Urban Meyer: Ohio State recruits ‘exceptional’


COLUMBUS – Urban Meyer went beyond the usual national signing day optimism on Wednesday when he described the 21 recruits joining Ohio State’s football program as “exceptional.”

“Really, deep down, I feel like this is going to be an exceptional class with a bunch of them playing,” Meyer said about OSU’s 2017 recruits, who include five 5-star players, 14 4-star athletes and two 3-stars.

Nearly everyone agrees with Meyer. The consensus ranking of OSU’s recruiting class is that it is second nationally behind Alabama.

Ohio State has become both a training ground for future NFL players and a destination for many of the country’s top high school recruits.

Six Ohio State undergraduate players declared for the NFL draft this season a year after nine undergrads left early, more than any other major college program has produced in the last two years.

The biggest hits have come in the defensive backfield, where OSU lost Eli Apple, Vonn Bell and Tyvis Bell last year and again this year, when Malik Hooker, Gareon Conley and Marshon Lattimore left eligibility on the table when they turned pro.

But that is an area where OSU might have one of its biggest infusions of talent coming in this year’s recruiting class.

Cornerback Jeffrey Odukah, of Grand Prairie, Tex., was rated the No. 1 cornerback recruit in the country. Shaun Wade, of Jacksonville, Fla., Trinity Christian, was ranked No. 2. Kendall Sheffield, of Blinn Junior College, was ranked the No. 1 junior college cornerback this year.

Cornerback Marcus Williamson (IMG Academy) was ranked the No. 27 cornerback nationally and Isaiah Pryor (IMG Academy) was rated the No. 7 safety recruit nationally.

“I guess we are now of the mindset that it (players leaving early) will happen. Prepare for it to happen. Recruit guys that are ready-made as much as you can,” Meyer said.

Having players leave early, especially when some of those decisions are surprises, forces Ohio State to adjust. “Imagine what this team would have looked like last year with those nine guys back. But that’s the way it is,” Meyer said.

But that turnover also plays a role in attracting elite replacements.

Nine of OSU’s 21 recruits graduated from high school early and enrolled in January. Several of them talked on Wednesday about how the chance to get to the NFL quickly played a role in their decision.

“It’s DBU (Defensive Backs University),” Pryor said. “That went into the decision a lot.”

Ohio State’s class has only seven players from Ohio, which Meyer said was lower than he would like to have most years. But it also included three of the top six players in Texas, three from Florida high schools, two from Las Vegas and one from California.

Wade said Ohio winters were no barrier to him or his teammates from warm weather states. And he dropped another mention of the NFL when he explained why they felt that way.

“The cold weather had nothing to do with it. If want to play in the league (the NFL) you have to play in cold weather. You might as well get used to it,” he said.

Being in such a highly rated class has given the newest Buckeyes an introduction into the level of expectations at OSU every season.

Williamson said, “I know there’s a lot of hype surrounding this class but we’re all starting the bottom. Hopefully when the time comes, we’ll be one of those classes that wins a championship.”


By Jim Naveau

[email protected]

2017 Ohio State football recruits

BARON BROWNING (Kennedale, Tex.), 6-4, 230, Linebacker. Rated the No.1 outside linebacker recruit in the country. Texas Class 4A state Defensive Player of the Year. Second-team All-USA Today. Already enrolled at OSU.

JERRON CAGE (Cincinnati Winton Woods), 6-2, 275, Defensive Tackle. First-team All-Ohio as a junior and senior. Ranked the No. 11 prospect overall in Ohio by 247Sports.com. Had 24 career sacks.

WYATT DAVIS (Bellflower, Calif. (St. John Bosco), 6-5, 310. Offensive Lineman. Rated the No. 1 offensive guard recruit in the country. His grandfather is Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive end Willie Davis who played for the Green Bay Packers.

J.K. DOBBINS (LaGrange, Tex.), 5-10, 199, Running Back. After rushing for 2,740 yards as a junior and 2,243 yards as a sophomore, Dobbins missed his senior season because of a broken leg. Rated the No. 43 prospect overall nationally. Already enrolled.

ELIJAH GARDNER (Kemp, Tex.), 6-5, 195, Wide Receiver. Gardner is rated a 3-star recruit, the only player other than kicker Blake Haubeil, in this year’s recruiting class rated below a 4-star. Originally committed to Missouri but flipped to Ohio State on Jan. 30.

HASKELL GARRETT (Las Vegas Bishop Gorman), 6-2, 288, Defensive Tackle He had 25 sacks in his career and had 20 tackles for losses this season. He was ranked No. 70 overall nationally. First-team All-Nevada.

TREVON GRIMES (Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas), 6-3, 202, Wide Receiver. Grimes suffered a torn ACL in early October and hopes to be ready for training camp in August. He was a two-time state champion in the hurdles. He was ranked the No. 5 receiver recruit nationally.

JAYLEN HARRIS (Cleveland Heights), 6-5, 210, Wide Receiver. He is rated as the No. 30 wide receiver nationally. Caught 53 passes for 820 yards and eight touchdowns this season.

BLAKE HAUBEIL (Buffalo Canisius), 6-4, 225, Kicker. Haubeil is ranked the No. 2 kicker recruit nationally. His career long is 61 yards. He was 6 of 9 on field goals as a senior and 70 percent of his kickoffs were touchbacks..

TATE MARTELL (Las Vegas Bishop Gorman). 5-10, 203, Quarterback. He was USA Today’s National Player of the Year. He threw for 7,507 yards and rushed for more than 2,000 yards in his career. He was the starting QB on three consecutive undefeated teams. Already enrolled.

THAYER MUNFORD (Massillon Washington) 6-6, 325, Offensive Lineman. Munford played only three games this year when the OHSAA questioned his transfer from Cincinnati LaSalle. He is ranked as the No. 207 player overall nationally.

JOSH MYERS (Miamisburg), 6-6, 306, Offensive Lineman. First-team All-USA Today and first-team All-Ohio twice. Rated the top prospect in Ohio and the No. 2 offensive guard in the country this year. Already enrolled.

JEFFREY OKUDAH (Grand Prairie, Tex.), 6-1, 190, Cornerback. First-team All-USA Today. Ranked the No. 1 cornerback prospect in the country and the No. 2 player in Texas. Already enrolled.

ISAIAH PRYOR (IMG Academy), 6-2, 195, Safety. He is ranked the No. 7 safety recruit in the country. His father played defensive end at Iowa in the 1980s. Already enrolled.

AMIR RIEP (Colerain), 5-11, 185, Cornerback Had four interceptions as a senior despite missing four games. Ranked the No. 23 cornerback nationally.

KENDALL SHEFFIELD (Blinn Junior College), 6-0, 185, Cornerback. Sheffield is ranked the top junior college cornerback in the country. He was a 5-star recruit for Alabama in 2015 but was redshirted and left the Crimson Tide.

SHAUN WADE (Jacksonville Trinity Christian), 6-2, 175, Cornerback. Wade had seven interceptions as a senior. Rated the No. 2 cornerback recruit nationally. Already enrolled.

PETE WERNER (Indianapolis Cathedral), 6-3, 220, Linebacker. Had 17 tackles for losses and eight sacks as a senior. Also played safety and cornerback. Originally committed to Notre Dame.

BRENDON WHITE (Olentangy Liberty), 6-2, 200, Wide Receiver. Son of Lima Senior’s William White, a four-year starter at OSU from 1984-87 as a defensive back. First-team All-Ohio. Ranked the No.2 overall recruit in Ohio and the No. 3 athlete prospect nationally. Also has been projected as a possible linebacker or safety. Already enrolled.

MARCUS WILLIAMSON (IMG Academy), 5-10, 180, Defensive Back. Williamson originally played at Westerville South. Rated the No. 27 cornerback recruit overall. Already enrolled.

CHASE YOUNG (Hyattsville DeMatha), 6-5, 251, Defensive End. Second-team All-USA Today. Ranked the No. 2 defensive end recruit and the top player in Maryland. Had 18 sacks his senior season.

* – All rankings according to 247Sports.com’s composite ratings.

Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau

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