The Associated Press
COLUMBUS — Sticking to a plan that has worked since he took over at Ohio State, coach Urban Meyer reloaded the Buckeyes roster with top recruits Wednesday.
By midmorning on national signing day, the Buckeyes had already wrapped up their 2016 class of 25 new players — seven of whom have already enrolled in school. There was no drama or big splash on campus, simply a program executing Meyer’s game plan.
He once again won the in-state recruiting battle, signing 10 players from Ohio. And, he was able to stand toe to toe with rival Michigan, which has slowly gained ground on the Buckeyes in the recruiting wars under second-year coach Jim Harbaugh.
Other things to know:
Top 25 Class: Yes.
Best in class: Nick Bosa, DL, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The spitting image of his older brother, former Buckeyes All-American Joey Bosa, the 6-foot-3, 250-pounder may step right into the spot vacated by his sibling. Nick Bosa sustained a torn knee ligament that cut short his senior year, but he’s expected to be fully recovered when Ohio State opens camp in August.
Best of the rest: Austin Mack, WR, Fort Wayne, Indiana. The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder scored 49 career touchdowns, including six on kickoff returns. He can help fill the void following the loss of Michael Thomas, one of nine Ohio State underclassmen leaving early for the pros.
Late addition: Malcolm Pridgeon, OL, Nassau County (N.Y.) Community College. The 6-foot-8 303-pounder chose Ohio State over Baylor on signing day. He’s just the second junior college player to sign with the Buckeyes under Meyer. Pridgeon will bring both size and depth to OSU’s offensive front and he’ll compete for a starting job this spring as the Buckeyes will return just one lineman.
One that got away: Rashan Gary, DT, Paramus, New Jersey. The nation’s No. 1 recruit is headed to Michigan, a signing that Wolverines fans will undoubtedly tout as a victory over the Buckeyes as Harbaugh tries to close the talent gap between the bitter enemies. Ohio State was briefly in the sweepstakes for Gary, a 6-foot-5, 292-pound tour de force.
How they’ll fit in: Meyer has already identified Bosa and Jonathon Cooper, a 6-foot-2, 234-pound defensive end from Gahanna, Ohio, as among the freshmen who will get playing time next season. Meyer wasn’t expecting such a mass exodus of underclassmen to the pros, so he’ll have to lean on his freshmen more than ever.