Ohio State Football: Analyzing Buckeyes' Top 5 2015 Recruiting Targets
Urban Meyer is widely considered one of college football's best recruiters, but what sets him apart isn't his ability to sign blue-chip prospects—it's that he finds the ones who perfectly fit his system.
Meyer wants tough, smart and angry football players. He wants his team to play with an edge, and building that starts on the recruiting trail by identifying the right players.
Ohio State is recruiting some of the country's top talent for its 2015 recruiting class, and although just three players have committed so far, Meyer has the Buckeyes primed for a strong finish.
Here's a quick look at some of Ohio State's top targets.
Building depth along the offensive line was Ohio State's top priority during last year's recruiting cycle. Urban Meyer came through for the Buckeyes in a big way, bringing in five players to fuel the unit, highlighted by 4-star offensive tackle Jamarco Jones.
Ohio State wants to stockpile talent up front, though, and that's why Drew Richmond is such a huge target—literally and figuratively.
The 6'5", 320-pound mauler is physical in run blocking and has quick feet that help him excel in pass protection. The Memphis, Tennessee product has offers from schools such as Alabama, Auburn, LSU and Oklahoma, but according to 247 Sports' Crystal Ball predictions, it will likely come down to Ohio State and Tennessee.
Tough between the tackles. Agile enough to make defenders miss. Speed to break away.
These are three qualities that Urban Meyer loves in his running backs—and 5-star running back Damien Harris has them all.
The 5'11", 205-pound blazer from Berea, Ky., ran for 2,621 yards and 42 touchdowns during his junior season. That production came from just 220 carries, giving Harris an 11.9 yards-per-carry average.
Harris would be a perfect fit for Meyer's offense at Ohio State. His ability to lower a shoulder and go through a defender proves he can get the tough yards, but he also has the kind of speed that would be a nightmare for defenses to contain, especially on the perimeter or once he reaches the second level.
Harris is rated the No. 1 running back and the No. 23 prospect overall. He has offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida and Michigan, but the Buckeyes currently lead for his services.
There are few prospects more versatile in the country than Benedictine High School's Jerome Baker.
A Cleveland, Ohio product, Baker plays both sides of the ball at the high school level. He's a punishing running back on offense who thrives after first contact, but on defense, he's one of the nation's top ball-hawking outside linebackers.
Not only is he incredibly physical and aggressive against the run, he has the speed and instincts to make a huge impact in pass coverage. He breaks on the ball very well and has much better hands than his positions would suggest.
Baker has offers from Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Michigan and Notre Dame, but according to 247 Sports' Crystal Ball, the Buckeyes are a unanimous favorite.
Urban Meyer's recruiting strategy at Ohio State has been to sign the state's top talent, then go out and cherry pick elite recruits from every corner of the country.
For that to happen this year, the Buckeyes will have to land Justin Hilliard.
Hilliard is the kind of fast, instinctive outside linebacker that thrives in the SEC year after year. He's comfortable in blitz formations—he recorded seven sacks his sophomore season—but he also has the ability to drop back in coverage and support the run.
Pairing Hilliard with 5-star linebacker Raekwon McMillan, who was a part of Ohio State's 2014 class, would be a scary prospect for future opponents.
Ohio State got good news this week when 3-star quarterback Joe Burrow became the third member of its 2015 recruiting class.
His commitment, though, won't stop Urban Meyer from recruiting Torrance Gibson.
The 5-star quarterback is the perfect combination of size and speed for Meyer's spread offense. At 6'4" and 205 pounds, Gibson runs a 4.5-second 40-yard dash, and he's very comfortable running the zone read.
Gibson threw for 1,789 yards and 19 touchdowns (against just three interceptions) while rushing for 1,063 yards and 10 touchdowns his junior season. Schools such as Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, LSU, Florida State, Notre Dame and Oklahoma are recruiting the speedy quarterback out of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
All recruiting information via 247Sports.
David Regimbal is the lead Ohio State football writer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.
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