Big Ten: Matt James
Adam Griffin, the son of former Buckeyes star and two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin, has signed a national letter of intent, becoming the 19th member of Ohio State's 2010 recruiting class. The younger Griffin played running back, defensive back and handled returns for St. Francis DeSales High School in Columbus.
"Adam Griffin has a passion to be an Ohio State Buckeye," head coach Jim Tressel said in a statement. "He will add a great deal to our football family on the field, in the locker room and on our campus. Adam clearly understands the privilege of being an Ohio State Buckeye."
Adam Griffin's signing comes as a bit of a surprise, as he didn't receive any other big-time offers. Ohio State had a few extra scholarships to give after coveted offensive linemen Matt James and Seantrel Henderson went elsewhere (Henderson could still end up as a Buckeye if he doesn't sign with USC).
ESPN Recruiting says of Griffin, "He lacks great overall size but he's well-defined and deceptively strong and sturdy. Runs with a low base and good balance. Displays good feet and is effective as both an inside and outside zone runner."
Archie Griffin is the president and CEO of the Ohio State Alumni Association.
The Big Ten fell out of the top 10, as Penn State dropped to No. 11. Joe Paterno and his staff still signed a heck of a class, in my opinion. Most likely the only reason for the drop was having no real big splashes on signing day itself. Penn State wrapped up its class a little earlier than some teams, and there's nothing wrong with that as the Lions replenished their defense and added two outstanding quarterbacks in Robert Bolden and Paul Jones.
Michigan moved up to No. 14 in the final rankings, thanks to Demar Dorsey's surprise signing day decision. Dorsey gave a solid class some star power alongside quarterback Devin Gardner and others.
Ohio State dropped to No. 16 after signing a small class that didn't include offensive linemen Seantrel Henderson or Matt James. If Henderson ends up not signing with USC, Ohio State certainly would be on his radar. This is still a very solid class, especially at defensive line, wide receiver and defensive back.
Recruits: 18 (16 high school seniors, two prep school players, one player enrolled already)
Top prospects: Defensive back Christian Bryant should see the field early. Running back Roderick Smith could be a factor as the starting job remains a bit unsettled. Linemen Darryl Baldwin and Andrew Norwell and wide receivers James Louis and Corey Brown also come in with plenty of accolades.
Sleepers: Speedy Bradley Roby is a late signee who only gained major attention in recruiting after switching from wide receiver to cornerback as a senior. Quarterback Taylor Graham struggled with injuries in high school but has a good pedigree as the son of former NFL QB Kent Graham. Defensive tackle Johnathon Hankins is a big body on the interior.
Needs met: Ohio State addressed a mini need in the secondary with Bryant and Roby. The Buckeyes would have liked one more offensive lineman -- Seantrel Henderson or Matt James -- but they added depth at both wide receiver and running back.
Analysis: Ohio State might not have hit a home run with this class, and the Buckeyes lost a few key in-state products to other teams, namely Jordan Hicks. But Jim Tressel and his staff brought in plenty of speed and versatility, and added several key wide receivers who could contribute early following graduation losses and Lamaar Thomas' transfer. Unless Henderson dumps USC in the coming weeks, Ohio State will need to add more offensive linemen in the 2011 class.
Scouts Inc. grade: B
What Jim Tressel said:
- "If you asked coach [Jim] Bollman how many offensive linemen he would have liked, we had pigeonholed two. He probably would have liked three or four, but we could afford two within our budget. So we'll see how we end up there."
- "With the way the game has changed, you need so many guys who can play out in space. In this class, we have a lot of guys with skills and speed."
Henderson said Ohio State finished second to USC for his services. Minnesota also was in the mix near the end, as head coach Tim Brewster tried to keep the St. Paul product at home.
The Big Ten certainly needs to protect its home turf, especially when most of the nation's elite players are located elsewhere. Ohio State should still be fine on the offensive line if certain players develop, though today has been a disappointment for the Scarlet and Gray.
The team's news release doesn't include offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson, who will announce his college choice shortly. Most reports have named USC as the leader for Henderson, so Ohio State might go 0-for-2 on heralded offensive line prospects (Notre Dame-bound Matt James being the other). The Buckeyes class includes nine in-state prospects, two from both Pennsylvania and Florida, and one from Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and North Carolina.
Ohio State addressed a need at wide receiver with four players, including James Louis, who stuck with the Buckeyes over North Carolina. Christian Bryant and Bradley Roby should provide help in the secondary.
I realize this class won't get Ohio State fans too fired up, but things will improve, especially in 2011. Another run to a BCS bowl game, possibly the national championship, would help as well.
It appeared likely the Buckeyes would land at least one, if not both of the highly rated prep prospects.
But now it's fair to ask the question: Could Ohio State end up going 0-for-2?
According to the Cincinnati Enquirer's Mike Dyer, James has committed to Notre Dame instead of Ohio State and will make it official at a noon ET announcement. Ohio State had been the leader for James' services, but the Cincinnati native recently visited Notre Dame.
"It was a really tough decision," James told the Enquirer. "I like the situation of being in the first class with coach [Brian] Kelly there.
Offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson, the nation's top uncommitted prospect, will announce his college choice later today. But the (St. Paul) Pioneer Press' Charley Walters reports that USC is the front-runner for Henderson's services, and Minnesota has leapfrogged Ohio State for No. 2 on his list. Ohio State had been considered by many to be the leader for Henderson.
Here are a few guys to track Wednesday as they consider Big Ten teams and outsiders:
Seantrel Henderson, OT, St. Paul, Minn./Cretin-Derham Hall
- Big Ten interest: Ohio State, Minnesota, Iowa
- Other candidates: Miami, USC, Notre Dame, Florida, Oklahoma
- Big Ten's chances: Good, with Ohio State being the likeliest Big Ten destination.
- Big Ten interest: Penn State
- Other candidates: Alabama, Clemson, Cal
- Penn State's chances: Slim, but none of the other teams has been able to nail down Allen. He would be a huge get for the Nittany Lions.
- Big Ten interest: Ohio State
- Other candidates: West Virginia, Miami, North Carolina, USC
- Big Ten's chances: Not great, but getting better. It wouldn't shock me if Ohio State ended up stealing the West Virginia commit.
- Big Ten interest: Michigan
- Other candidates: Florida State, USC, Tennessee,
- Michigan's chances: Slim. Despite Dorsey's family connection to Wolverines quarterback Denard Robinson, Florida State and USC look like the front-runners.
- Big Ten interest: Michigan
- Other candidates: USC and Washington
- Michigan's chances: Decent. Parker recently visited Washington, which is making a strong push.
- Big Ten interest: Illinois
- Other candidates: Nebraska, Notre Dame, Arizona
- Illinois' chances: Decent. It's likely between Illinois, where Cooper originally committed, and Nebraska. Despite Illinois' coaching-staff shuffle, defensive coordinator Vic Koenning is in place and head coach Ron Zook usually closes well.
- Big Ten interest: Ohio State
- Other candidates: Notre Dame
- Ohio State's chances: Decent. Buckeyes looked like the front-runners in December, but James' recent visit to Notre Dame might end up swaying him to South Bend.
Though Hicks attended high school in the Cincinnati suburbs, he only moved to Ohio in the sixth grade from South Carolina and had family connections to the Texas coaching staff. As he told reporters Friday after announcing his choice, "I don't feel like I turned my back on Ohio State. ... I wasn't born here. ... Ohio State is an Ohio school. I'm not from Ohio. I really don't have that connection there from growing up liking them."
Sounds reasonable enough. But any time an elite high school prospect leaves a Big Ten state to play elsewhere, it creates anxiety among fans. And this year, Ohio State has struggled a bit to seal off its borders.
Of ESPN Scouts Inc.'s top 15 ranked players from Ohio, only four are heading to Ohio State. Prospects like Hicks (Texas), running back Spencer Ware (LSU), quarterback Andrew Hendrix (Notre Dame), safety Latwan Anderson (West Virginia) and offensive lineman Christian Pace (Michigan) will play for other teams.
It's important to remember Ohio produces a ton of great high school players, and not all of them will end up in Columbus. Ohio State has landed highly-rated local products like Darryl Baldwin, an ESPNU 150 player, as well as Andrew Norwell and Tyrone Williams. The Buckeyes also are in the mix for offensive lineman Matt James from Cincinnati.
But on the whole, Ohio State likely will sign fewer in-state players than most years.
The Buckeyes currently have eight in-state commitments from a class of 18. Last year, Ohio State signed 14 Ohio products in a class of 25. In 2005, Ohio State signed 11 Ohio products out of 18. Ohio State signed a small class of 15 in 2003, but all but three players came from the state. In 2002, Ohio State's 24-man class featured a whopping 18 players from the state.
So is this year an anomaly or a cause for concern? To get a better perspective, I checked in with Scouts Inc.'s Midwest recruiting expert Bill Kurelic , whose blog is a must read.
Here's what Kurelic had to say: "They have done OK in Ohio this year, but they certainly haven't dominated like in most years. But I don't see it as a trend. They lost out on Welch and Hendrix, but those two are from Catholic high schools and it was going to be a tough sell for OSU to keep them away from Notre Dame. They lost out on Ware, but he just never seemed overly interested.
"On the good side of things for OSU fans is that [Jim] Tressel may be set to dominate Ohio again next year like he has in most years. He has two of the top 5 Ohio juniors committed and he seems in good position to get the top six or seven guys in Ohio on his list. So I think this year is just one of those years."
Kurelic is referring to defensive ends Kenny Hayes and Steve Miller, both of whom are on the ESPNU 150 watch list .
Bottom line: Ohio State's in-state recruiting should be fine in the long term, though the Buckeyes must beware of intruders after this year.
Hicks, ranked as the nation's top linebacker and No. 4 player by ESPN's Scouts Inc., announced his decision earlier this afternoon at Lakota West High School outside Cincinnati.
Though Texas appeared to be the frontrunner for Hicks, it's still tough for Ohio State to lose the state's top player to another program. Ohio State has eight in-state commitments, including offensive lineman Andrew Norwell and cornerback Christian Bryant, but Hicks would have been huge.
Two big prizes remain out there for the Buckeyes, who hope to land offensive linemen Seantrel Henderson and Matt James on National Signing Day.