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2/1/2009 8:57 AM
Ohio State football: 2009 recruiting class passes first-look test
Sunday,  February 1, 2009 3:49 AM
In many ways, recruiting is like the NFL draft for major-college football teams. A few who sign national letters of intent Wednesday might provide immediate help in 2009; most, however, will provide a stockpile for the future.

Going into this last weekend before signing day, Ohio State had commitments from 25 prospects for a class that at least one recruiting service, Scout.com, rates No. 1 in the country. It could be enhanced if elite players such as offensive lineman Marcus Hall of Cleveland Glenville and receiver Marlon Brown of Memphis, Tenn., pick OSU in the coming days.

But if the current list remains the status quo on signing day, how will this class help the Buckeyes in the short and long term? Let's take a look:


Commitments: One (Kenny Guiton).

It's the only position where there was a true need, and a last-minute appeal to a Texan filled the slot. Guiton, a dual-threat QB from Aldine, Texas, didn't appear on OSU's radar until the middle of last week. The presence of Terrelle Pryor, who won the starting job as a freshman in 2008, scared off Tajh Boyd, Austin Boucher and others. But with only one other scholarship QB, Joe Bauserman, the Buckeyes needed at least one more for a quorum. Guiton jumped at the shot to understudy Pryor and then take his chances.

Running back

Commitments: Four (Jaamal Berry, Jordan Hall, Adam Homan, Carlos Hyde).

With the loss of starters Chris "Beanie" Wells at tailback and Brandon Smith at fullback, there is plenty of room for newcomers on the depth chart, now led by Daniel Herron.

The speedy Berry is the fifth-best RB prospect in the country according to Rivals.com, Hyde is a tackle-busting hybrid, Hall is an all-purpose player who even played quarterback at times, and Homan is a fullback with a linebacker's zeal. Berry likely will get an early chance, but Hyde seems the best fit for the team's immediate need of a power back.

Offensive line

Commitments: Three (Corey Linsley, Sam Longo, Jack Mewhort).

These three average 6 feet 5, 280 pounds. (Hall is listed at a trim 6-5, 290.) It appears there is a move to a lean-and-quick approach at Ohio State after years of being criticized for plodding play up front.

Mewhort, who already is enrolled in school, appears to have the chance to help the soonest on a line losing two starters, left tackle Alex Boone and right guard Steve Rehring. Other contributions are expected from last year's freshmen, tackles Mike Adams and J.B. Shugarts, and Michigan transfer Justin Boren. Team insiders said Boren might have been the best lineman on the lot last fall as he sat out his transfer year.


Commitments: Four (WRs Duron Carter, Chris Fields, James Jackson; TE Reid Fragel).

With the departure of starters Brian Robiskie and Brian Hartline, expectations fall on Dane Sanzenbacher and last year's promising freshmen DeVier Posey and Lamaar Thomas. They better make a move, because Carter (son of former OSU star and perpetual All-Pro Cris Carter), Fields and Jackson offer the diverse potential of hands, leaping ability and all-out speed, respectively. As for Brown, most experts expect him to pick Tennessee or Georgia on Wednesday.

Jake Ballard will assume the starter's role at tight end for the departed Rory Nicol, but the smart, athletic (and 6-8) Fragel might provide an immediate target over the middle.

Defensive line

Commitments: Four (DTs John Simon, Adam Bellamy; DEs Melvin Fellows, Jonathan Newsome).

This was not an area of need for 2009, as six of OSU's top seven linemen return. That's good, because this bunch seems more solid than star-studded.

Fellows is the most regarded. An Illinois commitment originally, he is a consensus top-10 end nationally, a powerful and versatile player. He could potentially work his way into the mix this season.

Bellamy is a run-stuffer and Newsome is light (230 pounds) and will convert from linebacker. Opinions vary on Simon, with Scout.com rating him No. 5 nationally and Rivals.com No. 36. But everyone agrees that Simon is one of the stronger DTs out there.


Commitments: Four or five (Dorian Bell, Zach Boren, Storm Klein, Jordan Whiting and maybe Adam Homan).

The Buckeyes needed to restock here, with James Laurinaitis and Marcus Freeman leaving. Some experienced players return (led by Ross Homan and Austin Spitler), but there is room for a youngster to see quick playing time.

The player with the best chance of doing that is Bell, one of the nation's top three outside linebackers who combines size, speed and athletic ability. His coverage skills are superb, as well, which is a real plus.

Klein and Whiting are good pro-spects, albeit a notch below Bell. Boren is coming off knee surgery. Adam Homan is listed as a fullback but could join his brother on defense if needed.

Defensive backs

Commitments: Five (CBs C.J. Barnett, Corey Brown, Dominic Clarke, Justin Green, S Jamie Wood).

OSU's coaches probably did not anticipate losing Donald Washington to the NFL, so cornerback suddenly became a five-alarm area of need. Opposite Chimdi Chekwa, the cupboard is nearly bare in terms of experience.

The good news for the Buckeyes is that at least one of the four incoming corners could contribute right away; it is a good and versatile group. Brown, Bell's teammate, was rated Pennsylvania's No. 1 overall prospect and is known for his ball skills. Could he be the next Malcolm Jenkins?

Green is a speedster, Clarke is more physical and Barnett is rated in the top 15 nationally. Wood is the lone safety of the group, and although OSU has no openings there, he could be good down the road.

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