May 24, 2016
Few coaches and programs can recruit at the consistently high level that Urban Meyer has reached at Ohio State, and with five consecutive top-seven recruiting classes, there’s blue chip talent at every level of the Buckeyes depth chart.
That buried talent was hidden during the 2015 campaign, when 15 starters returned from a national title-winning team to fuel a 12-1 season. But 12 former Buckeyes were taken in the NFL draft earlier this month, highlighting the enormous rebuilding job Meyer has on his hands in Columbus.
Ohio State needs 14 new starters in total before kicking its 2016 season off against Bowling Green. The Buckeyes will turn to these four former recruiting stars to fill some of those holes.
Dontre Wilson, H-Back
He was supposed to be the next coming of Percy Harvin, but entering his fourth and final season with the Buckeyes, Dontre Wilson hasn’t been able to live up to the enormous hype that came with him to Columbus.
That hype started to build for the former 4-star standout in his first summer with the Buckeyes, when his teammates went into fall camp raving about his playmaking ability, according to Doug Lesmerises of Cleveland.com. But with Carlos Hyde and Braxton Miller in the backfield, Ohio State used him mainly as a decoy, and he still managed to register 460 total yards and three touchdowns.
But three years later, that’s still his best season statistically after being hampered by injuries.
After seeing limited time a season ago, Wilson should be fully healthy and ready to contribute in an offense that desperately needs playmakers. He still has elite speed and an elusiveness that’s an absolute nightmare for opposing defenses to contain in the second level.
If Wilson is healthy, he could register big numbers with J.T. Barrett at quarterback, who likes to distribute the ball in the passing game.
Marcus Baugh, Tight End
Ohio State’s tight ends have been woefully underutilized in the passing attack, averaging a meager 15.8 receptions for 204.2 yards and 2.4 touchdowns per season over the last 10 years.
Marcus Baugh, the former 4-star tight end out of Riverside, California, is desperately trying to change that.
Baugh ran into some legal trouble early in his collegiate career and seemed on the verge of leaving the Ohio State football program. He stuck behind Jeff Heuerman and Nick Vannett—both of whom were selected in the third round of the last two drafts—and now it’s his turn to step into the starting role.
And with co-offensive coordinator Ed Warinner calling more of the shots, Baugh could be seeing a lot more footballs being thrown his way.
“There are a lot more throws headed [Baugh’s] way,” Warinner said after a recent spring practice, according to Bill Rabinowitz of the Columbus Dispatch.
Dante Booker, Linebacker
Ohio State has generated two of the most athletic linebackers in recent memory in Ryan Shazier and Darron Lee. Both were first-round selections in their respective drafts, running 4.4 40-yard dashes at the NFL combine.
Dante Booker, a former 4-star stud out of Akron, Ohio, is ready to step in as the athletic freak of the linebacker unit. The 6’3″, 233-pound outside linebacker will fill the spot vacated by Joshua Perry, but he’ll bring an elite speed to that side of the field.
“Dante’s a good athlete, man,” starting middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan said, according to Tony Gerdeman of The Ozone. “When he gets on the field, he does some stuff that you all haven’t even seen yet in practice. It’s amazing. One of the fastest guys on defense regardless of position. He just brings that pop.”
The Buckeyes could use that kind of disruptive force in the middle defensively as they work to replace three starters in both the defensive line and the secondary.
All recruiting information via 247Sports.
David Regimbal is the lead Ohio State football writer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.
Read more Ohio State Football news on BleacherReport.com