Though Ohio State has a commitment from 5-star defensive end Brenton Cox, the Buckeyes are nowhere close to being done at the position in the Class of 2018.
Despite a recent de-commitment from American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.) defensive end Andrew Chatfield, Ohio State finds itself in a favorable position to land the country’s best defensive line haul.
With Cox and Taron Vincent — the nation’s No. 1-ranked defensive tackle — already in tow, Larry Johnson and Urban Meyer are swinging for the fences from now until signing day. To truly hit a grand slam, Ohio State is going to need to land three more of the most explosive defensive end prospects in America: 5-star prospect Micah Parsons and the 4-star duo of Tyreke Smith and Jayson Oweh.
It won’t be easy.
Penn State, USC, Alabama, Notre Dame and Nebraska are just some of the schools standing in the way of pulling off this talented trifecta. Each program has something different to offer, and each will hold Ohio State’s efforts to land all three against the Buckeyes on the recruiting trail.
Can the Buckeyes do it? There are plenty of reasons why they can and just as many why they can’t.
I have approached two of my peers on this topic, Bucknuts.com’s Alex Gleitman and Eleven Warriors’ Andrew Ellis, and asked: Will the Buckeyes land them all?
Alex Gleitman, Bucknuts.com/247Sports.com
I think it is a very realistic scenario that Ohio State lands all three, but my gut is telling me they only get two.
Tyreke Smith is the guy I would feel most confident in, when it comes to landing in Columbus, leaving Oweh or Parsons out. While I think Oweh really likes Larry Johnson and the opportunity he gives him to develop, I can see the connections to Penn State (his coach played with James Franklin), his relationships with the PSU commits, and being a little closer to home (about four hours) will win out.
Parsons will take his recruitment all the way to the end, but I think at the end of the day he sees Ohio State as the place he wants to be and Larry Johnson as the coach he wants to play for. Recruits tend to usually not re-commit to a school they de-committed from. Parsons is not your average recruit, so I think this one is close, but my gut, coupled with intel, makes me think the Buckeyes get Parsons and the Nittany Lions land Oweh.
Andrew Ellis, elevenwarriors.com
Six weeks ago I probably would have said that Ohio State would land two of the three remaining defensive end targets. Things have changed since then, and so has my stance on the Buckeyes’ chances.
I’ve got Tyreke Smith as in for Ohio State, but I’m definitely not discounting Penn State.
It’s going to be the Buckeyes or Nittany Lions for Jayson Oweh, and I’m sticking with Ohio State here. I just feel like he’s built an incredible connection with Larry Johnson and is familiar with his history of developing players to their max potential — something Oweh has repeatedly mentioned as being a major factor.
I’ve been on the fence when it comes to Micah Parsons. His talent is undeniable and his national ranking is certainly justified. He may not be the perfect fit as a defensive end in Ohio State’s 4-3 base defense, but Noah Spence really wasn’t, either. There’s always room for players of this caliber, and I just can’t see Urban Meyer turning down the 5-star pass rusher. Nebraska seems to be the other hot team, but everything I’ve heard is that he’s likely to stay closer to home, probably Ohio State or Penn State.
I’ve got the Buckeyes going three for three on the remaining defensive end targets. It would have to be in the running for best unit in the 2018 class.
Jeremy Birmingham, Landof10.com
As crazy as it is, I’m going with Andrew here. As of today, I believe all three will sign with Ohio State, though it won’t be a cakewalk.
Tyreke Smith’s recruitment has kind of gone underground in recent weeks. Most people see it as an Ohio State-versus-Penn State battle, but I am not counting out USC. A native Californian, Smith’s capable of surprising here. Ultimately, I still believe his bonds with Ohio State commits, Larry Johnson and Tony Alford will land him in Columbus.
There’s not been a single player who has risen up the Buckeyes recruiting board faster than Jayson Oweh in the last year, and the New Jersey product has reciprocated the interest. Yes, his high school coach played with James Franklin, and yes, he’s been to Penn State more than anywhere else, but this is something that just feels like a Larry Johnson special. Johnson and Oweh have quickly developed a very good relationship and the way the Buckeyes are developing defensive linemen is a major draw.
Speaking of relationships with Larry Johnson, that’s what has kept Micah Parsons and the Buckeyes so closely linked for the last year. Even prior to his de-commitment from Penn State, Parsons’ relationship with Johnson was a key factor in his recruitment. Now — though he’s told me he’d prefer to play in 3-4 alignment — those bonds are getting even tighter. Parsons is working toward early enrollment and has official visits scheduled to Ohio State and Nebraska — the two schools that seem to be sticking out — and seems to be focused on a big senior season at Harrisburg (Pa.). There’s a sense that Parsons is looking for the place he’ll grow as a person and a player, and there’s no one better suited for that task than Larry Johnson.