Ohio State Buckeyes: #AskLoogs

Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation senior analyst Tom Luginbill a question about your team? Tweet it to @TomLuginbill using the hashtag #AskLoogs.

Well, I would go with the most college ready player committed to the Buckeyes right now, and that is linebacker Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County). This is a significant area of need, maybe even the most thin group on their roster, so McMillan will be involved from the get-go. McMillan, who has already enrolled at Ohio State, is the type of player who is physical and mentally prepared for the jump to the next level. He’s a rugged, inside thumper who will be able to set the tone and he also has some leadership qualities that stand out. I wouldn’t be surprised to see wide receiver Johnnie Dixon (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla./Dwyer) get in the mix on offense, as he adds an explosive element to their skill positions that is needed as well.

#AskLoogs: Rating Kizer over Collier

October, 24, 2013
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation senior analyst Tom Luginbill a question about your team? Tweet it to @TomLuginbill using the hashtag #AskLoogs.

Simply put, Ohio State had both at camp and liked Collier better. Some programs liked DeShone Kizer (Toledo, Ohio/Central Catholic) better; so do we. Stephen Collier (Leesburg, Ga./Lee County) is a bit of a sleeper, a late-bloomer if you will. He has nice measurables and tools to work with, but needs to be groomed long term.

Also, keep in mind that we aren’t basing our rankings on what Ohio State or any other team solely thinks about one particular player. If 10 programs were looking at one prospect, you could get five to seven differing opinions on that same player based on a variety of traits or factors. While it is always important to do everything you can to keep the top players in your state at home, when it comes to QBs, you do what you think is best for the program, and that sometimes trumps taking a prospect just because they are in-state. In this case, Ohio State felt like it was best to go in another direction.

Conversely, Notre Dame felt like Kizer was the right fit for them. I actually applaud Ohio State for taking Collier, as he was not widely recruited by many BCS schools, so they are doing what is best for them, not being influenced by what others say.

#AskLoogs: B1G advantage in East?

October, 16, 2013
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation senior analyst Tom Luginbill a question about your team? Tweet it to @TomLuginbill using the hashtag #AskLoogs.

From a recruiting pool standpoint, absolutely. The markets that have now been opened up in Virginia, Maryland, D.C., New Jersey could quickly become Big Ten country, as opposed to ACC country, when it comes to the competitive landscape, especially if Michigan and Penn State continue their resurgence. Rutgers and Maryland are hitting this conference at the right time with the changing conference affiliations. They have aligned with the big boys in a conference that will be a major player in shaping the future of college football.

Between Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, DC and North Carolina, these states far outweigh the current states of Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana and Missouri when it comes to available players to service the Big Ten. I think this could create a haves and have-nots over time in the Big Ten. The ACC and some of the programs in the SEC will be this division's greatest challenge to keeping players from staying in the Big Ten.

#AskLoogs: Evaluating Curtis Samuel

August, 29, 2013
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation senior analyst Tom Luginbill a question about your team? Tweet it to @TomLuginbill using the hashtag #AskLoogs.

The commitment of Curtis Samuel and the placement of Ohio State in our class rankings have been hot topics on Twitter lately, so let’s hit them head on.

First, let’s talk about Samuel, who we have as the nation’s No. 51 wide receiver. Camps and combines are a supplement to film study. They can enhance a prospect’s worth, give cause for concern or, in many instances, confirm what we already thought. We’ll be the first to admit that when it comes to position rankings, the difference between No. 23 and No. 50 can be negligible. Once you get past the top five-to-seven guys, it’s debatable.

Curtis Samuel is a very gifted athlete, a four-star player. Could he be in the ESPN 300? Sure. Are there 20-30 guys better than him? Maybe, maybe not. It’s an inexact science. But those clamoring for a five-star rating are those who believe there are 30-to-50 five-star recruits in every class, which is ludicrous. If that were true, there’d be 20 true freshmen a year making an immediate impact at BCS programs. We have always been very cautious with grading too high. Leave some room for upside and development to occur. If you over-grade, you have no room for a player to exceed expectations. You have nowhere to go but down. By under-grading, you give yourself a cushion. If we are going to be wrong on a guy, be wrong low, not high. Samuel is very fast, but also straight-lined. He sticks out like a sore thumb against this level of competition. Yes, he had a nice showing at The Opening, but we are taking a slower approach. It’s a long time until national signing day, with lots of football to be played.

As fans, whether it’s at Ohio State or anywhere else, it can be tough to understand and see things through an objective lens. However, we did not have a single Ohio State fan ask a question about Curtis Samuel in terms of where he was ranked until he committed to the Buckeyes. In fairness to Ohio State, if Samuel had committed to a different school, we would expect those fans to do the same—it’s human nature. Fans want to compare rankings and why one entity has a guy here or there and another is different. Keep in mind, different doesn’t necessarily mean wrong. It’s not our job to be liked. We know we will not please everyone. Was it popular when we had Trent Richardson ranked ahead of Bryce Brown? Nope. We thought QB Star Jackson who signed with Alabama was going to be huge flop and that backlash was harsh. Again, different isn’t always wrong.

I visit schools all across the nation (Ohio State included), sit in their meetings, visit with their staffs, look at their boards and no matter where I go, the boards generally all have the same premier players on it, but rarely in the same order. As fans, you would be surprised to see where players you perceive as the best are actually at on the board, regardless of what someone on the internet says. Sure, a guy may have an offer, but he might be the sixth or eighth guy they would take if they had their druthers. Offers rarely reflect priority.

I’ll leave you Ohio State fans with this: There were three players we had ranked, evaluated and graded with BCS-level grades coming out and some other services didn’t even have them ranked or give them a star rating -- Ryan Shazier, Bradley Roby and Johnathan Hankins all turned out to be pretty darn good players, right?

It’s a long process, full of further evaluation opportunities along the way. It’s not a vendetta, it’s not a conspiracy, it’s just an opinion based off what we feel and see with the understanding that there are no guarantees.
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation senior analyst Tom Luginbill a question about your team? Tweet it to @TomLuginbill using the hashtag #AskLoogs.

Load up at DT, DE, OL and CB. Those are the positions that define the SEC and Alabama right now. To compete with the likes of the elite teams in the SEC, Ohio State must become two deep in the front, with very little drop-off, if any, when rotating in the front. Meyer knows this all too well because his best teams at Florida did this and won championships.

Look at Ohio State's last two classes. In 2012, Meyer closed with DE Noah Spence, DE Adolphus Washington, DT Tommy Schutt, OG Joey O’Connor, DE Jamal Marcus and DE/OLB Josh Perry all near or at the top of the class. In 2013, the focus moved to the secondary with CB Eli Apple, CB Gareon Conley, CB Cam Burrows, S Vonn Bell and then rounded it out with ILB Trey Johnson. See the pattern? He is loading up here for a reason and it’s not to win the Big Ten -- it’s to win the whole thing. The big question is can Ohio State lure top defensive line prospects out of the South and away from the SEC/ACC?


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