Bob Hunter commentary | Rumblings: Recruits on way for Buckeyes' 2015 football class, analyst says

By The Columbus Dispatch  • 
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The Ohio State football recruiting commitment list for 2015 still sits at two names, tied with Indiana for third-fewest in the Big Ten, ahead of only Purdue (one) and Minnesota (zero). But Marc Givler of Rivals.com said the Buckeyes are not in panic mode by any means.

“The majority of Ohio State’s class is going to be made up of guys who probably aren’t going to make their decisions until that period from the fall through signing day (in February), the time in which they can make official visits,” said Givler, who closely monitors OSU recruiting. “But I do think you are going to see things pick up in a month or so, and I think you will see Ohio State benefit from that.”

He named several prospects the Buckeyes are running strong with, and some of them could make up their minds in the next month or so, including defensive end Dre’Mont Jones of Cleveland St. Ignatius, defensive tackle Elijah Taylor of Cincinnati Moeller, receiver Van Jefferson of Brentwood, Tenn., and defensive end Darius Fullwood of Olney, Md.

And 2016 prospect George Hill, a speedy multipurpose back from Hubbard, near Youngstown, has been offered by OSU, Michigan State, West Virginia and Kentucky, and he could decide in the next few weeks, as well. He is said to be leaning heavily toward OSU.

Meanwhile, the Buckeyes are looking to add some punch to that 2016 class with the recent offer to running back Elijah Holyfield of Woodward Academy, near Atlanta. He is a son of former world heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, who first won the title by defeating Columbus’ Buster Douglas in the fall of 1990.

Elijah Holyfield hopes to make a tour of unofficial visits late this spring that would include Wisconsin and OSU.

 

Crew coach Gregg Berhalter has made no secret of his desire to give his players their best opportunities to play on their national teams. In the case of Jairo Arrieta and Dominic Oduro, that emphasis might have been counterproductive.

Arrieta has been playing ahead of Oduro. The two started one game together, but in four of Arrieta’s six starts, Oduro — who scored 13 goals in 34 games last season — was on the bench. Arrieta has two goals this season, one on a penalty kick that would typically go to Federico Higuain. Oduro hasn’t scored.

Berhalter knew Arrieta was competing for a spot on the Costa Rica national team, so he wanted to give him as many opportunities to score as he could. Arrieta didn’t make the team but was one of four players put on standby.

“If he would have been scoring on a regular basis, I’m confident he would have been on the team,” Berhalter said, “and we tried desperately to give him opportunities to add to his account.”

Oduro is from Ghana and was not under consideration for his country’s national team.

 

While coach Ty Tucker was preparing Ohio State men’s tennis team for the first round the NCAA tournament last week, he had to take a break to have arthroscopic surgery for a medial meniscus tear in a knee.

It wasn’t much of a break, however. Tucker had surgery at 12:54 p.m. on Tuesday, was released at 3 and was at practice at 4. He didn’t try to hit balls that day, but he was feeling good the next day, so he got off the meds and was back on the court.

The Buckeyes made it through the first and second rounds and will play Florida in the round of 16 today in Athens, Ga.

 

The Cleveland Indians have played a quarter of their season, and No. 2 hitter Nick Swisher’s batting average was below the Mendoza line at .199 with two home runs and 15 RBI entering last night’s game.

Although it might seem like a good time to drop him in the order and try to get a little more juice up top, let history serve as a guide: The Tribe first baseman and former Ohio State standout also got off to a slow start last season, and manager Terry Francona didn’t move him out of the cleanup spot to a No. 2 position until more than half the season was over.

There are three other contributing factors here: The Indians made a $56 million commitment to Swisher when they signed him, he is seen as the ideal No. 2 hitter and cleanup hitter Carlos Santana has been struggling even more than Swisher has, with a .154 batting average.

In Swisher’s case especially, the Tribe has to believe he will have the kind of hot streaks necessary to get his average around his .253 career mark and his home run and RBI totals in their respective 20-to-25 and 80-to-90 ranges.

 

Two things the Pittsburgh Steelers like about former Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier are his speed and versatility.

Shazier ran a sub-4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash at OSU’s pro day, prompting Steelers defensive backs coach Carnell Lake to ask Buckeyes cornerback Bradley Roby during a predraft visit if Shazier could play safety.

“There is no reason why he couldn’t play safety,” Lake told ESPN.com. “This guy is big and fast and aggressive. If for some reason (Pittsburgh linebackers coach) Keith Butler doesn’t like him, I’ll take him.”

 

Since 2010, 23 Ohio State players have been taken in the NFL draft, best in the Big Ten, according to the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Gazette. Iowa is second with 22, followed by Wisconsin (21), Nebraska (19) and Penn State (19). During the same five-year period, the Southeastern Conference has four programs with more draftees than OSU — Alabama (37), Louisiana State (33), Florida (28) and Georgia (27).

Wisconsin leads the Big Ten in first-rounders during that time with four; OSU has three. By contrast, Alabama has had 13 first-rounders, followed in the SEC by Florida (seven) and LSU, Texas A&M and Tennessee (six each).

Bob Hunter is a sports columnist for The Dispatch.

bhunter@dispatch.com

@dailyhunter

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