Scouting experts: Buckeyes, Tressel haul nation’s top class

By Rusty Miller

COLUMBUS, Ohio – This is one No. 1 ranking that Jim Tressel welcomes.

After losing several top performers off of last year’s 10-3 team, Ohio State is listed by several national scouting services as having the best recruiting class in the nation.

Tressel, entering his ninth year with the Buckeyes, usually disdains any mention of polls and rankings. He has also expressed a lack of respect for recruiting services in the past. But he is undoubtedly pleased that Ohio State’s recruiting class was ranked No. 1 in the country by Rivals.com and by Scout.com heading into Wednesday, the first day that football recruits can sign letters of intent. The Buckeyes were listed fourth (behind Louisiana State, Southern California and Texas) by ESPN.com.

The oddity is that the Buckeyes hold such a lofty ranking without the fanfare of a year ago, when Tressel had to wait until mid-March to find out that Terrelle Pryor, the nation’s top quarterback recruit, was coming to Ohio State.

Of the top 25 recruits in the nation as rated by Rivals.com, Ohio State was shut out.

Perhaps more importantly, Tressel and his staff locked up many other top prospects, in addition to taking players who are badly needed to fill holes.

– With tailback Chris “Beanie” Wells giving up his final year of eligibility to jump to the NFL, Ohio State needed to add running backs and landed Florida prep products Jaamal Berry, a 5-foot-10, 185-pound speedster from Miami Palmetto, and Carlos Hyde of Naples, almost a carbon copy of Wells at 6-1 and 235 pounds.

– Wide receiver Brian Robiskie graduated and his running mate, Brian Hartline, also is leaving early. So the Buckeyes signed three receivers, led by Duron Carter, another Florida prep star from Fort Lauderdale Aquinas. The Buckeyes have faith in Carter’s bloodlines. His dad, Cris, set many receiving records at Ohio State before going on to a glittering pro career.

– Two offensive linemen moved on, meaning the Buckeyes had to add some depth on the front wall. They did that by grabbing massive Marcus Hall, a 6-6, 300-pounder from Cleveland’s Glenville High School, the alma mater of former Buckeyes greats Troy Smith and Ted Ginn Jr.

– The Buckeyes raided Pennsylvania for a couple of blue-chip prospects, getting five-star recruit Dorian Bell, a 6-2, 220-pound linebacker, and cornerback/receiver Corey Brown, both out of Monroeville Gateway High School. The incoming class included several others who might move into the mix in the secondary – in particular a replacement for the graduated Malcolm Jenkins at corner.

The newcomers join a team that has won at least a share of the last four Big Ten titles.

By day’s end, the Buckeyes were poised to have as many as 26 players put their signatures on the dotted line.