 33 REC, 610 YDS, 6 TDs
Noah Brown: 4-star wide receiver, 6'2", 212 pounds, Sparta, N.J.
2013 stats: 98 CAR, 847 YDS, 14 TDs, 41 REC, 630 YDS, 6 TDs
Terry McLaurin: 4-star wide receiver, 6'0", 190 pounds, Indianapolis
2013 stats: 77 CAR, 750 YDS, 6 TDs, 58 REC, 953 YDS, 8 TDs
Parris Campbell: 4-star wide receiver, 6'0", 184 pounds, Akron, Ohio
Malik Hooker: 3-star wide receiver, 6'2", 185 pounds, New Castle, Pa.
With Johnnie Dixon's recent commitment, it's hard to imagine Thompson signing with the Buckeyes. But with five receivers already committed, Ohio State has a strong group coming to Columbus.
When Urban Meyer first arrived at Ohio State, he described the Buckeyes receiving core as a "clown show," according to Tim May of The Columbus Dispatch. It's clear Meyer is working hard to stockpile talent. When you couple the five prospects Ohio State has committed this year with the four 4-star receivers Meyer signed last year, the position is now primed to be a point of strength in the future.
Considering how dependent Meyer's offense is on creating space, the Buckeyes can't have enough playmakers.
Roderick Johnson: 4-star offensive tackle, 6'6", 315 pounds, Florissant, Mo.
Ka'John Armstrong: 3-star offensive tackle, 6'5", 270 pounds, Detroit
Jamarco Jones: 4-star offensive tackle, 6'5", 290 pounds, Chicago
Demetrius Knox: 4-star offensive guard, 6'4", 294 pounds, Fort Worth, Texas
Kyle Trout: 4-star offensive tackle, 6'6", 300 pounds, Lancaster, Ohio
Marcelys Jones: 3-star offensive guard, 6'5", 325 pounds, Cleveland, Ohio
Brad Taylor: 3-star offensive tackle, 6'5", 276 pounds, Columbus, Ohio
Building depth along the offensive line was Ohio State's top priority with this recruiting class. These five commitments have Urban Meyer well on his way.
Ohio State wanted five offensive linemen in this year's class, and when Taylor flipped his commitment from Virginia Tech to the Buckeyes, Meyer hit that number. It would be a surprise if any more linemen commit, but Ohio State still has some very talented big men on its board.
Malik McDowell: 4-star defensive end, 6'7", 290 pounds, Detroit
2013 stats: 89 TCK, 7 SCK, 3 FF
Derrick Nnadi: 4-star defensive tackle, 6'1", 305 pounds, Virginia Beach, Va.
Jalyn Holmes: 4-star defensive end, 6'5", 225 pounds, Norfolk, Va.
Dylan Thompson: 3-star defensive end, 6'5", 260 pounds, Lombard, Ill.
2013 stats: 65 TCK, 35 TFL, 17 SCK
Thanks to Urban Meyer's strong recruiting efforts over the last two years, Ohio State is absolutely loaded with young talent along the defensive line. That hasn't stopped the Buckeyes from bringing in some top talent this year, though.
The Buckeyes have two tremendous pass-rushers coming in with Holmes and Thompson, but Meyer is closing in on Thomas, an outstanding prospect from the talent-rich state of Texas. The 5-star recruit is a Stanford lean, but the Buckeyes are going all in. McDowell will also be tough to land with Michigan in the lead.
With Ohio State's depth along the line, it won't be a crushing blow to miss on these two targets.
Raekwon McMillan: 5-star linebacker, 6'2", 242 pounds, Hinesville, Ga.
2013 stats: 158 TCK, 35 TFL, 8.5 SCK, 1 INT, 1 FF
Dante Booker: 4-star linebacker, 6'3", 212 pounds, Akron, Ohio
2013 stats: 116 TCK, 2 INTs
Sam Hubbard: 4-star linebacker, 6'6", 225 pounds, Cincinnati
2013 stats: 110 TCK, 5 INTs
Kyle Berger: 4-star linebacker, 6'3", 215 pounds, Cleveland, Ohio
Ohio State desperately needed to add depth at the linebacker position. Urban Meyer responded with what will likely end up as the most impressive group of linebackers in the country.
The trio of 4-star Ohio products—Booker, Hubbard and Berger—would have been a sufficient haul. Meyer put the cherry on top when he sealed McMillan, who had offers from schools such as Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia and USC.
The Buckeyes weren't particularly strong at linebacker this year, and with Ryan Shazier likely headed to the NFL, Meyer will need a lot of options in 2014. These four commits ensure he will have those options.
John "JuJu" Smith: 5-star safety, 6'1", 200 pounds, Long Beach, Calif.
2013 stats: 51 TCK, 6 INTs
Damon Webb: 4-star cornerback, 5'11", 180 pounds, Detroit
2013 stats: 42 TCK, 8 INTs, 14 PBU
Marshon Lattimore: 4-star cornerback, 6'0", 175 pounds, Cleveland, Ohio
Erick Smith: 4-star safety, 6'1", 185 pounds, Cleveland Ohio
Of all the position groups, defensive back is where Ohio State has the most work to do. Fortunately for Meyer and the Buckeyes, four of the hottest prospects are still on their board.
Five-star prospects Brown and Smith are, in short, long shots. Brown is a heavy LSU lean, while Smith is likely to land at USC or Notre Dame.
The other pair, Lattimore and Smith, hail from Glenville High School in Cleveland, which is Ohio State's biggest in-state recruiting pipeline. The Buckeyes already have one Glenville pledge in offensive lineman Marcelys Jones, but Meyer is hoping to hold off Alabama to land all three.
Ohio State is losing three of its four starters in the defensive backfield, and depth is a big issue. The Buckeyes need to bring in at least two more prospects before signing day.
Sean Nuernberger: 3-star kicker, 6'2", 220 pounds, Buckner, Ky.
Ohio State is set at punter for the foreseeable future with first-year Australian Cameron Johnston already in Columbus, and with Nuernberger in the fold, Meyer has two promising talents on special teams.
The Buckeyes will have a void at kicker with senior Drew Basil set to graduate, so Nuernberger's commitment was key. Urban Meyer places a huge importance on special teams, and Nuernberger will be a big part of that in the future.
On the other side, Noah Brown could make an early impact returning kicks. The 6'2", 212-pound playmaker returned four kicks for a touchdown during his senior season, according to 247 Sports.