Back in 2012, Urban Meyer's first recruiting class as head coach of Ohio State consisted of 25 players. As has already been discussed in length, 11 players are no longer with the program. This 44 percent departure rate is higher than "The Rule of Thirds," which is generally applied to recruiting classes when it comes to retention.
Even with an unusual number of departures, that still leaves 14 players who have remained a part of the Buckeyes program. Of this group, five are expected to contribute this season and possibly 2016, while nine are projected starters. Here are those players listed in order of when they verbally committed to Ohio State.
1. Warren Ball, RB
Ball was the second player of the 2011 class to verbally commit to Ohio State, doing so in September 2010. Originally committing to former head coach Jim Tressel, Ball remained a Buckeye through signing day 2012, despite the tumultuous events of '11. He redshirted in 2012, and his primary contributions to Ohio State have been primarily on special teams. Ball still has a year of eligibility remaining for the 2016 season if he wishes to use it.
2. Bri'onte Dunn, RB
Dunn also verbally committed to Tressel and the Buckeyes back in September 2010. Highly touted out of high school, Dunn wavered in his commitment to Ohio State, causing many to speculate that he would not sign with the Buckeyes on National Signing Day in February 2012. Ultimately, Dunn signed with Ohio State, yet has not played as much as expected. He saw limited action in 2012, redshirted in '13, and was an important member of the special teams units last season. Dunn was cited by Meyer for having a strong spring, and could be in the mix at tailback this fall as a backup for Ezekiel Elliott. Like Warren Ball, Dunn has a year of eligibility remaining for the 2016 season.
3. Devan Bogard, LB
Bogard suffered through an injury-plagued career at Ohio State, yet was highly respected by Meyer, the coaching staff and his teammates for his contributions on special teams. Bogard verbally committed to interim head coach Luke Fickell in June 2011, out of Cleveland Glenville. Bogard earned the honor of being the first 2012 freshman to lose his black helmet stripe, a gesture that indicates a freshman is ready to be a Buckeye. Bogard played special teams from 2012-14, yet sustained three knee injuries that effectively ended his playing career. Bogard is serving as a student intern for the Buckeyes for the 2015 season.
4. Cam Williams, LB
Williams originally committed to Penn State, but decided to re-open his recruiting in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal and flipped to Ohio State in January 2012. Williams has played all three seasons, primarily upon special teams. He should see playing time as a backup linebacker this coming season.
5. Armani Reeves, DB
Like his friend and high school teammate Cam Williams, Reeves also was an initial Penn State verbal commitment who eventually flipped to Ohio State in January 2012. Reeves started three gamest at cornerback in 2013, but has seen the bulk of his action on special teams and in nickel coverage situations throughout his career. Similar to Devan Bogard, injuries also cut short Reeves' career, as multiple concussions forced him to give up playing. Reeves will serve as a student assistant this season.
Out of 25 signees, five players have contributed/will contribute to Ohio State in 2015, and possibly even into '16. This contribution rate of 20 percent is below the projected "Rule Of Thirds" criteria.
That leaves the final category, the starters. This group not only has names familiar to Ohio State fans, but also those who watch and follow college football in general.
1. Joshua Perry, LB
Perry was the very first player from this class to verbally commit to Ohio State, back in June 2010. Perry stuck to his word all the way up to signing day in 2012, and has developed into one of the team's strongest leaders. Perry has earned varsity letters all three seasons, and was the Buckeyes' leading tackler in 2014.
2. Jacoby Boren, OL
Boren was an early verbal commitment to Tressel, back in December 2010. Like his brothers Justin and Zach, who preceded him as Buckeyes, Jacoby Boren has endeared himself to the coaching staff and the fans with his toughness and no-frills demeanor. Boren will start at center this season, anchoring a dominant Ohio State offensive line.
3. Cardale Jones, QB
The only phrase I can use as I reflect upon Jones' Ohio State career is "surprising." Jones originally signed with Ohio State in February 2011 after being recruited by Tressel's staff, but spent the 2011 season at Fork Union Military Academy. Jones enrolled at Ohio State in January 2012, and to say that he did not endear himself to Meyer and the new coaching staff would be an understatement. The classic example of this is the infamous tweet from 2012 that seemed to define his early career. Jones redshirted in 2012, played sparingly in '13, and became a Buckeye legend for his performances during last season's national championship run. Jones will battle J.T. Barrett for the starting quarterback job, but win or lose, the man known as "12 Gauge" should be in line for substantial playing time in 2015. A junior, Jones, has two years of eligibility remaining, but he is widely expected to declare for the 2016 NFL Draft after this season.
4. Tyvis Powell, DB
Powell is another player who has endeared himself to Buckeye fans, for a variety of reasons both on and off the field. Powell was the first player to verbally commit to Ohio State after Tressel resigned, declaring his intentions to Fickell on June 1, 2011. Powell redshirted in 2012, and emerged as a starter in 2013 and '14. He began a knack for making big plays in 2013, none bigger than in THE GAME. Powell also had the interception at the end of the 2015 Sugar Bowl that sent Ohio State to the national championship game. Powell is roommates and best of friends with Cardale Jones, and has a year of eligibility for the 2016 season.
5. Pat Elflein, OL
Elflein was a verbal commitment to Fickell in July 2011. Elflein redshirted in 2012, and was primarily a backup in '13, until teammate Marcus Hall was ejected from THE GAME that season. Elflein became a full-time starter at right guard last season, earning All-Big Ten recognition. He will resume his starting role this fall and will have one more year of eligibility.
6. Michael Thomas, WR
Thomas verbally committed to Ohio State in October 2011. The nephew of former USC and NFL standout Keyshawn Johnson, Thomas was a teammate and roommate of Cardale Jones at Fork Union Military Academy shortly after committing to Fickell and the Buckeyes. Thomas played sparingly in 2012, redshirted in '13, and emerged as Ohio State's leading receiver last season with 54 receptions. A junior, Thomas will start at wide receiver this fall and will have a year of eligibility remaining.
7. Adolphus Washington, DL
Washington verbally committed to Ohio State literally days before Meyer was named head coach in November 2011. Washington has started 19 games for the Buckeyes, and will be a primary cog for the defense in 2015.
8. Tommy Schutt, DL
Schutt was a flip from Penn State by Meyer in December 2011, similar to teammates Cam Williams and Armani Reeves. Schutt is projected to start alongside classmate Aldolphus Washington at defensive tackle this season. Considering the departure of 2014 starter Michael Bennett to the NFL, Schutt has some rather large and important shoes to fill along the interior defensive line during his senior season.
9. Taylor Decker, OT
Decker was a flip from Notre Dame, after Ohio State co-offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Ed Warriner and tight ends coach Tim Hinton came on board with Meyer in January 2012. Decker played primarily as a backup as a true freshman in 2012, and was a starter in 2013 and '14. The senior left tackle is essential for the stability of Ohio State's offensive line.
Nine of the 25 signees, or 36 percent, in the 2012 recruiting class have developed into starters. In this regard, the starters have outperformed "The Rule Of Thirds."
The phrase "mixed results, yet major contributors" seems fair when one reviews the players who signed with Ohio State back in February 2012. Many of the recruits on the list stayed true to Ohio State with their commitments all the way from Tressel, through Fickell, to Meyer; while some came on board after Meyer was hired, flipping from their original commitments. No matter how the players arrived in Columbus, the 2012 recruiting class will always be looked upon fondly for their contributions to the 2014 national championship season, and will undoubtedly play a big part should the Buckeyes repeat that performance this fall.
— Written by Chip Minnich, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a diehard Ohio State fan. Minnich also writes and podcasts for menofthescarletandgray.com, a site dedicated to Ohio sports with a special emphasis on the Buckeyes. Follow him on Twitter @ChipMinnich.