On Wednesday, we went back to the Ohio State recruiting Class of 2018.
We talked about the offense, attempting to predict how the class — on that side of the ball — would finish.
As we did on offense, let’s go spot by spot and check out the defense. Here’s how the Buckeyes could finish the Class of 2018. The truth is that not a lot of things have changed, though a recent commitment has given more flexibility to the Ohio State coaching staff.
The questions that remain at defensive end
As it is, the Buckeyes have a single commitment at defensive end, 5-star prospect Brenton Cox. The Georgia native has slowed down discussions of visiting other schools and appears solidly committed to the Buckeyes. That’s a huge win for Ohio State, but there seem to be more questions around their remaining targets at this position than there were a month ago.
Ohioan Tyreke Smith is a back-and-forth battle with Penn State, but he’ll make a key visit to USC this weekend and that could be something to watch as he’s a California native. Smith has his official visit schedule set, and Penn State, who has been recruiting him the longest, will get the final look. Jayson Oweh from New Jersey is considering Notre Dame, but this is another Buckeyes vs Nittany Lions fight, and I personally think Ohio State has the edge right now. He’s taken his official visit to Columbus already though, and Penn State, again, will get the last shot.
Smith and Oweh will announce their college decision on Jan. 4, and I think there remains a good chance they’ll pick the same school.
Then there is Micah Parsons from Pennsylvania. Parsons is a 5-star talent, and a top-5 player nationally. He’s got the talent to be an All-American at linebacker or defensive end, and heck, if he wanted to, he could be a dangerous option on offense, too.
But there are a lot of questions around Parsons, most of them centered on his maturity. There is no doubt he can play football.
Right now, until Ohio State knows what Smith and Oweh will do, there’s not going to be a lot of new names on the radar that bear close monitoring. Parsons is a wild card, and if he finds his way into the Buckeyes class – and many people think that’s ultimately the place he wants to be – then it’s just gravy.
With Antwuan Jackson committed, Tommy Togiai is the last man standing at DT
Ohio State added commitmnt No. 2 at defensive tackle on Tuesday of this week. Antwuan Jackson, a top JUCO prospect and former Auburn Tiger, joins 5-star DT Taron Vincent.
That takes a lot of pressure off of Larry Johnson as he works to bring in one more, Tommy Togiai. The Highlands (Pocatello, Idaho) High School star has been on campus in Columbus twice in the last two months and the Buckeyes are the team to beat to land him as of now.
With visits coming to Washington and USC, each of which are significantly closer to home, Ohio State will have to do some recruiting magic to hold that position.
If signing day was today, I think Togiai is a Buckeye.
Ohio State is pretty much done at linebacker
The Buckeyes are set at linebacker with a trio of 4-star prospects committed: Dallas Gant, Teradja Mitchell and K’Vaughan Pope. Each is penciled in for a different role, and each is firmly committed to Ohio State without any discussion of looking elsewhere.
There are two players remaining at this position that could find their way into the Ohio State recruiting class. The first is Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) 4-star talent Solomon Tuliaupupu. He visited Ohio State in the spring and as of now, he plans to take an official visit with the Buckeyes. Linebackers coach Bill Davis and the Ohio State staff love Tuliaupupu’s game and physicality.
After him, there’s the longshot, but a longshot that is too good to not try for, especially because the Buckeyes may be the only team with a legitimate chance of changing his mind. Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) 5-star linebacker Palaie Gaoteote is committed to USC and appears firmly so, but the Buckeyes won’t give up until signing day.
The 6-foot-2, 235-pound prospect will make an official visit to Ohio State, likely in October, and if that happens, the Buckeyes have an outside shot to land him.
How do you get defensive backs to join after the 2017 haul?
After signing the country’s top two cornerbacks last cycle, the Buckeyes focused on landing safeties in 2018. They have commitments from three: Jaiden Woodbey, Josh Proctor and Marcus Hooker. Woodbey and Proctor are each top-100 players and Hooker is a talented athlete who will surprise people with his physical nature.
At cornerback, there’s one committed – Florida’s Sevyn Banks – and a few top remaining targets. The primary group consists of 5-star prospect Anthony Cook and 4-star speed-demon Tyson Campbell. Cook has made his official visit to Ohio State, and will decided on his future Oct. 30. Campbell, along with teammate Patrick Surtain, Jr. – the No. 1-ranked cornerback in the country – are expected to make official visits later this season.
As Ohio State’s pass defense struggles a bit, there becomes an opening for the Buckeyes coaching staff to turn to these big name guys and say, “Look, here’s how you fit in” as a retort to the “they’ve got too may guys” message other schools are no doubt spreading.
Texas and LSU are the competition for Cook, and he’s likely the player most likely to find his way into the Class of 2018 for the Buckeyes, but it’s not a done deal.
Here’s the defense
As I see it on Thursday, Sept. 14, here’s a projected look at the Buckeyes’ recruiting class on defense.
- DE • Brenton Cox, 5-star
- DE • Tyreke Smith, 4-star
- DE • Jayson Oweh, 4-star
- DT • Taron Vincent, 5-star
- DT • Antwuan Jackson, JUCO
- DT • Tommy Togiai, 4-star
- LB • Teradja Mitchell, 4-star
- LB • Dallas Gant, 4-star
- LB • K’Vaughn Pope, 4-star
- DB • Jaiden Woodbey, 4-star
- DB • Josh Proctor, 4-star
- DB • Marcus Hooker, 3-star
- DB • Sevyn Banks, 4-star
- DB • Anthony Cook, 5-star