Ohio University football coach Frank Solich typically doesn't pay much attention to the grades assigned to football recruiting classes by so-called experts.
Even when the Bobcats are lauded by them.
Both Rivals.com and Scout.com graded the Bobcats' 2011 recruiting class as the best Solich has put together during his six-plus year tenure at Ohio. Solich agreed, but not because the mythical star-rating was higher on average than in years past.
"You try to evaluate and target players independent of all that stuff," he said. "And hopefully it works out.
"But certainly, on paper, I feel this is probably the best class we've been able to put together here."
Ohio stocked up with five offensive linemen and seven defensive linemen in the 24-player recruiting class. Depending on your preferring recruiting service, Ohio landed six or seven 3-star recruits. Either number is a new benchmark for Ohio recruiting. Five of the players in the recruiting class will be on campus in time for spring football.
Ohio knew it would have specific needs this offseason; the Bobcats graduated five of its top eight defensive linemen, two of its top four cornerbacks and its top three safeties. Solich thought his staff did the job in getting those needs addressed.
"We picked up four defensive backs as well," he said. "We got quality football players with athletic ability at the spots we needed to."
TOP OF THE CLASS
OT Jacob Welter (Monte Vista HS, Danville, Calif.) -- A three-star recruit according to both Rivals.com and Scout.com, Welter is Ohio's highest-ranked offensive line recruit and perhaps was one of the easiest to reel in. Welter's father, Tom, had developed a relationship with Ohio offensive line coach Keven Lightner while both were in college at Nebraska, and specifically wanted his son to play for and receive coaching from Ohio's assistant coach.
DT Antwan Crutcher (Glenville HS, Cleveland, Ohio) -- A quick, powerful and disruptive force at defensive tackle, Crutcher (6-2, 270) was perhaps just a couple inches short of securing a scholarship from a premier program. With 16.5 sacks and 34 tackles for loss in his last two seasons, Crutcher should be able to give Ohio persistent pressure up the middle.
LB Ben Russell (Oak Hills HS, Cincinnati, Ohio) -- With good size (6-1, 230), good speed and terrific instincts, Russell has all the tools to become a standout middle linebacker in Ohio's 4-3 scheme. Russell racked up 248 tackles during his three letter winning seasons at Oak Hills.
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