Coming into next season’s week one matchup in Bloomington, Ohio State will be without some of its most talented athletes. Fortunately for Ohio State, the Buckeyes will be replacing those athletes with their most talented recruiting class in program history according to 247Sports.
The biggest question however, will be how quickly those freshman can adjust? In the long-term, Ohio State should be just fine. More than fine actually. Ohio State is going to be remarkably talented as always. With that said, in the short-term, Indiana could be able to take advantage of the inexperienced talent that will be taking in their first division one football game.
To look at the specifics of Ohio State’s incoming freshman, the class ranks as the second best in the country according to 247Sports. This includes commitments from 21 players and a 94.47 per-player average composite score.
The class includes five 5-star recruits, and 13 4-stars who all have the potential to make an impact on the team early on.
Some of the biggest impacts could come in the secondary, as the Buckeyes will have to replace safety Malik Hooker, and corners Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley.
Urban Meyer seemed to be well aware of this need, as he added six elite defensive backs, two of which are 5-star corners. Each of these defensive backs are important to watch heading into the season, as they will have to deal with Indiana’s impressive wide receiver group. Simmie Cobbs, Jonah Morris, and Nick Westbrook will all be looking to create a challenge for some of these young talents. These talents include...
5-star Cornerback/Safety Jeffrey Okudah
Jeffrey Okudah is the top-ranked cornerback out of high school according to 247Sports, while he is also listed as the top safety out of high school according to ESPN and Rivals. Okudah is the 7th best overall player in the 2017 class, according to 247Sports, and he looks to be the best player in Ohio State’s recruiting class.
In his senior season, Okudah had 43 tackles, five pass break-ups and 795 total offensive yards for South Grand Prairie. What differentiates him from most is his potential to play both corner and safety, as Okudah brings elite coverage ability to the field.
5-star Cornerback Shaun Wade
Wade is another accomplished top-25 corner that could see the field come August. Wade was named the USA Today Defensive Player of the Year and is considered the 17th best player in the class of 2017 according to 247Sports. Wade committed to Ohio State on the exact same day that the program won its last national title, so it is fair to assume what his goals are.
At Trinity Christian Academy Wade won four consecutive state championships and he was named the 2017 Lockheed Martin defensive back of the year a 2016 season with 63 tackles, seven interceptions, and nine pass break-ups.
4-star Safety Isaiah Pryor
Pryor is the 7th best safety in the class of 2017 according to 247Sports, and he will be looking to compete early on for playing time as an early-enrollee in the spring.
As 4-star safety from Lawrenceville, Ga., Pryor played for the IMG Academy as a senior with another freshman early enrollee, Marcus Williamson. The two went undefeated in their senior season and Pryor made 54 tackles on the year.
4-star Cornerback Marcus Williamson
As mentioned before, Williamson built chemistry with Isaiah Pryor last season at the IMG Academy. Williamson is the 27th best cornerback in the country according to 247Sports and he recorded 36 tackles and two pass break-ups in his senior season.
4-star Cornerback Amir Riep
Reip didn’t receive as much praise as many of the others in this recruiting class, but he still had offers from most of the top programs in the country. Riep was named the 23rd best corner in the country and the Cincy native will be staying in-state to play with Ohio State.
Of course, the secondary wasn’t the only place on the field in which Ohio State made additions. The two other major contributors on defense out of the is freshman class will most likely be defensive end Chase Young and linebacker Baron Browning.
5-star Defensive End Chase Young
Chase Young is the 8th overall player in the class of 2017, which is one behind aforementioned teammate Jeffrey Okudah.
Young is already 6’5” and 251 pounds, so size shouldn’t hinder his ability to make an early impact. Young will be joining a defensive line that seems to be the strength of Ohio State with its top four defensive ends from last season returning.
One could expect Young to fill a similar role to the one played out by Nick Bosa last season. With the occasional play here and there, Young could take advantage of having fresh legs to get to the backfield.
Young had 37 tackles for loss and 19 sacks in his senior season at DeMatha Catholic, so it’s quite obvious that this young man could create havoc in Bloomington if offered the opportunity to do so.
5-star Linebacker Baron Browning
Browning is the best outside linebacker in the 2017 class and what makes a candidate to hit the field against Indiana is his versatility. Browning can play outside linebacker, inside linebacker and potentially defensive end as need.
Browning is another top-prospect that comes to Columbus as the best at his position. In his senior season, Browning was named the Associated Press 4A defensive player of the year with 81 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and 10 pass breakups.
In addition to the defensive additions, there are three offensive players that could make an impact in Bloomington. With the need to replace Curtis Samuel and Pat Elflein, Trevon Grimes, J.K. Dobbins, and Josh Myers could hit the field early for Ohio State.
4-star Wide Receiver Trevon Grimes
Grimes was a 5-star recruit prior to knee injury in his senior season. Still after the injury, Grimes is widely considered the best receiver from the state of Florida.
In High School, Grimes had 42 career catches for 770 yards, 11 touchdowns and an 18.3 yards-per-reception average. In addition, Grimes played a part in two state titles in 2015 and 2016.
Grimes bring size that allows one to assume he will be utilized in a similar fashion to Simmie Cobbs in Kevin Wilson’s offense. Of course, it should probably take some time to get to that point.
4-star Running Back J.K Dobbins
Dobbins is the 2nd best all-purpose running back according to 247Sports, and he looks to be an important project for Urban Meyer.
Meyer has been quoted as projecting Dobbins to have a similar impact to Ezekiel Elliott at some point in his career, the question really being when?
With that understanding, Dobbins could see some carries behind Mike Weber, as Dobbins looks to take his time to get adjusted and build size.
5-star Offensive Lineman Josh Myers
Myers is the 2nd best offensive guard in the class of 2017, and he could make a run starting this season. With the need to replace Pat Elflein, Ohio State will need to fill a major hole. Myers has already developed the size, as he is 6’6” and 306 pounds, and with that understanding, Myers became an early-enrollee to try to advance his chances of playing early.
As the first offensive lineman to be named player of the year by an Ohio high school sports publication, Myers could bring his accomplished past to Bloomington come August.
Finally, a name that shouldn’t see the field in Bloomington, but every Hoosier fan should know, is Tate Martell. As Ohio State’s future at the quarterback position, Martell will be under Kevin Wilson’s tutelage for a long time before facing Indiana.
4-star Quarterback Tate Martell
Tate Martell is the Gatorade Player of the Year and an elite talent that should be the perfect fit for Kevin Wilson’s offense.
As the 2nd best dual-threat quarterback in the class of 2017, Martell has drawn comparisons to Johnny Manziel after his career at Bishop Gorman.
Martell went 43-0 in his career as a starter, threw for 7,507 yards, 113 touchdowns, and only nine interceptions. Over four years, Martell also ran for 2,294 yards with 35 touchdowns. Martell won a national championship in each year he was the starting quarterback for Bishop Gorman, and he should be the next man up at Ohio State after J.T. Barrett.
Martell has also realistically been the face of the 2017 recruiting class, helping to bring together this group that could cause problems for Indiana in the years to come.
Ohio State is going to have a lot of roster turnover this season. The talent will be there, but the level of comfort may not. If Indiana is going to be victorious week 1, the plan has to be to take advantage of inexperience.