The top-ranked Ohio State recruiting class has three linebackers ranked in the top 10 of their position. That’s pretty good.
But, if the Buckeyes coaching staff has its way, they’re probably not done with that group.
As November comes to an end and the first early signing period for college football arrives in late December, Ohio State will begin making accommodations for at least three of the country’s best prospects at linebacker to take official visits in Columbus.
The expectation is that USC commit Palaie Gaoteote, 5-star inside linebacker from Las Vegas, will visit officially after the season. The same is true for 4-star prospects Solomon Tuliaupupu (uncommitted) and Payton Wilson, who visited the Buckeyes in the spring and committed to North Carolina on May 1.
Andrew Ellis, Eleven Warriors
I’ve long thought that three should be the magic number for linebacker signees in 2018.
But, even with three in the fold, there’s no way Ohio State would turn down any one of these guys. At this point, I don’t think another player will be added at the position, but I believe the most realistic option of the trio is Palaie Gaoteote.
We talked about this kid throughout the 2016 season when the Buckeyes were chasing several players from Bishop Gorman, and he may have been the best player on the national title-winning team as a junior. With Tate Martell and Haskell Garrett already in Columbus, there’s familiarity for the five-star linebacker. He seems intrigued by Ohio State despite being committed to USC. It’s never easy battling the Polynesian pipeline that is Southern Cal, but the upcoming official should give the Buckeyes a chance.
Marc Givler, BuckeyeGrove.com
While I can’t say my confidence level is particularly high with any of these three guys, I would probably have to go with Payton Wilson.
That may sound strange since he is really just recently back on the radar, but I just don’t know that circumstances have really changed with the West Coast kids. I continue to feel that Gaoteote stays with USC, especially with coach Clay Helton seeming safe with his job security. I have never had a great vibe, even over the summer, that Tuliaupupu would leave the West Coast.
That leaves Wilson, who Ohio State made a really good impression on during his initial recruiting process. With the school he committed to going through some tough times, that could be a shakier verbal than Gaoteote. Although distance can still factor into this one, it’s not quite the trip from North Carolina that it is from California. So if they can get Wilson on campus in December, I would give them slightly better odds with Wilson than the two West Coast kids.
Jeremy Birmingham, Landof10.com:
I know Payton Wilson loved his Ohio State visit in the spring and it seems like he’s interested in looking around despite his commitment to North Carolina. He’s visiting Notre Dame this weekend, which could be excused while he remains committed but the official visit he took two weeks ago to rival North Carolina State seems like a move he’d only make if he was thinking about re-opening his recruitment.
But I don’t feel it, there. Heck, the same can be said with Tuliaupupu, despite public and private assertions that he’s willing to leave the West Coast, I don’t get the feeling he wants to.
Now, with Gaoteote, I don’t necessarily think he wants to, but I believe of the three he’s the most likely to consider Ohio State, in part because of his relationships with people like Garrett and Martell, but also because he believes – from a business perspective – that Ohio State is a smart play.
Get Gaoteote and his whole family on campus for a full weekend with the Ohio State coaching staff and administration and take your best shot.