It might have been a National Signing Day devoid of drama, a day in which Ohio State coach Urban Meyer and the Buckeye faithful had no reason to sit on the ends of their couches waiting to see which hat an elite high school prospect would proudly place on his head, but it was still a day of success for the Buckeyes.
OSU’s 2016 recruiting class went without a hitch, as the 25 prospects who were all expected to ink scholarship offers with Meyer’s program did just that. Seven of those players were early enrollees who joined the program in mid-January.
According to 247Sports’ prospect rankings, the Buckeyes’ class is made up of seven three-star prospects, 17 four-star prospects and one five-star: defensive lineman Nick Bosa out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The first player to sign on did so bright and early. Jake Hausmann, a tight end from Cincinnati, was welcomed to the program by OSU Director of Player Personnel Mark Pantoni on Twitter at 7:04 a.m. The last, receiver Binjimen Victor, was made official at 10:37 a.m., putting an early end to the annual festivities.
Meyer said that almost immediately after the paperwork arrives and the player is a Buckeye, it is time to get the ball rolling.
“Work starts immediately. Recruiting is over for that class,” he said. “The minute that fax showed up, now it’s get to work and they’re going to get a strength program immediately.”
All in all, 247Sports ranked Meyer’s 2016 recruiting class as the fourth best in the country behind the groups going to Alabama, Florida State and LSU.
The second-best Big Ten class behind OSU was No. 5 Michigan, followed by No. 19 Penn State.
“They’re recruiting their tails off,” Meyer said. “Big Ten is on fire right now. And I can tell you on a national respect, I can feel it. I’ve heard about it. Guys are really working. So it’s very good for the Big Ten Conference right now.”
Meyer showed off his national reach with the class, inking prospects from 11 states, including 10 players from Ohio, three from each of Florida and Maryland and one from Michigan.
As he has now done in four of his first five OSU recruiting classes, Meyer added exactly one quarterback to the program: four-star Dwayne Haskins of Potomac, Maryland, who was ranked by 247Sports as the seventh-best signal-caller nationally.
“He’s been here several times,” Meyer said of Haskins. “I know he’s a big Ohio State fan growing up. And the relationship instantly was right exactly where it was when we went our separate ways. He’s an impact recruit.”
Meyer went on to say that the 6-foot-3 quarterback has fundamentals “as good as I’ve ever seen in a young quarterback.”
Untrue to form, however, Meyer dipped into the junior college ranks, picking up offensive lineman Malcolm Pridgeon, who comes over from Nassau Community College. He’s just the third junior college player to sign with OSU in the last 10 years.
“We don’t recruit junior college — nothing against junior college guys, but we try to build from the youth up,” Meyer said. “And they kept telling me about this player, offensive tackle from Nassau, and I saw his size and watched the videotape, very impressive guy … He came on his visit and stole everybody’s heart.”
The presence of true freshmen getting major snaps has been a mixed bag for Meyer’s teams. In 2015, none of OSU’s first-year college athletes made too much of an impact, with the freshmen contributors being those of the redshirt variety.
But several of OSU’s defensive starters last season were once true freshmen who were quickly inserted into the rotations. Players like safety Vonn Bell and linebacker Raekwon McMillan were major contributors in their freshmen seasons in smaller roles, eventually becoming the anchors of their sections of the field.
Meyer referred to Bosa as an “automatic” to see significant time on the field during the 2016 season. The coach said Bosa is “a little ahead” of where his older brother, Joey, was at this time in 2013, before going on to pick up 7.5 sacks as a true freshman. Jonathon Cooper could potentially find himself in the same boat at defensive end, inheriting the job that Sam Hubbard had as a redshirt freshman in 2015.
“This class, I would anticipate a lot of guys playing,” Meyer said.
Regardless of if their contributions come in 2016 or further down the line, the newest class of Buckeyes came at an important time for a program that is in a transition period after losing 16 offensive and defensive starters. The class might not erase the many question marks heading into spring camp, but it does give OSU some added depth and players to watch.
The first look at the seven early enrollees is set to come on April 16 at the annual Spring Game at Ohio Stadium, with kickoff time yet to be announced.
The full list of 2016 signees, by 247Sports star classification, can be found below. An “E” designates an early enrollee.
- Nick Bosa, defensive lineman
- Malik Barrow, defensive tackle – E
- Tuf Borland, linebacker – E
- Jonathon Cooper, defensive end – E
- Wayne Davis, cornerback
- Luke Farrell, tight end
- Jordan Fuller, athlete
- Tyler Gerald, guard – E
- Dwayne Haskins, quarterback
- Jake Hausmann, tight end
- Kierre Hawkins, tight end
- Keandre Jones, linebacker
- Michael Jordan, offensive tackle – E
- Austin Mack, receiver – E
- Demario McCall, H-back
- Malcolm Pridgeon, offensive tackle
- Binjimen Victor, receiver
- Antonio Williams, running back – E
- Rodjay Burns, cornerback
- Drue Chrisman, punter
- Gavin Cupp, offensive tackle
- Kareem Felder, cornerback
- Malik Harrison, athlete
- Jahsen Wint, athlete
- Jack Wohlabaugh, guard