Just how well did Urban Meyer and his staff at Ohio State do on national letter-of-intent day to alleviate the problems that plagued the Buckeyes late last season?
At ESPN.com, Mark Schlabach listed his post-signing day "Way-Too-Early Preseason Top 25" for this fall, putting OSU at No. 7 for filling the holes it needed to fill.
Of course, Alabama - once again - claimed the nation's top recruiting class. But Schlabach made a salient point in all the uproar over which teams are able to corral the best prospects. "While we might not know for another couple of years whether a five-star prospect was really worth five stars (or two), and vice versa, there's no question that recruiting is the lifeblood of every program," said Schlabach.
For OSU, Schlabach wrote, "Urban Meyer wanted to transform Ohio State's football team with SEC-like speed, and he dipped into Florida, Georgia and Texas in his most recent recruiting class to try to do it.
The Buckeyes signed four linebackers - a definite need - including No. 1 outside linebacker Raekwon McMillan from Georgia and No. 8 outside linebacker Dante Booker Jr. of Akron, along with No. 5 wide receiver Johnnie Dixon, and at cornerback landed No. 7 prospect Damon Webb as well as the No. 5-rated athlete Marshon Lattimore, all of whom are expected to play and "could help the Buckeyes right away," said Schlabach.
Meanwhile, the Buckeyes also were graded by Miles Joseph of Land-Grant Holy Land on their recruiting class by position, getting an 'A' at wide receiver with the addition of Dixon and signatures from four "electrifying slot-receiver types," wrote Joseph, in Noah Brown, Curtis Samuel and Terry McLaurin, plus Parris Campbell, who likely will split time between running back and wide receiver.
Another 'A' was given OSU on the offensive line, where it did a great job of filling this need with four starters leaving, while the grade at defensive end was B+ with three prime recruits, including Thompson (35 TFL/17 sacks as a senior) and Darius Slade (23.5 sacks as a senior), who the Buckeyes flipped from Michigan State on signing day.
The Buckeye "staff hit a home run," said Joseph, "by filling a huge lack of depth at linebacker," where Meyer has said "all four of the guys (McMillan, Booker Jr., along with Kyle Berger and Sam Hubbard) need to be ready to play from day one." Grade: A+
Safety was another sore point with Buckeye fans "after an awful year of safety play last year," penned Joseph. So it was an area the OSU staff really needed to address, and did so by coming up with two solid safeties in Erick Smith from Cleveland Glenville and Pennsylvanian Malik Hooker. Grade: A-
And finally, an 'A' for finding a capable replacement for reliable kicker Drew Basil in two-time Kentucky first-team all-stater Sean Nuernberger. "He's consistent and has the mental part of kicking down," said Dick Seitz of One on One Kicking.
Contact Steve Hemmelgarn at firstname.lastname@example.org