OSU coach Jim Tressel had to rein in 300-pound Texan J.B. Shugarts for already talking national championships.
COLUMBUS - Ohio State coach Jim Tressel laid out a recruiting class of 19 players yesterday - a diverse group that he said covers just about every position on the field, and one that he expects to have an immediate and long-lasting impact on the Buckeyes' program.
"We wanted to get - like we do every year - a little bit of everything," Tressel said. "If you look at the whole class, we feel as if it's exactly what we needed."
"But we're still recruiting, and that's about all we're allowed to say about that. We're still recruiting at the quarterback position. I think we're OK saying that."
The Buckeyes have been in the sweepstakes to land No. 1 quarterback prospect Terrelle Pryor from Pennsylvania, who said yesterday he was not yet ready to name his school of choice. Tressel admitted his OSU class lacks only that - a quarterback.
"I think we had planned on having a quarterback in this class and so, yeah, in a perfect world, let's get a quarterback in this class, and our plans would be further along," Tressel said.
If and when a quarterback arrives, his protection package is already in place. Two of the prized offensive linemen Ohio State landed are already on campus and working out with their new teammates. Michael Brewster, a 6-5, 300-pound center from Orlando, Fla., said yesterday that the Buckeyes needed to restock the cupboard with offensive linemen.
"After next year, we'll graduate quite a few offensive linemen, so we've got three real good ones coming next year," Brewster said, referring to himself, Dublin's Mike Adams (6-8, 310) and J.B Shugarts of Texas (6-8, 300).
"I think if you go player for player, talent, the person, character - that this class is probably a special one, one of the top ones that has came through here in a while. I know there have been some great classes, but I'm real excited about next year and about getting the guys up here this summer, and the guys coming in March. So we're going to have a lot of hard work, but it will all pay off."
Shugarts, a Parade All-American like Brewster and Adams, predicted great things for the incoming group of Buckeyes, but Tressel tried to temper the ambitious predictions made by his young lineman.
"We have a great class coming in - and not only great players, but these are great people," Shugarts said.
"Just the fact that we already know each other and we're already coming together as a family, that's what sets us over the top with all these other schools like USC and Florida, so I think it's going to be really special, and you can get prepared for a lot of national championships."
"Easy, J.B.," Tressel quickly added.
The new crop of players adds a third "Wells" to the Ohio State roster, which already includes running backs Maurice Wells and Chris "Beanie" Wells. Just a few days ago, Tressel landed a commitment from Gainesville, Ga., defensive end Keith Wells, and Wells faxed in his formal letter affirming that promise yesterday.
Wells is a long and athletic 6-5, 238-pounder who has played just two years of high school football, but is loaded with potential, according to Tressel. The Ohio State coach compared Wells to Buckeyes defensive end Vernon Gholston, who also came to Columbus with limited high school experience, but blossomed into this past season's top defensive lineman in the Big Ten.
"He's a big, long, pass rushing kind of guy off of the edge, and a heck of a football player," Tressel said. "He's a little bit like when Vernon came in, and Keith is going to be a special player coming off that edge."
Tressel said he expects four more of the new recruits to join Brewster and Shugarts on campus in March, giving him a half dozen of next year's freshmen to take part in spring football. He did not want to guess at how many of the recruits might play significant roles next fall, but said he expected some of them would.
"They're all going to make an impact in different ways, but it's always hard to know who the ones are going to be that are going to be obvious on the field to play on Saturdays," Tressel said.
"What typically happens over the years is about half of them end up playing and half of them end up red-shirting. But this is a pretty talented bunch, and we've told all of them that we hope that their mentality is that they want to come in and play right now. If they'll do that and if they can push the next guy and the next guy gets better and stays ahead of them, or maybe he doesn't and they get past, but it's so difficult to tell."
With Pryor still out there and still contemplating becoming a Buckeye, Tressel said the class could grow by one or two, but that he was satisfied with the group he has, and the efficiency of the recruiting process. Ohio State had 26 players make official visits to campus - they are allowed 56 by NCAA rules - and landed 19 of the 26 who visited.
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