Stars matter. Recruiting matters. One of the largest impacts the former Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer had was elevating recruiting. This was probably the largest question mark for new coach Ryan Day. The 2019 recruiting class, overall, was not highly-rated (14th in the nation, 3rd in Big Ten). However, guys like Zach Harrison and Garrett Wilson, with transfers Justin Fields and Jonah Jackson, helped lead the Buckeyes to an undefeated regular season, Big Ten title, and a CFP berth. The 2020 Ohio State football recruiting class is set to be legendary. In a normal year, their 14 early-enrollees would blow minds by getting all that extra work in. This year, who knows? One thing is certain: this offensive class is loaded.
Reviewing The 2020 Ohio State Football Recruiting Class (Offense)
For each player, the rating presented will be their 247Sports rating. This 2020 Ohio State football recruiting class is extremely talented. Two great quarterbacks, a transfer potential Heisman candidate running back, a host of stud receivers, and a tackle from in-state who will challenge to start right away.
CJ Stroud (0.9781 rating, four stars)
After the crazy quarterback uncertainty that was leading up to the 2019 season, the future of the Ohio State quarterback room is in good hands. Of the two, Stroud committed second, considering he waited until the early Signing Day to announce. The Buckeyes fended off the likes of Oregon, USC, Georgia, and B1G rival, Michigan. Stroud is the second-ranked pro-style quarterback in the nation and 42nd overall.
The signing of Stroud was a massive BOOM for Ryan Day’s recruiting cycle. In high school, Stroud started his junior and senior years, but it was his senior campaign that has all the hype. As a senior, Stroud led his team to a 7-3 mark in the regular season (should’ve been 8-2, but their 52-3 dismantling of Etiwanda was ruled a forfeit due to an ineligible player). 3878 yards and 47 touchdowns later, Stroud looks primed to compete for the 2021 starting quarterback position. He has a strong arm with solid athleticism to go with his 6’2″ frame and has Teddy Bridgewater-esque comparisons coming in. Imagine Ohio State going from Justin Fields to a quarterback just like him. Unfair.
Jack Miller (0.8951, four stars)
There will be another highly-anticipated quarterback coming to Columbus in 2020 that will give Stroud a run for his money. Between Stroud, Miller, and 2021 commit Kyle McCord, Buckeye nation need not worry about the next face of the program. Miller has been committed to the Buckeyes since July 1, 2018 and has since reaffirmed his commitment with the emergence of Stroud and McCord. Like Stroud, Miller is a top-rated pro-style quarterback with a strong arm. Just behind his teammate, Miller is the 13th-ranked pro-style quarterback in this cycle.
Unfortunately, due to Stroud’s last-minute flip, Miller is often overlooked. Injuries did hurt his ranking, considering he was projected to be a top-50 guy. Injuries or not, Miller started all four years and lit it up every step of the way. To end his career, he threw for 9,440 yards and 115 touchdowns. What is crazy is the fact that 3,653 yards and 53 touchdowns came in his freshman year! This competition between the two, while learning under Justin Fields, is only going to benefit them. Are we looking at another Dwayne Haskins vs Joe Burrow competition? Considering Stroud is similar to Haskins and Miller is similar to Burrow, I’d think so! Regardless of who wins or loses this competition, Ohio State is in good hands.
Trey Sermon (0.8900 transfer rating, three stars)
In terms of high school recruits, Ohio State missed out on all of the top athletes (like Bijan Robinson). With the graduation of J.K. Dobbins and subsequent injury to Master Teague, Ryan Day had to add a transfer running back to this 2020 Ohio State football recruiting class list. Enter Trey Sermon. Behind what could be considered the best offensive line in Ohio State history, expectations are high.
In three years at Oklahoma, Sermon amassed 2076 yards and 22 touchdowns. 2018 was his best year where he nearly earned 1,000 yards on the ground with 13 scores. Against Ohio State in a win, Sermon led the way on the ground with 62 yards and added 23 yards receiving and a touchdown. If he can remain healthy, Sermon will be set to have a career year that could vault him into a decent NFL draft pick. He certainly has the explosiveness to take the pressure off of Fields. Sermon will be a great bridge to get Ohio State into the Evan Pryor/TreVeyon Henderson duo coming in 2021.
Miyan Williams (0.8693, three stars)
Despite the transfer of Sermon, don’t expect Miyan Williams to just lie down. Williams graduated from Winton Woods high school in Cincinnati and is one of eight Ohio-born commits in a class that sees the Buckeyes nabbing the top two-ranked recruits in-state. It was an interesting road for Williams to get to Columbus. To start, he was committed to Iowa State and head coach (and fellow Ohioan) Matt Campbell. However, as is the case with many in-state prospects, once Ohio State offered, Williams flipped.
At Winton Woods, Williams was a four-year starter who amassed 5,823 yards and 68 touchdowns. This is quite impressive considering the level of competition he faced. If there is going to be a surprise in the next couple of years, bet on Williams. He is a punishing runner who could be used as a change-of-pace back. Of all of the athletes in 2020 Ohio State football recruiting class, Williams is one of the prime candidates to be redshirted. Regardless, he will continue to progress while competing in a soon-to-be crowded running back room.
Joe Royer (0.8864, three stars)
In all reality, Ohio State really doesn’t utilize their tight ends in a way that truly showcases their talents. Either way, the Buckeyes have two tight ends in this class (well, one, and a transfer). Joe Royer is the next Ohio-born athlete and he graduated from Elder High School in Cincinnati. Royer is a massive athlete, standing at 6’5″, 225 lbs BEFORE getting in the Ohio State weight room. Like Williams, Royer will probably get redshirted due to the presence of Luke Farrell and Jeremy Ruckert ahead of him in the depth chart.
While at Elder, Royer was able to be productive in a very competitive conference and was able to showcase his football IQ. Route running and creating space are a couple of his strengths, which is impressive considering his size. He was able to convert these traits to 1300 receiving yards and a whopping 15 touchdowns. Royer is rated as the 14th-best tight end in the country and ninth-best overall athlete in Ohio. Even if he does not contribute in 2020, look for Royer to fill the role when Farrell graduates and if/when Ruckert declares.
Corey Rau (0.7600 transfer rating, two stars)
As a football player, Rau has not done anything. He initially attended SMU after being a three star player and did not record a single reception in that time. If Rau will get onto the field as a Buckeye, it will likely be in mop up duty when Ohio State is up multiple scores against cupcakes like Indiana or Michigan. He is a graduate transfer to Ohio State to enroll in the Sport Coaching program. Ultimately, it is probably his intention to get his Master’s degree and network, all while playing for an elite program.
Julian Fleming (0.9979, five stars)
The crown jewel of the 2020 Ohio State football recruiting class is Julian Fleming. Fleming is a five star stud out of Pennsylvania and is the number one receiver in the nation and number three athlete overall. When it comes to talent and production, it is no surprise that he is the third-highest rated recruit to suit up for the Buckeyes. It should be noted, of course, when Jack Sawyer signs, he will overtake Fleming for third-highest. With the departure of Binjimen Victor, K.J. Hill, and Austin Mack, Ohio State will be looking for someone to step up to play with Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson. Fleming will most likely be the one to get early playing time.
There are few flaws in his game. Fleming has the size, hands, and speed to make an immediate impact. Once Ohio State’s strength and conditioning coaches improve upon his 6’2″, 200 lbs frame, we could be looking at the next Jerry Jeudy. In his illustrious high school career, Fleming hauled in 255 receptions for state records in yards (5,514) and touchdowns (77). The number four has been worn by Buckeye greats like Curtis Samuel and Santonio Holmes. Expect Fleming to be able to rise above these lofty expectations.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba (0.9856, five stars)
The second of the four great receivers in this class is Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Rated as the fifth-best receiver in the nation, Smith-Njigba would be the crown jewel of this class if not for Fleming. As is the case with all of these recruits, he is not afraid of competition and is actually quite excited to play alongside so many great receivers. It’s very likely that we have stepped into the golden age of Ohio State receivers. Olave/Wilson/Jameson Williams/Fleming/Smith-Njigba could rival the receiver room of Alabama last year with Devonta Smith, Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III, and Jaylen Waddle.
As an athlete in a school in the largest classification in Texas, Smith-Njigba was ridiculously productive and explosive. He posted 5,346 yards and 82 touchdowns over a four-year, 44 game career. Considering the competition level in Texas and in that region, he is ready for Big Ten defenses. Smith-Njigba will only get better, considering he will be lining up against the Ohio State corners. One can assume he will progress working against B.I.A. (best in America). Or will you call them DBU? Either way, he will work against numerous first-rounders.
Gee Scott, Jr. (0.9703, four stars)
Perhaps the next Victor-esque redzone threat will be Gee Scott, Jr. from Washington. Like the previous two, Scott is a top-rated receiver at tenth-best in the country and second-best overall in Washington. He may not be a burner, but he is extremely technically sound and is an elite-level route runner. Even in a super crowded wide receiver room, Scott is going to be too talented to keep off of the field.
As a senior, Scott pulled in 76 passes for 1,453 yards and 15 touchdowns. While his size and production are impressive, one of the things that Brian Hartline–coached receivers must be able to do is run block. Scott is certainly able to answer that call and be excited about it. When you look back at many of the great running backs and runs throughout the last decade, one thing is consistent: wide receiver run blocking. Look for Scott to maul smaller corners on runs then go right back and Moss them for a touchdown.
Mookie Cooper (0.9577, four stars)
Finally, the fourth-out-of-four receiver recruit in this class is Mookie Cooper. Imagine being a four star athlete, the 16th-best receiver in the nation, and fourth-best athlete from Missouri and being the lowest-rated receiver in a recruiting class. Built like a running back, Cooper will likely be an H-Back in the Ohio State offense. He will likely fill the role ala Curtis Samuel.
While leading Trinity Catholic to their first-ever Class 3 State Championship as a junior, Cooper averaged more than 30 yards per reception. That is textbook explosiveness. If Cooper can’t climb the depth chart due to how ridiculously deep it is, perhaps Coach Day will utilize Cooper’s athleticism via Special Teams.
Opposing defenses are going to have a rough time in 2020. Did I mention that all four of these top receiver recruits were early enrollees and have been studying the offense for nearly seven months, now? If there is going to be a season, put money down on a Justin Fields Heisman bet. There won’t be another program with more weapons.
Unit 2 Watch: 👀 OSU Fr Receivers 👀
• Consists of top 100 HS WRs Mookie Cooper, Gee Scott, Jaxon Smith-Njigba & Julian Fleming
• Fleming was the class of 2020 #1 WR and #3 player while Smith Njigba was the nations #5 WR
• Nicknamed “The Quartet”
— CoverCitySports (@CoverCitySports) July 24, 2020
Paris Johnson, Jr. (0.9953, five stars)
Last season, Ohio State had one of the best offensive lines in all of College Football. Despite the fact that they will return three of the starting five, the Buckeyes will have a true freshman battle for a starting spot. That freshman will be Paris Johnson, Jr. out of Princeton high school in Cincinnati. Johnson was the physical embodiment of “man amongst boys.” Just wait, Johnson has 2023 top-ten NFL draft pick written all over him.
At 6’7″, 290 lbs, Paris Johnson is a physical specimen who absolutely mauls defenders. Despite being absolutely massive, he is athletic and has quick feet. Johnson will be able to fill the needs in the passing game as well as the running game. Ohio State loves to do complex run blocking schemes where their tackle pulls. Imagine this monster barreling down on an unsuspecting linebacker en route to a Trey Sermon touchdown run. The Buckeyes have produced quite a few elite offensive linemen. Paris Johnson, when it’s all said and done, will be mentioned with greats like Orlando Pace.
Paris Johnson is 6-7, 300 pounds, and can’t be stopped 😳
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 26, 2020
Grant Toutant (0.8811, three stars)
Landing a great commitment is an awesome feeling. Flipping a great recruit from a Big Ten non-rival (Penn State) is phenomenal. Toutant was committed to the Nittany Lions for 242 days, but that all ended when he flipped on July 9, 2019. Even with all of the focus on Johnson (and it’s warranted), don’t sleep on Grant Toutant.
At 6’7″, 320 lbs, Toutant is another big body to carry on the “Slobs” mentality. With a background in basketball and gymnastics, Toutant has great control of his body and has smooth footwork. Naturally, as one can tell by his three star rating, there is room for improvement. Once he can work with Coach Studrawa, Toutant will be able to develop into another stud Buckeye lineman. He could be the most underrated prospect in the 2020 Ohio State football recruiting class.
Trey Leroux (0.8493, three stars)
Ohio State loves their big-bodied offensive linemen. Trey Leroux is certainly not an exception to this standing at a massive 6’8″, 320 lbs. College coaches love to recruit athletes who were multi-sport athletes. Again, Leroux fits that bill considering he was also a wrestler early on in his high school career.
Just like with Toutant, Leroux is rated lower than one would expect because he is a bit raw. At Norwalk high school, Leroux was able to overpower defenders with his natural size and athletic ability. Give him a few years with Coach “Stud” and the Ohio State strength and conditioning coaches, Leroux will be able to contribute opposite Johnson.
Josh Fryar (0.8776, three stars)
The Ohio State offensive line is set for 2020, so a true freshman will likely not unseat Harry Miller, Wyatt Davis (potential 2021 NFL draft top-ten pick), or Josh Myers. Regardless, Josh Fryar is another physical specimen with plenty to work with. Remember Billy Price or Pat Elflein? Fryar has the potential to be flexible to play any of the interior offensive line positions just like them.
Fryar is another raw athlete but is probably closer than Leroux to being able to play at an Ohio State level. In terms of rankings, Fryar is the fourth-best overall athlete from the state of Indiana. Watch out for him to redshirt in 2020 but be able to compete once his number is called. Fryar, just like many of the 2020 Ohio State football recruiting class, could hear his name called at a future NFL draft.
Jakob James (0.8594, three stars)
There are stories yearly where a scout goes to check out one recruit and comes away impressed with another on the field. This must have been the case when it comes to Jakob James, who was a teammate of Joe Royer, fellow Buckeye commit, at Elder high school.
James served as a left tackle for yet another great Elder team but will transition inside for Ohio State. Even though he was recruited as a guard, this positional flexibility will be an asset for James once he is able to compete for playing time. At 6’5″, 285 lbs, James will work to bulk up and grow in the next couple of years. Don’t be surprised if all of these line recruits suit up next to each other at some point in the near future.
Luke Wypler (0.9524, four stars)
The final offensive line commit is the second-best center in the nation, second-best overall athlete in New Jersey, and second-best offensive line recruit for Ohio State. Luke Wypler was the third to commit to Ohio State after Johnson and Miller way back on July 7, 2018. The stud interior lineman from New Jersey has been all-Ohio State from the get-go.
Wypler is an aggressive, tough, agile athlete with a high football IQ. He is a perfect fit for the Ryan Day/Kevin Wilson offense. He can sustain blocks as well as hunt down defenders when pulling. It will be interesting to see if his foot speed and length can translate to the next level. Ohio State has made its money with the offensive line. Wypler is good enough to be able to rotate in this year. But, considering the depth, don’t be surprised if he redshirts. However, watch out for a RS freshman Like Wypler with a year of strength and conditioning under his belt.
Jake Seibert (0.8405, three stars)
It’s never an eye-popping thing to sign a kicker, but Ohio State got the second-best kicker in the nation and he is a native Buckeye. Jake Seibert has a big leg and hails from LaSalle high school in Cincinnati. He has the ability to nail 60+ yard field goals and was able to knock kickoffs for touchbacks almost 80% of the time. At LaSalle, Seibert nailed two crucial field goals to secure the Division II State Championship. Of those two, he hit a 43-yard field goal which is good for an OHSAA State Title Game record. Considering the Buckeyes have three kickers on the roster and two are juniors, Seibert is likely to grayshirt, which he is fine with.
Buckeyes Ain’t Done Yet
One of the largest concerns of the Urban-Meyer-to-Ryan-Day transition of power was recruiting. As this class (as well as the absolutely bonkers 2021 class) can show, Ohio State is going to be fine. Brian Hartline has shown to be an elite-level recruiter of talent. Additionally, running backs coach Tony Alford is a monster closer. If you thought the Ohio State offense was explosive before, just wait until these guys hit their strides.
This was just the offensive side of the 2020 Ohio State football recruiting class. Check back soon for the defensive side of the ball that is looking to continue the B.I.A./DBU trend.
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