Talk about a crescendo for Ohio State's 2012 football recruiting class: Blue-chip offensive lineman Kyle Dodson had his entire team help him announce this afternoon that he was signing with the Buckeyes. The 6-foot-6, 310-pounder out of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, once a commitment to Wisconsin, called his teammates to the front of the school's auditorium, then led them in a yell that ended with "I got that feelin' ... Ohio State!"
Talk about a crescendo for Ohio State's 2012 football recruiting class: Blue-chip offensive lineman Kyle Dodson had his entire team help him announce this afternoon that he was signing with the Buckeyes.
The 6-foot-6, 310-pounder out of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, once a commitment to Wisconsin, called his teammates to the front of the school's auditorium, then led them in a yell that ended with "I got that feelin' ... Ohio State!"
The crowd erupted as a teammate helped Dodson, his right arm in a sling from recent shoulder surgery, don his Ohio State cap. He became player No.25 in Urban Meyer's first Ohio State recruiting class and the second to make his decision known today. The first was linebacker-defensive end Jamal Marcus of Durham, N.C.
The class could swell a little more in the next few days, depending on the whimsy of blue-chip receivers Stefon Diggs of Olney (Our Lady of Good Counsel), Md., and Davonte Neal of Scottsdale (Chaparral), Ariz., both of whom weren't ready to decide today,
Marcus, from Hillside High School in Durham, had his mind made up when he woke up. Though in the final analysis he picked OSU over East Carolina, he in fact had received offers from at least 20 schools during the process, including Florida, Auburn, Notre Dame and the major programs in North Carolina.
"I am so happy, just so happy to be a Buckeye," Marcus told The Dispatch by phone moments after his announcement. "It's just the whole thing about Ohio State, the coaches, coach (Urban) Meyer, the competition, the school -- just everything about it told me to pick Ohio State."
Even as it stands now, the class has a pleasing lineup to first-year coach Urban Meyer, who has directed a two-month effort that has helped the ranking rise from a blip on the national screen to No.3 nationally according to Rivals.com at the start of the day. And there is no doubt the haul at defensive end, which includes Noah Spence, Adolphus Washington, Se'Von Pittman and Marcus, is the major buoying factor.
"Of this class, that's the most exciting part of it," Meyer said during an interview with ESPNU this morning after the letters of intent had been received.
Six players from the class enrolled at OSU in January, including highly regarded running back Bri'onte Dunn.
The day started with the Buckeyes receiving faxes of confirmation from linebacker Camren Williams and defensive back Armani Reeves, both of West Roxbury (Catholic Memorial), Mass., and ironically the last two to join the class before Marcus made his decision today.
What follows are the bios of the 25 players, with perhaps a couple more to come:
Warren Ball RB
He was the second commitment to the 2012 class. Considered the 13th best running back nationally by Scout.com and No.16 by rivals.com, he rushed for 1,232 yards and 29 TDs as a senior while being named to The Dispatch all-Metro team and first team Division III all-state by the Associated Press. Though nicked by injuries throughout high school, helped DeSales to the state title game in 2009 and to the second round of the playoffs last year. He will play in the Ohio high school all-star game April 20 in Ohio Stadium.
Devan Bogard DB
He was named first team Division I all-state by the Associated Press this past season, posting 91 tackles and two interceptions. Was ranked the 14th best safety prospect nationally by rivals.com and 24th by Scout.com. The 247Sports site ranked him the sixth best overall prospect in the state. Though committed to OSU since summer, he turned some heads when he took an official visit to Southern California in January. From same school that produced several former Buckeyes, including safeties Donte Whitner and Jermale Hines. He will play in the Ohio high school all-star game April 20.
Taylor Decker OL
Vandalia (Butler), Ohio
Initially committed to Notre Dame, he turned heads in January when he flipped to Ohio State, which before Urban Meyer took over in late November had not recruited him. The largest of the 2012 OSU recruits, he was a three-year starter in football and basketball Rivals.com rated him No.23 among tackle prospects nationally while Scout.com ranked him the 77th best overall prospect. He was first team Division II all-state by the Associated Press after helping his team to its first winning record (6-4) in eight years. He will play in the Ohio high school all-star game April 20 in Ohio Stadium.
Kyle Dodson OL
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
He committed to and signed with Ohio State on Feb.1. He had committed to Wisconsin months earlier, but reopened the recruiting process in December and considered Southern California and Michigan State, too. He was ranked No.16 nationally among tackle prospects by rivals.com, and the 178th best overall prospect. Scout.com rated him No.24 among tackle prospects nationally. He helped his team make the state playoffs for the first time in 110 years, even though playing the last four games with major right shoulder injury.
Pat Elflein OL
He was named first team Division I all-state by the Associated Press and to The Dispatch all-Metro team. He was rated No.22 among guard prospects nationally by ESPNU and No.31 by Scout.com. He is working to become a 12-letter winner at North in three sports. He is an accomplished wrestler who was named performer of the year in Ohio Capital Conference in winter 2011 and has advanced deep into state and national tournaments. He's shot-putter in track and field. In between sports he has worked he has busted and poured concrete for his father's business.
Frank Epitropoulos WR
He is a second-generation Buckeye, son of three-year letterman John Epitropoulos (1978-1980), and nephew of Ernie Epitropoulos. Frank is taking part is the International Bowl all-star game in Austin, Texas, tonight. He was three-way performer in high school as a receiver, defensive back and punter. Despite missing four games as a senior due to a hand injury he still caught 29 passes for 459 yards and seven TDs on a team that made the state playoffs. He was named second-team all-state punter by the Associated Press. With a 40-inch vertical leap, he also runs track for UA as a sprinter and long jumper.
Jamal Marcus LB
Durham (Hillside), N.C.
He made his choice on signing day, picking Ohio State over East Carolina. Marcus is listed as a linebacker, but he has the size and ability to play the Leo position, a combo linebacker/DE. He has 4.6-second speed in the 40. He was ranked 32nd among outside linebacker prospects nationally by rivals.com while Scout.com had him 70th among defensive ends. He had 14 sacks as a junior on a team that went 16-0 and won a state championship.
Najee Murray DB
He committed to Ohio State last June. He was named the Division III state co-defensive player of the year in 2011 by the Associated Press while also being named first-team all-state after his team went 11-1, losing in the second round of the state playoffs. He had 54 tackles as a senior. Though a two-way player who was considered a shutdown cornerback in high school, rivals.com ranked him No.16 among safety prospects nationally. He was part of the state title-winning 4by200 relay team last year. He will play in the Ohio high school all-star game April 20 in Ohio Stadium.
Joey O'Connor OL
He is student body president his senior season. He originally committed to Penn State but withdrew that after the scandal that rocked the school in November. He committed to OSU in January and is the first player from Colorado to sign with OSU since receiver Chris Sanders in 1990. The Colorado Class AAA player of the year after helping his team win the state championship, O'Connor was ranked No.12 among tackle prospects nationally by rivals.com. First-team all-state the past two seasons, he played in the Under Armour All-American game in January in St. Petersburg, Fla.
David Perkins LB
South Bend (Washington), Ind.
He was listed as an "athlete" prospect by national recruiting services because of his defensive abilities and his running back prowess (1,311 yards rushing, 20 catches as a senior), but he will play linebacker at Ohio State. He had committed to Notre Dame long ago, withdrew that in the fall and pledged to OSU in January. With 4.43-second speed in the 40-yard dash, he was ranked No.13 among athlete prospects nationally by rivals.com, which also rated him No.2 among overall prospects from Indiana. Among his 103 tackles last season were 22 for loss, of which seven were sacks on a team that went to the state title game.
Se'Von Pittman DE
He made news in June when he eschewed an Ohio State offer in favor of committing to Michigan State. He turned heads again when he flipped to OSU in December. He was considered the No.58 overall prospect in the nation by Scout.com and No.95 by rivals.com, which also rated him the third best overall prospect in Ohio. He had 102 tackles as a senior, including eight sacks among his 20 tackles for loss as his team advanced to the second round of the state playoffs. He was first team Division I all-state the past two seasons according to the Associated Press.
Armani Reeves DB
West Roxbury (Catholic Memorial), Mass.
He had been committed to Penn State before the scandal which rocked that school in November. He committed Ohio State on Sunday night after making OSU and Michign his final two. He is high school teammate of fellow OSU signee Camren Williams, whose father Brent Williams is his godfather. Reeves was ranked No.6 among cornerback prospects nationally by Scout.com, No.17 by rivals.com, and was ranked the No.2 overall prospect in Massachusetts behind Williams. Reeves was a two-way performer, rushing for 1,103 yards the past season while making 51 tackles.
Luke Roberts LB
With a 4.3 grade-point average and a 30 on the ACT pre-enrollment test he could have written his ticket to several Ivy League schools, but he committed to Ohio State in July. Though not rated nationally by rivals.com, he is ranked No.28 by Scout.com among inside linebacker prospects, No.44 by ESPNU. His 118-tackle senior season that included 19 tackles for loss earned second-team Division I all-state recognition by the Associated Press. From the same school that produced former Buckeyes Rex Kern, Bobby Carpenter and Jim Cordle, he plans t enroll at OSU in March so he can take part in spring drills.
Tommy Schutt DL
Glen Ellyn (Glenbard West), Ill.
He was the first commitment to new Ohio State coach Urban Meyer in December. Originally pledged to Penn State, he rescinded that after the scandal that hit PSU in November. He played in the U.S. Army All-American game in January in San Antonio, Texas. Scout.com ranked him the No,47 overall prospect in nation, while rivals.com had him No.64, while SuperPrep had him the No.6 overall prospect in the midwest. He made 73 tackles his senior season, with 14 sacks among his 23 tackles for loss. He was named all-state by the Illinois high school coaches association three straight years.
Ricquan Southward WR
He's the only player in the class from Florida, and he committed on Nov.27, the day before former Florida coach Urban Meyer was named OSU head coach. Southward, originally committed to Miami, had 54 catches, including a school-record 12 in one game, for 994 yards and nine TDs his senior season as his team, the Dreadnaughts, moved to the state's Class 7A semifinals and finished 13-1. He was ranked No.36 nationally among receiver prospects by ESPNU, No.60 by rivals.com. The Associated Press named named him first team all-state in Class 7A in 2011.
Noah Spence DE
Harrisburg (Bishop McDevitt), Pa.
He is the highest rated prospect in this class. He was ranked No.5 by Scout.com among overall prospects nationally, and No.9 by rivals.com, which also rated him No.1 among defensive ends. He is one of nine sons of Greg Spence, who played at North Carolina State. Noah Spence was the state's big school defensive player of the year the past two seasons, and the Maxwell Club national high school player of the year. He had 204 tackles, including 35 sacks among his 50 tackles for loss, the past two seasons. He set an Under Armour All-American game record with three sacks in January in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Blake Thomas TE
Cleveland (St. Ignatius).
He is the only tight end in this class, committing to Ohio State in mid-May. Since then he helped St. Ignatius win the Division I state championship, its 11th. Ironically, after catching 24 passes for 256 yards as a junior he caught 25 for 250 yards as a senior, but four of those catches came in the title game win over Pickerington (Central). Rivals.com ranked him 16th nationally among tight ends, and No.22 by Scout.com. He was considered the 25th best overall prospect in Ohio by rivals.com.
Adolphus Washington DE
He committed to Ohio State the Tuesday before Michigan game last season, and six days before Urban Meyer was named head coach. After a 90-tackle senior season that included 23 sacks, he was considered a five-star prospect by both Scout.com, which ranked him No.10 among overall prospects nationally and No.1 in Ohio, and by rivals.com, which ranked him No.25 overall nationally. He also is a standout basketball player, and he led Taft to the Division III state championship in 2011 with team-high 18 points, eight rebounds and two blocks in the title game.
Camren Williams LB
West Roxbury (Catholic Memorial), Mass.
A former commitment to Penn State, he rescinded that in the wake of the scandal there in November. He committed to Ohio State two weeks ago. He is a high school teammate of OSU signee Armani Reeves. Williams was the No.1 prospect in Massachusett, according to rivals.com after a 119-tackle season, and rated No.8 among inside linebacker prospects nationally by rivals. Scout.com ranked him No.16 among outside linebacker prospects. The son of former 11-year NFL defensive end Brent Williams, Camren is a member of the National Honor Society.
Jacoby Boren OL
He enrolled at Ohio State in January. He is the youngest brother of current OSU fullback Zach Boren and former OSU lineman Justin Boren. Jacoby was a two-way performer at Central, helping the team to the Division I state championship game last year where it lost to Cleveland St. Ignatius. He was named first team Division I all-state by the Associated Press and a member of The Dispatch.all-Metro team. Rivals.com ranked him 37th nationally among guard prospects and SuperPrep made him the 37th best overall prospect in the midwest. He was a four-year letter winner.
Bri'onte Dunn RB
He caused waves when, despite being a long-time commitment to Ohio State he took an official visit to Michigan in early December. But he enrolled at OSU in January. Scout.com ranked him No.7 nationally among running backs while Rivals.com ranked him No.11. Playing his first two years at Alliance, Ohio, he rushed for 5,479 yards in his four-year high school career that included two 300-yard games. He was named first team Division I all-state by the Associated Press the past two seasons. After a 2,030-yard junior year, he rushed for 1,657 yards as a senior.
Cardale Jones QB
He was originally going to be a member of the Ohio State 2011 class but went to Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy in the fall to bolster his academics. He enrolled at OSU in January. He was 24-3 as the starting QB at Glenville, leading the Tarblooders to the Division I state championship game in 2009 where they lost to Hilliard (Davidson). Considered a dual-threat QB, he preferred to throw in high school, passing for 2,168 yards and 18 TDs in 2009 and 1,689 yards and 22 TDs as a senior. He helped the Ohio team beat Pennsylvania in the 2011 Big 33 game. He also played basketball at Glenville.
Joshua Perry LB
Lewis Center (Olentangy), Ohio
He was the first commitment to this class, pledging in June 2010 before his junior year in high school. He enrolled at OSU in January after compiling a 3.8 grade-point average in high school. Ranked No.6 among overall prospects in Ohio by rivals.com, the service also ranked him No.11 among outside linebacker prospects nationally while Sout.com had him No.9. He was runnerup in long jump in the Division I state track and field meet in 2010 in an event won by current OSU receiver Devin Smith. A second team all-state player according to the Associated Press last season, he had 70 tackles, including seven sacks.
Tyvis Powell DB
He committed to Ohio State on June 1, two days after Jim Tressel stepped down as head coach, Powell enrolled in January. Just where he will play for the Buckeyes remains to be seen, since rivals.com rated him the 33rd best cornerback prospect nationally while Scout.com has him as the 37th best safety prospect. He had four interceptions as a junior, two as a senior. He also played basketball and baseball at Bedford, though he opted for track instead of baseball his junior year so he could improve his speed, which reputedly is in the 4.4-second range in the 40-yard dash.
Michael Thomas WR
Woodland Hills (Taft), Calif.
He enrolled at Ohio State in January. He went to Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy this past fall to upgrade his academic standing, rooming with fellow OSU recruit Cardale Jones. Thomas committed to Ohio State in October. He had a stellar senior season back in California, catching 86 passes for 1,656 yards, most in the state, and scoring 21 TDs. Ranked 98th among receivers nationally by Scout.com during the 2011 recruiting period, he played in the Under Armour All-American game in 2011. At Fork Union last season he caught 23 passes for 497 yards and seven TDs.