Thursday, March 13, 2008

Team Recruiting Countdown: No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes

No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes (Big Ten No. 1)

2008 Haul: 19 signees, 9 Athlon Consensus 100

Scouting Report:

Ohio State, much like USC, was all about quality rather than quantity. Ohio State had the highest number of AC100 members, nine – which would have been 10 but Devoe Torrence’s offer was pulled due to academic ineligibility the week leading up to Signing Day. The Buckeyes had virtually no lower ranked prospects (minus those that kick footballs).

And yet, this class is still not entirely finished. The twentieth and easily most important signees, is likely to be Terrelle Pryor. Pryor (Jeannette, Pa.) is the top player in the nation and a Vince Young clone. He is the most dynamic high school football player in the nation. He was set to sign with OSU on Signing Day but overtures by his father on behalf of Penn State has kept him from signing, even today. Pryor has, technically, until March 31st to sign his letter of intent. In theory, however, he could walk onto any campus in America come August and fall classes, sign scholarship papers and be on the football roster.

There is no telling how much longer this thing will drag out. No matter what happens, however, Ohio State looks to be the place the Pryor will end up.

Even without Pryor, this is one of the top recruiting hauls in the nation. Excepting USC, the offensive line class for OSU is tops in the nation. Mike Adams (Dublin, Ohio) is possibly the top left tackle prospect in the nation and has NFL written all over him. Group him with the massive J.B. Shugarts (Klein, Texas) and Michael Brewster (Orlando, Fla.) and the Bucks boast a formidable front line.

Jim Tressell did a great job of addressing needs one year in advance for this class. Most fans likely did not expect the entire linebacking corp to return intact. They will all be heading into their final year of eligibility and so depth was needed. Etienne Sabino (Miami, Fla.) is on par with names like Nigel Bradham (FSU) and Arthur Brown (Miami) when it comes to the top linebackers in this class. Andrew Sweat (Washington, Pa.) will also add needed depth.

The wide receiver spot is in a very similar situation as the backers. The Brians, Robiskie and Hartline, both will be seniors in 2008. Tressell will certainly have options on the outside now. DeVier Posey (Cincinnati, Ohio) is Chad Johnson’s personal protégé and is consequently very polished for his age. Lamaar Thomas (Fort Washington, Md.) is a Percy Harvin type athlete who can be used in the backfield as well as on the outside. Both are top-50 type players nationally. Jake Stoneburner (Dublin, Ohio), who just sounds like he should play tight end, will give Ohio State a new dynamic from the tight end spot. He may be the most athletic, fastest tight end prospect in the nation. His blocking skills need some work.
Losing Vernon Gholston to the draft was not a surprise to Tressell and staff. They addressed the defensive line with full force in ’08. Willie Mobley (Eden Prairie, Minn.) was second only to ND’s Mike Floyd, in terms of talent in the Gopher State. Garrett Goebel (Lombard, Ill.) is a massive prospect with tremendous football IQ. Both could end up at tackle but Mobley is likely to be an end as well as Nathan Williams (Washington Court House, Ohio) and Keith Wells (Gainesville, Ga.)

The defensive backfield, once again, is expected to lose a lot of talent after the ’08 season. Travis Howard (Miami, Fla.), who was Sabino’s teammate at Dr. Krop High, is as ready to play as any corner prospect in the nation. Great size and speed make him an option for nickel packages early in his career. Orhlan Johnson (Gulfport, Fla.) and Zach Domicone (Xenia, Ohio) will add plenty of depth to the safety position.

It is no surprise that roughly half of this class is from the state of Ohio. The rest of the nation was kind to the Buckeyes as well. Top players from Minnesota, Florida, Texas, Maryland, Illinois and Pennsylvania head to the banks of the Olentangy.
Top Prospect: Mike Adams – OL – Dublin, Ohio (6-7, 300) AC100 No. 25

This obviously changes immediately to Pryor, if and when he signs with Ohio State. But for now, Buckeye fans will have to settle for the top offensive lineman in the nation.

It is a thing of beauty to watch a 6-7, 310-pound tackle play with consistent pad level. Normally a player of his height will lack leverage; Adams has great leverage. He shows great footwork and hand technique. He shoots his hands high and hard, engages the defender and then proceeds to take him for a ride.

His amazing athleticism and quick feet allow him to get out into space and block comfortably. He gets great body positioning, using excellent knee bend and foot speed to keep himself in front of the defender. There are just not many guys his size that move around as well as he does.
In head-to-head battles with Shayne Hale (Pitt) at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl practice, Adams performed very well, pinning Hale on occasion. He also dominated Hargrave’s Quinton Coples (UNC).

Best of the Rest:

Michael Brewster – OL – Orlando, Fla. (6-6, 300) AC100 No. 12
Etienne Sabino – LB – Miami, Fla. (6-3, 225) AC100 No. 33
DeVier Posey – WR – Cincinnati, Ohio (6-2, 190) AC100 No. 39
J.B. Shugarts – OL – Klein, Texas (6-7, 300) AC100 No. 56
Lamaar Thomas – ATH – Fort Washington, Md. (5-11, 185) AC100 No. 68
Jake Stoneburner – TE – Dublin, Ohio (6-6, 230) AC100 No. 80
Garrett Goebel – DT – Lombard, Ill. (6-5, 270) AC100 No. 82
Andrew Sweat – LB – Washington, Pa. (6-2, 225) AC100 No. 84
Willie Mobley – DL – Eden Prairie, Minn. (6-2, 265)
Travis Howard – CB – Miami, Fla. (6-0, 180)

Sleeper: Zach Domicone – ATH – Xenia, Ohio (6-2, 210)

Domicone was an excellent duel-threat quarterback in high school and is projected as a defensive player. He is likely to start out as a safety but could add bulk and become an outside linebacker. He is a solid athlete for a kid his size and does not mind playing a physical brand of football. This strength in run support puts him at strong safety, at least at first.

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