NCAA Football

Reason for concern with Ohio State’s 2023 class? Recruiting mail bag

Reason for concern with Ohio State’s 2023 class? Recruiting mail bag

Recruiting never stops. Your questions too.

And if we didn’t get to your question, don’t despair! We’ll be reaching out to some on “The Stars Matter,” our weekly recruiting podcast, which can be found on Feed “The Andy Staples Show.” Look for new episodes every Thursday morning.

Note: Submitted questions have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

You expressed concern earlier in the season Ohio Stateclass and its potential. Is it still available? It doesn’t seem like the Buckeyes are in a great position to finish strong. — Alexander S.

I don’t know what time of day you asked this question on Monday, but Ohio State is the biggest recruiting story of the week. Four-star linebacker Brock Glenn from the University of Memphis (Tennessee) in Lausanne has transferred from Ohio State to State of Florida Monday evening. Glenn isn’t ranked high enough — he’s the No. 378 overall prospect and the No. 22 QB in the 247Sports Composite — to really weaken the Buckeyes’ ranking or average player rating. But it’s very disappointing that there is no longer a quarterback in this cycle.

In response, Ohio State offered four-star quarterback Lincoln Kienholz from Pierre (SD) TF Riggs. Kienholtz, the No. 404 overall pick and No. 24 quarterback in the 2023 cycle, is committed to Washington but will take an official visit to Ohio State this weekend for Michigan game

Glenn’s flip comes less than a week after Ohio State lost the commitment of four-star running back Mark Fletcher of Fort Lauderdale (Fla.), an American Heritage player, the No. 261 player in the country. Fletcher is thinking hard now Florida and Miami.

Ohio State’s class now has 19 commitments and ranks No. 6 in the nation, behind Alabama, Georgia, Mother of God, LDU and Texas. But the average player rating is 93.51, behind only Alabama (94.10) and Georgia (93.54). The lower ranking speaks more to the size of the class than the quality, as the Buckeyes are the only team in the top six with fewer than 20 commitments.

Is there cause for concern?

I’m not sure if I’m ready to hit the panic button yet, but it’s fair to say that this group isn’t as loaded as some of Ohio State’s previous classes. Of those 19 commitments, there is only one five-star prospect and five top-100 players. When you compare that to Alabama (five five-star prospects) and Georgia (nine top-110 commitments), it’s not quite on the same level in terms of upside. However, you could argue that Ohio State’s floor is higher.

So while Ohio State’s class is very good, the standard for the Buckeyes is to sign classes that match Alabama’s. That means four or five five-star prospects and 10 or more top-100 players. With less than a month to go until the early signing of the contract, this will be difficult to achieve.

Ohio State enters with a host of promising prospects, such as five-star edge rushers Damon Wilson of Venice (Fla.), Keon Kiley of Tampa (Fla.), Berkeley Prep and Mataio Viagaleleia of Bellflower (Calif.) St. Lucia. John Bosco. The Buckeyes are also slated to field a five-star offensive tackle Samson Okunlola of Brockton, Mass. Thayer along with Wilson for the Michigan game. Four-star linebacker Orion Carter of Smyrna, Tenn. High — recently uncommitted from Memphis after his recruitment exploded — visited Ohio State.

What’s difficult about evaluating Ohio State’s class is that many of them came together very early. Ryan Day’s program hasn’t really been embroiled in recruiting drama over the past few months, as it’s been very consistent with what has been. But that doesn’t mean the Buckeyes can’t finish this cycle with a bang. Even if they don’t and end up in a lower class, a player’s average rating is much more telling than their final class rating.

As things stand, this is not a class grand slam. But that’s not a cause for concern either, especially with the early signing period still a month away.

Deep breaths. Everything will be fine.

I’m with you that stars matter, but what do you think about how experience and development factor in? For example, I don’t think the 247Sports Sports Team Talent Composite Index takes experience into account. I noticed the other day that 21 out of 22 TCU beginners are high school students. Is college football becoming more like college basketball, pitting experienced, older teams against inexperienced teams filled with blue chips? — J.M

You have to consider the age of most of these football players when they enter college. More often than not, their bodies are still developing even when they get to campus. Add to the mix the best diets and strength and conditioning programs in college, and you have a body that will be much more developed by 2nd or 3rd grade than it was by 1st. Add in the experience factor—knowing the playbook, dealing with adversity, all of that—and there’s no question that it’s important.

This year in college football, it seems like there is only one great team (Georgia) and a bunch of others trying to make the College Football Playoff. There seems to be more parity this year than we usually get, so we may have a hard time finding four teams for the playoffs at the end of the season.

Why is this?

A transfer portal should be part of this. The ability for programs to immediately plug holes on their rosters with experienced college players makes a huge difference. But part of that is the extra season of eligibility due to the year of COVID-19 and the ability for teams to get old and stay old. It’s a very physical game and sometimes the upperclassman is the man and the five-star freshman is the boy.

Experience and development are crucial when it comes to the players we see on the pitch on Saturdays.

What’s fascinating to me about recruiting is that five-star prospects don’t develop either. You can certainly compare a three-star senior who has been there for three years to a five-star freshman and take the three-star senior. I could take that. But when it comes to loading up your roster with five-star prospects, they also happen to be juniors and (sometimes) physically developed seniors. Good player development is no substitute for good recruiting. It is necessary for everyone.

Anyone who says development and experience don’t matter is either a liar, or ignorant, or both.

If a significant portion of last year’s record-setting Texas A&M recruiting class ends up carrying over to this year, whether there’s a coaching change or not, are we going to be more cautious in inflating an incredible recruiting class that seems like NOTHING until it actually is and produces in the future? — Chris W.

What does it mean to be more careful?

Anyone who has read anything I’ve written about Texas A&M or listened to the 100 podcasts we’ve done with Agis how the plot always knew exactly where I was. Yes, I bought a ton of Texas A&M football stock because they signed 18 top 100 players a year ago. To me, it was a sign of what could happen in three years, if somehow Jimbo Fisher could keep the train on the tracks.

But I never said Texas A&M was going to win the SEC this year. I’ve said many times that this was one of the best classes I’ve ever seen, but for the Aggies to ever beat Alabama and Georgia in the world, they’d have to do it two or three more times. You can be very nice to the recruiting class while still claiming the job isn’t done. And after the Aggies signed that class in the 2022 cycle, there was absolutely no reason to expect Fisher couldn’t follow that up with another top-five pick in the 2023 class.

Fisher didn’t keep track of it, so the stock plummeted. No one saw it coming. Things fell apart so quickly at Texas A&M that I admit I’m still having a hard time processing it. People called me the Texas A&M Homer — which is funny considering I was Public Enemy No. 1 on the Aggies two years ago — but I really thought they had the resources, the NIL and the right type of motivation to put together an Alabama-like roster.

So, if I’m being more cautious, does that mean not analyzing or discussing the super class when it happens, and praising the work only three years after the team wins the national title?

Hype is a product of incredible hiring. Why should we suppress the hype? That’s what makes college football fun. Texas A&M signed literally nearly 20 percent of the top 100 prospects in the class. Excitement is a by-product of this.

It’s too bad for Texas A&M that this class seems to be in danger of collapsing through the transfer portal. Because to this day, it’s still incredibly hard to believe that one program could sign so many elite-level players in a given year.

(Photo by Ryan Day: Michael Reeves/Getty Images)

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