Buckeye Bonanza

Published 4:17 am Thursday, February 5, 2009

This is one No. 1 ranking that Jim Tressel welcomes.

After losing several top performers off of last year’s 10-3 team, Ohio State is listed by at least one national scouting service as having the best recruiting class in the nation. The Buckeyes locked up 25 players on Wednesday, the first day football recruits can sign letters of intent.

‘‘It’s a good class. It’s a large class, and in those recruiting things, the more guys you have the more points you pile up,’’ said Tressel, who usually puts little stock in polls or rankings of any kind. ‘‘A little bit of it is numbers.’’

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But even he conceded it wasn’t just quantity.

‘‘This group is mature, they’re focused, they’re talented,’’ said Tressel, entering his ninth year with the Buckeyes. ‘‘It’s going to be a good group.’’

Ohio State’s recruiting class was ranked No. 1 in the country by Scout.com and No. 4 by Rivals.com. The Buckeyes also were listed fourth (behind Louisiana State, Southern California and Texas) by ESPN.com.

The Buckeyes used almost half of their 25 scholarships to take out-of-state players. Tressel grabbed 11 players not from Ohio, including three from Florida.

‘‘Florida plays great football,’’ Tressel said. ‘‘You’ve got excellent population. When I started recruiting 30-some years ago, Florida had 11 million people and we probably had 15 million (in Ohio). Now the tide has turned. Florida (high school) football has just continued to grow and grow. Those guys that we got out of Florida are highly thought of.’’

He also pointed out that Santonio Holmes, who caught the winning touchdown in the final minute of the Super Bowl, is an ex-Ohio State player from Florida.

‘‘It doesn’t hurt that the Super Bowl MVP happens to be from Florida and a former Buckeye,’’ Tressel said.

Ohio State has expanded its base to become more of a regional power in recruiting as well. It’s almost as if the coaching staff can’t see the state borders on a map.

‘‘As we think about recruiting, we think of Pittsburgh, Louisville, Buffalo, Detroit, Indianapolis as being in-state,’’ Tressel said. ‘‘We consider that inside that realm where a family can come back and forth to a scrimmage or a banquet or can come have lunch with their son or their son can sneak home to a birthday party or whatever it happens to be. Our group from inside that (radius of) 200 miles would be, like, 18 or 19.’’

The oddity is that the Buckeyes hold such a lofty ranking in the scouting services without the fanfare of a year ago, when Tressel had to wait until mid-March to find out that Terrelle Pryor, the nation’s top quarterback recruit, was coming to Ohio State.

Of the top 25 recruits in the nation as rated by Rivals.com, Ohio State was shut out.

But Tressel and his staff still got a lot of very good players, in addition to filling some holes.

— With tailback Chris ‘‘Beanie’’ Wells giving up his final year of eligibility to jump to the NFL, Ohio State needed to add running backs and landed Florida prep products Jaamal Berry, a 5-foot-10, 185-pound speedster from Miami Palmetto, and Carlos Hyde of Naples, almost a carbon copy of Wells at 6-1 and 235 pounds.

— Wide receiver Brian Robiskie graduated and his running mate, Brian Hartline, also is leaving early. So the Buckeyes signed three receivers, led by Duron Carter, another Florida prep star from Fort Lauderdale Aquinas. The Buckeyes have faith in Carter’s bloodlines. His dad, Cris, set many receiving records at Ohio State before going on to a glittering pro career.

— Two offensive linemen moved on, meaning the Buckeyes had to add some depth on the front wall. They did that by grabbing massive Marcus Hall, a 6-6, 300-pounder from Cleveland’s Glenville High School, the alma mater of former Buckeyes greats Troy Smith and Ted Ginn Jr.

— The Buckeyes raided Pennsylvania for a couple of blue-chip prospects, getting five-star recruit Dorian Bell, a 6-2, 220-pound linebacker, and cornerback/receiver Corey Brown, both out of Monroeville Gateway High School. The incoming class included several others who might move into the mix in the secondary — in particular a replacement for the graduated Malcolm Jenkins at corner.

The newcomers join a team that has won at least a share of the last four Big Ten titles.

Four of the recruits are already enrolled at Ohio State and attending classes. Three more will come to campus in March, and all seven will take part in spring drills.

‘‘It’s a very exciting day for all of us,’’ said linebacker recruit Adam Homan, whose brother Ross is already a starter for the Buckeyes. ‘‘We’ve been here for five weeks and it’s already starting to feel like home.’’


C.J. Barnett, db, 6-1, 180, Clayton (Ohio) Northmont HS

Dorian Bell, lb, 6-2, 220, Monroeville (Pa.) Gateway HS

Adam Bellamy, dl, 6-4, 275, Aurora (Ohio) HS

Jaamal Berry, rb, 5-10, 185, Miami (Fla.) Palmetto HS

Zach Boren, lb, 6-1, 245, Pickerington (Ohio) Central HS

Corey Brown, ath, 6-1, 190, Monroeville (Pa.) Gateway HS

Duron Carter, wr, 6-3, 185, Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) Aquinas HS

Dominic Clarke, db, 5-10, 170, Frederick (Md.) Tuscarora HS

Melvin Fellows, dt, 6-5, 255, Garfield Hts. (Ohio) HS

Chris Fields, wr, 6-1, 180, Painesville (Ohio) Harvey HS

Reid Fragel, te, 6-8, 258, Grosse Pte. (Mich.) South HS

Kenny Guiton, qb, 6-2, 182, Aldine (Texas) Eisenhower HS

Jordan Hall, rb, 5-11, 190, Jeannette (Pa.) HS

Marcus Hall, ol, 6-6, 300, Cleveland (Ohio) Glenville HS

Adam Homan, lb, 6-2, 230, Coldwater (Ohio) HS

Carlos Hyde, rb, 6-1, 235, Naples (Fla.) HS

James Jackson, wr, 6-0, 175, Grand Ledge (Mich.) HS

Storm Klein, lb, 6-2, 225, Newark (Ohio) Licking Valley HS

Corey Linsley, ol, 6-4, 285, Youngstown (Ohio) Boardman HS

Sam Longo, ol, 6-5, 270, Bellbrook (Ohio) HS

Jack Mewhort, ol, 6-6, 285, Toledo (Ohio) St. John’s HS

Jonathan Newsome, lb, 6-3, 230, Cleveland (Ohio) Glenville HS

John Simon, dt, 6-3, 265, Youngstown (Ohio) Mooney HS

Jordan Whiting, lb, 6-1, 230, Louisville (Ky.) Trinity HS

Jamie Wood, ath, 6-2, 185, Pickerington (Ohio) Central HS