Ohio State has clear recruiting needs in Class of 2021

Jeremy Birminghamover 1 year
Aritcle written by:Jeremy BirminghamJeremy Birmingham


Donovan Edwards by Birm:Lettermen Row

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. On Tuesday, we’re looking ahead at a few of the positions that will be important for Ohio State in the Class of 2021.

Ohio State Recruiting Question of the Day

It’s never too early to look ahead in recruiting. And since we’re approaching the end of the 2020 recruiting cycle, there’s no better time than now to try and sort out what direction the Buckeyes could go in the Class of 2021.

And it may sound generic or like a cop-out, but the truth is that there is not a single position that isn’t important for Ohio State to shore up in the next year. Yes, there are some that need more attention than others. But looking at the Buckeyes roster and prognosticating future attrition makes it clear that the program is set up right now in a way that requires every position to be addressed, every year.

By this time next year, Ohio State should have a number of significant losses from the team that suits up in 2020.

At quarterback, Justin Fields will likely head off to the NFL. Kyle McCord is already committed in the 2021 class, but it’s the late addition of C.J. Stroud to the 2020 group that provides should much-needed comfort for Ryan Day and Ohio State. That comfort should allow them to take just McCord next year and not be forced to search frantically for another prep quarterback.

There’s a good chance Chris Olave takes off for the NFL as well. But the wide receivers room was well stocked this year, and there are already two commitments in 2021. The Buckeyes want two more, but unless there’s unexpected attrition, they may only have room for one. So, even though they could sign or maybe four guys at this position next year, it’s hard to say it’s a priority.

Tony Alford-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football

Tony Alford has clear targets at the top of his list in 2021. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

So, let’s just talk about which positions it appears are the biggest priority in 2021. In my mind, there are three different spots that need to be hit hard and need to be home runs for the Buckeyes next year: Running back, offensive line and defensive line. I’m tempted to put the cornerback position in this mix but will hold off while Ohio State finishes the current crop in the next few weeks.

The running back conundrum in 2020 is well-documented, and I’m not going to rehash it. Tony Alford and Ohio State didn’t close the deal on top targets throughout this cycle, and though there’s still a well-concerted push for Jahmyr Gibbs underway, the need for 2021 is obvious. The Buckeyes were in the thick of things for the guys at the top of their list, but almost doesn’t count in recruiting. And though the decisions of Bijan Robinson and Jaylan Knighton have left people in Columbus shaking their heads in wonderment, there’s no time to look back. Donovan Edwards, the talented tailback at West Bloomfield (Mich.) High School remains the biggest priority in the next cycle.

After a rough stretch before last year, Ohio State offensive line coach Greg Studrawa has picked up the pace and done a great job on the recruiting trail in 2020 and 2021. Landing Ohio lineman Ben Christman was expected, though, and now Studrawa has to finish the recruiting efforts and score big wins in a group of players that includes 4-star talents like Donovan Jackson, Tristan Leigh, Jager Burton, J.C. Latham and others. Ohio State will need five offensive linemen or more in 2021, and it’s off to a great start.

Larry Johnson’s ability to develop defensive linemen has never been in question. But every year he gets closer to retirement is another year that other programs will hold his age against him and Ohio State. Johnson has a bevy of top-flight talent along the defensive line in 2020, but the Buckeyes only signed three in the current class and will need to begin working to replace Tyreke Smith, Tyler Friday, Zach Harrison, Javontae-Jean Baptiste and others in the 2021 cycle. The addition of 5-star defensive end Jack Sawyer is a great place to start, but the biggest needs may be in on the interior part of the line for the Buckeyes. There are a number of major names available and interested in Ohio State, and this is one cycle that Larry Johnson and Ryan Day may want to swing for the fences.

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