There’s no mistaking what the Ohio State University football team was looking for when Urban Meyer and company hit the recruiting trail this year. After losing its last two games of the 2013-14 season to Michigan State 34-24 in the Big Ten championship game and to Clemson 40-35 in the Orange Bowl, the Buckeyes were clearly focused on reestablishing its defense. Eleven of the 23 athletes who signed with the Buckeyes on Feb. 5 were expected to play defense next year, including four linebackers, four defensive backs and three defensive linemen. “Obviously we didn't perform up to standard,” says Meyer, who was 24-2 overall in his first two years with the Buckeyes. “We won a lot of games but there were some holes. (It’s) very easy to blame players or blame coaches (for those gaps). Just overall we need to freshen up our defense. That's what's going to get ready to take place over the next few months.” As far as holes go, the Buckeyes pass defense was a mile long crater last year. Although Ohio State was seventh in the nation in sacks, producing 3.0 a game, the team was ranked 110th nationally in pass defense, allowing 268.2 yards a game. Ohio State allowed 32.8 points and 348.2 yards passing a game in the last five games of the season. Bill Kurelic, a recruiting analyst for, says this incoming class could help fill in some of those holes. “The Buckeyes landed a great class, a class that I rank as the No. 3 recruiting class in the country,” Kurelic says. “They did a fantastic job of getting high quality players and filling their needs. “They did their best work at linebacker, in the secondary and the offensive line which were their biggest needs. I love the linebackers and defensive backs they have brought in.” Raekwon McMillan, a 6-foot-2, 242-pound linebacker from Hinesville, Ga., is one of those players who can make a difference. McMillan, who had 159 tackles, 35.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks his senior year at Liberty County High School, was named as the 2013 Butkus Award winner as the nation’s top linebacker at the high school level. McMillan, who enrolled for classes in January, faced a sea of cameramen and tape recorders on Feb. 5 as Ohio State unveiled its 2014 recruiting class. “Coach Meyer always tells us he wants the incoming freshman to play early. He doesn’t want us to sit back and relax,” says McMillan, the Georgia Region 3 AAAA defensive Player of the Year who had five tackles in the 2014 Under Armour All-America game on Jan. 2 in St. Petersburg, Fla. “He wants us to be about playing every day like we’re competing for a job. “The time we spend at the Woody (Hayes Athletic Center), the time we spend academically, everything is a whole culture shock. If you want to be great, you have to put in the time. Nothing is given at Ohio State.” Another area of concern for Meyer was the offensive line. After losing four of its top linemen to graduation, the Buckeyes signed five offensive linemen, including Chicago De La Salle’s Jamarco Jones (6-5, 315) and Fort Worth, Texas All Saints Episcopal’s Demetrius Knox (6-4, 285). Jones was listed as the sixth best lineman in the country. Ohio State also landed three in-state linemen in Cleveland Glenville’s Marcelys Jones (6-5, 340), Bishop Ready’s Brady Taylor (6-5, 290) and Lancaster’s Kyle Trout (6-6, 300). As a group, Ohio State’s 2014 recruiting class was ranked third by and seventh by ESPN. Where the Buckeyes are ranked in recruiting is a source of pride for Meyer. Since taking over as head coach in 2012, Meyer has consistently kept the Buckeyes near the top of the recruiting mountain. Ohio State’s recruits were ranked second by and third by ESPN in 2013 and fourth by and sixth by ESPN in 2012. Meyer, whose University of Florida recruiting classes were ranked first, second, fourth and fifth respectively in 2006-09 by ESPN, takes the rankings seriously. “I hear people say it's not important. I disagree. As long as you're keeping score we're going to try to win,” Meyer says. “I'm disappointed we weren't the number one recruiting class in the country.” The team rankings are hardly an exact science. Over the past four seasons, only four colleges finished in the top five of both ESPN recruiting rankings and the final AP poll in the same year: Auburn in 2010 (fourth in recruiting, first in the AP poll), Alabama in 2011 (second in recruiting, first in the AP poll), and Alabama (first in both the recruiting and AP poll) and Georgia (fifth in both the recruiting and the AP poll). None of the teams in the top five of ESPN’s recruiting rankings cracked the top five of the AP poll. “They are generally pretty reliable, but there is also a development factor,” Kurelic says. “Some coaches develop players better than others. What you want is a staff that brings in highly ranked players and does a good job of development.”