On Feb. 4, 2015, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer stated, "It was a very eventful night. We didn't get everyone we wanted. We battled really hard..." As statements are usually made about incoming recruits, Meyer seemed pleased with the class that was ranked seventh overall nationally by 247Sports, and first in the Big Ten.
Fast-forward to the spring of 2017, and Meyer was singing a different tune when it came to the 2015 recruiting class. "The ‘15 class, they’ve received a lot of heat and it’s very justified... they’re allowed to change, and they’re starting to change... That class, that was a misfit class, is starting to buy in. And they better..."
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 2015 class ranked using the above criteria. Of the 27 signed players, 15 have either started or contributed to the Buckeyes, which translates to a 56 percent success rate. Some of the players signed in 2015 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. Eric Glover-Williams, WR/CB
The first player to verbally commit to the Buckeyes in August 2013, Glover-Williams never seemed to find a position in his time at Ohio State. He moved back and forth between the secondary and receiver groups, playing primarily on special teams in 2015 and '16. Glover-Williams was dismissed from Ohio State in 2017 for disciplinary reasons, attended Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, and transferred to Division II's Slippery Rock University for the 2018 season.
2. Jamel Dean, CB
Dean was the first player from the 2015 recruiting class to depart, leaving Ohio State as a result of a disputed medical evaluation. Never suiting up for Ohio State, Dean transferred to Auburn, and has started at cornerback for the Tigers, despite battling injuries in his time there.
3. Joe Burrow, QB
Burrow is probably the highest-profile name of the 2015 recruiting class to depart. Burrow was a backup to quarterback J.T. Barrett from 2015-17, and was in a tight battle with Dwayne Haskins for the starting job this spring. After losing out to Haskins, Burrow decided to transfer to LSU over the summer and was named the Tigers' starter prior to the start of the season.
4. Grant Schmidt, OL
The first player from South Dakota to play for Ohio State, Schmidt was an early departure from Columbus, deciding to transfer to Cincinnati in the spring of 2016. After a year in Cincinnati, Schmidt transferred back home, and is slated to play for FCS South Dakota State this fall.
5. Nick Conner, LB
An early enrollee at linebacker, Conner was forced to give up football due to medical reasons. Conner played sparingly because of knee injuries and left the team in 2018.
6. Kevin Feder, OL
Feder was an offensive lineman who battled injuries throughout his time in Columbus. After the 2017 season, Feder went to Kansas as graduate transfer where he got the start at right tackle for the Jayhawks in their opener last Saturday.
7. A.J. Alexander, TE
Alexander was another player who was forced to give up football in 2017 due to injuries. Primarily used as a blocker, Alexander caught four passes for 27 yards in 2016.
8. Alex Stump, WR
Stump redshirted in 2015, caught one pass in '16, and then transferred to Vanderbilt a year later. Eligible to play for the Commodores, Stump was not on the depth chart for the opener against Middle Tennessee, but he is expected to get his chances this fall, given the uncertainty at the wide receiver position.
9. Torrance Gibson, QB/WR
A true case of "what might have been," Gibson never appeared in a game for the Buckeyes. Heavily recruited by several top programs around the country, Gibson was moved from quarterback to wide receiver in the summer 2015, and redshirted that fall. On track to play in 2016, Gibson was suspended from the university, resulting in him transferring to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. Gibson played there in 2017 before signing with the CFL's Edmonton Eskimos this March.
10. Joshua Norwood, DB
After redshirting in 2015, Norwood played sparingly in '16 and decided to transfer the following spring. After a year at Northwest Mississippi Community College, Norwood transferred to West Virginia and he was credited with four tackles in the Mountaineers' opening win against Tennessee in Charlotte, North Carolina, this past Saturday.
11. Matthew Burrell, OL
An occasional contributor along the offensive line for the Buckeyes, Burrell made the decision to transfer to FCS Sam Houston State this spring. He is expected to see significant snaps up front right away for the Bearkats.
12. Mirko Jurkovic, OL
Jurkovic verbally committed to Ohio State in December 2014, but he was not admitted the following summer. He transferred to Georgia, but he never got on the field for the Bulldogs and was forced to give up football due to knee injuries.
To recap, out of 27 signees in the 2015 recruiting class, 12 (44 percent) departed Ohio State before exhausting their eligibility. The term "misfit" sounded harsh when describing the 2015 class, but perhaps Meyer was accurate with the label.
Part two of this series will focus on the members of the 2015 recruiting class that have been contributors for Ohio State. Several of these players will have opportunities to not only contribute on field for the Buckeyes this season, but serve as key contributors.