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Waldorf (Md.) North Point tackle Rasheed Walker is down to Ohio State and Penn State.

Ohio State recruiting: Will Buckeyes reel in a tackle?

Ryan Ginn

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Unfortunately for Ohio State, striking out on both remaining tackle targets — 5-star Nicholas Petit Frere and 4-star Rasheed Walker — is a real possibility. It’s not necessarily a likelihood, but it’s on the table because as of Friday there were no signs that the Buckeyes lead in either race.

The Buckeyes are fighting two different types of battles as they come down the stretch. With Walker, it appears Ohio State has gained a ton of ground since it ramped up its pursuit of the Waldorf (Md.) North Point star. The problem is that Penn State was in on him well before the Buckeyes, allowing the Nittany Lions to approach the entire recruitment from a position of strength and forcing Urban Meyer and his staff to play catch-up.

With National Signing Day less than a week away, it seems like the Buckeyes are right there with James Franklin and the Nittany Lions. But whether that’s enough remains to be seen. Penn State got the last in-home visit on Thursday, one day after the Buckeyes made their pitch. This might be a battle in which the last word wins, though it sounds like Ohio State set the bar high on its in-home visit with Walker.

Ohio State is not as well positioned with Petit-Frere, but there’s no school that’s an overwhelming favorite and the Buckeyes will have a chance to make the last impression. The 5-star tackle from Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep will take his final official visit to Columbus to check out the Buckeyes Feb. 2-4. There are a number of schools in contention here, including Michigan, Notre Dame, Florida and Alabama. The Crimson Tide and Gators received official visits in January after in-season officials to the Wolverines and Fighting Irish. This one is winnable for Ohio State, but there are other teams involved and the Buckeyes are coming on late.

Ultimately, to answer your question, I think at least one of these goes in favor of the Buckeyes. Neither battle should have Ohio State fans feeling overwhelmingly confident, but Meyer’s track record suggests he’ll find a way to avoid striking out on both.

As for what happens if neither winds up in Columbus, it’s probably not an answer Buckeyes fans want to hear. That probably would do it for the Class of 2018, with no JUCO prospects likely to be left by National Signing Day, when both of these players decide. The Buckeyes wouldn’t burn a scholarship on any other high school prospects left at that point. So if Ohio State goes 0 for 2, the focus turns to 2019 (and the hope that some of the young tackles already on the roster turn out to be the real deal).

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