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Analyzing positions of need for Ohio State in next recruiting cycle

Ryan Day-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football
Ohio State coach Ryan Day can turn his attention to the 2021 recruiting cycle. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Ohio State Football Recruiting

Analyzing positions of need for Ohio State in next recruiting cycle

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Birm has the day off, so senior writer Austin Ward is filling in on Dotting The ‘Eyes. Obviously the recruiting insight isn’t going to be up the legendarily high level of the Lettermen Row Director of Recruiting, so instead of updates directly from the trail, Ward is looking today at what the roster might look like after next season and what that means for positions of need for the Buckeyes in the 2021 cycle.

What’s next for Ohio State with 2020 recruiting complete?

The Buckeyes have the final decision they were waiting for, and Cameron Martinez has publicly brought the 2020 recruiting cycle to a close for the reigning Big Ten champs — although it won’t really be official until next week.

Ohio State has a full class, isn’t pursuing any other players and is now ready to turn its attention fully to the 2021 group. And it’s already clear that there are going to be a few pressing positional needs that must be addressed by Ryan Day, which makes the fact that there is no more work to be done before National Signing Day next week a handy bonus for the Buckeyes.

“The amount of work that gets put into putting a class together, the phone calls, the traveling, the meetings — just on, let’s say, a junior day after spring ball, the meetings in your office, the talk, the families,” Day said. “You can’t imagine the amount of time it takes in recruiting. And to put together a class like this, it’s just great.

“And we have great people, too.”

The key for the Buckeyes is getting plenty of time to get to know their targets to ensure that’s the kind of quality they are getting on and off the field. So, any head start on that process into 2021 is a perk for the program. And obviously based on the early rankings, Ohio State is making the most of it.

But where will the Buckeyes go from here? As the focus shifts into the next wave and with an eye on what the roster might look like after the upcoming season, Lettermen Row is looking at three positions that will undoubtedly qualify as top priorities for Day and his staff.

Ryan Day-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football

Ohio State coach Ryan Day had plenty to celebrate during the early signing period. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Running back

After the trials and tribulations last year trying to load up the backfield, Ohio State finally was able to find the right fit with Miyan Williams. But there is still work to be done for running backs coach Tony Alford as the Buckeyes move into the post-J.K. Dobbins Era, and the spotlight will remain on his position group both heading into spring camp and on the recruiting trail.

The Buckeyes certainly have potential waiting in the wings behind presumptive starter Master Teague, and there are high hopes for Marcus Crowley as he works back from his injury and for Steele Chambers after his developmental season. That can certainly be a productive group, no doubt. But considering just how critical that unit is to keeping the offense humming at a high level, Ohio State not only needs to keep it well stocked — it probably needs to land a legitimate game-changer or two to keep the tailbacks operating at the level the program expects.

Names to know: Camar Wheaton, Donovan Edwards, Evan Pryor, Will Shipley, Corey Kiner.


The Buckeyes are getting one more year out of Shaun Wade, and that announcement trumped any commitment the program got in the defensive backfield when it comes to impact on the 2020 season. Ohio State did well to land touted prospects Ryan Watts and Lejond Cavazos, and there are big plans for those guys down the road — but the loss of Clark Phillips still stings a bit when projecting what the BIA unit is going to look like in a couple years.

If corners like Cameron Brown or Sevyn Banks make the kind of leap Ohio State expects, certainly the secondary should stay in good shape while allowing the younger guys to develop. But there’s always a risk of early departures, as Kerry Coombs knows all too well from his last stint leading the defensive backs and developing them into first-round picks. Just in case, the newly-hired coordinator is going to want to make a couple splashes in his return to the recruiting trail.

Names to know: Tony Grimes, Jakailin Johnson, Jordan Hancock, Damond Harmon, Avante Dickerson, Jaylin Davis, Hunter Washington

Kerry Coombs-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football

Ohio State coordinator Kerry Coombs will be busy on the recruiting trail. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Defensive tackle

There are enough pieces on hand for Ohio State to absorb the loss of three key interior defensive linemen heading into next season. But that’s still a healthy chunk of production and depth walking out the door, and it puts even more urgency on the search for more big bodies to bolster Larry Johnson’s Rushmen unit as he builds for the future.

It might seem premature to put Tommy Togiai in the mix as a guy who could leave early for the NFL since he’s never been a starter, and that’s doubly true for Taron Vincent since he hasn’t even really had a chance to play for the Buckeyes yet. But those thoughts have to be considered when Ohio State puts together the recruiting board and looks to see just how thin the numbers might be at the three-technique and nose tackle spots. Antwuan Jackson and Haskell Garrett will both be out of eligibility, and while Darrion Henry-Young is likely going to end up inside and Jaden McKenzie has undervalued potential, there isn’t a lot currently in reserve in those key spots.

Names to know: Michael Hall, Tywone Malone, Marcus Bradley, J.T. Tuimoloau, Damon Payne, Tunmise Adeleye

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Austin Ward

Austin Ward is Lettermen Row's senior writer covering Ohio State football and basketball. The award-winning journalist has covered the Buckeyes since 2012, spending five of those seasons working for ESPN after previous stints at the Casper Star-Tribune and Knoxville News Sentinel.