It was quite possibly the most quiet National Signing Day in Ohio State football history. But, new Buckeye head coach Ryan Day answered the question on everyone's mind: can he recruit? The answer is a resounding YES! Since most of the 2019 Buckeye recruits put their names on letters of intent during the early period in late December, the quiet signing day wasn’t unexpected. However, the players they added to this class on Wednesday are huge for the program. The Buckeyes took a hit when longtime offensive line commit Doug Nester decided to sign with
Virginia Tech. This hurt because this team lacks depth in that unit. But, Ryan Day showed off his recruiting skills by getting a commitment from guard Enokk Vimahi from Hawaii. You read that right. Hawaii. Day outdueled USC and Oklahoma for Vimahi’s pledge. What makes it all the more impressive is he was thought to be heavily leaning towards USC, and the Buckeyes did not offer him a scholarship until January 4th. Vimahi is ranked seventh nationally at his position,
and 124th overall by 247 Sports (Nester is rated one spot ahead of him at guard). Early Wednesday evening the Buckeyes got another huge commitment from an offensive lineman. Quite literally huge. 6’8”, 360 pound Dawand Jones from Indianapolis chose the Buckeyes over Penn State. He’s considered a project, and will probably redshirt in 2019. But, he’s very athletic, and holds a few Division I basketball scholarship offers. These two commitments now give the Buckeyes thirteen offensive lineman on scholarship.
It is not a normal class in terms of numbers; the Buckeyes just didn’t have a lot of available scholarships. We’re used to seeing between 20 and 25 players signed. That was not possible this time. This class totals just 17, and is ranked 3rd in the Big Ten, and 14th nationally. Don’t let those rankings worry you. They are based on the ratings of the player a school signs; naturally the more you sign, the higher your total will be. If you look at it based solely on the average of each player, Ohio State finishes behind only Alabama and Georgia. Michigan signed 26 players, and is ranked 8th in the country. But, their average falls below that of the Buckeyes.
The class may be small, but it doesn’t lack star power. Defensive end Zach Harrison, receiver Garrett Wilson, and center Harry Miller are all five-star players. I’ll be shocked if Harrison and Wilson don’t get early playing time next season, and Miller could end up as the top backup to Josh Myers at center. Receiver Jameson Williams isn’t listed as a five-star, but he’s a top-100 player nationally, and the top-rated player in the state of Missouri. Six are already on campus as early enrollees, and will take part in spring practice.
While a lot of focus is understandably on the higher rated players in a recruiting class, the players who have made the earliest impact in the 2017 and 2018 classes have been three-star recruits. Left Tackle Thayer Munford was the first member of the 2017 class to become a starter. It took most of the season, but receiver Chris Olave was the first member of the 2018 class to make a real impact. Tyreke Smith, Tyler Friday, and Tommy Togiai all saw early playing time on defense, but none had the success of Olave. Don’t overlook the guys who are almost afterthoughts in a recruiting class. There are four three stars in this class. Don’t be shocked if one of them finds his way onto the field for meaningful playing time next season.
Day and his staff are still trying to add Rutgers graduate transfer guard Jonah Jackson. Many think he is a serious candidate to be a starter if he joins the program. 247 Sports has him ranked at number five on their list of transfer players. Another graduate transfer is now considering Ohio State. Reports say Tennessee tight end Eli Wolf is looking at the Buckeyes. The Minster, Ohio native started 7 of 12 games for the Vols last season, but has just nine career catches. It will be interesting to see if he actually joins the program because OSU already has four tight ends, and added another in this recruiting class.
Day has gone on record saying he wants to lock down the state of Ohio. He’s gotten a good jump on that by getting commitments from the top players in the state for the 2020 and 2021 recruiting cycles. Many times new coaches have success early because they are living off of players their predecessor brought in. I don’t see that happening with Day. I think the guy can recruit, and all that is needed to keep the momentum going is success on the field. I don’t see that dropping off either.
Did We Relearn Anything?
Super Bowl LIII showed us once again defense wins championships. After watching the Ohio State struggle on that side of the ball far too much last season, Buckeye fans should already know this. Offense is entertainment, but defense will fill up a your trophy case. The Patriots and Rams put on text book displays of it on Sunday. Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips did a great job of disguising coverages, and confusing Tom Brady for most of the game. The Patriots myriad of blitzes kept Los Angeles quarterback Jared Goff off balance, and never allowed him to get into a rhythm. Because of the way today’s rules benefit offenses, and the multiple formations featuring 4-5 receiver sets that were not seen in other eras of the league, New England put on the greatest defensive performance in Super Bowl history. It surpassed the Steelers’ dismantling of the Vikings in Super Bowl IX, and the Bears’
crushing of the Patriots in Super Bowl XX. To keep an offense like the Rams out of the end zone is a monumental achievement. As a Kent State grad, I was happy to see Julian Edelman named the game’s MVP, but it really should have gone to a player on the Patriots’ defense. Cornerback Stephon Gilmore was my choice after finishing with five tackles, three passes defended, and an interception. I find it sad not one person who had a vote cast it for a defensive player. That’s right not a solitary defensive player received an MVP vote.
Nate Ebner became the second former Buckeye to earn his third Super Bowl ring; Mike Vrabel is the other. Defensive end John Simon, who I thought had an excellent game, earned his first championship ring.
Tom Brady won his sixth NFL championship in his ninth Super Bowl appearance. I don’t have a problem with him being from Michigan because they did nothing to develop him. He was an ok quarterback for them, and was only a sixth round draft choice. Brady didn’t turn into what he is today until he joined the Patriots. As I’ve already mentioned, the Rams disguising their coverages gave Brady a lot of issues. He was hesitant at times, and this led to some uncharacteristic inaccurate throws to open receivers. But, with the game on the line in the fourth quarter, he made perfect throws on four consecutive plays to set up the game’s only touchdown. He dropped a perfect pass over a Rams’ linebacker to Rob Gronkowski to start the drive. He hit Edelman over the middle, and Rex Burkhead near the sideline on the next two plays. Then he dropped another perfect pass to Gronkowski over a cornerback to put the ball just outside of the Rams’ goal line. I knew at some point he’d have a series like this because he’s done it so often.
Football ain’t done quite yet gang. The Alliance of American Football kicks off this weekend with two games Saturday night, and two more on Sunday. I know people are going to throw a hissy fit, and scream about it not being as good as the NFL. Well, no, it isn’t going to be as good as the NFL. BUT, it’s still football, and I intend to be watching.
The league consists of eight teams spread out across the south and west. They will play a ten-game regular season schedule. Four teams will make the playoffs with the championship being April 27th in Las Vegas.
The Buckeyes are certainly represented. Offensive lineman Chase Farris, defensive lineman Tracy Sprinkle, and defensive back Doran Grant are all playing for Atlanta. Orlando has receiver Jalin Marshall, and tight end Marcus Baugh is with San Diego. A few other recognizable names are former Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson with Atlanta. Running back Trent Richardson, a former number one pick of the Browns, is with Birmingham. Quarterbacks Christian Hackenburg (Penn State) is on Memphis’ roster, and Logan Woodside (Toledo) is with San Antonio.
Give the league a chance. This isn’t the old XFL. No gimmicks or other crap.
A Sad Fade To Black
One of the stars of my favorite movie as a kid passed away on Sunday. Julie Adams made many movie and television appearances, but she is best known for her role in the 1954 classic, “Creature from the Black Lagoon.” Adams nearly turned down the part, but decided to go ahead with it. She believed the movie maintained its popularity over the years because people felt for the creature and his predicament. The Oscar-winning film “The Shape of Water” was based on “Creature from the Black Lagoon.” Adams, who was 92, was born in Waterloo, Iowa, but graduated high school in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Are you aware collegiate rowing was wildly popular in the 20’s and 30’s? Neither did I. Amazing what you can learn when you read. Currently making my way through “The Boys in the Boat.” It is the story of the 1936 gold medal winning U.S. rowing team from the University of Washington. Yes, I do read about things other than football.