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Ohio State: How schools project recruiting needs years down the road

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Some recruiting needs, like taking a quarterback every cycle, are obvious. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Recruiting Question of the Day

Ohio State: How schools project recruiting needs years down the road

Have a question about Ohio State recruiting? This is the place for you, five days a week. Submit your questions on Twitter or on the Lettermen Row forums. Check in daily to see what’s on the mind of Buckeyes fans all over the country. Friday’s question asks how schools evaluate their needs in a recruiting class that is two or three years away.

Ohio State Recruiting Question of the Day

We have talked a lot about numbers and needs and all that around here quite a bit lately, and I can understand how sometimes it seems a fool’s errand because so much of recruiting is arbitrary. Needs and wants seem to change daily.

It’s especially difficult to project two or three years down the road, because it’s hard to predict exactly who booms and who busts from a recruiting class. Most college coaches get a good sense of that within the first few months of a player’s time on campus. There’s one school of thought that suggests a player is being recruited over from the minute he enrolls, and that’s probably accurate. If a program isn’t trying to replace every single player on the roster with a better player, then it’s a program moving in the wrong direction.

Despite the general confusion and subjectivity of it all, there do seem to be some standards to live by when trying to assess how things play out down the road.

When checking things out on position-by-position basis, there are a few things that seem logical. A team needs a quarterback in every cycle, for instance. If a program is skipping seasons recruiting that position, it’s going to find itself in a bad spot before too long. In today’s recruiting world, it’s almost impossible to convince two quarterbacks to pick the same school, and they transfer at a pretty high rate. Schools almost always want at least four of their 85 scholarships to be at the game’s most important position.

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Ohio State director of player personnel Mark Pantoni has a big job every recruiting cycle. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

As for the other positions? That’s a matter of what individual programs want, of course. But speaking specifically of Ohio State, it seems that the program has some standard expectations.

When I try and think about what the Buckeyes could look for down the road, here’s how I personally project the numbers.

  • Quarterback: 4
  • Running back: 5
  • Wide receiver: 10
  • Tight end: 4
  • Offensive line: 14
  • Defensive end: 8
  • Defensive tackle 8
  • Linebacker: 10
  • Cornerback: 7
  • Safeties: 7
  • Kicker: 1
  • Punter: 1
  • Long snapper: 1

That’s just 80 guys, which leaves five spots left for interpretation. But it’s the baseline I use when I think about what could be needed in future classes. Those numbers get bounced around based on attrition and reallocated based on losses to the NFL, medical issues and stuff like that.

Overall, though, it’s an imperfect system based in part on averages and what’s happened historically with the roster combined with conversations with coaching staffs and knowing what the ideal number is for each class.

Sometimes you just know you need more guys, though. The offensive line in the 2019 class is a prime example of that, because it’s been apparent for months that the need was much greater than just two signees — especially after signing just three in both the 2017 and 2018 classes. That is a dangerous way to build a program that is offensive-line driven. In my mind, you need four every class, period.

There is no cut-and-dried answer to the question, but there are some basic ways to look at the roster to get an understanding how future classes could fill out.

The best way to stay on top of all that recruiting #stuff? Subscribe to Lettermen Row’s Recruiting with Birm newsletter. 

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This transfer pool has added a new wrinkle in recruiting and what to prepare for down the road.


One of the best qualities of a successful coach is judge of talent. Some said Woody Hayes (and Paul Brown) had a genius for talent recognition.


Birm is Lettermen Row's Director of Recruiting and the site's primary Ohio State sports photographer. A Toledo, Ohio native, Jeremy has been in similar roles for and and has been covering the Buckeyes for seven years.

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