When the dust settled at the end of National Signing Day, Ohio State finished with the No. 14 recruiting class for the Class of 2019 according to the 247Sports composite rankings.
It’s the lowest spot the Buckeyes have held since 2010, when the Jim Tressel-led Buckeyes were 18th. In the years between 2010 and 2019, Ohio State’s classes were ranked No. 6, No. 5, No. 2, No. 3, No. 7, No. 4, No. 2 and No. 2.
Bad news, right? Not so much.
Despite Urban Meyer’s retirement and the uncertain future of assistant coaches as a result, Ohio State still put together an extremely good class — just not one with 25 players, because the Buckeyes didn’t have room for a class that big. In terms of average player rating, Ohio State (91.87) trailed only Alabama (94.38) and Georgia (93.32). That means that from a pound-for-pound standpoint, the Buckeyes hauled in the No. 3 class in the Class of 2019.
That’s an extremely important distinction. In recruiting, with a finite number of scholarships available, quality is always more important than quantity. Every time Ohio State signs a player, that’s one player who either has to come off the current roster or can’t be offered in a future recruiting class. The Buckeyes could have won the team recruiting title in 2018 if their class had been one or two spots larger, but they ultimately avoided the temptation to add players for the sake of adding them.
Especially in the College Football Playoff era, the goal in college football recruiting is to compile the most talented roster from top to bottom. There can’t be dead weight on the roster when winning a championship requires beating two top-4 teams in the span of a little more than a week. The best way to avoid that problem is by being as selective and efficient as possible for each recruiting class. Wasting spots has a ripple effect that lasts for years. Just look back to Ohio State’s 2015 class, which was ranked No. 7 but signed 27 players, nearly a dozen of which were 3-star prospects.
It’s because of classes like that one that the Buckeyes are up against it now in terms of space. Ohio State coach Ryan Day seems to understand and appreciate the impact that recruiting efficiently can have on a program. At his early signing period press conference in December, Day went out of his way to mention in his opening statement that the Buckeyes had one of the top average player ratings in the country.
“We’re very, very excited about all the players that we signed,” Day said. “I think this class would rank top-five nationally when grading the individual player, not cumulatively. We don’t lose a lot of seniors this year, and so within the 85 scholarships, there’s really not that many spots and limited room. So when you look at the quality of the player, and obviously we’ll talk about the student-athlete, as well, how important it is, we think we’re as good as we’ve ever been.”
Ohio State’s previous two recruiting classes were the highest average player ratings in the history of recruiting rankings — for any team, not just the Buckeyes. Now Day will have at his disposal one of the deepest and most talented rosters in the country, with very few wasted spots. That will probably only get better in the immediate future. The 2015 class will begin to cycle out, and by not taking as many players this year the Buckeyes should have more room for what looks like a really promising 2020 class.