Friday, January 28, 2011

Diamonds in the Rough: The Best Three-Star Recruits to Ever Play at Ohio State

Jim Tressel has been recruiting at Ohio State since 2001. He has recruited a number of three-star athletes during that span.

Many recruiting rankings rate the success of a recruiting class largely based on the star level of their recruits, hence, a top recruiting class will be loaded with four and five-star athletes.

Jim Tressel has shown that one does not need to depend on star rankings for a recruiting class to be successful.

Tressel has proven that a player can arrive on campus as a good player rated as a three-star recruit, and leave in three to five years as a great player and a five-star pro prospect.

Here are the top 10 players who arrived here "good" but left here "great."

10—Chimdi Chekwa

Chekwa, a three-star cornerback, came to Ohio State via Florida.

He had an interception during his freshman year at USC that was the beginning of a solid four-year OSU career.

He will definitely play at the next level, but did suffer a serious wrist injury during the 2011 Sugar Bowl that may result in him sliding ever-so-slightly in the April draft.

9—Jay Richardson

Jay Richardson was part of Ohio State's 2002 recruiting class that had other star-studded 3-star players.

Richardson often went under the radar due to the emergence of A.J. Hawk, Troy Smith and others that were stars on the team.

Anyone who watches OSU football, however, knows that Richardson was a solid D-lineman and was drafted into the NFL.

8—Dane Sanzenbacher

Sanzenbacher was voted the team's offensive MVP for 2010 and he came up big in the Sugar Bowl by scoring the first touchdown off a Terrelle Pryor fumble.

A three-star prospect out of Toledo, Sanzenbacher proved he had five-star value to the wide receiving corps during his career, but especially in 2010 while leading Ohio State in catches, receiving yards, and touchdown receptions.

Much like former Buckeyes Cris Carter (retired), Anthony Gonzalez, and Brian Hartline who Dane has drawn comparisons to, Dane will find himself on an NFL roster and should continue to be an excellent clutch receiver at the next level.

7—Brian Robiskie

Robiske was a late commit to the 2005 recruiting class.

Many thought he was just filler as Ohio State still had unused scholarships as the recruiting class was being finalized, but his career at OSU proved otherwise.

He was one of the Buckeyes top receiving prospects during his Ohio State career, and he now plays in the NFL for the Cleveland Browns.

6—Brian Hartline

Brian Hartline suffered a devastating leg injury during his senior season of high school that may have been part of the reason he was only rated as a three-star prospect.

His production during his OSU career clearly surpassed the three star level.

He was a top OSU receiver and sidekick to Robiskie, and he now plays for the Miami Dolphins.

5—Chris Gamble

Chris Gamble did it all at Ohio State.

Recruited as a receiver, Gamble would later be switched to cornerback, shutting down Andre Johnson of the Miami Hurricanes in the 2002-03 National Championship game, and acting as the primary punt returner for OSU during that season.

He did still see action at wideout, and was the receiver on the controversial pass interference call on the Hurricanes that allowed the Buckeyes to force double overtime and eventually win the 2002 BCS National Championship.

He was drafted by the Carolina Panthers and continues to play cornerback for them at a very high level.

4—James Laurinaitis

The son of former professional wrestler Hawk, Laurinaitis came to OSU via Minnesota as a three-star prospect.

He played his freshman year in the Michigan game after Bobby Carpenter suffered an injury. He went on to win the Butkus and Nagurski awards in his career as the nations top linebacker and best defensive player.

He could have left early for the NFL and likely would have been a top-10 draft pick, but instead stayed in college for his final year.

The three-time, first team All-American is now with the St. Louis Rams.

3—Malcolm Jenkins

Hailing from New Jersey, OSU fans were wondering just who this kid from The Garden State was.

People stopped wondering, and started cheering, when he began playing.

He repeatedly shut down the Big Ten's best receivers but decided not to go to the NFL early despite being projected as a first day pick.

Instead, he returned to Ohio State for his senior season and at years end, was named the 2008 Jim Thorpe Award winner, given annually to the nations' best defensive back.

The New Orleans Saints selected Jenkins with the 14th overall pick in the 2009 draft. In week 11, Jenkins made his first career start and down the stretch, played an integral part in helping the Saints reach, and win, Super Bowl XLIV (that's 44 for those who don't do well with Roman numerals).

2—Santonio Holmes

This three-star recruit out of Belle Glade, Florida became a superstar at Ohio State.

The No. 25 overall pick in the 2006 NFL draft would later be the MVP of Super Bowl XLIII for the 2009 Pittsburgh Steelers before being traded to the New York Jets in April, 2010 after several off-the-field incidents.

It worked out for both Pittsburgh and New York, as Holmes helped the New York Jets advance to the 2010-2011 AFC Championship game, ironically against his former team, the Steelers. Pittsburgh won that game 24-19 to advance to Super Bowl XLV, which will be played on February 6, 2011.

1—A.J. Hawk

A.J. Hawk was part of the 2002 recruiting class that featured prominent five-star recruits like linebacker Mike D'Andrea and running back Maurice Clarett, and four-star recruits such as Troy Smith, Justin Zwick, and Bobby Carpenter.

Hawk was under the recruiting radar, but he quickly established himself at OSU while the careers of several fellow recruits like Stan White Jr. and Mike D'Andrea fizzled out.

Hawk was drafted in the first round by the Green Bay Packers.

He has emerged as one of the NFL's best linebackers and will be playing in his first Super Bowl on February 6, 2011.

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(Photo copyrights: Getty Images / BleacherReport
This article was edited, revised, altered, and rewritten by BlockONation founder, HD Handshoe.
Original article written by Michael Chung.

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