Dream Ending for Ohio State's 2020 Recruiting Class
Writer: Andrew Carlisle
The summer stretch of the college football offseason is often filled with teams filling out their current rosters with transfers, and their future rosters on the recruiting trail. The hottest recruiting team in the country is THE Ohio State Buckeyes.
There have been plenty of booms in recruiting for the Buckeyes as of late, as they have had 12 commitments from players in the 2020 recruiting class since May 31, per Colin Hass-Hill of Eleven Warriors.
Ryan Day and his staff have done a phenomenal job in their first six months on the job at identifying the recruits that fit their system that are also highly rated football players. The headline player in this class for the Buckeyes, is wide receiver Julian Fleming, a five-star recruit who is rated as the number one receiver in the 2020 class, and number five player overall.
Fleming is not the only receiver joining the Buckeyes 2020 recruiting class, however, as there are three more four-star receivers - all in the top 100 of the 247 Sports Player Rankings - committed to the Buckeyes. Mookie Cooper, Gee Scott Jr., and Jaxon Smith-Njigba will join Fleming in Columbus next season, and give the Buckeyes serviceable depth at the wide receiver position in the coming years following the loss of Terry Mclaurin, Jonnie Dixon, and Parris Campbell to the NFL Draft, with K.J. Hill, Austin Mack, and Binjimen Victor set to follow that same path after the 2019 season concludes.
Another position of need that Ohio State has focused on in this recruiting cycle is the offensive line. Paris Johnson Jr. is the headliner of this group, and he ranks as the number one offensive tackle, and eighth player in the entire class. Ohio State also holds a commitment from the number one center in the class in Luke Wypler, as well as four other 3-star offensive linemen in Grant Toutant, Josh Fryar, Jakob James, and Trey Leroux.
The overhaul in the offensive line position is due in large part to Ohio State only returning one starter on the offensive line this season - Thayer Munford - after Isaiah Prince, Demetrius Knox, Michael Jordan, and Malcolm Pridgeon were lost to the NFL Draft.
As of now, Ohio State’s recruiting class sits at 20 commits, and after only bringing in 14 players a season ago it is expected that this class will hold around 25 new players when all is said and done. This leaves six scholarship spots open as the kicker in this recruiting cycle, Jake Seibert, is expected to use the grayshirt option for the 2020 season. Now with that expectation in mind, this begs the question: what recruits will provide the finishing touches to Ohio State’s 2020 recruiting class?
Bijan Robinson - Running Back
If there is one thing that Ohio State’s class is lacking at the moment, its a running back. Luckily for the Buckeyes, there is still a five-star on the market in Bijan Robinson. The 6-foot, 200 pound running back from Salpointe Catholic High School in Tucson, Arizona is set to announce his commitment on August 2, per 247 Sports. According the crystal ball prediction by 247 Sports, Ohio State is the favorite to land Robinson over Texas and 19 other schools. This would be a huge get for the Buckeyes after the likelihood of missing out on fellow five-star recruits Kendall Milton and Zachary Evans to schools in the SEC. Robinson rushed for 2,400 yards and 35 touchdowns for Salpointe Catholic last season and he would give Ohio State an every down back to prep for the future, with the looming likelihood that J.K. Dobbins declares for the NFL Draft after this season.
Jaylan Knighton - All-Purpose Back
The Buckeyes don’t have any running backs committed at the moment, so why not take two? Jaylan Knighton is a 5-foot-9, 194 pound all-purpose back from Deerfield Beach, Florida, and like Robinson, is very high on the Buckeyes. Knighton figures to be a target for Ohio State’s H-Back position, previously held by the likes of former Ohio State players Jalin Marshall, Braxton Miller, Curtis Samuel, Parris Campbell, as well as Percy Harvin was the originator of the position while at the University of Florida under Urban Meyer. Knighton is set to announce his commitment on July 30, and Ohio State is the presumed favorite over 32 other schools.
Kedrick Bingley-Jones - Defensive Tackle
Another position of need for the Buckeyes in this cycle is the defensive line, and Kedrick Bingley-Jones could be the answer. The 6-foot-4.5, 266 pound defensive tackle from Providence Day School in Charlotte, North Carolina is set to announce his commitment on August 3, and while the favorite to land him right now may be the home-state North Carolina tar Heels, don’t count the Buckeyes out yet. Bingley-Jones visited Ohio State during their huge recruiting weekend on June 21, and it will likely be between the Buckeyes, North Carolina, and Duke for the four-star defensive tackle.
Lathan Ransom - Safety
A teammate of Bijan Robinson, and worst kept secret of Ohio State’s recruiting class over the last few months has been four-star safety, Lathan Ransom. 247 Sports crystal ball prediction for Lathan Ransom is 100% in favor of the Buckeyes over 27 other schools. Ransom is expected to announce his commitment on his birthday, Tuesday July 16. Ransom is a very versatile safety, tough and hard-hitting against the run, and very instinctive and rangy against the pass. It would not be a shock to see both Ransom and Bijan Robinson - teammates at Salpointe Catholic High School in Tucson, Arizona - commit to the Buckeyes in the next few weeks, bringing the Tucson duo up to Columbus
.Kourt Williams - Outside Linebacker
A player who could see a position change if he chooses to commit to Ohio State is Kourt Williams. Williams, is a 6-foot-1, 216 pound outside linebacker from St. John Bosco high school in Bellflower, California, however, he might be better suited for a box safety position at the next level, something Ohio State could offer. This season Ohio State will break in a new position on defense, the Bullet position. The Bullet position is expected to be manned by Brendon White this season and it is incorporated into defenses to be more dynamic and give offenses different looks. The Bullet acts as a linebacker-safety hybrid and has the ability to play close to the line of scrimmage like a linebacker, or drop into deep coverage as a safety. Given Williams’ body type and natural playing ability, he seems like a good fit for the Bullet. Kourt Williams has not announced his commitment date yet, but as of right now it seems he is deciding between the Buckeyes, Oklahoma, Penn State, Tennessee, and Texas A&M, after posting a top five image on his Instagram page. Last season for St. John Bosco, Williams registered 74 tackles, four tackles for loss, two sacks, and two pass break ups.
Elias Ricks - Cornerback
Elias Ricks is the biggest unknown of this list of players. Ricks, a 6-foot-2, 192 pound cornerback from Bradenton, Florida, has been committed to LSU since Christmas day of 2018. However, just this week Ricks announced his decision to transfer to IMG Academy in his hometown of Bradenton, Florida. This is an interesting development, because the cornerback opposite of Ricks this season at IMG Academy will be Ohio State commit, Lejond Cavazos. Cavazos has been one of the more vocal Ohio State recruits this cycle, along with Paris Johnson Jr., at recruiting other players to the Buckeyes. Cavazos will undoubtedly be in Ricks’ ear all season long as he and the Ohio State staff try to flip the five-star cornerback from the Bayou Bengals to the Buckeyes. Ricks will also be taking an official visit to Ohio State on November 22 and is expected to be at the Horseshoe in Columbus for the Buckeyes Senior Day game against Penn State on November 23. In 2018 for Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, California, Ricks registered 27 tackles, nine pass break ups, a forced fumble, and nine interceptions, four of which were returned for touchdowns.
These six players would only add to a remarkable first class for new Head Coach Ryan Day and his staff while likely solidify the Buckeyes recruiting class in the top five in the country for the 2020 cycle.