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Friday, February 22, 2013
OSU 2014: Small in numbers big in hype?

By Brad Bournival

With Ohio State still under the thumb of NCAA sanctions for one more recruiting season, the Buckeyes need to be very careful about who they take in the class of 2014.

The lowball number is 14, though it could balloon up to somewhere around 20 due to transfers, medical hardships, juniors leaving early and things like that.

That said, Ohio State isn’t exactly hamstrung when it comes to finding recruits to come to Columbus, Ohio.

The Buckeyes will look at the offensive line and linebacker position hard to fill holes and add depth in 2014, but the sky isn’t falling when it comes to nabbing potential standouts down the line.

History proves that.

The class of 1998, while it might be an albatross in terms of hitting a home run with such few pledges, is the example.

That of group 16 included the likes of LeCharles Bentley, Nate Clements, Cie Grant, Donnie Nickey, Kenny Peterson and Jonathan Wells.

David Thompson and Ivan Douglas were on the two-deep chart for the Buckeyes during their last national title win, while Grant, Nickey and Peterson were all starters on the squad that posted a perfect 14-0 record.

But that small class of 1998 was something more than just a four- or five-year wonder, as 11 of the 16 players from that unit went on to later success.

Steve Bellisari (St. Louis), James Cotton (Atlanta), Jamar Martin (Dallas, Miami, New Orleans, New York Jets), Derek Ross (Dallas, Atlanta, Minnesota, New Orleans), Bentley (New Orleans, Cleveland), Clements (Buffalo, San Francisco, Cincinnati), Grant (New Orleans), Nickey (Tennessee), Peterson (Green Bay, Denver), Ryan Pickett (St. Louis, Green Bay) and Wells (Houston) were all drafted in the NFL and started at one point or another.

There’s nothing saying the 2014 class will turn out to be anything like that of 1998, but there are some very big names on the Ohio State big board this year.

To make matters even better, many of those names have the Buckeyes either near or at the top of their lists.

Ohio State is off to a good start with Watch List standouts Damon Webb (Detroit/Cass Tech) at cornerback and Kyle Trout (Lancaster, Ohio/Lancaster) already committed in 2014. Add offensive tackle Marcelys Jones (Cleveland/Glenville), who stood out at the Best of the Midwest Combine on Monday, is in the mix as is running back Parris Campbell Jr. (Akron, Ohio/St. Vincent-St. Mary), who posted a 4.42 40-yard dash at the SPARQ Combine last weekend.