Ohio State Football

Ohio State Football Recruiting: Meet the Buckeyes' 2014 Class

David RegimbalFeatured ColumnistFebruary 5, 2014

Ohio State Football Recruiting: Meet the Buckeyes' 2014 Class

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    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    After months of relentless work, the Ohio State Buckeyes have officially signed their 2014 recruiting class.

    The 23-member group, which ranks No. 3 nationally behind Alabama and LSU, will bring elite talent to Columbus while filling a number of Ohio State's roster needs. Urban Meyer secured commitments from one 5-star and 15 4-star prospects, easily giving the Buckeyes the top recruiting class in the Big Ten.

    With seven early enrollees, nearly a third of this year's class is already on campus. The other 16 members will report this summer ahead of fall camp, when the opportunity for early playing time will be up for grabs.

    Let's meet Ohio State's new freshmen.

     

    All recruit rankings, stats and information per 247Sports.

Raekwon McMillan

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    Height/Weight: 6'2", 242 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 5-Star ILB, No. 22 Overall

    High School: Liberty County High School (Hinesville, Ga.)

    Senior-Year Stats: 158 tackles, 35 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, one interception, one forced fumble

    Other Finalists: Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia

    Commit Date: 12/16/2013 *Early enrollee

     

    Analysis

    The Buckeyes had a big need for linebackers in this class, and 5-star prospect Raekwon McMillan was at the top of their wish list.

    That wish came true when he announced his commitment to Ohio State on December 16, and after enrolling early, he has a chance to see the field early in his career. McMillan adds instant depth to a big position of need for the Buckeyes.

Damon Webb

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Height/Weight: 5'11", 180 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 4-Star CB, No. 35 Overall

    High School: Cass Technical High School (Detroit)

    Senior-Year Stats: 42 tackles, eight interceptions, 14 pass breakups

    Other Finalists: Alabama, LSU, Michigan, Michigan State

    Commit Date: 1/13/2013

     

    Analysis

    Damon Webb, a Detroit native, could have played at top SEC schools such as Alabama and LSU or stuck to one of the in-state programs, but he chose Ohio State for the opportunity to play under Urban Meyer.

    The Buckeyes could use a boost in the secondary.

    Ohio State allowed an average of 268 passing yards per game last season, which ranked No. 110 out of 123 teams. The Buckeyes will need to replace three starters from that beleaguered secondary, so Webb has a good chance of cracking the two deep in 2014.

Marshon Lattimore

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    Height/Weight: 6'0", 175 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 4-Star CB, No. 52 Overall

    High School: Glenville High School (Cleveland, Ohio)

    Other Finalists: Alabama, Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State, USC

    Commit Date: 1/4/2014

     

    Analysis

    Marshon Lattimore was the last of three prospects from Glenville High School to commit to Ohio State, solidifying the Buckeyes' strongest in-state pipeline.

    He played both offense and defense at the high school level, but at Ohio State, he'll be a part of Chris Ash's secondary. His coverage skills and playmaking ability are off the charts, and with Bradley Roby's departure, Ohio State needs those traits. 

Dante Booker

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    Height/Weight: 6'3", 212 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 4-Star OLB, No. 54 Overall

    High School: St. Vincent-St. Mary High School (Akron, Ohio)

    Senior-Year Stats: 116 tackles, two interceptions

    Other Finalists: Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Penn State

    Commit Date: 5/23/2013

     

    Analysis

    With the departure of Ryan Shazier, Ohio State has a big need for instinctive outside linebackers. That's what the Buckeyes are getting in Dante Booker.

    This 4-star prospect is strong enough to make an impact in run support and fast enough to exceed in pass coverage. If he learns the playbook fast enough, he has the talent to crack Ohio State's two-deep rotation. 

Jamarco Jones

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Height/Weight: 6'5", 290 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 4-Star OT, No. 58 Overall

    High School: De La Salle Institute (Chicago)

    Other Finalists: Michigan, Michigan State

    Commit Date: 6/27/2013

     

    Analysis

    Jamarco Jones, who committed to Ohio State on June 27, created some drama down the stretch with a last-minute visit to Michigan State. In the end, he stuck with his original commitment, giving the Buckeyes the No. 4 offensive tackle prospect in the country.

    He was an important get for Ohio State. The Buckeyes are losing four starting offensive linemen from last year's team, and rebuilding depth was a top priority for Urban Meyer. Jones' pledge was a big factor there, and he'll be a contender for Ohio State's backup left tackle position this fall.

Curtis Samuel

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    Height/Weight: 6'0", 185 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 4-Star ATH, No. 59 Overall

    High School: Erasmus Hall High School (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

    Senior-Year Stats: 91 carries, 1,047 yards, 13 TDs, 12 receptions, 187 yards, three TDs

    Other Finalists: Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Notre Dame, USC

    Commit Date: 8/16/2013 *Early enrollee

     

    Analysis

    When it comes to Urban Meyer's offense, it's the speedy playmakers who really make the difference.

    With Curtis Samuel, the Buckeyes are getting one of the fastest prospects in the country.

    He primarily played running back in high school, but at Ohio State, he'll play the hybrid role a la Dontre Wilson and Percy Harvin. With a reported 40-yard dash time of 4.36 seconds, Samuel's speed could earn him some early playing time.

    Enrolling early in time for spring camp should only help his chances as well.

Erick Smith

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Height/Weight: 6'1", 185 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 4-Star S, No. 66 Overall

    High School: Glenville High School (Cleveland, Ohio)

    Other Finalists: Alabama, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State, USC

    Commit Date: 1/4/2014

     

    Analysis

    "The kid with highest ceiling in OSU's class is Erick Smith. He is fast and arrives at the football with a message.”

    That's how Mike Farrellrecruiting director for Rivalsdescribes this 4-star safety out of Cleveland, per Ari Wasserman of Cleveland.com.

    Smith is a high school teammate of Marshon Lattimore, and playing the safety position, these two could be the future of Ohio State's secondary. The Buckeyes were plagued by poor safety play in 2013, forcing first-year player Vonn Bell into the starting lineup down the stretch. Smith could make an instant impact in 2014.

Johnnie Dixon

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    Height/Weight: 5'10", 187 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 4-Star WR, No. 76 Overall

    High School: Dwyer High School (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.)

    Senior-Year Stats: Six carries, 94 yards, 33 receptions, 610 yards, six TDs

    Other Finalists: Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Miami

    Commit Date: 12/17/2013 *Early enrollee

     

    Analysis

    Johnnie Dixon is a crisp route-runner with incredible hands, which is something that Ohio State needs after Corey BrownBraxton Miller's favorite target—ran out of eligibility.

    Dixon enrolled early, giving him the advantage of learning the playbook and going through spring practice. If he can build a chemistry with Miller this spring similar to the way Dontre Wilson did during fall camp in 2013, he could find his way onto the field early in his career.

Jalyn Holmes

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Height/Weight: 6'5", 225 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 4-Star DE, No. 80 Overall

    High School: Lake Taylor High School (Norfolk, Va.)

    Other Finalists: Clemson, Florida, Florida State

    Commit Date: 6/20/2013

     

    Analysis

    How much talent is too much talent for one defensive line?

    It appears that Ohio State is looking for that answer with this year's group of recruits. Already stocked with young stars such as Joey Bosa, Noah Spence and Tommy Schutt, Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes continued to bring in elite talent.

    Jalyn Holmes is one the best pass-rushing defensive ends in this year's class, but it will be tough for the 4-star prospect to earn early playing time. With the kind of depth that Ohio State has, Meyer and new defensive line coach Larry Johnson will have some time to develop Holmes for future success.

Demetrius Knox

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Height/Weight: 6'4", 294 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 4-Star OG, No. 97 Overall

    High School: All Saints Episcopal High School (Fort Worth, Texas)

    Other Finalists: TCU, Texas, UCLA

    Commit Date: 7/28/2013

     

    Analysis

    Demetrius Knox was originally a Texas pledge, but on July 28, he flipped his commitment to Urban Meyer and Ohio State.

    Knox, a native of Springfield, Ohio, according to Doug Lesmerises of The Plain Dealer, is the No. 5 offensive guard in the country and the No. 15 overall prospect in Texas. His commitment was huge for Ohio State, which must replace both its left and right guards next season. 

    While it will be hard for him to gain a starting job this fall, he could work his way into a valuable backup role.

Parris Campbell

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    Height/Weight: 6'0", 184 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 4-Star WR, No. 139 Overall

    High School: St. Vincent-St. Mary High School (Akron, Ohio)

    Other Finalists: Michigan State, Tennessee 

    Commit Date: 2/10/2013

     

    Analysis

    Some guys have speed, and others have power. Then there are players such as Parris Campbell who have both.

    In his highlight tape, he makes a habit of rendering arm tackles useless, and when he hits the open field, few players in college football have the speed to keep pace. The Buckeyes have loaded up on skill position players, though, so he will need to make an early impression in fall camp to earn playing time.

    Even if he doesn't, the Buckeyes will have a young player who could develop into a nightmare matchup for defenses in the future.

Kyle Berger

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Height/Weight: 6'3", 215 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 4-Star OLB, No. 157 Overall

    High School: St. Ignatius High School (Cleveland, Ohio)

    Other Finalists: Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State

    Commit Date: 4/8/2013

     

    Analysis

    Kyle Berger spurned a number of Big Ten teams when he committed to the home-state Buckeyes on April 8, becoming the seventh verbal pledge in Ohio State's 2014 class.

    The All-Ohio linebacker is coming off an ACL injury that he suffered during his senior season, so it's unlikely that he'll see the field in 2014. If he does redshirt, he'll have enough time to recover and give Ohio State the depth it has lacked over the last few years.

Sam Hubbard

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Height/Weight: 6'6", 225 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 4-Star ATH, No. 181 Overall

    High School: Archbishop Moeller High School (Cincinnati, Ohio)

    Other Finalists: Miami, Michigan, Michigan State

    Commit Date: 4/5/2013

     

    Analysis

    During Urban Meyer's first season at Ohio State, the Buckeyes were forced to play a converted fullback at middle linebacker because of their lack of depth and talent.

    That's why Sam Hubbard, who was the first of four linebackers to commit to Ohio State this year, was a pivotal prospect for Meyer.

    Hubbard is a unique athlete who originally committed to Notre Dame to play lacrosse. After showcasing his talent on the football field, though, the offers started pouring in. During his senior season, he recorded 110 tackles and five interceptions, which is impressive for a player who will likely end up as a pass-rushing outside linebacker.

Noah Brown

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    Height/Weight: 6'2", 212 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 4-Star ATH, No. 197 Overall

    High School: Pope John XXIII High School (Sparta, N.J.)

    Senior-Year Stats: 98 carries, 847 yards, 14 TDs, 41 receptions, 630 yards, six TDs

    Other Finalists: Notre Dame, Penn State, Rutgers, USC

    Commit Date: 9/9/2013

     

    Analysis

    From 2006-2012, Ohio State didn't sign a single prospect from the state of New Jersey. Noah Brown committed to the Buckeyes in September, giving Ohio State two consecutive classes with a prospect from the Garden State (joining Eli Apple in 2013).

    Brown is by far the biggest receiver among a deep group in this class, so if there's one thing that could separate himself from the pack, it would be with his physical play. Judging from his highlight film, it doesn't look like he is afraid of contact.

Terry McLaurin

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Height/Weight: 6'0", 190 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 4-Star WR, No. 241 Overall

    High School: Cathedral High School (Indianapolis)

    Senior-Year Stats: 77 carries, 750 yards, six TDs, 58 receptions, 953 yards, eight TDs

    Other Finalists: Boston College, Cincinnati, Indiana, Purdue

    Commit Date: 6/23/2013

     

    Analysis

    Terry McLaurin earned his scholarship offer after a pair of impressive summer-camp performances in front of the Ohio State staff, and it only took him a day to pull the trigger and commit to the Buckeyes.

    His greatest asset is his speed. At the first summer camp in Columbus, he clocked a 4.3-second 40-yard dash, which was the fastest time at the camp. The 4-star prospect continued to grow as a wide receiver during his senior season, but with the bevy of playmakers in Columbus, McLaurin is a good candidate for a redshirt.

    That would give him the opportunity to learn the system and be ready to contribute in 2015.

Kyle Trout

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Height/Weight: 6'6", 300 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 4-Star OT, No. 256 Overall

    High School: Lancaster High School (Lancaster, Ohio)

    Other Finalists: Cincinnati, Michigan State

    Commit Date: 2/10/2013 *Early enrollee

     

    Analysis

    Ohio State's need for offensive linemen was about as big as its need to secure Kyle Trout's commitment.

    He was an important in-state prospect whom Urban Meyer and offensive line coach Ed Warinner targeted early. The Buckeyes want their offensive linemen to be agile and to move quickly, and according to Ari Wasserman of The Plain Dealer, Trout showcased those features as a center for his high school basketball team.

    He is at his best on the football field, though, and as an early enrollee, he has a chance to compete for early playing time as a freshman.

Malik Hooker

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    Height/Weight: 6'2", 185 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 3-Star ATH, No. 349 Overall

    High School: New Castle High School (New Castle, Pa.)

    Other Finalists: Michigan, Penn State, West Virginia

    Commit Date: 7/29/2013

     

    Analysis

    Malik Hooker played both receiver and defensive back in high school, and as of now, he could land on either side of the ball at the collegiate level.

    Where he plays will be determined by the coaches this fall, but because of Ohio State's need for playmakers in the secondary, it's safe to assume he'll wind up playing defense.

    His highlight film shows that he knows what to do when he gets the ball in his hands, and as a safety, he doesn't have any hesitation laying a hit on opposing receivers. Hooker could be one of the underrated recruits who blossoms into a star at the collegiate level.

Marcelys Jones

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Height/Weight: 6'5", 325 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 3-Star OG, No. 389 Overall

    High School: Glenville High School (Cleveland, Ohio)

    Other Finalists: Alabama, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Kentucky

    Commit Date: 12/25/2012 *Early enrollee

     

    Analysis

    Marcelys Jones became the first commit in Ohio State's 2014 class when he pledged to Meyer and the Buckeyes on Christmas Day in 2012.

    His commitment was an important one, and not just because he was one of the most pursued offensive guards in the country.

    He is high school teammates with Marshon Lattimore and Erick Smith, and that trio took a number of official visits together. Alabama, Georgia Tech and Kentucky all made a run at Jones, and in turn Lattimore and Smith, but all three went with the Buckeyes.

    Jones enrolled early, giving him a head start over Demetrius Knox to earn some playing time as a guard.

Dylan Thompson

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Height/Weight: 6'5", 270 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 3-Star DE, No. 464 Overall

    High School: Montini Catholic High School (Lombard, Ill.)

    Senior-Year Stats: 65 tackles, 35 tackles for loss, 17 sacks

    Other Finalists: Arkansas, Clemson, Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee

    Commit Date: 3/23/2013

     

    Analysis

    Piling up 35 tackles for loss and 17 sacks is something you'd expect from a 4- or 5-star prospect, but that's what 3-star Dylan Thompson managed to do in his senior season.

    Defensive end is probably Ohio State's strongest position, though, so it's hard to imagine him finding the field early in his career. The 6'5", 270-pound standout could develop into Joey Bosa's backup and replacement, but he'll likely redshirt in 2014.

Brady Taylor

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Height/Weight: 6'5", 276 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 3-Star OT, No. 583 Overall

    High School: Bishop Ready High School (Columbus, Ohio)

    Other Finalists: Virginia Tech

    Commit Date: 1/20/2014 

     

    Analysis

    As a local product, it was Brady Taylor's dream to play for Ohio State according to an interview with Eleven Warriors, but with no offer, he committed to Virginia Tech on July 29.

    That changed in a hurry when the Buckeyes started pursuing him after the 2013 season.

    Meyer extended a scholarship offer on January 12, and it only took Taylor eight days to visit his favorite school and flip his commitment. 

    The Buckeyes needed Taylor for depth, but with a number of talented players in front of him, he'll likely redshirt in 2014.

Stephen Collier

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Height/Weight: 6'4", 208 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 3-Star QB, No. 631 Overall

    High School: Lee County High School (Leesburg, Ga.)

    Senior-Year Stats: 146-of-304, 2,300 yards, 24 TDs, 12 interceptions, 163 carries, 1,021 yards, 20 TDs

    Other Finalists: Boston College, Cincinnati, Wake Forest

    Commit Date: 6/21/2013 *Early enrollee

     

    Analysis

    With Kenny Guiton's departure, Ohio State doesn't have an experienced signal-caller to backup Braxton Miller.

    That backup role has been a pivotal part of the team considering Miller's history of injuries, so the Buckeyes will need to identify a second quarterback quickly.

    Collier, who enrolled early, will be in the mix.

    Ohio State has two other scholarship quarterbacks on the roster in J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones, but Collier is talented enough to make some noise. He'll need to have a big spring to crack the two deep, though.

Darius Slade

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Height/Weight: 6'5", 238 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 3-Star DE, No. 873 Overall

    High School: Montclair High School (Montclair, N.J.)

    Senior-Year Stats: 67 tackles, 23.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble

    Other Finalists: Michigan State, Nebraska, Penn State

    Commit Date: 2/5/2014

     

    Analysis

    Darius Slade bounced around a number of Big Ten teams, first committing to Nebraska before flipping to Michigan State in December. 

    On national signing day, he spurned the Spartans and signed with Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes.

    According to Brandon Castel of The-Ozone, Slade had an outstanding relationship with Larry Johnson, Ohio State's new defensive line coach. That relationship paid off for the Buckeyes, but with the depth up front, Slade will likely redshirt in 2014.

Sean Nuernberger

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Height/Weight: 6'2", 220 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 3-Star K, No. 1196 Overall

    High School: Oldham County High School (Buckner, Ky.)

    Commit Date: 6/11/2013 *Early enrollee

     

    Analysis

    Despite being the lowest-ranked recruit in Ohio State's 2014 class, Sean Nuernberger was one of the most important prospects whom Meyer signed.

    The Buckeyes lost senior kicker Drew Basil to graduation, and his departure left Ohio State with no scholarship kickers on the roster. That means Nuernberger is in line for a starting role as a freshman.

    Fortunately for the Buckeyes, he enrolled early and will go through spring drills with the team. That gives him an eight-month head start on his career and a chance to get acclimated to the college game.

    He'll need to adjust quickly, though, because the Buckeyes need him to be ready for opening day.

Top 200 College Football Recruits

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    See where the top 200 college football recruits are headed with this interactive map.

     

    David Regimbal is the Ohio State Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. 

    Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.

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