RISING STARS: WHICH RECRUITS WILL HAVE THE BIGGEST IMPACT ON OFFENSE IN 2014?

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It’s hard to believe that the start of the 2014 college football season is less than two weeks away. The 2013 season didn’t end the way Urban Meyer and the Ohio State faithful envisioned, but 24 straight wins to start Meyer’s tenure at Ohio State is remarkable. What makes this feat even more astonishing is that Meyer did this with only one full recruiting class of his own. It’s no secret that Urban Meyer is among the best recruiters in the nation. In his two seasons at Ohio State, Meyer has signed two consensus top three recruiting classes. If that’s not impressive enough, when Meyer accepted the head coaching position at Ohio State he transformed their 2012 class into a top five class, nationally, in just over two months!

Ohio State has been fortunate this off-season. Their off-field issues, injuries, and transfer requests have been manageable, thus far, and all 23 players in their 2014 class enrolled successfully. Anything can happen in two weeks, but for the most part, Ohio State’s roster is solidified. It’s always fun to follow the players throughout their recruiting process, but as you know, it’s not always the blue-chip recruits who have illustrious collegiate careers. This is a great time to evaluate the incoming freshman class and project what their contributions will be in year one. In part one of this two part series we will focus on the offensive side of the ball.

 

Marcelys Jones – 6-4, 345 lbs – OL – Cleveland Glenville HS (OH) – Committed 12/25/2012

The first commitment of Ohio State’s 2014 recruiting class, Marcelys Jones, always had an idea that he wanted to be a Buckeye. Playing at Cleveland Glenville you are almost expected to suit up in the Scarlet and Gray, if given the opportunity. Jones held offers from elite programs such as Alabama and Florida State but his first scholarship offer was given to him by The Ohio State University. Although Jones committed early to Ohio State, his recruitment was far from over. In the months leading up to National Signing Day, many felt that Jones would flip his commitment to Kentucky or Alabama. With Buckeye fans holding their breath, Jones decided to sign his letter of intent with Ohio State on National Signing Day. Despite his impressive offer list and an invitation to play in the Army All American Game, Jones was not ranked in the Rivals 300 or 247’s top 247, although both services had him ranked as a 4-star prospect.

Jones decided to take advantage of the opportunity to enroll early at Ohio State and has earned valuable reps throughout the off-season. His decision to enroll early gave him an enormous head start over his classmates, but I still feel confident that Marcelys will redshirt in his first season at Ohio State. I do not see him breaking the two-deep as a freshman so it would not make sense to waste a year of eligibility. I expect Jones to be the next great offensive lineman to come out of Glenville once he becomes acclimated to Ohio State’s offense.

 

Kyle Trout – 6-6, 300 lbs – OL – Lancaster HS (OH) – Committed 2/10/2013

Urban Meyer stressed that his primary focus for the 2014 recruiting class would be the offensive line and his first two commitments on the offensive side of the ball proved that statement to be true. Meyer followed up Marcelys Jones’ commitment with a pledge from offensive lineman Kyle Trout. Trout flew under the radar as most recruiting services didn’t have him ranked at the time of his commitment. Kyle grew up rooting for the Buckeyes and wasted little time committing after receiving his offer from Ohio State. His pledge sparked commitments from Parris Campbell and Lawrence Marshall (now with TTUN) on the same day. Trout later participated at The Opening, sponsored by Nike, and was soon rated as a consensus 4-star prospect by the three major recruiting sites. Trout could easily be the most under-appreciated, over-looked player in Ohio State’s 2014 recruiting class.

Kyle decided to enroll early at Ohio State in order to gain a leg up on the competition. People close to the program say that Trout is the type of player who will outwork anyone. In addition to his strong work ethic, he is extremely athletic. I am confident that Trout will be a difference maker for Ohio State at some point in his career, but it won’t be as a true freshman. I expect him to redshirt this year and compete for a starting role in 2015.

 

Parris Campbell – 6-1, 188lbs – WR – Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary (OH) – Committed 2/10/2013

Sunday, February 10, 2013 proved to be a very important day for Ohio State football as two of the most intriguing prospects in the 2014 recruiting class decided to commit to the Buckeyes. Parris Campbell followed Kyle Trout’s lead and gave Urban Meyer a verbal commitment to play football at Ohio State. Campbell is one of the fastest players in the country and had the opportunity to showcase his speed at The Opening on national television. Campbell holds the Ohio high school record for the 60 yard dash with a time of 6.8 seconds. What makes these accomplishments even more incredible is that he graduated high school at 16 years old. Campbell is a consensus 4-star prospect but 247sports has him ranked significantly higher than any other service at #129. Campbell stole Urban Meyer’s attention at the 2012 State Championship game where Meyer was in attendance to observe Campbell’s teammate, Dante Booker. Campbell rushed for 168 yards and 3 touchdowns on only 14 carries in that game and the rest is history. Meyer asked Parris to take an official visit to Ohio State where Meyer extended a scholarship offer and Campbell committed on the spot. Other programs actually held off on offering Campbell because he was so adamant about playing for the Ohio State Buckeyes. It’s hard not to root for a guy like Campbell.

I fully expect Parris Campbell to contribute as a true freshman barring any setbacks. Campbell will start his career at Ohio State as a WR but will also be used out of the backfield. He will also be utilized on special teams throughout his career at Ohio State. Campbell has what it takes to be a future All American.

 

Stephen Collier – 6-3, 215 lbs – QB – Lee County HS (GA) – Committed 6/21/2013

Stephen Collier is my favorite player in the 2014 recruiting class. He has never received any attention from the national recruiting services, despite being invited to the Elite 11 finals and he is perfectly fine with the lack of publicity. He could not be any happier to be an Ohio State Buckeye regardless of what the future holds. He is the type of player you want to represent Ohio State. He comes from a great family who puts academics first as demonstrated by his 4.0 GPA in high school. There will be a tremendous amount of competition at quarterback over the next few years so it is difficult to predict Collier’s success but he is definitely a leader. Recruiting rankings are generally blown out of proportion and fans should trust their coach’s evaluation but it is strange that Collier’s offer list never expanded and his rating never improved after being offered by Ohio State and participating in the Elite 11. Collier was a phenomenal high school quarterback who threw for 2,291 yards with 24 touchdowns and rushed for an additional 1,021 yards and 20 touchdowns his senior year.

Collier enrolled early at Ohio State in hopes of breaking the two-deep rotation at quarterback. If there was ever a year that a young guy like Collier could back up Miller it would be 2014. Ohio State’s backup quarterback situation is dismal but it doesn’t seem like Collier did enough throughout the offseason to solidify the #2 spot. I am confident that Collier redshirts this year as a true freshman.

 

Terry McLaurin – 6-0, 184 lbs – WR – Cathedral High School (IN) – Committed 6/23/2013

Terry McLaurin is another example of someone who you would like to see represent Ohio State. He is a humble, well-spoken guy who gets it done on the football field. He took the recruiting nation by storm at The Opening last year, when he finished #2 in the overall competition. McLaurin showed off his 42.1 inch vertical and 4.37 second forty yard dash. His 1,697 yards and 16 touchdowns (combined) his senior year were good enough to earn him the coveted Mr. Football award in the state of Indiana. McLaurin’s offer list is modest despite being a consensus 4-star prospect. He is another recruit who virtually committed on the spot after being offered by the Buckeyes.

McLaurin is a player who I haven’t heard too much about as of late, but I have been impressed by everything I have seen thus far. I tend to believe that he will see the field as a true freshman but a redshirt wouldn’t surprise me either. His speed and athleticism will make it hard for
Meyer to keep him off the field. McLaurin has the potential to do great things in his four years at Ohio State.

 

Jamarco Jones – 6-4, 306 lbs – OL – Chicago De La Salle HS (IL) – Committed 6/27/2013

Ohio State fans were left holding their breath from Jamarco Jones’ commitment ceremony in June through National Signing Day in February of the following year. Jones picked the Buckeyes over Michigan State but Dantonio’s staff kept fighting until Jamarco signed on the dotted line. Jones, a consensus top 100 player, held offers from virtually every program in the country, was named the MVP of the Core 6 camp, and started at RT in the Under Armour All American Game. Jamarco’s accolades paired with Ohio State’s need at offensive line demonstrate why Jones was one of the most important players in this 2014 recruiting class. Coaches sat on pins and needles when Jones decided to take an official visit to Michigan State one week prior to National Signing Day. Luckily for Ohio State, Jones reaffirmed his commitment to Urban Meyer following his visit to East Lansing.

I am fairly confident that Jones will progress into a future All-Big Ten selection at OT but I don’t see him contributing as a true freshman. It is extremely difficult to come into a program like Ohio State and contribute at offensive line as a true freshman, especially without enrolling early. Barring a catastrophic string of injuries along the offensive front, I fully expect Jamarco Jones to redshirt this year.

 

Demetrius Knox – 6-3, 302 lbs – OL – All Saints Episcopal HS (TX) – Committed 7/28/2013

Fresh off of an unofficial visit to Ohio State, Demetrius Knox opened his recruitment on April 22, 2013 when he decommitted from the University of Texas. Ohio State was always considered a heavy favorite in Knox’s recruitment due to his family ties to Columbus and his childhood dream of dawning the Scarlet and Gray. Knox hinted at the idea of committing to the Buckeyes but most analysts expected him to drag the process out to National Signing Day. Unexpectedly, on July 28, 2013, Knox committed to Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes. Meyer was well on his way to signing the nation’s top offensive line class. Considered the top OG in the country by many analysts, Knox’s offer list is as impressive as I’ve seen. He competed at The Opening and US Army All American Game. Knox flirted with the idea of visiting UCLA prior to National Signing Day but decided to stick with the Buckeyes.

Several OSU insiders feel confident that Knox sees the field as a true freshman but I tend to disagree. Knox decided not to enroll early and I don’t think he has had enough time to become acclimated to Ohio State’s offense. I know Knox will have an incredible career in Columbus but I don’t see any true freshmen contributing along the offensive line this season.

 

Curtis Samuel – 5-11, 190 lbs – RB – Erasmus Hall HS (NY) – Committed 8/16/2013

Curtis Samuel, a consensus top 50 prospect, is the most electrifying player in Ohio State’s 2014 recruiting class. Samuel’s recruitment got off to a slow start with many analysts left wondering why Urban Meyer hadn’t offered him yet. Once Meyer started communicating with Samuel, Ohio State was considered the team to beat. Samuel’s high school coach, Danny Landberg, deserves as much credit as anyone for Samuel committing to the Buckeyes, as he felt Meyer’s system was almost identical to the offense that Samuel ran in high school. Samuel rushed for 1,461 yards and 17 touchdowns (21 total) on only 92 carries (15.9 ypc) in his senior year of high school which was good enough to earn him the Gatorade Player of the Year award for the state of New York. Samuel showed off his 4.36 second forty yard dash and 40.7 inch vertical at The Opening and participated in the Army All American Game.

I have always felt that Curtis Samuel would be the most impactful incoming freshman at Ohio State in 2014 and his decision to enroll early solidified my opinion. Samuel will play the same role that Dontre Wilson played last year, only this year there is no Carlos Hyde so I fully expect Samuel to carry a heavier load. He will back up Ezekiel Elliott but will have specific formations molded around him due to his speed and elusiveness. If the thought of Wilson, Elliott, and Samuel on the field together doesn’t get your blood pumping, you need to check your pulse.

 

Noah Brown – 6-1, 244 lbs – WR – Pope John XXIII HS (NJ) – Committed 9/9/2013

Yes, you read that correctly – 6-1, 244 lb WR! That’s bigger than David Boston in his prime. Noah Brown also has the best hands in this 2014 class. Did I mention that he runs a 4.4 second forty? He has to be the most overlooked offensive weapon in this class. Brown, a consensus 4-star prospect, racked up 1,301 all-purpose yards and 19 touchdowns in his senior year of high school. Despite a hefty offer list and a great senior season, Brown was not invited to the Army or Under Armour All-American Games. He was considered an Ohio State lean for the majority of his recruitment but many analysts were unsure whether Ohio State would accept his commitment. Those questions were answered on September 9, 2013 when Noah Brown gave his verbal commitment to Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Noah Brown has benefitted from Mickey Marotti’s strength and conditioning regime more than anyone else in this class. He put on 35 pounds of muscle in the off-season which will drastically increase his chances of playing early. Everyone knows that Meyer loves the smaller, quick receivers like Dontre Wilson but people seem to forget that Percy Harvin was one of the strongest players on Meyer’s Florida squad. It’s hard to imagine a 185 pound cornerback playing press coverage against a 244 pound receiver like Brown. Brown will find the field this year if he is anywhere close to being ready. He is too unique of a weapon to be redshirted.

 

Johnnie Dixon – 5-11, 198 lbs – WR – Dwyer HS (FL) – Committed 12/17/2013

Johnnie Dixon’s commitment to Ohio State exemplifies why Urban Meyer is deemed “The Closer”. A day after pulling 5-star LB Raekwon McMillan out of the heart of SEC country, Meyer landed a commitment from Johnnie Dixon, a 4-star WR from Florida with offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Florida, and Notre Dame, just to name a few. Dixon participated in The Opening, Army All American Game, and won a state championship prior to enrolling early at Ohio State. He is a humble guy who will represent the program well.

Dixon’s decision to enroll early will certainly help his chances of earning playing time as a true freshman. All signs point to Dixon contributing early and often and a redshirt seems highly unlikely. The competition at WR will be stiff but he seems to have what it takes to become Urban Meyer’s next great WR. Dixon is unique because he’s unlike Meyer’s infamous “Percy Harvin” type WRs. Johnny Dixon is a traditional WR who will line up wide at the X spot.

 

Brady Taylor – 6-5, 293 lbs – OL – Bishop Ready HS (OH) – Committed 1/20/2014

I have always said that I prefer players who WANT to play for Ohio State and no one wants to play for Ohio State more than Brady Taylor. He spent his childhood dreaming of playing for the Ohio State Buckeyes but was unable to earn a scholarship offer from their coaching staff. With other prestigious programs pursuing Taylor’s services, he decided to commit to Virginia Tech on July 29, 2013. His pledge to the Hokies remained strong but he still dreamt of receiving an offer from Ohio State. Finally, on January 12, 2013 he received the offer that he had been waiting his entire life to receive. Taylor took a week to speak with his family and the Virginia Tech coaches and decided to flip his pledge to Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes.

As one of the lower ranked prospects in this class, Taylor has a chip on his shoulder. The Ohio State coaching staff has raved about Taylor’s work ethic and progress thus far and he could easily be the diamond in the rough in the 2014 class. I am excited to watch the competition between Taylor, Trout, Knox, Jamarco Jones, and Marcelys Jones. They all have a tremendous amount of potential, now we can wait and see who makes the most of their talent.

Comments

  1. Jack Butler says

    Terrific article!

  2. A lot of people want to talk about Samuel or Dixon but to me Noah Brown may be the best player in this class. His size and speed make him an impossible match up for defenses.

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