To maintain its place among the nation’s elite college football programs, Ohio State cannot rest on the success of its 2017 recruiting class. The Buckeyes are looking to secure top targets for 2018, and they currently have three commits in the class. Each is ranked among the top 61 prospects in the country.
We’re going position-by-position to review the names you need to know in advance of the next signing day. Names will be added and removed, but it’s a place to start the adventure to 2018.
PREVIOUS RECRUITING RESETS:
- QB: Should Ohio State recruit another quarterback in 2018, who could it be?
- RB: Who are the top choices to join Brian Snead in Columbus at running back?
- WR: Breaking down a number of Ohio State’s top WR targets for 2018
- TE: Jeremy Ruckert leads a talented group of tight end options
- Offensive Tackle: Jackson Carman is the man at offensive tackle
- Offensive guard: Peach State dreaming as the Buckeyes look for offensive guards
- Defensive end: Ohio State is chasing a number of the country’s best defensive ends
Today we’re continuing our focus on the defense and moving to defensive tackle. In the beginning of February, Ohio State signed two defensive tackles, each ranked among the country’s 15 best prospects at the position and highlighted by Las Vegas 4-star Haskell Garrett. However, for the second straight recruiting cycle, the Buckeyes failed to land a player that would have set the group above and beyond. In 2016, they missed on Antwuan Jackson (Auburn) and Rashard Lawrence (LSU) and this past month it was Jay Tufele (Southern Cal) and Marvin Wilson (Florida State) that spurned the Buckeyes at the last minute.
In 2018, the Buckeyes will be replacing some key names at defensive tackle but still will have some good depth to work with. Yes, they’ll lose guys like Tracy Sprinkle and Michael Hill, but Robert Landers, Davon Hamilton, Dre’Mont Jones, Malik Barrow, Jashon Cornell, Jerron Cage and Garrett are all expected to remain on the roster so there’s a lot of ability there. For the Buckeyes’ 2018 recruiting class? Let’s operate under the assumption that Ohio State would like to sign two defensive tackles once again.
Ohio State and the top defensive tackle targets
There are dozens of potential targets at defensive tackle and new names are being discovered and added to the list virtually every day but, for the most part, we think it’s pretty clear who the top overall target at the position is for Ohio State in 2018.
Taron Vincent | Baltimore – IMG Academy (Fla.) | ★★★★★
Larry Johnson Sr. has been working on this recruitment for a while and for good reason.
Vincent, the country’s top-ranked defensive tackle, is the perfect three-technique tackle for the Buckeyes defense, and he’s made it clear over the last year that Ohio State is his leader. That doesn’t mean it’s anywhere close to a done deal, though. Michigan has made a big move in recent months after hiring his former high school coach out of Maryland (Biff Poggi) and Florida State has been majorly involved as well and holds a geographical advantage now.
There’s a long way to go until signing day, but the Buckeyes are in the prime position for their top target, and that’s about all you can ask for.
Tyler Friday | Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco Prep | ★★★★
A two-way lineman out of a New Jersey prep powerhouse is never the wrong fit for any program.
That’s Tyler Friday, and that’s one of the reasons why he’s been a favorite of the Buckeyes for a while. The top 40 prospect is a 6-foot-3, 260-pound tackle that also plays along the offensive line, but his future seems to be on defense. Ohio State is one of the schools he’s maintained interest in, but Michigan and Rutgers lead the way on the 247Sports crystal ball. Friday last visited Ohio State in late July.
Austin Fontaine | Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha Catholic | ★★★★
The Buckeyes found Chase Young at DeMatha Catholic in the 2017 recruiting cycle and could be going back to that well in 2018.
Unlike most of the targets on this list, Fontaine — who visited Ohio State in November when the Buckeyes hosted Michigan — is a big, space-eating tackle at almost 315 pounds. Ohio State is one of his 15 scholarship offers, and Fontaine is very high on the Buckeyes. If he visits this spring as expected and Ohio State decides to put on a little pressure, I wouldn’t be surprised if he were to work his way into the recruiting class. That said, right now, Maryland is probably out in front but Penn State — as it always is with Maryland prospects — is one to watch.
Michael Thompson | St. Louis Parkway North | ★★★★
The country’s seventh-ranked defensive tackle with 21 offers to his name, this is a player that really looks the part.
Thompson is a 6-foot-4, 295-pound tackle with a frame that could carry 325 pounds easily, making him a viable candidate at the 1-technique defensive tackle spot that has eluded Ohio State in recent years. The Buckeyes have maintained some contact with Thompson over the months, and he was on campus in Columbus last October.
Tommy Togiai | Pocatello (Idaho) Highland | ★★★★
This is a recent Ohio State offer from a state that certainly doesn’t produce many FBS talents.
But that doesn’t mean this kid can’t play, because it certainly appears he can. Ohio State, Michigan, Washington, USC and a host of other high-major programs have offered, and the Buckeyes are being led by Larry Johnson. For the Buckeyes to have a chance here, they’ll have to find a way to get Togiai — whose game reminds me a lot of Jay Tufele’s — on campus for a visit and they’ll probably need to do it before official visit season because that’s just too late for players from that far away.
Aeneas Hawkins | Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller | ★★★
The lone Ohioan on the list has some serious NFL bloodlines.
Aeneas Hawkins is the son of former Cincinnati Bearcats/Bengals defensive back Artrell Hawkins and the nephew of current Cleveland Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins, who played at the University of Toledo. The younger Hawkins picked up his first scholarship offer last spring (from Florida State) and has been a steady-rising prospect in the national rankings ever since. He remains a 3-star talent but has an offer list that says he’s much better than that.
Ohio State is one of those offers, and Hawkins has told Land of 10 that he talks with Larry Johnson every day, certainly signifying that the Buckeyes are interested in a more than cursory manner. Hawkins will make a college decision in May and the Buckeyes, along with Cincinnati, Michigan State and Notre Dame, are among the favorites as of today.
If he commits to the Buckeyes, it will be a solid first answer to the defensive tackle question in 2018.