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Football: Ohio State’s No. 1 recruiting class not indicative of crucial misses late

Urban Meyer watches the B1G Championship game against Wisconsin from the sidelines in the third quarter. Ohio State won 27-21. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo Editor

Five-star offensive tackle Jackson Carman had been Ohio State’s No. 1 target for months. He was the top-ranked player at a position of need and the top player in Ohio.

In the end, Urban Meyer and his staff couldn’t seal the deal, and Carman ditched home for another top program — Clemson.

Carman, along with defensive end Brenton Cox, safety Jaiden Woodbey and quarterback Emory Jones all left Ohio State for other programs in the final two weeks leading up to Wednesday’s decision date, leaving Meyer without even more transcendent talent than the 20 players that signed to his class Wednesday.

On paper, the 2018 class is perhaps Meyer’s best ever as a head coach. However, it should not be overlooked. For a time, Ohio State had four five-star recruits with a chance at five. It ended Wednesday with two, while conference rival Penn State added its third.

Carman wasn’t committed to Ohio State at any point in time like Cox, Woodbey and Jones. But it’s expected that the Buckeyes should land the top prospect in Ohio every year. Since Meyer arrived in Columbus, he has landed the top recruit in the state of Ohio every year with the exception of 2016 when five-star offensive tackle Tommy Kraemer went to Notre Dame. As for the other three, it’s difficult for a program to keep players who further from the school committed for a long time, when top programs close to home are knocking on the door.

Woodbey, a five-star safety from California, committed in February, but flipped and signed with Florida State Wednesday. Cox, a five-star strong-side defensive end from Georgia, committed to Ohio State in April before decommitting Dec. 6 and signing with the Georgia Bulldogs Wednesday. Jones, a four-star dual-threat quarterback committed to the Buckeyes in July 2016, before flipping and mailing his letter of intent to Florida Wednesday.

Those three decommitments in the last two weeks of the early signing period hurt Ohio State and have great implications.

The first impact is the optics. Losing three players in less than two weeks, with two being five-stars and another being a highly rated dual-threat quarterback, makes it look as if the coaching staff is losing its touch. That’s probably not the case because Meyer has been an excellent recruiter his entire career and his 2018 class is still ranked as the top class. But given that Penn State landed a five-star Wednesday when Ohio State lost two, that’s added pressure for the Buckeyes’ coaching staff to hold onto prized recruits.

Second, Meyer, and quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator Ryan Day had to find a second option to Jones late in the process. Now, they ended with a solid option in three-star Matthew Baldwin from Austin, Texas, who led his team to a state championship game Saturday, but Meyer probably would’ve liked to not rely on flipping a quarterback late to have one for this recruiting class. Baldwin was previously committed to Colorado State.

Ohio State’s depth at safety isn’t hurt too much with Woodbey’s departure from the class, but with Cox’s decommitment, Ohio State had to flip three-star Alex Williams from West Virginia just to have one end in the class. Without Carman, it has just one offensive tackle in four-star Max Wray. Both are positions of need.

Meyer has already had discussions to play Williams at tight end, so Ohio State would only have three defensive ends for next season, pending a potential commitment from four-star Tyreke Smith. Wray is the fourth offensive tackle on next year’s roster.

Ohio State finally beat Alabama in a recruiting class, but it limped to the first finish line Wednesday with key misses that can impact a program for years. That’s something Meyer will have to live with.


  1. Urban is getting his butt kicked in recruiting recently. Georgia, Florida, Florida State, Texas and Clemson have either flipped or beat out Urban in landing highly rated recruits. In particular Dabo “owns” Urban. Clemson and Dabo have beaten OSU & Urban twice in bowl games including getting shout out in last year’s playoff game. And to add insult to injury, Dabo graps a 5 Star OL Carman from Ohio from Urban. May be Dabo is right, Urban is on the back 9.

  2. Personally the Loss of some of these recruits is irrelevant….. Cox was never committed (never set foot on campus) Jones ( obviously didn’t want to compete for the Position) Woodbey (probably Shopping around and never committed) Parsons and Carmen…. I think the Twitter Spectacle turned the Staff off Both and it really came down to “are they worth the Effort/drama” OSU is in Good Shape…. Recruit Guys Who want to Be Here…. To Hell with the Rest!

  3. I really do Not think Carman had Any plans on coming to OSU after the Twittergate Comments. He knew His Mouth wasn’t going to be tolerated and I bet the Coaches in a subtle or maybe more direct way Told Him So. Way too many of these so called Big Time recruits dominate in HS but are nothing more than a BUST when they face Real Competition and at the end of the Day, if He wanted Clemson….. good for HimNow it is Up to Him to Show Us what He has other than a Big Mouth. I don’t think He will amount to Anything

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