Can Ohio State’s fab five top what the sensational six did?
Earlier this month, Cam Burrows (Trotwood, Ohio/Trotwood-Madison), Eli Woodard (Voorhees, N.J./Eastern), Ezekiel Elliott (St. Louis/John Burroughs), Jalin Marshall (Middletown, Ohio/Middletown), Jayme Thompson (Toledo, Ohio/Central Catholic) and Marcus Baugh (Riverside, Calif./John W. North) stood out in a group of the nation’s top 150 athletes at The Opening in Oregon.
This weekend, Burrows, Woodard, Elliott, Marshall and Thompson will head to Champion Gridiron Kings at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., with bigger expectations.
The field is drastically smaller – it’s only 64 athletes – so the scrutiny will be even more intense.
After The Opening, the 2013 Ohio State class moved up to fifth in the rankings, Woodard picked up a fifth star at cornerback and Elliott skyrocketed 85 spots in the ESPN 300 rankings and is now No. 175.
“I’m sure we’ve all been working harder since then,” Woodard said. “We’ve all been working to improve our game. It’s all about putting in the work. I wasn’t surprised at how well I did [at The Opening].
“I expected it after the hard work we put in. I expect this weekend to be fun. There will be a lot of big playmakers there. It’s going to be great competition. I can’t wait.”
That fact wasn’t lost on Elliott, who used The Opening as a sort of proving ground that his rankings at running back were well lower than what he expected.
Elliott went to Beaverton, Ore., with that chip on his shoulder and came out looking like a steal for the Buckeyes -- if someone can consider an athlete that scores 42 touchdowns his junior season as a steal.
He, too, is anxious to see how much more his teammates can give this weekend.
“All of the Ohio State recruits will be on the same team at Gridiron Kings,” Elliott said. “Just being able to play on the same team, we can show our skill because we’re teamed up. We want to go out there and win the championship at Gridiron Kings.”
Added Elliott: “We’re going to come out and have a lot of fun. We’ll compete to the best of our abilities and represent Buckeye Nation.”