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Why Ohio State’s unusually lowly ranked class shouldn’t be a cause for concern

The Buckeyes went through a coaching change and signed a small class, and they still did fine.

Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual - Washington v Ohio State Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

National Signing Day wrapped on Wednesday, and the Ohio State was unusually low in the class rankings. Its 2019 class finished the day third in the Big Ten behind Michigan and Penn State and 14th nationally. That’s way lower than both OSU’s four-year average (ranked 3.50) and 10-year average (5.40), per the 247Sports Composite. It’s way lower than the Buckeyes ever did under Urban Meyer, who signed top-seven classes every year.

The last time an Ohio State recruiting class didn’t finish first or second (it usually was first) in the Big Ten was 2010, near the end of the Jim Tressel era.

The No. 14 national ranking also marks the lowest finish for the Buckeyes since that year, when Tressel put together the 20th-ranked class in the country.

But believe it or not, there are a couple of legitimate reasons as to why Ohio State’s class finished so low both nationally and inside the conference.

A big one is the recent transition from Meyer to Ryan Day at head coach. While Day was already on staff and had familiarity with the Buckeyes’ recruiting needs, it probably had an impact. Same with the months of uncertainty around Meyer’s status before he announced his retirement following the Big Ten Championship in early December.

The Early Signing Period wasn’t long after that, starting Dec. 19.

Ohio State was 12th in the rankings right after the ESP, but a slight drop by the end of February Signing Day isn’t that surprising.

The Buckeyes, for space reasons, always seemed likely to take a small class.

“There isn’t going to be that much room,” Day said after the December Signing Day, noting a small senior class and that the Buckeyes had to be conscious of FBS’ 85-scholarship limit.

The class had 16 players entering Wednesday. One four-star lineman, Doug Nester, flipped his commitment to Virginia Tech, and OSU replaced him with another four-star, Enokk Vimahi, and added three-star OT Dawand Jones. The class got one man bigger and settled at 17, while other teams signed whole handfuls of players. So while transitioning coaching staffs usually have a dip, the whole thing didn’t come down to OSU’s coaching change.

Compare that to Penn State and Michigan having a combined 49 commits between their two classes, and it’s easy to see why OSU finished so low. Ohio State’s class has a slightly high per-player rating than both. That it’s ranked so highly despite having so few members is an accomplishment. It has three five-stars, as many as any class except Georgia’s five.

So, while Penn State and Michigan both made up significant ground during this cycle, it’s pretty easy to believe that OSU will be back on top in 2020.

Speaking of 2020, the Buckeyes’ current class for next cycle is ranked fourth in the country, and already has seven verbal commits, six of whom are blue-chippers. Michigan and Penn State’s 2020 classes don’t crack the top 10 with 10 and a half months to go, though they’re both close. Just in case, savor this lead while it lasts, Wolverine and Nittany Lion fans.