Which future Buckeyes need big senior season to silence doubters?

On3 imageby:Jeremy Birmingham08/22/19


Have a question about Ohio State recruiting? This is the place for you, five days a week. Submit your questions on Twitter or on the Lettermen Row forums. Check-in daily to see what’s on the mind of Buckeyes fans all over the country. Thursday’s question asks which Buckeyes commitments need to use their senior seasons to erase any doubts about their futures.

Ohio State Recruiting Question of the Day

There is no doubt that even with the country’s fourth-ranked recruiting class and the Big Ten’s top-ranked class there are some guys in the 2020 class for Ohio State who have something to prove in their final high school seasons.

That doesn’t mean each guy has to prove something for the same reason, of course. There is nuance in recruiting. There are ups and downs on the field and off the field. There are rises and falls in the national rankings, and every top high school player in the country learns about adversity, the pros and cons of life in the public eye and how to handle criticism through the recruiting process. Some come out the other end stronger, some wilt in the face of becoming a celebrity far earlier than they were ready for.

The recruiting process is a great thing in a lot of ways, and a bad thing in many others.

Such is life, right? It’s not always pretty. Everyone has to keep growing and improving. Still, in football, some guys need to show more than others. There are a few Buckeyes commitments who are about to embark on their final seasons of high school football facing tests.

Jack Miller needs to stay healthy

There has been an emergence of questions about quarterback Jack Miller and his ability to stay healthy due to a season-ending injury in his junior season. Now, there’s also a back issue that derailed his attempts to win the Elite 11 quarterback competition this past summer.

Miller saw his national recruiting profile take a hit, even though it wasn’t too egregious of a drop. And national analysts from ESPN questioned him about other things and used that as a basis for knocking his ranking, but never said exactly what caused the drop.

Make no mistake here: Jack Miller is the quarterback Ryan Day wants at Ohio State. He’s got the ability to be a big-time player in Columbus. This season provides him the chance to prove that he’s the best quarterback in Arizona, a state that also has Michigan commitment J.D. Johnson. And it will allow him the chance to show people he’s not fallen off at all.

When he’s healthy, Miller is one of the country’s best passers, and there’s a Grand Canyon-sized chip on his shoulder heading into his final season at Chapparal High School.

Jakob James wants people see his full talent on display

As he mentioned during his recent visit to Birminology on Lettermen Row, Cincinnati Elder offensive lineman Jakob James has not had a chance yet to show people exactly what he’s capable of doing on the football field.

During the pivotal early evaluation period during the summer heading into his junior season, James was a talented, but small, offensive lineman with a family history of producing football players. He camped at Ohio State last summer at just 245-pounds, a very underwhelming number for a lineman with Big Ten aspirations. That limited the buzz around his efficient, well-rounded talents.

As he started to put on the weight Ohio State asked him to, James was hurt and required shoulder surgery in the offseason, which kept him from competing at full-strength at national recruiting camps this spring.

Now he’s healthy, almost at his future playing size and ready to show that he’s much better than the 27th-ranked player in Ohio.

Trey Leroux has to show discipline off the field, growth on it

Ohio State’s lowest-rated, non-kicker recruit is Norwalk 3-star offensive tackle prospect Trey Leroux. It was a surprise to many when the Buckeyes offered the massive 6-foot-8, almost 360-pound offensive tackle in March, choosing Leroux over a handful of higher-ranked in-state players.

The choice to offer and accept a commitment from Leroux was based on a few things, primarily his size — he was closer to 330-pounds at the time. He also has impressive footwork, which is better than average for a player of his stature. His junior film showed marked improvement from the season’s opener to its finish, and there’s a belief that with the right coaching, he can be developed into a legitimate Big Ten-caliber offensive lineman.

However, Leroux struggled at The Opening regional, finding little success against the defensive linemen in attendance. And the weight he’s been told he has to control has fluctuated. Now it’s football season again, and a lot of that weight will come off naturally. But the offensive lineman has to win that battle on his own while he continues to develop on the field.

We’ve written it over and over here at Lettermen Row: There are no just-because scholarship offers from Ohio State. The Buckeyes trust Leroux to handle his business. Now he’s just got to prove he will.

Darrion Henry rankings drop provides fuel for senior season fire

He says it doesn’t bother him and that he’s not thinking about it often, but there’s no doubt that Darrion Henry is eager to get back to work on the football field this season.

After dropping nearly 500 spots in the 247Sports.com rankings following a subpar camp performance this spring — his first football workouts after a pretty serious shoulder injury that required offseason surgery — Henry has a lot to prove. To himself, to national recruiting analysts and even to fans who now doubt that he’s the blue-chip prospect he was regarded as just six months ago.

He can play it off, and he’s trying to, but the embers have been stoked. Now Henry is ready to explode this year.

“I’m not one of the guys that’s all about the rankings,” he said. “But I’m like, ‘You know I had surgery?’ I wasn’t really tripping that much, and I laughed it off a little bit. But it was one of those moments where I’ve got to show them how I got there in the first place. It really humbled me more than anything, really.

“The rankings don’t make me. It’ll be noticed by how I play this year.”

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