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The first batch of rankings for Ohio's class of 2014 are out and the names at the top should not be a big surprise. Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary star Dante Booker and St. Clairsville standout Michael Ferns top the initial rankings following highly productive sophomore seasons that led to a slew of verbal offers for both prospects.
The initial list is dominated by the linebacker position as not only are the top two spots held down by linebackers but four of the top 12 all hail from the most physical position on the football field. Huber Heights Wayne linebacker Dorian Hendrix checks in at the No. 11 spot after an outstanding sophomore season on the football field, followed by an impressive showing at the Ohio State camp. Hendrix has gotten bigger and stronger since last fall and could be in line for a big junior season. Springfield's Davonte James comes in right behind Hendrix at No. 12 and may have the higher ceiling.
Another position group that is well represented in the initial rankings is the offensive line. The No. 3 and No. 4 prospects are both O-linemen in St. Ignatius standout Jimmy Byrne and Lancaster's Kyle Trout. Byrne and Trout could find themselves in an interesting battle down the line for the No. 1 lineman spot as Byrne is the more physically developed/technically sound prospect right now with Trout having a higher ceiling and more of a true tackle body. Massillon Washington's Nathaniel Devers could also ultimately factor into that discussion and has the look of one of the better guard prospects to come out of Ohio in the last three years.
Finally, the quarterback position should have plenty to offer Big Ten programs. Four true quarterback prospects made the list and two other athletes that play quarterback for their high school teams (Dareian Watkins and Micky Crum) also made the cut. The battle for the No. 1 quarterback spot was a tight one between Toledo Central Catholic's DeShone Kizer and Louisville's Joey Duckworth. Kizer is coming off an impressive sophomore season while Duckworth didn't get a chance to start for his team until later in his sophomore campaign. Duckworth has had several impressive camp performances this summer and his stock is rising as fast as any junior in Ohio at the moment.
Ultimately, this group is not as firmly established as the previous few classes that have come through Ohio. Outside of the top two of Booker and Ferns, there isn't much separation in the rankings and that could lead to a ton of movement between now and the next rankings update which is expected in October. With several prospects still having some question marks, this upcoming season will go a long way towards answering those questions and helping to determine a more established pecking order heading into next spring.