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Published: Thursday, 1/27/2011

OSU's football recruits among nation's best

COLUMBUS -- As the countdown to national signing day next week continues, the Ohio State Buckeyes are poised to again land one of the best classes of football recruits in the country, while making an 11th-hour push to add at least a couple more studs to the group.

The Buckeyes have verbal commitments from 21 top players and expect those to be official and written on Wednesday, the day most of the premier high school seniors across the U.S. will make their college choices binding.

Ohio State is expected to add two or three more recruits before signing day, and it is focused on some still-available blue-chippers.

National recruiting expert Tom Lemming said Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel already has secured another solid collection of talent -- one of the best in the country.

"They are in the top 10, and somewhere between five and 10 is where I imagine they will wind up," Lemming told a Columbus radio station.

"Probably the most underrated head coach in the country, recruiting-wise, is Jim Tressel. He has to rank among the top five. He's an outstanding recruiter, and he usually puts a fence up around the state of Ohio, and he did it once again this year. He gets the majority of the top prospects."

According to NCAA rules, Tressel is not permitted to comment on any potential recruit until after they formally sign with the Buckeyes.

The majority of the Buckeyes' committed recruits are from Ohio, including Whitmer defensive end Kenny Hayes, offensive lineman Chris Carter from Cleveland, tight end Nick Vannett from Westerville Central, defensive end Steve Miller from Canton McKinley, quarterback Braxton Miller from Huber Heights Wayne, defensive tackle Michael Bennett from Centerville, and defensive back Derjuan Gambrell from Rogers.

ESPN recruiting expert Jamie Newberg rates Canton's Miller as the current pick of the litter in the 2011 Ohio State class.

"This kid does it all," Newberg said in a post about the 6-4, 205 pound Miller.

"He can rush the passer and defend the run. Miller has good size and will get much bigger and stronger. Miller is physical and also plays with a high motor. He has a chance to be another dominant defender in Columbus."

Lemming cited Bennett as one of the OSU recruits who could have the biggest impact in coming seasons, but there were a number of players with that distinction.

"As always, it's the Ohio kids," Lemming said.

"It's not only Bennett, but guys like Chris Carter -- the big offensive lineman from Kennedy High in Cleveland -- he's a big-time guy.

Kenny Hayes is one of the premier defensive ends in the Midwest.

Nick Vannett is one of the top tight ends in the country."

Lemming said early commitments and early enrollees have taken some players off the radar and focused much of the 11th-hour buzz on the few uncommitted stars, such as linebacker Curtis Grant from Virginia.

"He would be the blue-chip athlete that they really need," Lemming said about the 6-3, 230-pound Grant, who has narrowed his possible choices to Virginia, Florida, Ohio State, and North Carolina.

"It would be great for the Buckeyes to land him. I think he's an impact player as a true freshman."

Newberg added it is possible Ohio State will make a strong finish to its recruiting efforts and land three teammates from Cleveland football powerhouse Glenville, which produced former Buckeyes Ted Ginn, Jr., and Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith.

Glenville's defensive end Andre Sturdivant, offensive lineman Aundrey Walker, and quarterback Cardale Jones have all been on the Buckeyes' wish list, but have not yet declared a college choice.

Contact Matt Markey at: mmarkey@theblade.com or 419-724-6510



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