Wednesday was National Signing Day, and Ohio’s 2018 class is complete. The Bobcats signed 21 players, 20 of which were signed during the early signing period Dec. 20.
Five signees from the early period have already enrolled, and they will practice with the team throughout the spring.
“I think it’s a very, very good class,” coach Frank Solich said. “Obviously it’ll remain to be seen when they get here and it all unfolds. But my experience tells me it’s going to be an excellent class.”
Ohio lost much of its front-seven talent from 2017, so recruiting value in numbers was a key for the Bobcats. Along the defensive line, they signed two junior college transfers. Zach Burks, a three-star defensive tackle from Coffeyville Community College, and Cole Baker, a two-star defensive tackle from East Mississippi Community College, should both add much needed depth. Brownsburg, Indiana, native two-star Antrez Baker will also provide much-needed depth. Joining him will be Nebraska native Bryce Stai.
At linebacker, Jack McCrory and Bryce Houston, both Ohio natives, fit the mold of Jimmy Burrow inside linebackers. They each weighed in about 220 pounds, a good measure before hitting the collegiate weight room. The lone outside linebacker in the class is Keye Thompson, who is 5-foot-11, which might be undersized, but his instinct to find the football in the backfield and his agility make him one of the more underrated prospects in the class.
It’s safe to say Ohio’s secondary got taller; the Bobcats added two corners who are each more than 6 feet tall in Pickerington native Jeremiah Wood and Fort Mill, South Carolina’s John Gregory. The length of the corners, along with the footspeed and covering ability of fellow signee Justin Birchette could make the Ohio cornerback class a very good one.
Ohio’s offensive line was the focal point of a strong running game in 2017, and much of that line will return in 2018. The goal for the recruiting class was to recruit for the future, and Ohio did just that. At 6-foot-5-inches and 300 pounds, Pennsylvania three-star tackle Bryce Ramer has the size and run-blocking ability to thrive on Ohio’s offensive line. Ramer, who was committed to Virginia until September, can not only lead for running backs, but he also has the ability to set the edge for the quarterback in pass-block situations.
Columbus native Patrick Gilliland is the other tackle in the class. Cleveland Heights native Kylen McCraken and Pennsylvania’s Kurt Danneker round out the offensive line class, which will bolster future running games for the Bobcats. Danneker enrolled early and is already on campus; he will go through spring practice with the team.
The cycle’s skill players for Ohio are among the strongest in the MAC, and they start with two-star Georgia athlete Jamison Collier. At 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, Collier played both sides of the ball in high school but will play safety in Athens. Kylan Nelson and Javon Hagan could be grooming their predecessor in Collier.
At wide receiver, Orlando, Florida, three-star Shane Hooks is a massive body, standing at 6-foot-5 and 190 pounds. Having the tall frame allows Hooks to go up in traffic and haul in deep balls. Joining Hooks will be Darfnell Gouin, a 6-foot-2 wide receiver from Fort Myers, Florida, and Jerome Buckner, a Columbus native. Buckner is small but speedy, while Gouin again adds size to the crop of wide receivers the Bobcats already possess.
An area the Bobcats excelled in for 2018’s cycle is at tight end. Alec Burton, a 6-foot-5 Indiana product, is the No. 2-rated tight end in Indiana, and he has a new-age tight end feel to him. His route running ability, pass catching and ability to line up in the slot receiver position could prove to be a difference maker for Bobcat offenses of the future. The lone running back in the class is O’Shaan Allison, a small and speedy back like what is normally featured in Ohio’s offense.
The Bobcats rounded out their class with a quarterback: 6-foot, 190 pound Erie, Pennsylvania, dual threat quarterback Joe Mischler. Deep-ball accuracy, mixed with an ability to execute the quarterback run game, proves Mischler could eventually play in Ohio’s spread-power running scheme.
Editor’s note: All rankings come from 247Sports.