- Tom VanHaaren, ESPN Staff Writer
Ohio State lost a 40-35 shootout to Clemson in the Discover Orange Bowl. The Buckeyes only had two losses on the season, but one prevented them from playing in the national championship game.
There are plenty of players leaving after this season, but Ohio State’s recruiting class will help fill a few holes.
Instant impact freshman: It might be tough to keep receiver Johnnie Dixon (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla./Dwyer) off the field. Ohio State has a lot of options for its offense, but the No. 39 ranked prospect has the size and speed that can be an asset early on in his career. Dixon might be able to help out on special teams and offense depending on his grasp of the playbook. There are a few other options for early playing time in this class, but given the depth chart it’s difficult to predict who might play right away.
Top 2014 recruits: The top prospect in Ohio State’s class is No. 12-ranked Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County), the No. 1-ranked linebacker. The Buckeyes landed four linebackers in this class, including McMillan and fellow ESPN 300 prospect Dante Booker Jr. (Akron, Ohio/St. Vincent St. Mary). The coaching staff went into enemy territory to secure a commitment from cornerback Damon Webb (Detroit/Cass Tech), who grew up a Michigan fan. Webb was a big get not only because of his size and talent, but also because he is from a school that typically sends prospects to Michigan. Offensive line was a big need, and it was filled with four commitments, including two ESPN 300 prospects in Demetrius Knox (Fort Worth, Texas/All Saints Episcopal) and Jamarco Jones (Chicago/De La Salle).
Questions for signing day: The question still remains if linebacker Ryan Shazier and quarterback Braxton Miller will declare for the NFL draft. There is a chance both decide to stay at Ohio State for one more season, which would be a huge victory in itself. With 19 commitments already on board, there aren’t many spots remaining. Teammates Marshon Lattimore (Cleveland, Ohio/Glenville) and Erick Smith are still on the board and could be announcing a decision as soon as Saturday. Tight end David Njoku (Cedar Grove, N.J./Cedar Grove) is also still an option for the Buckeyes and plans to visit Jan. 17. One of the bigger targets left on the board, defensive end Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell), also plans on visiting in January, so there are still plenty of questions and options remaining for Ohio State leading up to signing day.
2dJosh Moyer and Dan Murphy