Those 22 players who were expected to be part of the highly ranked Ohio State 2014 recruiting class by the end of this day actually were in the fold by 10:30 a.m., their national letters of intent certified.
In fact, seven have been on campus for a month, early enrollees that include five-star prospect Raekwon McMillan, considered the top inside linebacker recruit in the nation by Rivals.com.
The OSU coaches had pushed in the past few weeks to add a second five-star recruit in defensive end Malik McDowell of Southfield, Mich. But McDowell went against his parents’ wishes and said at his high school’s signing ceremony this morning that he will attend Michigan State, picking the Spartans over OSU, Michigan and Florida State.
OSU’s recruiting battles with Michigan State aren’t over, though, which means the Buckeyes’ class could grow by one more player.
Defensive end Darius Slade of Montclair, N.J., backed away from signing with the Spartans today, according to the Newark Star-Ledger, because he wants to make an official visit to Ohio State next weekend. A major reason is the bond he has developed with new OSU defensive line coach Larry Johnson, who had been at Penn State the past 18 years.
As for those already certified in the OSU class on this snowy, cold day that made the process difficult for some, coach Urban Meyer said the Buckeyes filled some major needs, especially on a defense that was ripped by the pass last season.
“I think we addressed that need,” Meyer during an interview with ESPN this morning.
He cited McMillan, cornerback Damon Webb, safety Erick Smith and defensive back Marshon Lattimore as being among those who have chances of working into the playing rotation quickly.
“They’re not redshirting, they’re playing,” Meyer said.
The Buckeyes also restocked the cupboard on the offensive line, which loses four starters from the 2013 team. They gained a complete complement of five linemen, in fact, after tackle Jamarco Jones of Chicago (De La Salle) ended his three weeks of uncertainty -- which included an official visit to MSU last weekend – by signing with Ohio State this morning.
Not that it was easy for Jones. His mother tweeted a photo that showed their car stuck in the snow just outside their house when they first tried to leave to do the signing this morning. She also posted a photo of her son digging out the alleyway to free the car.
“I managed to push us out #NoTowTruckNeeded #EarlyMorningWorkout,” Jamarco Jones tweeted.