Time and change will show that no matter how much you try, when it comes to Ohio State football recruiting, there are just some things you’ll never know.
About a month ago, we were talking in this very column about the chances, which seemed pretty good, of Ohio State landing all three of its top remaining defense end targets in the Class of 2018: Tyreke Smith, Jayson Oweh, and Micah Parsons.
Today, after a continued push by Penn State on and off the field, combined with some official visit tweeting blunders, we are forced to at least consider the opposite result. What if, somehow, the Buckeyes miss on all three of their top remaining defensive end targets? Where should they turn in that scenario?
As usual, I’ve turned over this question to two of my industry peers for their feelings on that very matter.
Marc Givler, BuckeyeGrove.com:
Full disclosure: I don’t think it comes to this, but if it did the coaching staff would have to completely reshuffle the deck, as it has really narrowed its focus to that group over the last several months.
Vann got a close look early, but was never offered and is one of the better pure pass rushers in the Midwest. Peters, on the other hand, isn’t a true defensive end. He is more of a hybrid at the next level (like, perhaps, Parsons). Peters is having a monster senior season and the Buckeyes could consider revisiting that situation.
If I had to just throw one name out I think John Waggoner from West Des Moines, Iowa, could see increased interest come his way. Waggoner picked up an early offer from Ohio State and camped with the Buckeyes over the summer. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him re-emerge if things really started to get away from the Buckeye with their top targets.
Andrew Ellis, elevenwarriors.com:
Not long ago we were talking about the realistic possibility of the Buckeyes landing all of these guys, so this is a great example of how much things can change in a short period of time.
If Tyreke Smith, Micah Parsons and Jayson Oweh all end up elsewhere, then the only logical thing to do would be to circle back on the players who have shown interest and watch some of the less-heralded prospects to see who blows up during the fall and winter. Players such as Daniel Carson and John Waggoner have been offered, but we haven’t heard too much about them since the focus has been on the big three. Fairfield’s Malik Vann is a player with an impressive offer sheet, but the Buckeyes never entered the fray. I think his ultimate position is up in the air, but if things go haywire at the position Ohio State may re-evaluate the Cincinnati commit and/or hone in on Waggoner or Carson. Perhaps Cincinnati Winton Woods’ Christopher Oats is someone who could grow into a defensive end?
This is going to be interesting to watch because Smith, Parsons and Oweh are scheduled to announce late in the process. January decisions mean Ohio State won’t have much time to prioritize other players at the position. The Buckeyes haven’t turned up the heat on any other players just yet, so I think that’s a good sign about how the staff feels on at least a few of the top targets.
Brenton Cox is a great start at the position, but they will need to sign a few more given the mass exodus that will be coming after this season.
Jeremy Birmingham, Land of 10:
As Marc did, I want to be clear and state that I don’t think there’s a chance Ohio State gets shut out on those top three guys. I believe the worst-case scenario is that the Buckeyes land one, while Penn State lands the other two.
In that case, there’s no doubt that the Ohio State staff would turn its attention to a few of the names listed above, and my first thought was John Waggoner. I think the 6-foot-5, 230-pound West Des Moines Dowling product has a lot of the physical tools Larry Johnson looks for, though he’s not as polished or explosive as some of the top names.
I also thought about Christopher Oats and Xavier Peters, two “tweeners” like Micah Parsons. Questions about Peters’ academics have hurt him throughout the process, though and that’s not going away. Four-star prospect Eyabi Anoma has mentioned Ohio State in the past, but rumors about his academic standing also exist.
When looking at possible replacements, I think it makes sense to look at similar player types, so I like Vann (for Tyreke Smith), Waggoner (for Jayson Oweh) and Christopher Oats for Parsons.