Ohio State has a massive need to fill at wide receiver, as in it returns just one person labeled a receiver who caught a pass in the 2015 season. The hope was that the Buckeyes were going to win some key battles down the stretch and head in to national signing day with some of the best momentum in the country.
Instead, the annual U.S. Army All-American bowl provided a huge blow to those hopes. It also provided some huge boosts to their biggest East division rivals — Michigan and Michigan State.
First it was the announcement of Dylan Crawford, a 4-star and Top247 wide receiver. He had it down to Michigan, Ohio State and Oregon — with the two Big Ten rivals fighting it out till the bitter end at the top of his board.
Crawford announced for Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines, vaulting the Wolverines in to the No. 2 overall class in the country at the expense of its bitter rivals. It was a key get for Michigan, a team in need of a huge upgrade in overall athletic ability at wide receiver.
They got that in the 6-1, 186-pound receiver out of California. With it came the jump of the Wolverines over their rivals in the 247sports team rankings. Michigan now has 14 of its 24 committed players as 4-star recruits per the 247Sports composite rankings.
However, there was still hope for the Buckeyes on the day with another wide receiver they were in on, Donnie Corley, left to declare at the game.
Once again, it was an East division rival picking up the commitment over Meyer’s Buckeyes. This time it was Michigan State getting the hat put on the head, and it cemented arguably the best class in the history of Spartans football (on paper).
This was a much more bitter pill to swallow, as the Michigan native had this as a direct battle between the Buckeyes and Spartans. It also means the Spartans are stock-piling some of the best skill position talent of any team in the Big Ten.
Just how good is this 2016 class for Michigan State? The Spartans now have four four-star receiver commits and five U.S. Army All-Americans in the fold, all equalling up to a class currently ranked No. 14 in the country.
With less than a month to go until national signing day, losing big recruiting battles and thus momentum on the recruiting trail isn’t exactly a good thing. That’s especially so when you aren’t just competing to be your best class in school history, but the best class in the nation that season.
OSU now must wait on the decision of the No. 8-ranked wide receiver in the country,Binjimen Victor. That battle appears to be down to Florida, Ohio State, Tennessee and West Virginia at the moment. Losing that one down the stretch run would be killer to a class with plenty of potential for immediate impact available.
It also could mean OSU turns its attention to someone right in its own backyard — Malik Harrison. The three-star athlete out of Walnut Ridge in Columbus has long said he would jump on an Ohio State offer, but the home town team has slow played his recruitment in hopes that bigger fish would bite on offers.
Instead, Harrison appears primed for an offer and could be a sleeper that helps this team at receiver or elsewhere in his career.
With OSU starting out as one of the hottest teams on the 2016 recruiting trail, losing out on two of its biggest remaining targets isn’t exactly the ending they were hoping for.
Can the Buckeyes finish the deal with its remaining prospects? Momentum seems to be swinging away from Ohio State, and stopping that bad swing needs to happen if OSU is to keep up with its rivals on the all important recruiting trail.