National signing day is just over a week away, and at Ohio State that means shoring up one of the nation's best recruiting classes.
Unlike years past, this national signing day could very well be a quiet one in Columbus, Ohio, though. Ohio State has room for only 24 players in this class and at last count it currently has 22 verbal commitments.
That means a relatively quiet national signing day could be coming to Columbus for the first time in a long time. However, it doesn't mean Ohio State and Urban Meyer don't have some work left to do to make this No. 2-ranked class just that when it's all said and done.
What does Meyer have left to do with just two spots open in this class? Let's take a look at his to-do list before national signing day.
1. Secure Jamarco Jones
It's been well documented that Ohio State is losing four of its five starters on the offensive line, so the Buckeyes need to not only find new starters, but also find some quality depth on the O-line in this class.
Enter 247sports composite 4-star offensive lineman Jamarco Jones, who is ranked as the No. 4 offensive tackle and No. 58-ranked overall player in the 2014 class.
He's been a verbal commit to the Buckeyes since the summer, yet his commitment appears far from a given as we speed toward national signing day.
According to a report by Steve Wiltfong of 247sports, Jones will take an official visit to Michigan State this weekend (subscription required).
Normally that isn't good news for the school that athlete is committed to. Taking visits this late means there is doubt in the player's mind.
For Ohio State, Jones is the cornerstone of the offensive line class it is putting together. OSU has four offensive linemen in this class, and all but one are 4-star players, according to 247sports composite rankings.
Losing the 4-star O-lineman would be a blow to a class looking to finish as one of the nation's best.
2. Land Malik McDowell
There is but one big fish that Ohio State is still looking to land, and that's uncommitted 247sports composite 5-star strong-side defensive end Malik McDowell. The overwhelming prediction for his commitment, according to the 247sports Crystal Ball, is for Michigan State. However, it appears Ohio State isn't going down without a fight.
Steve Wiltfong of 247sports reported that Urban Meyer is doing his best to secure the final of McDowell's five visits for this weekend.
Landing McDowell would put this class way over the top, and securing that final visit may be a good indication of where McDowell is leaning. It's been a hard recruitment to figure out because McDowell and his family have been pretty tight-lipped throughout the process.
Previous to this weekend, McDowell has taken official visits to Michigan State, Michigan, Florida and Florida State—so getting that final visit is important to stay in the race for his services.
While McDowell choosing another school wouldn't make or break OSU's class, finishing with the No. 2-ranked strong-side defensive end would be some great icing on the cake.
3. Get Momentum Building for 2015
With just a few spots left and really only one big-name player on Ohio State's board, it will be important for Meyer and his staff to really start building for the 2015 class.
On the defensive side of the ball it is going to be very important for Larry Johnson and Chris Ash, the two newest additions to the staff, to hit the ground running for the next class.
Johnson's ability to hit the ground running for 2015 is more important, given his mid-Atlantic recruiting ties and James Franklin adding even more competitiveness to an already difficult region to recruit in.
However, Ash needs to continue to maintain the relationships he built while recruiting in the Midwest at Wisconsin. There have been suggestions that Ash's strong suit isn't recruiting, but one of his former bosses, Dan McCarney, doesn't see it that way, according to Bill Rabinowitz of the Columbus Dispatch.
He’s got it all. He’s got talent. He’s a great teacher. He’s a mentor, he’s a coach. He’s a helluva recruiter. He has a lot of fun with his players and yet he’s going to set high standards and demands on that defense to make sure they can be as good as it can be. He’s not going to accept anything less than their best.
With the 2014 class all but set, those two can really get going on 2015, and getting an early start at a place like Ohio State is a huge advantage.
For Ash, that means also reaching out to the two committed players in that class, Eric Glover-Williams and Jamel Dean. Both are 4-star cornerbacks, and they'll have Ash as their direct position coach, so that relationship needs to develop quickly.
Recruiting has a funny way of snowballing, and when one player commits there tends to be more that follow in quick succession. Getting that going for the 2015 class heading into this national signing day would be very nice.
Ohio State is in a great position to have the luxury of putting more resources than most in to the 2015 class heading in to the 2014 national signing day. Will it pay off is the question.
*Andy Coppens is the Big Ten lead writer. You can follow him on Twitter: @ andycoppens.
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