Several Buckeyes have moved on to the NFL, while others return for potential glory in 2017
In February 2014, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer and his staff signed a group of 23 players that was ranked third by 247Sports.com, behind only Alabama and LSU. Of those 23 players signed, only five left the program due to transfer, injury, or retirement.
Of the remaining 18, six have contributed to the program in some shape or form. That leaves 12 members of the class who have been able to emerge as starters for the Buckeyes since signing their LOI more than years ago. This article will focus on the those players.
1. Damon Webb, S
Webb was a rarity signing for Ohio State, as he grew up in Michigan, yet decided to become a Buckeye. Webb played and contributed as a true freshman, primarily upon special teams. As a sophomore in 2015, Webb played more as a nickel defensive back, playing in seven games. Last season Webb moved to safety, where he is expected to return for his senior season as the leader of the Ohio State secondary.
2. Parris Campbell, WR/H-Back
Campbell redshirted in 2014. A running back in high school, he was moved to wide receiver and actually started three games in 2015. Campbell's biggest contributions have come as a kickoff returner, where he led the Big Ten last season after averaging 27.8 yards per return. Campbell will play H-Back this season, replacing classmate Curtis Samuel. Campbell will have eligibility remaining after the 2017 season.
3. Sam Hubbard, DE
Hubbard came ever so close to playing as a true freshman in 2014, as Meyer was mesmerized by his athletic versatility. Hubbard played safety in high school for Cincinnati Moeller, and then spent time as a redshirt freshman at tight end before finding a home at defensive end. Hubbard played primarily as a backup defensive end in 2015, before emerging as a starter last season. Hubbard will have eligibility remaining after this season, but is widely projected to declare for the 2018 NFL Draft.
4. Dante Booker, LB
Booker played as a true freshman in 2014 on special teams. In 2015, he split time between special teams and linebacker, earning a second varsity letter. Projected to start at linebacker entering last season, Booker injured his knee in the opener, and was forced to miss the remainder of the season. Healthy heading into 2017, Booker is listed again as a starter at outside linebacker, and is widely projected to declare for the 2018 NFL Draft after the season.
5. Sean Nuernberger, PK
Nuernberger was among the first of his recruiting class to see playing time, hitting both of his field goal attempts and all four PATs in the 2014 season opener at Navy. Nuernberger shared placekicking duties with Jack Willoughby the following season, before winning the job late in the season. Nuernberger redshirted last season and could face a battle with incoming freshman Blake Haubeil for the starting placekicker job this fall.
6. Jalyn Holmes, DE
Holmes is actually not listed as a starter at defensive end, but plays enough to be considered one by the Ohio State coaches. Holmes played as a true freshman in 2014, primarily on special teams. In 2015, Holmes again was a special teams contributor, but he also increased his playing time at defensive end. Often alternating with starters Sam Hubbard or Tyquan Lewis, Holmes played in all 13 games for the Buckeyes last season.
7. Jamarco Jones, OT
Jones was on flip alert by the Ohio State coaches back in February 2014, as he took a late visit to Michigan State in the recruiting process. But he stuck with the Buckeyes and ended up earning some playing time as a true freshman in 2014. The following season he was on the first offensive lineman off of the bench and appeared in all 13 games. Last season, Jones took over for Taylor Decker at left tackle, and was named second team All-Big Ten by both the coaches and media.
8. Malik Hooker, DB
Hooker was the player in the recruiting class who seemed to emerge from nowhere to become a superstar. After playing just two years of high school football, Hooker redshirted in 2014. As a redshirt freshman in 2015, Hooker played in all 13 games, primarily on special teams. Last season, Hooker was named a starter and emerged as a playmaker at safety in the very first game of the season against Bowling Green. After a season that saw Hooker earn rave reviews and first-team All-Big Ten honors as well as first-team All-America recognition by AFCS, Associated Press, FWAA, Walter Camp, USA Today, The Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports, and CBS Sports, Hooker declared for the 2017 NFL Draft. Hooker was taken 15th overall by the Indianapolis Colts.
9. Curtis Samuel, H-Back
Samuel was able to earn playing time as a true freshman in 2014, contributing as a runner, receiver, and special teams returner. In 2015, Samuel was again the primary backup to Ezekiel Elliott at running back, yet also made the move to H-Back in order to gain even more playing time. Last season, Samuel was the most explosive player on the Ohio State offense, and received first-team All-American by the Associated Press and The Sporting News. Samuel declared early for the 2017 NFL Draft, and was selected 40th overall by the Carolina Panthers.
10. Noah Brown, WR
Brown was an athlete coming out of high school, having played running back and wide receiver. Moved to wide receiver by the Ohio State coaching staff, Brown played sparingly as a true freshman in 2014. Brown was in line to start in 2015, but unfortunately suffered a leg injury that ended his season. In 2016, Brown became a starting wide receiver for the Buckeyes, and had a game for the ages at Oklahoma with four touchdown catches. Despite two years of eligibility remaining, Brown declared early for the 2017 NFL Draft, and was selected in the seventh round by the Dallas Cowboys.
11. Raekwon McMillan, LB
Arguably the crown jewel of the 2014 recruiting class, McMillan competed for the starting middle linebacker position with senior Curtis Grant, and was named a freshman All-American by Athlon Sports, 247Sports and Scout.com. Taking over as the starting middle linebacker in 2015, McMillan led the Buckeyes in tackles that season and in ’16. McMillan declared early for the 2017 NFL Draft and was selected in the second round (54th overall) by the Miami Dolphins.
12. Marshon Lattimore, CB
Lattimore was one of three Cleveland Glenville players signed, but struggled to stay healthy during his first years in Columbus. Finally healthy last season as a redshirt sophomore, Lattimore emerged as one of the top defensive backs in the nation, earning first-team All-Big Ten recognition from the coaches and second team by the media. First Lattimore gave up his final two years of eligibility to enter the 2017 NFL Draft, and was taken 11th overall by the New Orleans Saints.
Of 23 players signed, only five departed, with 18 either contributing or starting, for an average 78 percent success rate. With the 2017 college football season approaching, it will be interesting to see if contributors such as Terry McLaurin, Johnnie Dixon or Demetrius Knox emerge as starters for the Buckeyes. Going from 18, up to possibly 20, players as starters or contributors would bump up the 78 percent rate up to 87 percent. It will certainly bear watching.