Recruiting Watch

Ohio State commitments seeking state titles

By The Columbus Dispatch  • 
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Karen Schiely | Akron Beacon Journal
Linebacker Dante Booker, who helped lead Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary to a state title Thursday night, was named Ohio’s Mr. Football this week.

While Ohio State plays for the Big Ten championship this weekend, several future Buckeyes will be reaching for the pinnacle on the high-school level.

Five of Ohio State’s 17 commitments for its 2014 recruiting class are trying to win state titles, and one has.

Linebacker Dante Booker and receiver Parris Campbell led Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary into its Division III state final against Trotwood-Madison. On Wednesday, Booker was named Ohio’s Mr. Football.

Offensive lineman Marcelys Jones helped lead Cleveland Glenville into the Division II state championship game against Loveland.

Linebacker Sam Hubbard will try to help Cincinnati Moeller win the Division I title against Mentor.

In New Jersey, Noah Brown, designated as an “athlete,” will lead Pope John XXIII in its state final against St. Joseph.

One of Ohio State’s recruits, Terry McLaurin, scored three touchdowns for Indianapolis Cathedral in a victory over Westfield in a championship game last weekend.

McLaurin, a bit overlooked when he committed to the Buckeyes, had a breakthrough season. According to Maxpreps.com, he ran for 662 yards (9.2 per carry) and caught 49 passes for 819 yards (16.7 per catch). He acounted for 11 touchdowns.

Others in Ohio State’s 2014 class burnished already strong reputations.

“As a whole, they have done very well, both individually and as part of their teams,” Bucknuts.com recruiting analyst Bill Kurelic said. “If you look at the records of their teams, for the most part, they’re really good.”

Although Kurelic acknowledged that it’s hard to single out a player who was head and shoulders above the rest, he said that Hubbard, Detroit Cass Tech cornerback Damon Webb and running back Curtis Samuel of Brooklyn, N.Y. (Erasmus Hall) had exceptional seasons.

According to the New York Public Schools Athletic League website, Samuel gained 1,461 yards and scored 17 touchdowns. Those are impressive numbers, but his average of nearly 16 yards per carry is stunning.

The quarterback in the 2014 class, Stephen Collier of Lee County (Ga.) High School, led his team to the second round of the state playoffs. His season ended last weekend in a 41-35 loss, although he passed for 235 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 154 yards and three scores.

“It wasn’t spectacular, but it was good to very good,” Kurelic said of Collier’s season. “I would not be counting on him if, say, Braxton (Miller) went to the NFL at end of the year to be the guy next year. I think he’s likely to redshirt, but he’s got size and a good arm and has the potential to develop.”

With 17 recruits intending to sign — receiver Lonnie Johnson decommitted last month and committed to Western Michigan — the Buckeyes have a handful of scholarships remaining.

Kurelic expects them to add Glenville defensive backs Marshon Lattimore and Erick Smith.

Ohio State particularly covets two players as it looks to finish its recruiting class.

Junior-college offensive lineman Chad Mavety could step in as a starter next season with the loss of four multiyear starting seniors. He is deciding between Ohio State and Florida State.

The biggest prize remains five-star linebacker Raekwon McMillan of Georgia. He was thought for a long time to be leaning toward Ohio State, but Clemson has made a strong push, and Alabama and Auburn also are under consideration.

“Anybody who says they know where he’s going right now is just guessing,” Kurelic said. “I doubt that he knows where he’s going for sure. He still has the home visit for the coaches to go.”

If McMillan and Mavety commit and the Buckeyes get a few other quality players to round out their class, Kurelic believes Ohio State will contend for the mythical No. 1 recruiting class.

Even if the Buckeyes don’t close the deal with some of those remaining players, they still will have a strong class of 2014.

“If things fall right, it’ll be a top-five class,” Kurelic said. “If things don’t fall right, it’ll be a top-10 class.”

brabinowitz@dispatch.com

@brdispatch

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