History shows OSU finishes strong


Step back from the ledge, please.

When the ESPN 150 rankings came out Thursday, Ohio State Buckeyes fans were either freaking out or in an uproar.

How could Michigan land every one of its commitments in the top 150, while Ohio State can boast only Damon Webb (Detroit/Cass Tech) in the elite group?

ESPN senior national recruiting analyst Tom Luginbill said it all in four words the next day: “It is soooooooo early.”

Buckeyes fans always seem to look up north when comparing themselves in the Big Ten. So when Bryan Mone (Salt Lake City, Utah/Highland), Drake Harris (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian), Michael Ferns (St. Clairsville, Ohio/St. Clairsville), Wilton Speight (Richmond, Va./Collegiate) and Mason Cole (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake) were ranked 72nd, 96th, 112, 125th and 145th, respectively, panic and outrage ensued. Incidentally, Webb was 57th.

It should be noted that in June 2012, the Wolverines' Class of 2013 ranked No. 1 -- in June. The Buckeyes were seventh. By signing day, Ohio State was third overall and Michigan seventh. As the 2014 recruiting cycle kicks into gear the Wolverines are sixth, the Buckeyes 11th.

That’s the gist of it all, as recruiting is a marathon and not a sprint. Ohio State looks like it might have the inside track on ESPN 150 juniors Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County), Jamarco Jones (Chicago/De La Salle) and Demarre Kitt (Tyrone, Ga./Sandy Creek). Marshon Lattimore (Cleveland/Glenville) isn't out of the discussion, either.

Michigan appears to be ahead with Jabrill Peppers (Paramus, N.J./Paramus Catholic) and Da’Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge).

What it all means at this point is that there’s a long way to go.

Ezekiel Elliott (St. Louis/John Burroughs) was on the back end of the ESPN 300 early last summer. By the time he committed to Ohio State, he was ranked 109th and the 11th-best running back in the nation.

That’s the way most of the Buckeyes’ class went last year and Urban Meyer closed by grabbing ESPN 150 selections in Gareon Conley (Massillon, Ohio/Washington), Trey Johnson (Lawrenceville, Ga./Central Gwinnett), Vonn Bell (Rossville, Ga./Ridgeland), Dontre Wilson (DeSoto, Texas) and Mike Mitchell (Plano, Texas/Prestonwood Christian) in the final two months.

Meyer also landed ESPN 300 selection Donovan Munger (Shaker Heights, Ohio/Shaker Heights) late as well as grabbing four-star wide receivers in James Clark (New Smyrna Beach, Fla./New Smyrna Beach) and ESPN junior college 100 Corey Smith (Akron, Ohio/East Mississippi Community College).

Add to that any of the early commits from 2014 who could shoot up the rankings between now and Feb. 5 and the Buckeyes should be just fine, for several reasons:

* Ohio State, and Meyer in particular, has a track record of finishing strong.

* There are plenty of ESPN 150 and future ESPN 300 targets who are quite interested in the Buckeyes.

* Another successful season with Meyer should draw even more interest from prospects.

So while the class might be small, in 10 months it should show the usual strength of history repeating itself.