February 6, 2012

Grading the Class: Offense

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Thanks to a relentless effort by head coach Urban Meyer and his staff, the Ohio State football program finished strong and wrapped up a top five recruiting class this past Wednesday. The class is extremely balanced on both the offensive and defensive sides of the football and is considered by nearly all experts to be one of the top recruiting classes in the nation. Below, we take a look at the offensive side of the football and grade how the Buckeyes did at each position.



Quarterback:


The Buckeyes took one signal caller in the 2012 class and that was Fork Union (Va.) product Cardale Jones. The former Cleveland (Ohio) Glenville standout was originally slotted in the 2011 class but chose to go the prep school route for a year. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound prospect is a pocket passer with enough athleticism to keep plays alive and to pick up first downs on the ground. Jones should benefit greatly from the year at Fork Union and that should make for an easier transition to the college level.


Grade: B-




Running Back:


Ohio State went out early and grabbed the two in-state backs that they targeted in Canton Glen Oak product Bri'onte Dunn and Columbus De Sales product Warren Ball. Both Ball and Dunn are bigger backs that are capable of carrying the football 25-30 times per game. Dunn is one of Ohio High School's most prolific rushers, accumulating more than 5,000 yards rushing in his career. Ball battled injuries in his sophomore and junior seasons but had a big senior year rushing for well over 1,000 yards. Both players are rated four-star prospects by Rivals.com.


Grade: A-




Wide Receivers/Tight Ends:


The grade on this one could change dramatically if the Buckeyes land five-star prospect Stefon Diggs who is scheduled to announce on February 10th. As it stands now, the Buckeyes have signed a pair of three-star receivers in Lakeland (Fla.) prospect Ricquan Southward and Upper Arlington (Ohio) product Frank Epitropoulos. Fork Union (Va.) four-star [db]Michael Thomas rounds out the group of receivers and Cleveland (Ohio) St. Ignatius product Blake Thomas is the lone tight end in the class.


This class has plenty of receivers with good size that are tough, sure-handed, and can block, but the lack of a true gamebreaker in the group keeps this position from earning an 'A' grade. Epitropoulos and Southward are probably the two fastest of the group and are solid in just about all aspects of playing the receiver position. Michael Thomas will give the Buckeyes a big, physical target and will be a guy that can constantly keep the chains moving. Blake Thomas comes from a program known for producing great players and is the type of tight end prospect that will do everything well but is not spectacular in any one area.


Grade: B




Offensive Line:


This was the biggest need on the offensive side of the football for Ohio State in the 2012 recruiting cycle and the Buckeyes finished incredibly strong at the position by securing late commitments from three outstanding prospects. Three-stars Jacoby Boren and Pat Elflein started the class and both project as inside guys at the next level with Boren likely being a center and Elflein being able to play either guard or center.


Rounding out the interior guys is Windsor (Colo.) product Joey O'Connor. O'Connor played tackle in high school but will make the move to guard at the next level. What O'Connor, Boren, and Elflein all have in common is that they are hard-nosed linemen that play mean and to the echo of the whistle.


While guard was certainly an area that needed some depth, the glaring need in this class was offensive tackle and landing four-star prospects Taylor Decker and Kyle Dodson down the stretch were arguably the two biggest 'gets' in this entire class for the Buckeyes. Decker and Dodson, are tall, athletic, long-armed prospects that can get out to the second and third levels and execute blocks and can also get out on the edge in pass-protection. Given the need at tackle, it would not be surprising if both prospects saw playing time next fall.


Grade: A-





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