There is no doubt that Urban Meyer changed the culture of Ohio State recruiting when he arrived on campus in 2012. In the seven years he was at the helm, the Buckeyes hauled in top-five nationally-ranked recruiting classes six times, with the lone outlier the 2015 class which finished seventh overall. While the 2018 group was the programs best ever class points-wise with 26 commits totaling 317.06 points, Meyers finest work really came in 2017, where Ohio States 21 commits averaged a 94.59 player rating the highest in school history.
As we all know, while recruiting is the lifeblood of a college football program, the work does not stop there. Not every five-star prospect pans out, and the ability to develop players is what makes teams like Ohio State stay a step ahead of places like Georgia and Texas who recruit at a similar level. Collecting talent is important, but getting the most out of that talent is what matters most. Now that four years have passed since they began their careers in Columbus, how did the 2017 group actually pan out on the field?
The top-rated player in the 2017 class for Ohio State exceeded even the most lofty of expectations for the star defensive end. One of the best defensive players the program has even seen, Young accumulated a casual 30.5 sacks and 40.5 tackles for loss in three seasons with the Buckeyes, including a 16.5-sack campaign as a junior despite missing two games because of dumb NCAA rules. He is now the runaway favorite to win NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year after being selected No. 2 overall by the Washington Football Team in the 2020 NFL Draft. Not too shabby!
Like Young, Okudah more than accomplished everything you would expect from the nations No. 1 cornerback in the cycle. His stats don't jump off the page at you, only collecting three career interceptions, but that is because opposing quarterbacks were simply too scared to throw his way. He was the absolute definition of a lockdown corner, and his impressive efforts in Columbus earned him the No. 3 overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Brownings career at Ohio State likely wasnt as stellar as it could have been, to little fault of his own. The Buckeyes had a logjam at linebacker with Tuf Borland and Pete Werner occupying two starting spots for what felt like a decade, and while Browning was the most physically gifted of the three, he had to wait his turn. Still, he showed flashes of what made him such a highly rated recruit whenever he got the chance to play. Browning has a dynamic skillset, adept at rushing the passer off the edge as well as showing strong coverage abilities this past season as a full-time starter. Hes projected as a late second or third-round draft pick this April.
Had Wade elected to declare for the NFL Draft following the 2019 campaign, he would have been a consensus first-round pick. However, after a shaky season following his move to outside corner in 2020, Wades draft stock has taken a hit. In the slot, Wade was incredible, locking down everyone over the middle and even showcasing his athleticism on very effective corner blitzes. Unfortunately, he struggled on the outside, and his efforts attempting to cover DeVonta Smith in the national title game certainly did not help his case. The talent is clearly there, and hopefully whichever NFL team picks him up can help him re-find the player he was in 2019.
Davis is another guy who could've elected to go pro a year ago, but decided instead to come back and chase a national title. While the team wasnt quite able to help him accomplish that goal, Davis is still one of the top players at his position in the upcoming NFL Draft. Interior offensive linemen arent as valued as tackles at the next level, but Davis is certainly worth using a high selection on if a team is looking to secure one of its guard spots for the foreseeable future. One of the most consistent players on Ohio States offensive line the past two seasons, Davis will be starting in the NFL next year.
The first player on this list not to make an impact at Ohio State, Grimes was a victim of the Buckeyes incredibly deep room of wide receivers. The former four-star prospect did have himself a nice career at Florida, catching 97 passes for over 1,400 yards and 14 TDs in three seasons with the Gators, and now enters the NFL Draft as a likely mid-to-late round selection.
Dobbins put together an incredible career at Ohio State right from day one, rushing for over 1,000 yards in each of his three seasons in Columbus, including a 1,400-yard campaign as a freshman. Dobbins best season came in his final stint with the Buckeyes, where after finally getting the chance to be the teams true RB1, the junior ran for over 2,000 yards with 21 TDs. He was selected in the second round by the Baltimore Ravens, and all he did was break the franchise record for TDs by a rookie with nine. * extremely Gus Johnson voice * J.K. ALLLLLL day.
Despite being recruited as a guard, Myers was Ohio States starting center for the past two seasons, and like his fellow 2017 classmate Davis, was one of the anchors of the offensive line. The combination of Davis and Myers up the middle created huge holes for running backs like Dobbins and Trey Sermon to virtually walk right through, and their pass-blocking kept a clean pocket for Justin Fields to toss the rock all over the field with ease. Myers isnt as highly regarded as Davis in NFL Draft circles, but some have going around the third round.
Martell transferred out after it was clear he was not going to win the starting quarterback job at Ohio State, and hasnt really a home since. The artist formerly known as Tathan spent the past two seasons at Miami, but is back in the transfer portal once again as of earlier this week. Despite capturing the heart of Bill Landis, Martell has not quite panned out at the collegiate level but theres still time!
Pryor spent three seasons at Ohio State, but it was clear in the 2019 season that he had fallen out of favor in the depth chart. He played in 10 games in 2018, registering 31 total tackles and one interception, but wasnt quite consistent enough to play significant snaps for the Buckeyes. He spent this past season with the Fighting Irish, where his playing time wasnt much better. He recorded eight tackles and a sack in South Bend in limited appearances.
Nobody had a crazier year in 2020 than Garrett, who after catching COVID in the offseason and being shot in the face less than a month away from the start of the season put together one of the best campaigns of any defensive player on Ohio States roster. With four tackles for loss, two sacks and a pick-six, Garrett was huge for the Buckeyes up the middle when it came to stopping the run and applying pressure on the opposing QB. He has elected to use the extra free year of eligibility to return next season, where he will look to further improve his NFL Draft stock.
Sheffields Ohio State career was a bit of an odd one. Originally a five-star prospect in the 2015 class, the former track athlete signed with Alabama before transferring to Blinn College, where he spent two seasons before transferring to Ohio State in 2017. Sheffield spent two seasons with the Buckeyes, registering 75 total tackles and a pair of interceptions, and entered the 2019 NFL Draft where he was selected with the No. 111 overall pick by the Atlanta Falcons. Sheffield has played in 29 games with 20 starts for the Falcons over the past two seasons.
White looked like he was on the verge of a breakout career for Ohio State in 2018. Finishing the year with 46 total tackles and a pick, the safety was named defensive MVP of the Rose Bowl against Washington. Heading into his junior year, it seemed like he was destined for the Buckeyes new Bullet role under Greg Mattison. Unfortunately, for whatever reason that never materialized, and Whites playing time shrunk drastically before he decided to transfer to Rutgers. He put together a nice season with the Scarlet Knights in 2020, amassing 38 total tackles with an interception and a forced fumble.
Harris was a promising member of Ohio States wide receiver room, but an injury in his freshman year held him to only three games in his first year on campus. It looked as though he was in line for an increased role the following year, but the emergence of Chris Olave dashed those dreams, and he elected to redshirt his sophomore season. Despite being one of the most veteran receivers on the roster heading into 2020, the talents of guys like Olave, Garrett Wilson and a boatload of highly-touted recruits after him made it nearly impossible for Harris to touch the field.
Williamson has been another guy that has had a tough time cracking the depth chart in his time at Ohio State, but he finally got a chance to play significant snaps in 2020. After an achilles injury to Cam Brown against Penn State, Williamson became the teams starting slot corner for much of the regular season. It wasnt until the Big Ten title game that he began playing more as a safety, functioning as the teams second-high DB alongside Josh Proctor. Williamson has chosen to use the free year of eligibility and return for another season, where it is unclear what his role will be.
Riep was dismissed from the football team after he and fellow DB Jahsen Wint were charged with kidnapping and rape in March of 2020.
Cage has not gotten a ton of playing time in a room that has featured a bunch of talented defensive tackles, but that will almost certainly change heading into 2021 with the departure of Tommy Togiai to the NFL Draft. In his limited role this past season, Cage had five total tackles with half a sack. It is entirely possible that he could earn a starting job next season opposite Haskell Garrett, as the position will likely be between he and Antwuan Jackson.
A multi-year starting linebacker at Ohio State, Werner did a little bit of everything for the Buckeyes. He amassed 185 tackles in over his four seasons in Columbus, with 16 tackles for loss and four sacks as well as four forced fumbles. Werner was one of the teams most consistent tacklers, and was athletic enough to rush the passer, play in man coverage, and even drop back as a safety. He is an intriguing NFL prospect, as it is kind of up in the air as to whether or not his skillset will translate to the next level. However, as the fourth-lowest rated player in the 2017 class, he had himself a great collegiate career.
Munford certainly could have tested the NFL Draft waters, but he has elected to come back for another season at Ohio State. The Buckeyes offensive tackle tandem was phenomenal this season, as both Munford and Nicholas Petit-Frere allowed very little off the edge. Playing through injuries the past few seasons, Munford was finally healthy in 2020, and put together his most impressive campaign to date. He now looks to finish his degree and further improve his draft stock in year five.
Same issues as Jaylen Harris, but even lower on the totem pole. Gardiner caught one pass for Ohio State in 2019, and that will likely be the only reception of his Buckeye career. Brian Hartlines wide receiver room is way too loaded with four and five-star talents for the former three-star wideout to really ever see the field.
Recruiting rankings are obviously not kind to kickers, but Haubeil had a great run as Ohio States starting boot as the lowest-rated player in the 2017 class. Haubeil never missed an extra point as a member of the Buckeyes, finishing a perfect 146-of-146. He was 28-of-35 overall on field goals, with his career long an impressive 55-yarder against Northwestern in less than ideal conditions in 2019. Haubeil battled a groin injury and missed some time in 2020, but he will now look to establish himself on an NFL roster.
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