With National Signing Day over now, the class of 2019 is finished for the Buckeyes. With the attention now turned to the class of 2020, we take a look at the best in Ohio and where the Buckeyes stand with the in-state class.
- Paris Johnson: Johnson has been committed to the Buckeyes since late June, but keeping him in the fold is something the Buckeyes must do. There were some rumors that Johnson could be looking around after the retirement of Urban Meyer, but it seemed to be more of Johnson and his family just wanting to create a good relationship with Ryan Day and the new coaches on the staff. The 6’7, 285 pound offensive tackle is one of the best players in this entire class, and has has established himself as a leader for the Buckeyes already. He is as elite as they come, and the prize of the 2020 class of Ohio.
- Jakob James: James committed to the Buckeyes at the end of January. Although he is ranked as a lower three star player, he has tons of potential. Ryan Day made him a priority in this class and saw something great in him. At 6’5 275 already, James has great size and weight. Once the recruiting rankings updates and there is more tape on James, there should be no reason he cannot be a four star recruit. This was a big get for the Buckeyes.
- Darrion Henry: Outside of Johnson, Henry is by far the next best player in the state of Ohio. The 6’6, 260 pound defensive tackle already has the elite height and weight needed to play the position. He has a college ready body right now, and getting elite pass rushers is always a must. Right now, the Buckeyes hold 100% of his crystal balls, and Henry tweeted out a few weeks ago that he was getting close to being ready to make a decision. Michigan has also been a threat in the recruitment of Henry, but getting Al Washington in Columbus would seem to make the Buckeyes the even more obvious choice now since Washington was Henry’s main recruiter. Getting Henry on board would give the Buckeyes an early elite pass rusher in a Cincinnati area region that has not always been kind to recruiting for Ohio State.
- DeaMonte Trayanum: Trayanum, a four star outside linebacker from Akron, has also established himself as one of the best in Ohio. At 6’0, he is a great athlete at both linebacker and running back, but his future would seem to be at linebacker in college. While he may be a little undersized, he has great instincts and always finds himself around the ball. Right now, the Buckeyes hold 80% of the crystal ball predictions, while Michigan holds the other 20%. And just like with Henry, Al Washington was the primary recruiter for Trayanum at Michigan. If the Buckeyes push for Trayanum, there seems to be no reason he should not be a Buckeye when it is all said and done.
- Kalil Branham: Branham, a 6’1 wide receiver out of Columbus, has been committed to Michigan since the middle of June. When he committed to the Wolverines, there was some talk he was mad the Buckeyes had not offered, and almost committed to spite Ohio State. With Gee Scott Jr. and Jaxon Smith-Njigba already committed to the Buckeyes and recruits like Rakim Jarrett and Julian Flemming being huge Ohio State targets, it will be interesting to see if Ohio State tries to flip Branham. If they really push for him, I think the Buckeyes probably can flip him somewhere later in the 2020 cycle. Al Washington was once again his main recruiter at Michigan, so that is a reason why I believe a flip can be had if the Buckeyes wish. But for the time being, I do not see a flip coming quickly.
- Michael Drennen II: Drennen II, a 5’10 back out of Dublin, Ohio, is another recruit that the Buckeyes have been paying attention to. He is currently ranked as the third best all purpose back in the country, and his game reminds me a little of Demario McCall. However at 190 pounds already, he is already pretty solidly built. Ohio State holds 75% of the crystal ball predictions right now, with Michigan holding the other 25%. Again Al Washington was his main recruiter at Michigan, so that would only seem to further the bond here for the Buckeyes. With other teams such as Penn State and Georgia already offering Drennen II, it shows that he is a major player in the 2020 Ohio class. When it is all said and done, I predict he will be a Buckeye.
- Jutahn McClain: McClain is probably a name that is not talked about as much by Buckeye fans when reviewing the top 2020 players in Ohio. However, he has a great game to him. At 5’10, 180 pounds, he is ranked as the fifth best all purpose back in the country. Ohio State offered back in October, but the outlook of McClain has been pretty unknown right now. Teams like Michigan, Purdue, Penn State, Cincinnati, Kentucky, and Louisville are all interested in McClain as well, showing that he will have a lot of potential suitors. As for where he ends up, that seems like a big mystery. However, I would guess the Buckeyes prioritize Drennen II over McClain. With Darvon Hubbard already in 2020 class and with my prediction of Drennen II in there as well, I do not see the Buckeyes adding a second all purpose back. Teams like Purdue, Cincinnati, and Kentucky would love to get McClain in their class.
- Jaheim Thomas: Thomas, a 6’5, 218 pound outside linebacker out of Cincinnati is another recruit the Buckeyes have taken an interest in. While he right now does not have an offer, it would appear one should be coming soon. Thomas seems like he wants to be a Buckeye, and he already has elite size to play the position. The Buckeyes hold 100% of the crystal ball predictions, and I agree that he will be a Buckeye. As soon as Thomas gets a commitable offer, I can see him in the class.
Shortly after becoming the new Ohio State head coach, Ryan Day said that locking down the state of Ohio in terms of recruiting is a must. Day wants to get more Ohio kids in the class, while still getting the elite recruits all around the country. After some tough in-state linemen losses in the 2019 class, getting another Ohio native in Al Washington on the staff can only help secure the talent.
While these are the top names in the Ohio 2020 class, we have seen time and time again that the Buckeyes sometimes will circle back late in the cycle and either flip or add another in-state recruit. Names such as Cameron Porter, Sam Rengert, and Deved Jones are also recruits for Buckeye fans to keep in the back of their minds.
(Image via Eleven Warriors)