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What does offer to Javontae Jean-Baptiste mean for DE recruiting?
Ohio State’s latest offer in the 2018 class went out Tuesday to 4-star defensive end Javontae Jean-Baptiste of Bergen (N.J.) Catholic. I spoke at length with Bergen Catholic coach Nunzio Campanile on Tuesday, an interview you can find here, about the Buckeyes extending an offer to Jean-Baptiste and the defensive end’s plans to officially visit Columbus on Jan. 19.
While Campanile and many college programs view Jean-Baptiste as a hybrid edge rusher who could play outside linebacker, defensive end, or both positions, Ohio State’s offer to the Bergen Catholic senior is at defensive end.
The Buckeyes landed a commitment from 4-star defensive end Tyreke Smith at the Under Armour All-America Game, but missed out on 4-star prospect Jayson Oweh when he committed to Penn State at that same game. After Oweh decided to go elsewhere, Ohio State’s coaches expressed an interest in adding another talent at defensive end.
Prior to the offer to Jean-Baptiste, the primary defensive end target for the Buckeyes had been Don Bosco Prep (N.J.) 4-star prospect Tyler Friday. Friday has taken official visits to Ohio State, Michigan and Alabama. It looks like the Wolverines are the leaders in the clubhouse for Friday, but the Buckeyes are firmly in the mix. Friday plans to take official visits to Penn State and Miami before announcing a decision.
Jean-Baptiste’s offer clearly adds a new wrinkle to Ohio State’s previous focus at defensive end, where Friday was the only remaining offered target in serious communication with the coaching staff. Nothing will move forward between Ohio State and Jean-Baptiste until his official visit next weekend, but it feels like the Buckeyes will be able to get Jean-Baptiste if they choose to add him to the class. Boston College, Virginia Tech and Nebraska are other contenders for Jean-Baptiste and the destinations of his other official visits.
While this offer doesn’t change anything for Ohio State’s interest in Friday, the offer to Jean-Baptiste does seemingly eliminate another defensive end target. In an interview with Panther-Lair’s Chris Peak, Avon (Conn.) Old Farms defensive end Casey Rogers revealed that Ohio State is “looking for one more guy and they said it’s coming down to another kid and I for an offer.” Although Rogers has taken an official visit to Ohio State, it looks like this will end the Buckeyes’ pursuit of the Connecticut defensive end and lacrosse star, and he will not receive an offer.
Rasheed Walker schedules official visit, commitment dates
The other big news for Ohio State’s 2018 recruiting class Tuesday came from Army All-American and 4-star offensive tackle Rasheed Walker of Waldorf (Md.) North Point. Walker, ranked as one of the country’s top-100 prospects regardless of position in the 247Sports composite, has been back and forth between Penn State and Ohio State for several months. Ohio State is involved with other offensive tackle prospects, but Walker is arguably their most important target of the second signing period.
Walker announced that he plans to take his long-awaited official visit to Ohio State on Jan. 20. The official visit will be Walker’s first return trip to Ohio State since an unofficial visit to Columbus to see the Buckeyes defeat Penn State in the Horseshoe on Oct. 28. Penn State is widely regarded as the favorite for Walker’s services, but the official visit will be Ohio State’s opportunity to change the momentum.
Following his official visit, Walker will announce a commitment decision on Feb. 7, National Signing Day for the 2018 recruiting class. Penn State and Ohio State are the two primary contenders, but the Maryland native also took an official visit to Virginia Tech on Dec. 15.
Dominiq Penn becoming a familiar face at the Schott
Ohio State recently hosted one of Ohio’s top basketball prospects in 2020 point guard prospect Dominiq Penn of Dublin (Ohio) Coffman. Dominiq is the son of Ohio State director of player development and former All-America guard Scoonie Penn, who played at Ohio State in the 1998-99 and 1999-2000 seasons before beginning his pro career.
As a local prospect, legacy recruit, and the son of someone who works in the program, Penn has been heavily predicted to end up at Ohio State. Still, it’s just his sophomore year and the point guard has no interest in rushing the process. He’s been to a number of Ohio State games this season, including the Buckeyes’ thrashing of then-No. 1 Michigan State in the Schottenstein Center on Jan. 7.
“The atmosphere was great,” Penn told BuckeyeGrove.com recruiting analyst Marc Givler. “I haven’t seen [The Schott] like that in awhile.”
Check out more quotes from Penn on his sophomore season and highlights from his performances at the recent Thomas Worthington Holiday Tournament at this link.
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