Ohio State has the No. 2-ranked recruiting class, according to 247sports, for 2014, but it has its eyes set on that No. 1 spot when national signing day comes around. That goal took a hit on Monday when 5-star defensive end Solomon Thomas did not put the Buckeyes in his final three heading into national signing day.
My final 3 schools are Stanford, Arkansas, and UCLA. Blessed to have the opportunity with these amazing choices. God has truly blessed me— Solomon Thomas (@SollyThomas90) January 21, 2014
He did handle it all with class though, tweeting out his thanks for everything the Buckeyes have done in his recruitment.
I want to thank Ohio State for giving me the opportunity. Such an amazing program with amazing coaches. Best of luck to the organization.— Solomon Thomas (@SollyThomas90) January 21, 2014
It was a blow to the Buckeyes' hopes of ending as fast as they started this recruiting cycle, so where do Meyer and Co. turn to build that momentum back up?
Ohio State already has verbal commitments from 4-star Jalyn Holmes, who is the No. 4-ranked weak-side defensive end, according to the 247sports composite rankings, and 3-star Dylan Thompson, who is the No. 20-ranked strong-side defensive end.
Adding those two to the likes of Joey Bosa, Noah Spence, Adolphus Washington and Jamal Marcus shows just how deep the OSU defensive line will be for 2014 and just how scary that group would've been with the addition of Thomas to the fold.
Unlike some teams in the mix for Thomas, his commitment would have been a luxury and not a necessity for Ohio State. Having Holmes and Thompson already committed made losing Thomas a lot easier to deal with.
Losing out on Thomas frees up the staff to concentrate on some of the other big fish in the pond they are after, and there's no doubt there are some big names to be had heading into national signing day.
Currently, the Buckeyes have 15 commitments from 4-star players, but just one 5-star commitment. If they want to get that No. 1 spot, currently held by Alabama, they will need to pull off some upsets in other recruits.
Ohio State is in on another 5-star defensive end in Malik McDowell, out of Southfield, Mich. Getting McDowell on board would be one of those upsets, as the 247sports crystal ball predictions for McDowell have him heading to Big Ten East rival Michigan State.
Losing out to a team that just beat you for the Big Ten championship, well, that would be a big deal.
Michigan State has been labeled a sleeping giant on the recruiting trail, and things like 5-star commitments at a school like that make recruits stand up and take notice.
Ohio State got off the ground well, but in recruiting, as in most things in life, it's all about how you finish.
Striking out on two 5-star defensive ends to end the recruiting period isn't what Ohio State had in mind to be sure, but the reality is this class will be just fine with or without names like Thomas or McDowell.
*Andy Coppens is the Big Ten lead writer. You can follow him on Twitter: @ andycoppens.