Four hats sat on the table in front of Malik Harrison at Walnut Ridge High School on Wednesday morning. Ohio State, Wisconsin, Indiana and Louisville were his final choices.
With his family surrounding him and at least one fan shouting, “O-H,” Harrison pulled on an Ohio State visor and became the 25th and final member of Ohio State’s 2016 recruiting class.
“I remember as a little boy growing up watching the Buckeyes playing,” Harrison wrote on Twitter. “I would always tell my dad I was going to play for The Ohio State University when I get to college.”
Despite the late addition of Harrison, who is listed as an athlete and could play several positions, and one other recruit on Wednesday, offensive lineman Malcolm Pridgeon, Ohio State slid in ESPN’s rankings from No. 2 to No. 5 behind Florida State, Alabama, LSU and Ole Miss. The Buckeyes still had the best Big Ten class ahead of No. 6 Michigan, No. 18 Penn State, No. 21 Michigan State, No. 26 Nebraska and No. 37 Wisconsin.
Harrison was the ninth Ohio player to commit to the Buckeyes. The class features players from 10 other states. Here are five other things to know about the 2016 class:
1. Championship impact: While Ohio State added some recruits to its 2015 class after winning the national championship, this was the first full class recruited after that title season. Asked if that opened up any more doors, Fickell said, “That block O opens all the doors you need.”
2. Late stretch: With eight players leaving early for the NFL draft, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer and his staff had to scramble to fill scholarships.
“That hit us hard because a lot of kids nowadays are already pre-committed,” Meyer said. “It’s a street fight to get back involved with a player.”
3. Late pickups: The Buckeyes picked up three recruits in January on one day: linebacker Keandre Jones; quarterback Dwayne Haskins; and wide receiver Binjimen Victor.
Jones and Haskins switched their commitments from Maryland. Meyer made the call to Haskins because he wanted a quarterback in the class and didn’t like the pool of players who were uncommitted.
“He’s an impact recruit,” Meyer said. “I anticipate — after watching his film and the way he’s been trained — that he will compete for playing time as a true freshman.”
4. Super tool: With five Buckeyes playing in the Super Bowl on Sunday, Meyer had an extra tool in his arsenal with recruits. He plans to continue to use it to impress recruits in the next class.
“Everybody talked about what do we do to sell our program,” Meyer said. “And the Super Bowl, that’s going to be very fresh news to every recruit in the United States of America.”
5. By the numbers: There are five offensive linemen and defensive backs in the class. There are three defensive linemen and tight ends. There are two linebackers and wide receivers. There is one quarterback, one running back/wide receiver, one “athlete” and one kicker.
Seven of the players are already enrolled at Ohio State and will participate in spring practices, which begin March 8. The rest of the players will arrive on campus in June.