BuckeyeGrove - Recruiting Roundtable: Markus Allen, race for No. 1, top non-QB commit
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Recruiting Roundtable: Markus Allen, race for No. 1, top non-QB commit

Today marks the first day of BuckeyeGrove's "Recruiting Roundtable," which will be released on a weekly basis.

This edition features recruiting analysts Andy Anders and Joseph Hastings, and their thoughts on a trio of topics. Those topics are Ohio State's pursuit of former Michigan commit Markus Allen, the race for No. 1 in the Rivals Team Rankings and which player is the most valuable non-quarterback commit for the Buckeyes in this cycle.

Do you think Markus Allen receives an offer from Ryan Day's staff?

Anders: I’m not confident either way on this one, but my gut tells me no. On one hand, the Buckeyes are still very much in the hunt for five-star wide receiver Emeka Egbuka, even the leader perhaps, and that would be three wide receivers in a cycle where the Buckeyes don’t need to add as much at the position.

Redshirt senior Demario McCall is the only senior wideout currently on the Buckeyes’ roster, although some wouldn’t even count him as a receiver. Junior Chris Olave may leave early for the NFL Draft but discounting those two, with three new recruits, the Buckeyes are projected to have 12 receivers on next year’s roster if they add Egbuka.

On the other hand, it’s clear that Allen and receivers coach Brian Hartline have a good relationship. Head coach Ryan Day has taken on lower-rated prospects from Ohio before. So I’m not counting it out by any means, and this all changes if Egbuka decides to go elsewhere, but I lean no on this one.

Hastings: Based off of what Andy reported on Sunday, I would definitely lean toward saying Allen will probably receive an offer from Ohio State's staff down the line. Wide receiver is not a position the Buckeyes have struggled recruiting at in recent years, with the program having signed a handful of Rivals100 pass catchers in the last two cycles, and them being in a good spot with Egbuka.

Even so, I believe offering Allen is the smart choice for a couple of reasons. For one, I am in the mindset that keeping talent in your state is beneficial for a program. If Allen does receive an offer from and commits to the Buckeyes, that means Ryan Day's staff will hold commitments from six of the top 10 highest-rated players in Ohio. Compare this to Michigan and Penn State, which hold a combined total of three commits from top-10 players in their states.

Along with keeping other programs from landing top recruits in their state, offering Allen and making a push for him is a smart move football-wise. Allen checks in at an impressive 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, runs a 4.5 40-yard dash and has good footwork. Adding him to a group that already features a pair of wideouts that are 6-foot-3 or taller would give the Buckeyes a lot of size on the perimeter for years to come.

Which program will finish first in the Rivals Team Rankings: Alabama or Ohio State? 

Anders: This will come down to the wire, for certain. If Ohio State can add both five-star wide receiver Emeka Egbuka and five-star defensive end J.T. Tuimoloau, it’d put the Buckeyes in a good position to win the recruiting crown.

If they add five-star offensive tackle Tristan Leigh, it’d be all but certain.

Alabama is still in on its fair share of elite uncommitted prospects too, of course. Former Ohio State commit Tunmise Adeleye, a five-star defensive end, has the Crimson Tide among his leaders. Alabama is also in the hunt for cornerback Ga’Quincy McKinstry, the No. 51 prospect in the country, five-star offensive tackle Amarius Mims, five-star defensive tackle Maason Smith and Tuimoloau, but they are considered the leader for none of those players.

My prediction: Ohio State.

Hastings: Definitely rolling with Ohio State here.

Alabama is indeed up 74 points at this juncture, but that's a little bit misleading. The reason they're up right now is because they have two more total commitments than Ohio State. If the Buckeyes hypothetically add a pledge today with a 5.6 Rivals Rating or higher, then they will leapfrog the Crimson Tide with one less commitment than them.

Also, Nick Saban's program would have to pull off more upsets than Ohio State in order to secure that No. 1 spot. They are not projected to land any top-50 uncommitted prospect in the Rivals100; whereas, the Buckeyes are viewed as the favorite for Egbuka, Tuimoloau and Malone.

Even if Ohio State misses out on one of the targets above, they will still be in perfect position to usurp the Crimson Tide when it's all said and done.

Now, some rankings adjustments could potentially play a role here, but I don't believe it would be enough to prevent the Buckeyes from finishing on top. As long as their current group of commits remain on board and they can land a couple of priority targets, I see Ohio State finishing at No. 1 in the Rivals Team Rankings for the first time in the Rivals.com era.

Which non-quarterback commit is the most valuable for the Buckeyes in this cycle?

Anders: For me, this is Jack Sawyer. Everyone knows what defensive line coach Larry Johnson can do with a top-flight pass rusher, and with Zach Harrison and Tyreke Smith entering their sophomore and junior years respectively, I’d expect Sawyer to take the route of Ohio State’s other recent greats at defensive end and break out by his sophomore year.

This was of particular importance because the Buckeyes lacked that bell-cow pass rusher in the 2020 cycle. Four-star defensive end Darrion Henry-Young was a top-70 national prospect, and will play at defensive end to begin his Ohio State career, but could slide back inside and, to me, doesn’t seem like the elite edge rushing talent that Joey Bosa, Nick Bosa, Chase Young or Harrison are.

I could certainly be wrong on that, though.

Regardless, Jack Sawyer is a huge player to have in the fold moving forward for Ohio State.

Hastings: This is always a difficult question to answer because I see every commit in this class as valuable. There is a lot of excitement to be had for each prospect in Ohio State's 2021 class and the potential for this group is through the roof.

For me, however, I am going to go with TreVeyon Henderson here. Henderson is an important commit because he is going to be a dynamic playmaker who is going to bring track-like speed and nasty juke moves with him to Columbus. He's also going to contribute in the passing attack and potentially with returning punts or kickoffs in special teams, so I believe he'll have the chance to put up eye-popping stats in the Scarlet and Gray.

Also, Henderson is a stellar recruiter for the Buckeyes. Whether it's on Twitter or behind the scenes, the Rivals100 prospect is actively trying to persuade top Ohio State targets to join him at the next level. Henderson's process is a pitch for prospects in and of itself as well. He committed to the Buckeyes without ever needing to visit the school, and Henderson told me that he has used this as a pitch on the recruiting trail.

There is a lot to like with this current group of commits, but I see Henderson as the most valuable non-QB pledge because of the combination of his on-field potential and willingness to recruit.

Stay tuned to BuckeyeGrove.