For the 22 members of the highly ranked Ohio State 2015 football recruiting class not yet enrolled, the day has come. By nightfall on Sunday, they're expected to be on campus, ready to start summer workouts on Monday with the returning members from the 2014 national championship team.

For the 22 members of the highly ranked Ohio State 2015 football recruiting class not yet enrolled, the day has come. By nightfall on Sunday, they're expected to be on campus, ready to start summer workouts on Monday with the returning members from the 2014 national championship team.

"I'm very excited; I'm ready to go," said linebacker Jerome Baker of Cleveland (Benedictine). "I'm ready to compete and help us win another national championship."

He and new teammate Justin Hilliard of Cincinnati (St. Xavier) were ranked among the linebacking elite nationally during the recruiting cycle, but now they're about to step into a competitive realm in which they must prove themselves again.

"It's a part of my life I've been waiting on for a while now," Hilliard said. "Since my senior season ended, I've been working really hard to prepare for it. And now I'm excited to get up there and compete with so much talent around. I think that's going to make me better overall, so I can't wait."

Four members of what originally was a 27-player class enrolled in January. One of them, defensive back Jamel Dean of Cocoa, Fla., has since moved on to Auburn after OSU medical personnel refused to clear him to play because of a knee condition.

Late last week, it was learned that offensive lineman Mirko Jurkovic Jr., of South Bend, Ind., by way of Bradenton (IMG), Fla., was ruled out because of an unspecified academic problem. But there are five other offensive linemen in the class, including early enrollee Grant Schmidt from Sioux Falls, S.D., who is the first OSU scholarship player from that state. Joining him today will be four more linemen, headlined by Isaiah Prince of Greenbelt (Eleanor Roosevelt), Md.; and Matthew Burrell of Woodbridge (Hylton), Va.

It's a class with players from 11 states: Ohio (12), Michigan, Florida and Virginia (two each), and Arkansas, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, South Dakota and Utah (one each).

When asked what stands out most about the group, Hilliard said it's "the diversity."

"We have a lot of speedy guys. We've got a guy like (running back) Mike Weber who, at the Opening (a Nike camp) could juke you out and also try to run past you, and he's a power back as well," Hilliard said. We've got a guy like Torrance (Gibson from Florida), who you could be seeing at quarterback, who is fast as ever, very athletic.

"We've got guys from all types of places and lifestyles. I think all together that makes us better as a whole."

Baker added: "We all have unique talents. Together I think we can be something very special."

But for the ones arriving on Sunday, it will be the start of college, of playing football with men, some of whom are four or more years older than them. And it's about being away from home, going to classes on a huge campus of 50,000-plus students come fall, and managing one's business.

"As far as the football field, I'm not really nervous at all," Baker said. "I love football. I've been playing it since I was 6 years old. I learned at an early age that it's all about heart. You can be the smallest or you can be the biggest, but if you don't have that heart, it doesn't matter how big you are or how fast you are. So I have that heart, and I'm ready to go."

The nervousness is "just from the challenge of actually being in college for the first time, being on time for classes and all that," Baker said. "So that's more what I'm concerned about, not the football part."

There are also the expectations. Baker, Hilliard and the other freshmen are the new blood in a program that over the past three years under coach Urban Meyer has gone 38-3, winning the first College Football Playoff national title last season with a 14-1 record that included an unprecedented three-win run through the postseason.

"It's great to have high expectations - that definitely gets me going," Baker said. "It just shows that Ohio State, Coach Meyer, (defensive coordinator Luke) Fickell, the whole staff, they know what they're doing, and it works.

"So it's up to us to take it all in and get ready to compete for another one."

tmay@dispatch.com

@TIM_MAYsports