January 25, 2008

Dateline of a recruiting class - Part 2

Recruiting is much like life when it comes down to the axiom of Timing is Everything. For every player that commits to your school it has an effect on every other player on the board and much like that for every player that is missed has a similar effect as well. For the Buckeyes they were able to "hit" more often than they "missed" early in the recruiting process and in doing so put together one of the best classes in recent memory.

There are still several other blue-chippers on the radar right now but with less than two weeks it seemed to be a perfect time to see how the Buckeyes got to the point that they are at with the current recruiting class. On Thursday we reviewed the first several months of the recruiting class here and today we are looking forward from July 2007 to where the team is currently.

July-September 2007

The Ohio State recruiting effort didn't hit pay dirt for nearly two months after the commitment of Andrew Sweat but the next recruit on the board would play on the same side of the ball as the linebacker. Lombard (Ill.) defensive lineman Garrett Goebel narrowed things down to the classic battle between Ohio State and Michigan and ultimately opted to play for the Buckeyes. The four star lineman is the next in the line of high school wrestlers to take on the trenches of the D-Line. The 6-foot-5, 264-pounder has a lot of versatility and it remains to be seen where he is will make his mark when he gets to Columbus.

The next Ohio State recruit took a long path to get back to Columbus. Madison (Ohio) tight end Nic DiLillo was initially a Clemson commit who decided to change his commitment to Pittsburgh. The three star tight end truly believe that he would end up playing at Pitt until his phone rang and the Buckeyes offered in late July. The decision of Toledo (Ohio) tight end Kevin Koger to head to Michigan opened up a spot that was just too appealing for DiLillo to pass up on. He admitted it was tough to keep making changes but that once it was all said and done he had to go with his heart and that was playing for the Buckeyes and he would remember that longer than a pair of decommits.


Going into the summer months the Buckeyes addressed a pair of needs with the addition of Goebel and of DiLillo. Goebel can play inside or outside on the defensive line and his addition gave the Buckeyes a second lineman up front in a class that was going to include as many as five linemen with the current roster of guys up front nearly the end of their eligibility. Goebel also was very tight with another Ohio State target in Willie Mobley and it doesn't hurt having a good friend already on the team. With DiLillo it was a matter of right place at the right time. With Ohio State never seriously being in the Kyle Rudolph race and not really making a strong push at Brandon Moore it was a perfect fit for DiLillo to come in and join the Buckeyes. He doesn't project to the offensive weapon tight end that is seen in many situations and DiLillo has admitted that getting out there and hitting people suits him just fine and he will have the opportunity to do that once he joins the team.

October 2007

October could best be characterized as a bit of a surprise month for Ohio State recruiting. A pair of players made their intentions known and only a couple of months ago it appeared that neither would be Buckeyes and one might not have been on the radar of most recruiting fans.

Fort Washington (Md.) athlete Lamaar Thomas came to the Ohio State camp during the summer just to check things out. The four star blue chipper was blown away by his visit and had the Buckeyes as his leader despite pushes from in-state Maryland and an Illinois coaching staff that always seems to recruit the state of Maryland well. The question that was always in play was about what position "Flash" would suit up at in college. Other schools were looking at him as a running back while the Buckeyes wanted him as a wide receiver. The Bucks won out and don't be surprised to see Thomas getting a couple carries here and there and running back during his career in Columbus.

The second commit of the month was Miami (Fla.) Dr. Krop high school defensive back Travis Howard. Howard may have been noticed in the recruitment of Etienne Sabino but after checking out footage of the four star defensive back it could be questioned if Howard was just as known as Sabino. Though the pair never claimed to be a package deal it was good for the Buckeyes to show a lot of interest in both players and when Howard did commit in October it marked the first defensive back of the class.


It was widely believed that the Buckeyes wouldn't make much of a push for defensive backs after taking six in the class of 2007 and seeing the board looking good in the class of 2009. Howard is a true cornerback from the word go and will give the Bucks another player with "Florida Speed" roaming in the secondary. Howard's commitment would not affect the recruitment of players like Brandon Harris or other defensive backs but ultimately it was nice to get the first defensive back in the fold. Lamaar Thomas on the other hand was probably more of "have to have" player than let on. His speed makes him a "game-changer" out on the field and he is a very different kind of receiver than DeVier Posey or Jake Stoneburner. Thomas accounted for 21 touchdowns during his senior season and had chances to run the ball, catch the ball and throw the ball. If the Ohio State offense changes to more of a wide-open style of play a player like Thomas could flourish with his versatility.

November/December 2007

The Ohio State recruiting effort was already sitting in a good spot going into November but the class grew in numbers and in prestige through the holiday season with three players coming on board. All three players jumped on the defensive side of the ball and helped this class even up more with offensive and defensive players.

Less than two weeks after his teammate committed Etienne Sabino pulled the trigger to join the Buckeyes. Sabino currently ranks as the No. 1 inside linebacker according to Rivals.com and the 6-foot-3, 222-pounder is destined to join the ranks of the recent Ohio State great linebackers. The four star player could have pretty much named where he wanted to play with schools like USC, FSU, Notre Dame and Miami (Fla.) all vying for his services. It was a major recruiting coup for Luke Fickell and the Buckeyes to snag this player out of South Florida.

Next up to the plate was Willie Mobley who was one of the top rated players in the state of Minnesota. Mobley befriended Goebel during a sophomore year camp at the university of Iowa and the two had talked ever since. Mobley had a hard time with his recruitment receiving interest as far away as UCLA and getting a lot of pressure from in-state Minnesota to stay home. Ultimately the time seemed right and Mobley decided to go where his heart was telling him to go. The four star is someone who could play the three-technique and gives the Buckeyes more depth up front.

The final commitment before the holidays was Cleveland (Ohio) Glenville defensive lineman Shawntel Rowell. While many thought that receiver Cordale Scott would be the first Tarblooder to commit it was Rowell who got his weight under control and made his intentions known in mid December. Rowell still has a little more work to do in the classroom and as long as he can keep his weight down while in Columbus could be an interesting prospect on the line and give the Buckeyes a different type of player in the trenches.


The final two months of the year were very good for the Buckeyes to recruit big name players and add a little depth as well. Sabino is a player that if James Laurinaitis and Marcus Freeman would have left for the NFL could have been in the mix for playing time. Yes, he is that good on potential and a lot will be learned about him as he picks up the schemes. Mobley is a monster on tape and has a great "see ball, get ball" type of motor. There is some depth in front of him but he will be good for years to come for the Bucks. Rowell was a bit of a shock to come on the way that he did. People were always impressed with him but he was just too big to really play a factor. Rowell will always have a battle with his weight but now that he seems to have the upper-hand on it things should smooth out for him. Once Rowell committed it really put a premium on the defensive line recruiting just as when Sabino committed it looked as if there would be no more movement at linebacker.

January 2008

A pair of "sleepers" woke up the Ohio State fan base as they became the latest members of the Ohio State recruiting class. Both Jermil Martin and Zach Domicone committed during the same weekend visit and each will serve a specific role for the team.

Martin had initially committed to Iowa and has been looked at as a fullback. The Buckeyes lost three fullbacks this year and only had one true fullback on the roster with Aram Olson who is coming off of an injury this past season that had him pretty much shut down all year. Martin is the second Tarblooder in the class and when given a chance to play for the Buckeyes jumped at the chance and said goodbye to the Hawkeyes.

Domicone made a name for himself late and after receiving mostly MAC interest throughout the process starting hearing from schools like Nebraska and Oklahoma. The Buckeyes were part of the late surge and got the three-star athlete to change his visit plans to come see Columbus. That was about all it took for the Xenia (Ohio) standout and before the weekend was over he made his pledge.


Neither of these names were on the minds or the lips of the recruiting observers but each are important parts of this class. Martin as stated before gives the Buckeyes a second fullback on the roster and will provide depth in case Olson goes down with an injury again. The Buckeyes won't be looking at any other fullbacks and the need has been met. Domicone on the other hand was a quarterback in high school but will play safety in college (much like Rocco Pentello from the class of 2007). Domicone is that blend of speed and size and after a year to redshirt and learn the system will give the Buckeyes another weapon in the secondary.

Coming on Monday: What does this all mean for now and the rest of the class?

Part One - March 2007 - June 2007

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