There are at least two ways of looking at how the new early signing period went Wednesday for Ohio State, which at the moment has the No. 2 recruiting class nationally.
On one hand, the Buckeyes saw Clemson walk in and pluck the biggest fish from their backyard pond, offensive tackle Jackson Carman of Fairfield. And long-committed five-star safety Jaiden Woodbey of Bellflower, California, defected to Florida State on Wednesday night, dropping Ohio State from No. 1 to No. 2 behind Georgia in the 247Sports composite ratings.
But on the other hand, Ohio State reeled in some trophy catches from other states, including safety Josh Proctor, the Mr. Football of Oklahoma, even as the Sooners tried to keep him close to home.
“Very hard, it was all the way to the end, so it never really stopped,” the Owasso, Oklahoma, product told reporters of the Sooners coaches’ efforts. “You never really know what to say in that situation.”
He did it in writing, signing his national letter of intent with the Buckeyes.
“I can’t wait to get there and go play,” Proctor said.
He was one of 21 players to sign Wednesday with Ohio State, which will have only a handful of spots left for the traditional signing day in February. It’s a class that, according to the 247Sports composite — an average of the major recruiting service ratings — includes the top prospect in five categories:
• Defensive tackle Taron Vincent from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. He is the son of former five-time NFL Pro Bowler and Wisconsin All-America cornerback Troy Vincent.
• Tight end Jeremy Ruckert of Lindenhurst, New Jersey. Earlier in the week he was named to the USA Today All-America first team.
• All-purpose back Jaelen Gill of Westerville South. He is expected to challenge for playing time at hybrid back next fall.
• Center Matthew Jones of Brooklyn, New York. He hails from the same high school, Erasmus Hall, that produced former Ohio State hybrid back Curtis Samuel and current defensive back Jahsen Wint.
• Defensive lineman Antwuan Jackson, the top junior college prospect who is transferring from Blinn College in Brenham, Texas, after leaving Auburn following his redshirt freshman season in 2016.
Throw in Tommy Togiai — a four-star prospect from Pocatello, Idaho, the first player from that state ever signed by Ohio State — with Vincent and Jackson, and it’s easy to see why OSU coach Urban Meyer mentioned interior defensive line as one of the strengths of the class.
That’s coming off the past couple of recruiting classes when the emphasis on adding high-profile depth at the defensive tackle spots went unfulfilled.
“What I love about them, they're all great kids, great families, and they're ready to go,” Meyer said. “I anticipate they'll all play. Our interior defensive line is going to be strong.”
Steve Wiltfong, the director of recruiting services for 247Sports, agreed.
“They have the best defensive-tackle group in the country with those three,” Wiltfong said. “Taron Vincent is the most relentless high school player that I’ve seen on the defensive line. He’s got a nonstop motor.”
He said similar things about several of the signees, like linebacker Teradja Mitchell “who might be the hardest hitter in this class (nationally)” and “getting Proctor signed at safety, that was a huge victory, because Oklahoma didn’t go away.”
He also named Ruckert, Gill, running backs Master Teague and Brian Snead, and receivers Kamryn Babb and Cameron Brown, the latter two from Christian Brothers school in St. Louis. Brown flipped Wednesday from Nebraska.
“Ohio State was already loaded with guys who can score with one touch of the ball,” Wiltfong said. “These are guys that can do that as well.”