Welcome to your Ohio State Buckeyes football recruiting mailbag.
In this space, on this day, I, your humble servant, will attempt to answer your pressing questions about the state of the Buckeyes on the recruiting trail.
If I fail to answer your specific query, please accept my apologies. There are a number of questions that involved similar topics and players, and I didn’t want to repeat.
Anyway, enough with the chit chat. Let’s get to the questions.
Going to do a recruiting mailbag for Sunday – taking like, 6 questions for it. Please hashtag #BirmMailbag or something.
— Jeremy Birmingham (@Birm) May 5, 2017
The first came from Jared Duncan.
— Jared Duncan (@buckeyefan686) May 5, 2017
Jared, the first time I saw Teradja Mitchell in person was in mid-March, and I was a bit shocked by his build. He looks like a defensive end, but his listed height and weight (6-foot-2, 232 pounds) wouldn’t have indicated that. I think he’s physically similar to what Raekwon McMillan was coming from Liberty County High School in Hinesville, Ga., in 2013. That one turned out well for the Buckeyes. If Mitchell ends up in Columbus and spends some time shaping his frame with Mickey Marotti and the Ohio State strength staff, this would turn out well, too.
— Andrew Schwisow (@darkknight1093) May 5, 2017
Tavion Thomas, the 6-foot-3, 225-pound running back from in-state Dayton Dunbar High School, was this winter’s recruiting darling. There were few players in the country who became as coveted as he did when he added nearly two dozen offers, including one from Ohio State. That offer led most to reasonably assume that he’d end up with the Buckeyes, but to this point, that hasn’t happened.
Why? That’s anyone’s guess and a question not likely easily answered. Are there rumors of grade issues? Yes, there are. Are there rumors of other off-field issues that have some folks hedging their bets? Yes, there are. Does a year of amazing tape against some of Ohio’s worst competition have others wondering if perhaps his game needs more seasoning/evaluation? Yes, it does. What happens with Thomas from here is totally up in the air, but I’ll make it as plain as I can. If Ohio State wants him, they’ll get him. If he ends up elsewhere, it’s simply because the Buckeyes passed.
— Andrew Schwisow (@darkknight1093) May 5, 2017
I wrote about the defensive line and the players who I feel are still real options for Ohio State on Thursday. I expect the Buckeyes to lose six of their top eight defensive linemen after the 2017 season — Tyquan Lewis, Sam Hubbard, Jalyn Holmes, Tracy Sprinkle, Michael Hill and Dre’Mont Jones — and that means we should expect at least five or six recruits at the position in the 2018 class. Right now, Ohio State has two commitments, and the Buckeyes are hot on the trail for a half-dozen more prospects. Check out the piece from Thursday to get those answers.
— pango (@pangonis) May 5, 2017
This is a good question, Pango, and one I’m glad to answer. There’s zero doubt that to most of the folks covering recruiting, Sevyn Banks’ commitment was absolutely a surprise. He had made one visit to Ohio State, he’s just getting back to football activity after a torn left ACL sustained in April 2016, and according to the rankings, there are a handful of seemingly better options at cornerback that the Buckeyes have been pursuing aggressively for a while now.
So, does his commitment affect plans? The short answer is no for a few reasons. First, Ohio State doesn’t accept commitments from players unless they think that they can play, period. Secondly, if they lose a commitment from Banks, for whatever reason, they’ve ultimately lost nothing because the goal in 2018 is to get the best two cornerbacks that they can land.
That brings us to the next question.
@Birm which DBs will we prioritize? Jaycee Horn, Surtain, or Griffith?
— Evan Ryan (@G35or335evan) May 6, 2017
Evan, I read “DBs” here as cornerbacks, so forgive me if I’m being presumptive. The Buckeyes have two safeties already committed in Jaiden Woodbey and Josh Proctor, so that should close that position for 2018 unless something changes with either of those two. At cornerback, there are three players above all others for the Buckeyes, as I see it:
- Anthony Cook, 5-star, Houston (Lamar)
- Patrick Surtain Jr., 5-star, Fort Lauderdale (American Heritage)
- Tyson Campbell, 4-star, Fort Lauderdale (American Heritage)
Those are the players at cornerback in my mind and represents the group that the Buckeyes will recruit all the way to signing day, no matter what. To me, the rest of the cornerback targets are interchangeable.
— Roger Seibert (@seibs28) May 6, 2017
Roger was one of a handful of people who asked about Micah Parsons, the 5-star defensive end from Harrisburg (Pa.) and a recent Penn State decommit. Ohio State has had a remarkable run recruiting the defensive end position since 2015, and with 4-star Brenton Cox committed, Parsons would be the icing on the proverbial cake for defensive coordinator Larry Johnson and the Buckeyes.
The relationship that Johnson, one of the country’s premier recruiters, has with Parsons is what has fueled much of the talk about the Buckeyes eventually landing the 6-foot-3, 235-pound prospect. Ohio State commitments feel confident that they’ll add Parsons to their class at some point, but there’s a long way to go before any decision is made.
Right now, yes, I believe the Buckeyes are the team to beat. Land of 10’s Tyler Donohue, our Penn State recruiting analyst, broke down Parsons’ recruitment with Ben Axelrod on Friday morning’s Inside the Shoe Podcast, so give that a listen for a bit more insight.
— Scott Whitacre (@t_buckeyescott) May 5, 2017
This, or some variation of it, was another popular question.
For the sake of this conversation, I am going to say this: Ohio State has one wide receiver committed already. His name is Jaelen Gill, and yes, I know he’s a running back in high school and all the major networks list him as a running back. But, he is penciled in to fill the role Curtis Samuel created and, to me, that means he’s as much a wideout as he is a tailback.
So, beyond Gill, the wide receiver board is kind of a mess. There’s a ton of talent across the country at the position but it’s one that right now Ohio State hasn’t put much time into recruiting beyond St. Louis 4-star Kamryn Babb.
The question that should be asked there is why? Zach Smith’s group added five players in the 2016 and 2017 classes, so there’s not a huge priority at the position right now. Beyond that, if Babb is your top choice, and maybe only choice at the spot, why dilute that interest and the strides made to land him by giving too much love to others at the position? That’s a very good way to give your opponents, especially the bunch in Ann Arbor that is pitching the same “you’re our only guy” angle, some ammunition to use against you in the living room.
If Ohio State were to miss on Babb, there are a few other players on the short list of receivers worth paying attention to. California 5-stars Amon-Ra St. Brown and Jalen Hall are among them, and they received a visit from position coach Smith last week. So too is Texas 5-star Brennan Eagles, a 5-star at Houston’s Alief Taylor High School.
Justyn Ross of Phenix City, Ala., (Central High School) has the Buckeyes on his short list and is a favorite of Ohio State QB commit Emory Jones, as is Georgia 4-star Kearis Jackson. Another Texan to watch is Lamar (Houston) High School 4-star Al’Vonte Woodard. At home, the Buckeyes are monitoring Xenia’s Meechi Harris and Huber Heights Wayne’s L’Christian “Blue” Smith. Harris does not have an offer yet, and there are questions about Smith’s eventual place in the Ohio State offense that seem to be slowing down the conversation between the two sides.