Is USC 'Wide Receiver U' over Ohio State? Is OSU 'Defensive Back U?' Here's what ESPN thinks

Columbus Dispatch
Is Ohio State "Defensive Back U" or "Wide Receiver U" heading into the 2023 football season? According to ESPN, the Buckeyes are in the running, but not at the top.
In his yearly list of looking at the perceptions of which schools produce the most football talent at each position, ESPN staff writer David Hale has Ohio State in the running at quarterback, wide receiver, offensive line, defensive line, linebacker, defensive back, kicker and punter, but not at the top in any position.
Here's a look at what Hale says about Ohio State at each position.
Ohio State behind Oklahoma, USC, Oregon, Alabama for 'Quarterback U'
At quarterback, Hale has Ohio State at No. 5 behind Oklahoma, USC, Oregon and Alabama.
No other Big Ten teams are listed.
"Few schools can claim as impressive a collegiate legacy at the QB position as the Buckeyes, who've landed a Heisman with Troy Smith and enjoyed a recent run of first-round picks from Dwayne Haskins to Justin Fields to C.J. Stroud," Hale writes. "The only problem, of course, is few schools have produced so many QBs who've done so little at the next level. Perhaps Fields and Stroud will finally change the narrative and keep the Buckeyes climbing in the standings for the title of QBU."
Why USC is listed ahead of Ohio State for 'Wide Receiver U'
To Hale, Ohio State is not "Wide Receiver U."
He gives USC the advantage, listing Jordan Addison, Drake London, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Michael Pittman Jr. and JuJu Smith-Schuster as the Trojans' production examples, along with a "receiver stable" that includes Tahj Washington, Mario Williams, Brenden Rice and Michael Jackson III.
Hale did move Ohio State up from No. 5 to No. 2 last season, sitting ahead of programs including LSU, Alabama and Oklahoma. No other Big Ten program is in the top 10.
In the last two drafts, Ohio State has had three first-round picks at wide receiver: Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave and Jaxon Smith-Njigba.
"The recent run of success at receiver for Ohio State is almost enough to make Buckeyes fans forget that Urban Meyer put Zach Smith in charge of that position for six wasted years," Hale writes. "Ohio State has had five receivers drafted in the first three rounds since 2018, and with Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka back for 2023, it'll likely add a couple more next year."
Ohio State is second in 'Offensive Line U' behind Alabama
Ohio State also comes in at No. 2 in "Offensive Line U," sitting behind Alabama.
Alabama has had 12 offensive linemen drafted in the first two round of the NFL draft in Nick Saban's tenure, while Ohio State has had 18 drafted since 2010, including three in the 2023 draft: Paris Johnson Jr., Dawand Jones and Luke Wypler.
Ohio State is one of four current Big Ten teams in the top 10, along with Wisconsin (No. 3), Michigan (No. 6) and Iowa (No. 9).
Ohio State comes in third in 'Defensive Line U'
Even with players like Nick Bosa and Chase Young in the NFL, Ohio State does not live up to Alabama at defensive line, according to Hale.
The Crimson Tide have had at least one defensive lineman selected in the first three rounds of each NFL draft since 2016. While Ohio State has had nine defensive linemen selected in the first three rounds since 2016, the Buckeyes did not have one selected in 2017, 2021 or 2022.
Ohio State is listed third behind Alabama and Florida State. Penn State (No. 5) and Michigan (No. 10) are also included on the list.
Heading into 2023, Hale says Ohio State has "stars in the mix" including J.T. Tuimoloau, Jack Sawyer and Michael Hall Jr.
Ohio State behind LSU, Alabama as 'Defensive Back U'
While Ohio State recruits as "Defensive Back U," Hale has the Buckeyes at third behind LSU and Alabama, while the margin remains "razor thin."
No other current Big Ten team is listed.
Since 2010, Ohio State has had 18 cornerbacks or safeties drafted, including eight first-round picks: Bradley Roby, Eli Apple, Marshon Lattimore, Malik Hooker, Gareon Conley, Denzel Ward, Jeff Okudah and Damon Arnette.
Ohio State in the running at kicker and punter
Ohio State is in the top 10 at both kicker and punter.
For "Kicker U," the Buckeyes are No. 6 behind Florida State, UCLA, Iowa, Utah and Memphis, while Ohio State is No. 9 as "Punter U" behind Texas A&M, Utah, Michigan State, Cal, Georgia Tech, Cincinnati and Georgia.

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