Ohio State football: A look at how ‘athlete’ prospects have turned out in recent years

Credit: Brian Bahr

Credit: Brian Bahr

Cameron Martinez has re-affirmed his verbal commitment to play football at Ohio State.

The next question: Where will he play?

>>RELATED: Long-time pledge makes his intentions known 

The Muskegon, Mich., star is rated the No. 8 "athlete" prospect in 247Sports Composite rankings, and he told The Detroit Free Press he is still interested in playing on either side of the ball when he gets to Columbus.

If Ohio State lists his position as “athlete” in its official release on National Signing Day next week, he will join a select list.

Since 2001, 10 players have had that distinction, a group that has produced some interesting results: Troy Smith, Verlon Reed, Adam Griffin, Dontre Wilson, Darron Lee, Gareon Conley, Malik Harrison, Brendon White, Alex Williams and Craig Young.

Three went on to become NFL Draft picks (so far) and six became starters while the career path of some is still to be determined.

Smith, of course, is the most notable. The first Ohio State recruit from Glenville High School in Cleveland, he was overshadowed by Justin Zwick in the class of 2002 and first saw the field as a kick returner.

Ultimately Smith overtook Zwick as the starting quarterback and led the Buckeyes to two Big Ten championships and a national championship game. He also won the 2006 Heisman Trophy and went on to be drafted by the Baltimore Ravens.

>>RELATED: Recent commitments continue recruiting trends for Ohio Stat

The other two to be drafted so far are Darron Lee and Gareon Conley, both Ohio high school products who signed in 2013 and became defensive standouts.

Griffin, the son of two-time Heisman winner Archie, played special teams for the Buckeyes while Wilson, a highly touted prospect form DeSoto, Texas, became a starting slot receiver.

Reed and White transferred, though White was a starter for a season before opting to take his talents to Rutgers. Williams reportedly has entered the transfer portal, too.

Young, the only out-of-state recruit on this list besides Wilson, still has three seasons left after the Fort Wayne, Ind., native settled in at linebacker last fall.

Harrison is another success story, having led the Buckeyes in tackles last season with 75. He also had 16.5 tackles for loss and is likely to be the next Ohio State “athlete” signee to hear his named called during the NFL Draft.

That would make four of seven, a much higher hit rate than the average recruit at Ohio State (roughly 30 percent).

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