- Jared Shanker, ESPN Staff Writer
With the 2014 recruiting class filling up, which committed and uncommitted prospects would likely make the earliest impact? Here are the 10 most likely candidates:
1. Damon Webb (Detroit/Cass Tech)
ESPN 300 rank: 57
The top commitment in the Buckeyes’ class and the No. 57 player in the country, it is no surprise Webb has the potential to make an early impact for Ohio State. Urban Meyer is not afraid to play freshmen, especially at the skill positions. The defensive back recruiting at Ohio State has been strong under Meyer, but Webb will come in with an opportunity to compete for a spot in the nickel and dime packages.
2. Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Ga./Norcross)
ESPN 300 rank: 10
The five-star defensive end visited Ohio State this past weekend, and while the Buckeyes have a lot of catching up to do in Carter’s recruitment, a visit to Columbus is a start. The top player in Georgia and the No. 3 defensive end nationally, Carter has the pedigree to be a player who sees the field often as a freshman. And Meyer showed in 2012 that he is willing to play his young guys along the defensive line as Noah Spence (also a former five-star recruit) and Adolphus Washington played extensively as freshmen.
3. Jalyn Holmes (Norfolk, Va./Lake Taylor)
ESPN 300 rank: 293
One of the Buckeyes’ most recent commitments, the ESPN 300 recruit is in the same boat as Carter as a potential candidate to play as a freshman along the defensive line. While Holmes is one of the best tight ends in the country, the Buckeyes have him pegged as a defensive end in Columbus.
4. Kyle Berger (Cleveland/St. Ignatius)
ESPN 300 rank: 299
The Ohio State coaches were not able to see it, but some of his future teammates -- and opponents -- saw Berger dominate at the Columbus NFTC earlier this month. Ohio State had some attrition this offseason at the position, so there is an opportunity for Berger to earn a spot in the rotation once he makes it back to Ohio State’s facilities, but as a member of the team this time.
5. Chad Mavety (Garden City, N.Y./Nassau Community College)
ESPN 300 rank: Not ranked
Meyer did not recruit the juco ranks heavily while he was at Florida, but a few junior college linemen sparked his interest in this 2014 class. The Buckeyes have an offer to Mavety, who some believe is a Buckeyes lean. As a juco player, the expectation is for him to have an immediate impact, possibly as a backup in 2014 with an opportunity to earn a starting role.
6. Sean Nuernberger (Buckner, Ky./Oldham County)
ESPN 300 rank: Not ranked
Special teams will also be an area of emphasis on a Meyer-coached team, so it is not a surprise he is giving a scholarship to a specialist. Nuernberger had other BCS interest, but Meyer gave him an offer after watching him kick in person. Nuernberger could become a valuable piece to the Buckeyes’ 2014 season as a kicker, and when he committed, Nuernberger said he does not like watching other players do his job.
7. Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County)
ESPN 300 rank: 13
The Buckeyes’ class will not hinge on McMillan’s recruitment, but it will be a tough blow if the nation’s No. 1 inside linebacker does not land in Columbus. There is sense the Buckeyes lead for McMillan, and the five-star prospect would provide an immediate presence at linebacker in 2014. The 6-foot-2, 249-pound linebacker is a strong run defender, a necessity when playing in the Big Ten. He also has the speed to remain on the field when opponents try to stretch the field horizontally.
8. Saeed Blacknall (Manalapan, N.J./Manalapan)
ESPN 300 rank: 111
The ESPN 150 receiver is a physically imposing threat at 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds. Blacknall has the body to defeat defenders for contested throws, but he also has the speed to beat defensive backs vertically. Freshmen receivers make an impact annually in college football, and at the very least Blacknall could be a red-zone threat to begin his career.
9. Austin Roberts (Carmel, Ind./Carmel)
ESPN 300 rank: 166
Meyer has recruited tight ends and H-backs well while he was at Florida, and Roberts would likely be used in the same way Meyer used his tight ends in Gainesville. Roberts would be moved around as a traditional tight end but also play H-back, line up at receiver and even be deep in the backfield sometimes. Ohio State is in a very good position to land Roberts, too.
10. Derrell Scott (Havelock, N.C./Havelock)
ESPN 300 rank: 168
The ESPN 300 running back is at the top of the Buckeyes’ board, and he recently put the Buckeyes in his top three. Scott was at Ohio State this past weekend for a camp and visit. Running back is a position that naturally lends itself to being an instant impact position, so Scott could see the field early after Jordan Hall and Carlos Hyde graduate.
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