- Tom Luginbill, ESPN Staff Writer
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Ohio high school football has a proud tradition and is known for producing prospects. While it was a little bit of a down year last year, the state features seven prospects who rank in the top 10 nationally at their respective positions this year, including two at premium positions with QB Braxton Miller (Huber Heights, Ohio/Wayne) and DE Steve Miller (Canton, Ohio/McKinley).
Normally, Ohio State will put a fence around the state and land each and every top prospect it wants. So when the Buckeyes lost the state's top prospect, OLB Jordan Hicks, last year to Texas it was a bit of a surprise. We didn't feel that hurt Ohio State's class last year as much as others did, but it made it a priority for Ohio State to hit on many of this class' top players, and the Buckeyes have certainly done that in the early going. In fact, seven of the states top 20 prospects are committed to Ohio State, including Braxton Miller and Steve Miller, and the Buckeyes are in the mix for the two top 20 players who are still uncommitted -- Under Armour All-American CB Doran Grant (Akron, Ohio/St. Vincent and Mary) and three-star athlete Shane Wynn (Cleveland/Glenville).
QB Braxton Miller
What makes Miller so dangerous is that he is an excellent passer -- better that Terrelle Pryor and Troy Smith coming out of high school -- and a running threat. What makes Miller so valuable is that he may be needed on the field early at Ohio State, and the Buckeyes definitely need him from a depth and talent standpoint. We would love to see him in the spread offense, but obviously that will not be the case in Columbus. However, Buckeyes fans should be happy Miller stayed home to play for Ohio State.
Remember this name
ILB Sean Duggan (Cincinnati, Ohio/St. Xavier)
If Duggan, a Boston College commit, pans out like Luke Kuechly has for Eagles, it will make the second St. X linebacker prospect to surprise in the last three classes. Duggan brings toughness, awareness and a nose for the ball that Boston College has become accustomed to having. He lacks ideal size and speed, but he plays the position with passion and is rugged. BC has built a quality, winning program with guys like Duggan.
Taking up residence
Here are the colleges that are doing the best with prospects from Ohio.
The Buckeyes have cleaned up in Ohio with No. 2-ranked quarterback Braxton Miller, top-three DE Steve Miller and four-star OG Michael Bennett (Centerville, Ohio/Centerville). In all, 12 of the Buckeyes' 17 commits are from Ohio.
The Crimson Tide stole OLB Trey DePriest (Akron, Ohio/Springfield) and C Ryan Kelly (Cincinnati/Lakota West) out of the Buckeye state. DePriest, an Under Armour All-American, is a versatile player with excellent playing strength and the speed that makes him capable of making big plays at any time, while Kelly, also an UA All-American, is a tough drive-blocker with the playing strength and athleticism to get movement off the line of scrimmage.
Wisconsin The Badgers have four prospects from Ohio, including the two highest-rated players in the class with four-star WR A.J. Jordan (Trotwood, Ohio/Madison) and high-three-star DE Jesse Hayes (Cincinnati/Moeller).
The Hawkeyes continue their trend of loading up on tight ends by snagging a good one from Ohio, Ray Hamilton (Strongsville, Ohio/Strongsville). He should be able to develop into a productive blocker while being a good underneath target in the passing game.
Tom Luginbill is ESPN's national director of football recruiting.