National Signing Day: Ohio State football recruiting trends

Since becoming Ohio State football coach in January 2019, Ryan Day has maintained the recruiting juggernaut John Cooper, Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer built in Columbus beginning in the early 1990s.

Day has signed four classes that ranked in the national top five, and 2024 is expected to become the fifth when all is said and done.

Look under the hood, though, and there have been some changes in the Day era.

Here’s a closer look:

1. Day’s classes haven’t quite matched Meyer’s on paper, but the average national ranking is higher than the Tressel era.

With the 2024 class No. 3 in 247Sports Composite rankings entering the early signing period Wednesday, the average national ranking of Day’s five recruiting classes would be 5.3.

That trails Meyer’s mark of 3.3 but exceeds Tressel’s mark of 10.3.

(Cooper’s 13-year tenure from 1988-2000 predates the modern star system, so direct comparisons aren’t really possible.)

2. Ramping up receiver recruiting has fortified the overall ranking.

Including this year, Ohio State has 18 four- or five-star receiver recruits over the past five years after snagging 11 in the five years before that.

Receivers account for just over 20 percent of the four- and five-star recruits since 2020, up from 18.3 in the previous five years.

At the same time, the number of four- or five-star quarterbacks, tight ends and offensive linemen has been virtually the same while running back and linebacker have seen the biggest declines.

Ohio State signed 10 four- or five-star running backs from 2015-19 and just four since then while linebacker dropped from 12 to seven.

The number of defensive linemen in that category declined from 16 to 13 with this year accounting for the entire disparity. (If five-star end prospect Eddrick Houston signs elsewhere, the number drops to 12.)

Ohio State has also signed 50 percent more highly rated defensive backs in the past five years (21) compared to the previous five (14), including five this year. That can partly be attributed to major turnover in the coaching staff along with a move to the “safety-driven” defense of Jim Knowles.

3. In-state recruiting seems to be less of an emphasis.

Day, a New Hampshire native, said he would prioritize recruiting Ohio when he took over for Meyer, who like Tressel was born and raised in the Buckeye State, but the numbers don’t show that.

The Buckeyes are set to sign seven in-state prospects in ‘24, matching last year’s total.

Since 2019, in-state prospects represent just over 30 percent of Day’s Ohio State signees, continuing a trend that began at the end of Meyer’s tenure.

Meyer’s last two classes had only 12 Ohioans among 47 signees (25%), down from 57 of 123 (45%) in the previous four years.

Overall, Tressel and Cooper both signed about 60% in-state recruits while Meyer’s classes were 40-percent Ohioan.

4. The last time Ohio State did not sign a top five class was 2019, when the class was 14th.

That was a group Meyer started that Day had to get over the finish line after Meyer announced he would retire in December 2018.

Aside from the coaching change stirring things up, the class was also small, numbering only 17 members. Every other class since 2011 has had at least 21 members.

5. Ohio State will sign the top class in the Big Ten for the fifth year in a row.

The Buckeyes’ 2019 class trailed both Michigan and Penn State.

That was the first time Ohio State did not have the Big Ten’s best class since the 18-man 2010 class was also third in the Big Ten and 20th in the nation.

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