Drew Thurman (4:53 pm)
While the SEC and Big 12 fans get the pleasure of watching two more weeks of conference football, the Big 10 is already done and has already handed out its awards. This means my attention is now once again focused on the Buckeyes 2009 recruiting class. The class filled up extremely early, but there has not been a lot of news during the actual regular season. The Buckeyes still have needs though, and closing out this class is going to be very important. Let's take a look:
The big fear with early commitments is always the chance that they will change their mind before National Signing Day arrives. I for one wish college football would institute an early signing period like in basketball, but since there is not, it will be important for the Buckeyes to hang on to its early commitments. Rumors have already been circulating about Jamaal Berry and James Jackson. Bill Kurelic over at Bucknuts has interviewed both of these young men, and both have made it clear that they are all Buckeye at this point. In fact Berry was in town for the Ohio State-Michigan game and gave the trip a perfect 10. The rumors about him are probably not going to end any time soon though, as he takes visits to both Ole Miss and Florida.
The man I have heard little about though is Louisville native, Justin Green. I have several friends from the Kentucky area that continually talk about Justin Green taking other visits and decommitting. Obviously rumors and nothing more than rumors until facts come out, but I think Green is someone to watch down the stretch. With the decommitment of Darrell Givens early in the year and the recent Bradley McDougald departure, Green is an important guy to bring in this year.
The Buckeyes 24 commitments are all very important, but there are still some needs that need to be met in filling this class. Lucky for the Buckeyes there are still some big names out there to pull in.
Offensive Line -
The first area of importance is the offensive line. I realize that the Buckeyes pulled in an outstanding offensive line class last year and have commitments from Corey Linsley, Sam Longo, and Jack Mewhort this season, but this is still a position of high need. Offensive linemen are always in high demand, and our offensive line didn't really look all that great this year.
It is going to be very important to pick up a couple of more commitments here if possible, especially someone who can play tackle. Marcus Hall (pictured above) is a guy that would be huge to pull in with this class. Browning to me is not a true offensive tackle, and I personally feel it would help the line if he moved inside and let Shugarts, Adams, and hopefully Hall fight for those starting tackle spots. Hall is not going to be easy to get though, even though he is from the "Glenville pipeline." Cordale Scott showed last season that he was willing to bypass the Buckeyes, and Hall is making it very clear he is going to take all of his visits!
Another guy that could help the offensive line is John Martinez of Salt lake City, Utah. Martinez is a true guard and not a tackle, but is way to talented to let slip by in my opinion. He he still waiting for a Buckeye offer, but he if eventually gets one, it is a very real possibility he could head the Buckeyes way. Can you imagine what our offensive line could look like after the '08 and '09 classes?
Tight End -
The tight end position is something the Buckeyes always seem to be in need of. The Buckeyes did bring in Nic DiLillo in '08 and already have Reid Fragel committed in this class, but neither of these young men seem like serious receivers to me. I realize the Buckeyes do not throw to the tight ends near enough, but both Nicol and Ballard have caught some important passes in their careers. So it would be very nice if the Buckeyes could pull in another tight end.
Ra'Shede Hageman, the Buckeyes best prospect, committed to Minnesota in lieu of blocking more than catching at Ohio State. That leaves the options pretty limited at this point, but the Buckeyes are looking at Dion Sims. He is from St. Mary's Preparatory School in Orchard Lake, Michigan, the same school as Aaron Gant and Taurian Washington. This may help sway his decision some, but the Buckeyes are going to have a hard time pulling in an athletic tight end like Sims.
Defensive Tackle -
I think everyone knows the struggles the Buckeyes have had at defensive tackle this season. There already are two commitments from Adam Bellamy and Johnny Simon, but there is still a need for another. Unfortunately I have not gotten up to see Simon play, but there have been numerous reports that he has been disappointing this season. Simon like Buckeye Mike Kudla is an absolute beast in the weight room, but it has yet to be seen how well that translates to the field. In fact, Kudla was quite disappointing himself until his senior season.
This makes it important that the Buckeyes try and nab Corey Adams from Scottsdale, Arizona. Adams has quite a bit more weight on his frame, and I feel could have a more immediate impact. Pulling him away from a Pac-10 school is going to be tough, even though Adams likes the Buckeyes. There is a lot of time left though, and the Buckeyes still have a real shot!
Other big acquisition names: S Frankie Telfort; WR Marlon Brown
After the transfers from Schoenhoft and Henton, and the departure of Todd Boeckman this year, the Buckeyes are going to be super thin at quarterback next season. Having just two scholarship quarterbacks (Pryor and Bauserman) just does not seem as if it will be enough. I personally feel the Buckeyes need to grab someone in the 2009 class. Obviously it would be awesome if Kevin Newsome was that someone, but it looks as if his ship might have sailed. I am not saying that there is not a chance, but his backing out of the visit this last weekend might be an indicator.
Outside of Newsome the Buckeyes will probably have to settle for someone, rather than get a futher starter. The most obvious guys to keep an eye on if this happens are Terrance Owens and Devontae Payne. Of the two it will probably be Owens that gets an offer first because of his speed and the fact he comes from Glenville. I really honestly could see Owens slipping in as one of the last commitments in this class if Newsome does indeed look elsewhere.
Filling up the scholarships:
Tressel and the staff have been great at filling the last few spots in classes with quality players. The staff was criticized for a lot of these players by fans, but many of them have turned out to be real stars. Guys like Donald Washington, Brian Robiskie, and Jermale Hines were late pick ups by the Buckeyes. So if the Buckeyes miss on some of the bigger names on their radar (which is a real possibility), who then gets the offered?
Well, first hopefully is cornerback Mike Edwards. The Glenville native has some incredible speed, and I really hope the staff offers soon rather than later. He already has offers from Michigan, Michigan State, and West Virginia just to name a few.
Outside of Edwards your guess is as good as mine. Last year no one thought guys like Zach Domicone or Orhian Johnson would ever be wearing scarlet and gray. So I can pretty much guarantee that someone will suprise us in the class!