The Ohio State football machine does not rebuild. It’s elite enough that it reloads.
This offseason, however, is quite a bit different in Buckeyes country with a changing of the guard from Urban Meyer to Ryan Day, a healthy number of players with stay-or-go NFL decisions to make and it still being just Year Two of the NCAA’s new December early signing period.
Some OSU standouts — Nick Bosa, Dre’Mont Jones, Mike Weber, Michael Jordan among them — already have declared for the 2019 NFL Draft, and Dwayne Haskins is imminently expected to make official his decision to leave school early as the consensus top-available quarterback in the April draft.
Yet, the next wave of potentially great Buckeyes already are arriving in Columbus, including transfer Justin Fields, and are set to begin their first semesters of college this week.
Lettermen Row takes a peek at what the six newest OSU freshmen — Marcus Crowley, Zach Harrison, Ronnie Hickman, Ryan Jacoby, Noah Potter and Garrett Wilson — potentially bring to the Buckeyes this spring.
One of two new five-stars to arrive this weekend in Columbus — perhaps you’ve heard of Justin Fields? — is Zach Harrison, the sensational addition to the Buckeyes’ early-signing haul.
A Rivals.com five-star and consensus four-star, top-25 player, the 6-foot-6, 245-pound Harrison is not just the heir apparent for Bosa but also a likely immediate contributor.
Owner of a nearly 38-inch vertical leap and 4.6 40-yard dash, Harrison flashes remarkably athleticism with advanced strength and an imposing wingspan.
The Buckeyes return solid depth along the defensive front and a potential 2020 first-rounder in Chase Young, but Harrison’s skill-set is a unique addition. The January arrival is critical for both acclimating to the playbook as well as a full nine months in the heralded nutrition/strength and conditioning programs.
Also a 247Sports five-star and consensus national top-25 player, as well as the No. 2 player at his position, the standout Garrett Wilson arrives in Columbus at arguably Ohio State’s greatest area of need in 2019: the wide receiver corps.
A 6-1, 181-pounder from the Austin, Texas, powerhouse Lake Travis High School, Wilson inked with the Buckeyes over offers from virtually every major program in college football.
Great ball skills, agility and already known for his route-running, Wilson arrives into a position that’s losing a combined 167 receptions, 31 touchdowns and more than 2,400 receiving yards from the trio of Parris Campbell, Terry McLaurin and Johnnie Dixon.
Consensus four-star and ESPN’s No. 72 prospect, Hickman owns two-way skills but projects as a safety for the Buckeyes.
A 6-2, 202-pound U.S. Army All-America Bowl selection, Hickman has an ideal frame for the back-end of the Ohio State defense and a good understanding of the game from his two-way play.
Hickman arrives in Columbus after injury cut short his senior campaign, though he still earned third-team All-New Jersey honors and tallied nine touchdowns.
Joining Mentor High School teammate Noah Potter as both four-star prospects and early enrollees, the 6-5, 270-pound Ryan Jacoby is the lone offensive lineman arriving early onto campus.
One of three Ohio natives of the six midyear arrivals, Jacoby flashes good athleticism and awareness at the tackle position plus gets additional time in the conditioning system to bulk up for the college game.
Redshirts typically are preferred particularly along the offensive front, but Jacoby’s early arrival will give him a chance to begin carving out a role of supplying depth for OSU.
Also a four-star just like Jacoby and with 250 pounds on his 6-5 frame, Noah Potter has good size for a defensive end but also the skills to at times drop into coverage — which he’s occasionally done in the past.
The Buckeyes are at their best when they’ve got a stable of players to rotate up front, and Potter’s got nine months to boost his explosiveness and perhaps join Harrison as duo of first-year contributors.
Potter, despite offers from the likes of Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Michigan, stuck with the Buckeyes even after the Meyer-to-Day transition and the transfer of his brother, Micah, from the basketball program late this fall.
Another offensive skill player, Marcus Crowley is a Rivals.com four-star running back and 247Sports composite three-star. 6-1 and 200 pounds, Crowley’s tough enough to have experience both in the offensive backfield and at linebacker — something always worth keeping in mind.
With Weber’s declaration for the NFL Draft and no clear sense on the future of Brian Snead, Crowley arrives in Columbus with J.K. Dobbins the clear anchor of the backfield and Master Teague as the team’s second-leading returning rusher — with 106 yards and a touchdown during Teague’s freshman campaign.