Ohio State’s strong first half in the College Football Championship game didn’t secure a national title –the second half did – but it did win a national recruiting battle.
The top-ranked running back in the nation for the 2016 recruiting class, Kareem Walker of DePaul Catholic High School in Wayne, N.J., announced his commitment to Ohio State via Twitter during halftime of Monday night’s Ohio State-Oregon game.
Ohio State captured the inaugural four-team playoff format title with a 42-20 victory, outscoring Oregon 21-10 in both halves.
Walker’s combination of power and speed manifested in 1,607 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns on just 199 carries for the NJSIAA Non-Public Group 2 champions. The five-star prospect is ranked No. 17 in the class of 2016 by Rivals.com.
Walker, who has more than 30 scholarship offers including one from Oregon, is the first of the five New Jerseyans in the Rivals.com 100 to choose a school.
Walker was not the only one to commit to the Buckeyes. Ohio State also secured a commitment from 2017 athlete Bruce Judson Jr. from Cocoa (Fla.). A dual-threat style quarterback, Judson could fit with the Buckeyes in many ways. He was a high school teammate of cornerback Jamel Dean, who is a member of the Class of 2015 and is an early enrollee at Ohio State.
According to 247 Sports, Judson is the No. 17 prospect nationally, the No. 3 athlete, and the No. 4 prospect from Florida.
In the hours before the game, Ohio State secured a commitment from 2017 cornerback Shaun Wade from Trinity Christian Academy in Jacksonville, Fla. Wade has been ranked by 247 Sports as the second best cornerback in the class. He also is No. 14 overall and No. 3 from Florida.
Ohio State has 24 commitments in the Class of 2015, including several early enrollees. Meyer’s classes have been among the top five in the nation in his first three years in Columbus. The Class of 2015 is currently ranked No. 7 by Rivals.com with three weeks until signing day.
“I can’t wait to go out recruiting,” coach Urban Meyer told news reporters Tuesday. “You can’t recruit to this now, you’re officially a bad recruiter, and not just because of the championship. There’s just so much going on in our program right now on the positive side, and it’s not theory, it’s testimony, and the greatest testimony is right over here (as he pointed QB Cardale Jones and Ezekiel Elliott).
“Those are our biggest salesmen, not just football, but the whole life after football approach we take, all the leadership training, all the cutting-edge stuff that this program has taken on.”