On Feb. 5, 2014, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer expressed some disappointment that the Buckeyes did not sign the nation's top-ranked recruiting class. Ranked third in the country by 247Sports.com behind Alabama and LSU, Ohio State signed 23 players from across the country, the majority from the Buckeye State. At the time, Meyer said, “There is a correlation between how teams do where your team is ranked, recruiting class is ranked. But certainly that's not the final product because you've got to coach and develop them and get them here."
My personal history when it comes to analyzing Ohio State recruiting classes goes back to 2005, when the new Buckeyes included the likes of James Laurinaitis, Brian Hartline and Malcolm Jenkins. That class was relatively small with 18 players signed, and was not highly regarded by the recruiting analysts, but the coaching staff only lost three from that class due to transfer or academic issues, resulting in 15 who either started or contributed to Ohio State during their careers. This 83 percent success rate ranks that group highly in the unofficial "Rule of Thirds" concept that is applied to recruiting classes.
“The Rule of Thirds” is pretty simple — within any class, there will be approximately a third who will develop into starters as the coaching staff hoped and recruited, a third will be contributors in some fashion, and a third will not work out, leaving due to transfer, injuries or possibly disciplinary reasons.
For this exercise, I will review how Ohio State;’s 2014 class ranked using the above criteria. Of the 23 signed players, 18 have either started or contributed to the Buckeyes, for an average 78 percent success rate. Several of the players signed in 2014 will have eligibility remaining after this upcoming season.
Part one of this series will look at the few players who eventually left the Ohio State program. I will address each player, why they left and where they are currently in order of when that particular player verbally committed to the Buckeyes.
1. Marcelys Jones, OL
Jones was the very first player to verbally commit to the Buckeyes, doing so on Christmas Day in 2012. One of three Cleveland Glenville players signed in this class, Jones decided to transfer to Kentucky in the spring of 2015. Jones was dismissed from Kentucky in August 2015 for a violation of team rules.
2. Kyle Trout, OL
Trout came to Ohio State from an offense that emphasized run blocking, which led to a redshirt season in 2014. Playing sparingly as a backup offensive lineman in 2015 and '16, Trout decided to leave for Cincinnati as a graduate transfer for the 2017 season. Trout even participated in spring football for the Buckeyes in 2017.
3. Kyle Berger, LB
Berger came to Ohio State as a highly-touted linebacker from Cleveland St. Ignatius, despite missing his senior year due to an ACL injury. He redshirted in 2014, and then unfortunately sustained another ACL injury that led to the end of his playing career.
4. Stephen Collier, QB
Collier played sparingly for Ohio State, after redshirting in 2014. Unfortunately for Collier, an injury ended his 2016 season, leaving Collier's stat line him with no passes attempted in live game action. Collier retired after last season, with the open admiration of Meyer, as Collier graduated in three years with a bachelor's degree in strategic communications. Collier will be assisting the team during the 2017 season, while beginning to work on a master's degree.
5. Darius Slade, DE
Darius Slade was the last player to sign with Ohio State, flipping from a verbal commitment to Michigan State, National Signing Day back in 2014. Slade signed with Ohio State largely because of the arrival of Larry Johnson as the Buckeyes' new defensive line coach. Slade redshirted as a freshman, played sparingly in 2015, and spent all of last season rehabbing an injury sustained during fall camp. At B1G Media Days earlier this week, Meyer announced that Slade had transferred from the program.
Part two will look at the players Ohio State signed in February 2014 who have been contributors during their time in Columbus. Several of these players will have opportunities to not only contribute to Ohio State in 2017, but also emerge as possible starters this upcoming season.