The Fan's Signing Day Central
We’re going to post biographies of all the recruits as their Letters of Intent roll in. The most recent will be on top.
During a preseason scrimmage against Canton McKinley, Kyle Berger tore his ACL, partially tore his MCL and his meniscus. He missed his senior season as a result. However, Ohio State already knew what they had in the linebacker, and that is a player who had 44 tackles for loss and 10 sacks in his junior campaign. It is a player who had attracted offers from Alabama, Michigan State, Michigan, and more. (Michigan’s Brady Hoke famously didn’t help his team’s chances when he accidentally referred to Kyle as “Alex.”) And it is a player so committed to a physical style of play, he told Cleveland.com he knew he wanted to attend OSU when he saw Buckeye players participating in the team’s circle drill.
First Jamarco Jones decided he wanted to remain in the Midwest. Then he narrowed down his list to schools Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan. Finally, he chose to join the Scarlet and Gray. Jones is a versatile offensive lineman, who told website Eleven Warriors that believes he’ll play left tackle at the college level. Plus, he’s such a coach’s favorite, that when he held his press conference to announce his decision to go to OSU, his high school coach cut short a vacation in order to attend. It’s also notable that at that press conference, he said he would be continuing his, “academic and athletic career” at Ohio State. Well, actually he said at “the University of Ohio State,” but if he’s as talented as it appears, Buckeye fans will easily forgive him for that. They'll also surely forgive the visit he took to Michigan State late in the recruiting process. Jones also played high school basketball.
As a linebacker at Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary, Dante Booker set the school’s record for career tackles with 418.5. (Next on the list? Harvie Tuck IV had 296.) Of his remarkable total, 129.5 of Booker’s tackles came during his senior season, when he snagged a DIII state title; USA Today, First-Team All-America honors; and was the first defensive player to be named Ohio’s Mr. Football since Andy Katzenmoyer in 1995. As if all that wasn’t enough, he capped it all off by taking home defensive player of the year recognition at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
If you haven’t heard much about Parris Campbell, there’s a good reason for it. As Cleveland.com’s Ari Wasserman relays in an excellent story on it (linked below), Campbell basically skipped the entire recruiting process. The bottom line of the Cleveland.com piece is this: Campbell impressed Urban Meyer the very first time Meyer saw him. Of course, by the time his high school career was over, there were plenty of others impressed. During his senior year, he set school records for longest punt return touchdown (89 yards), longest kick return touchdown (99), longest rushing touchdown (98 yards), rushing yards in a season (1,647 yards). He also owns the Irish record for career touchdowns (59). Campbell has more upside than some other recruits, because he’s younger than most of them. He skipped kindergarten and went straight into first grade. That means he’ll be 17 years old during his freshman season.
Ohio State reached into Pennsylvania’s WPIAL to snag prospect Malik Hooker…even though he quit football after middle school in order to focus on basketball, and didn’t get back on to the gridiron until his junior season. How did he manage to attract the Buckeyes attention then? Well, during his junior campaign, he scored 11 touchdowns while averaging over 9 yards per carry and 25 yards per catch; and some of his YouTube highlights as a defensive back registered thousands of hits. He followed up on that with a season in which he earned All-State recognition from USA Today. He says he expects to play safety at OSU.
Damon Webb already has this Buckeye thing down, which may be surprising considering Rivals.com lists him as the top recruit from his home state…of Michigan. But a day before Signing Day, Sports Illustrated quoted him as dissing Wolverines coach Brady Hoke. (“They’re not getting any better,” Webb said, “The coaches aren’t developing their talent.”) Webb’s development as a defensive back started when his coaches at Cass Tech convinced him to give up playing wide receiver. It paid off in the end, as he was named the country’s top defensive back by the U.S. Army selection committee.
He grew up rooting for Florida State, but defensive lineman Jalyn Holmes still committed to Ohio State. Florida State won the BCS Championship, but Jalyn Holmes remained committed the Buckeyes. And now it’s Signing Day, and Jayln Holmes has sent his letter of intent to OSU. Part of the reason for that loyalty is the loyalty Urban Meyer showed him during the recruiting process. You see, Holmes was suspended for two games during his senior season as the result of an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Meyer stuck by him, regardless. And despite missing the two games, Holmes still ended up in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, which he hopes is a warm-up for a prolific career as a viper in Scarlet and Gray.
Read more about how Holmes got through his bump in the road here.
Recruiting analyst Tom Lemming compared him to John Simon. His high school coach is convinced that Dylan Thompson has a shot at the NFL. In fact, according to the Chicago Tribune, when he was eight years old, Thompson promised his sister he’d buy her a purple corvette as soon as he makes the league…First, however, he’s going to play college ball, and that’s something he intends to do at Ohio State. Thompson said it was a visit to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center that convinced him, that plus the fact that the Buckeyes do a lot of winning; and Thompson is accustomed to winning. His high school went to four straight state championships during his time there, and they won three of them. In his senior season, he set the school record for sacks with 17. He had 50 tackles, and 35 tackles for loss.
Demetrius Knox originally committed to Texas, close to where he played high school ball. Then the Ohio native pledged to join the Buckeyes. However, he still took an official visit to UCLA in late January. Then he made another visit to Texas. It was a obviously a winding road that brought Knox to Ohio State, but now that he’s here, there’s a hope that he can contribute big things to the offensive line. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Knox registered 46 pancake blocks while only allowing a single sack during his senior year. He’s a Second Team, USA Today All-American.
Read more about Knox here.
Although he was sometimes overshadowed by his Glenville teammates, defensive back Erick Smith is far more than just a throw-in Urban Meyer recruited to get Marshon Lattimore and Marcelys Jones to come to Columbus. Not for nothing did Smith also garner interest from Alabama, Michigan State, and Michigan. In fact, CBS described Smith as one of the top four rising prospects in their final recruiting rankings for this year’s class. Especially impressive was his performance at the U.S. Army All-American Game. He led the East with 6 tackles, 5 of them solo, and added a pass breakup.
Brady Taylor is an All-Ohio offensive lineman from 2013 state semi-finalist Bishop Ready high school in Columbus. The lure of playing for the hometown Buckeyes was so great that, as early as 8th grade, he informed his mother he planned on attending Ohio State. That’s why he backed out of a commitment he made to Virginia Tech in July once he picked up an OSU offer. It didn’t help Tech’s case that they lost their offensive line coach, Jeff Grimes to LSU during Taylor’s recruiting process. It wasn’t always obvious that Taylor was going to be a lineman, though. He also played running back, tight end and linebacker before seeing his weight jump from 210 to 240 in 2012. He’s now the fifth offensive lineman to pledge to OSU this year, he’ll probably redshirt this upcoming season when the Buckeyes host Virginia Tech; but it’s quite possible he’ll be on the field when Ohio State visits Blacksburg September 7, 2015.
Ohio State has landed at least one prospect from Cleveland Glenville every year since 2002. There is a trio of Tarblooders keeping that tradition alive this season, and that includes the state of Ohio’s top prospect, Marshon Lattimore. Lattimore plays defensive back and wide receiver, and he had no problem admitting that the idea of playing with some of his high school teammates in Columbus was a draw for him. Another reason he picked Ohio State over Alabama and Oregon is the chance at some early playing time, and as one of the top corners in this year’s recruiting class, that is within his grasp. As for why OSU was drawn to Lattimore? Much of that was on display during the high school state semi-finals when Lattimore scored four touchdowns, including two that went over 55 yards, in a 41-13 win over Highland. Glenville would fall in the championship game 41-23 to Loveland, despite Lattimore’s three receptions for 83 yards and one 47-yard touchdown, plus his 2.5 tackles. Lattimore was one of six finalists for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl Player of the Year Award, helped his team reach the state finals, and was recruited by Stan Drayton.
Read more about Lattimore here.
Although his team ultimately came up short, Noah Brown intercepted two passes in the state championship game. What’s scary about that is Brown still receives more recognition for his work on offense. He played both running back and wide receiver last season, and in that dual role, he totaled 1,363 total yards and 21 touchdowns for Pope John XXIII High School. When he joins the Scarlet and Gray, the New Jersey All-State selection is expected to catch passes.
He attended an Ohio State camp, hoping to attract Urban Meyer’s attention, but Meyer said he wanted to see more out of the Cathedral High School wide receiver. The second time he attended a Buckeye camp, Terry McLaurin left with a scholarship offer. That garnered him a little bit more notice. When he really opened eyes, though, was at The Opening camp in Oregon, where—among other things—he posted a 44.8-inch vertical jump. During his senior season, McLaurin totaled 2,324 yards and averaged 13.9 yards per touch as a combo running back, receiver, and returner. He helped his team win the Class 5A state championship over previously top-ranked Westfield, and won the 2013 Indiana Mr. Football award.
Originally, Sam Hubbard didn’t commit to Ohio State. He committed to Notre Dame. Oh, and originally, he didn’t commit as a football player. His plans were to play lacrosse. Eventually, the honor roll student decided the smart thing for him to do was to focus on the gridiron, where teams like Stanford and Michigan had noticed his talent. Although he played safety in high school, it’s believed he’ll play linebacker at the collegiate level. During his senior season Hubbard recorded 79 solo tackles, 30 assists, picked off 5 passes, forced one fumble, and recovered two fumbles.