Recruiting never stops, and if you take a day off, you fall behind. Join us every night for a daily recap of Ohio State recruiting news, insight on what’s happening behind the scenes and a glimpse at what’s coming next.
Before everybody gets their nightly Buckeye recruiting fix, I wanted to take the time to introduce myself. My name is Ryan Donnelly and I’ll be taking over as Land of 10’s Ohio State recruiting analyst. Some of you may remember me from my time covering Ohio State’s recruiting and football for BuckeyeGrove.com in the Rivals network, but I’m sure I’ll be a new face and name to many others. I couldn’t be more excited to get to work here at Land of 10 with Ryan Ginn, Austin Ward, and the rest of the excellent staff. Please feel free to reach out to me on Twitter (@L10Ryan) or here on the site. Thanks, and let’s get started:
Jerome Baker’s departure and what it means for recruiting
Junior linebacker Jerome Baker’s decision to leave Ohio State early for the NFL was not necessarily a shock, but it does leave questions for the program moving forward. Ward covered Baker’s decision earlier Monday, including likely replacement options in Tuf Borland and Malik Harrison. In terms of recruiting, I don’t expect Baker’s departure to radically change the Buckeyes’ plans.
When you bring in talent the way Ohio State does, losing players early to the NFL draft is simply the cost of doing business. The Buckeyes coaching staff and recruiting department, led by Mark Pantoni, is prepared for possibilities like this. Ohio State has already signed three linebackers to the Class of 2018 — Ohio product Dallas Gant and Virginia natives Teradja Mitchell and K’Vaughan Pope — all 4-star prospects and ranked in the top 10 at their position by the 247Sports composite.
Still, expect Ohio State to continue pursuing talent at linebacker. California linebacker Solomon Tuliaupupu told Eleven Warriors’ Andrew Lind that he’s eyeing a Feb. 4 official visit date, giving Ohio State its last chance to steal the 4-star prospect from out West. Tuliaupupu has already taken official visits to Notre Dame and Hawaii and could potentially take trips to Oklahoma, UCLA, or USC. Notre Dame and USC, where several of his high school teammates play or will play, appear to be the leaders for his services.
Should the Buckeyes miss on Tuliaupupu, the only other legitimate target at the moment seems to be Cincinnati (Ohio) Winton Woods product Chris Oats, the teammate of freshman defensive tackle Jerron Cage. Ohio State is waiting to see academic improvement from the in-state standout, who is also being recruited by Kentucky, Oklahoma, Cincinnati, Ole Miss, and Florida State, among other programs. Should Oats be able to qualify, he will almost certainly head to Ohio State if the Buckeyes have room at the inn. If not, junior college plans may be in the works.
Oats and Tuliaupupu appear to be the last two targets at linebacker for Ohio State in the 2018 class after 4-star prospect Payton Wilson and 5-star recruit Palaie Gaoteote signed with North Carolina State and USC, respectively, during the early signing period.
5-star WR eyes an Ohio State official visit
At 6-foot-3 and 193 pounds, Allen (Texas) wide receiver Theo Wease looks to be one of the most complete and dangerous wide receivers prospects in the 2019 class. Wease, already given 5-star rating on the 247Sports composite, has earned his due with more than three dozen FBS scholarship offers to date. He is in the process of whittling down his prodigious offer list to a more manageable group.
“I plan on cutting my list down to about five schools in the spring and then I’ll just go from there,” Wease said to Land of 10’s Tyler Donahue during Under Armour’s Future50 event. “I would say Ohio State, USC, and Oklahoma for sure and then I can’t tell you the rest, I don’t know yet.”
Wease has yet to visit Columbus or see Ohio State’s campus, but it’s done little to put a damper on his relationships with the Buckeyes coaching staff. Head coach Urban Meyer and wide receivers coach Zach Smith have been involved early on for Wease, who’s a teammate of 2019 Ohio State quarterback offer Grant Tisdale. Allen is a powerhouse in suburban Dallas team that recently defeated 2018 Ohio State quarterback signee Matthew Baldwin and his teammates at Lake Travis (Tex.) in the state championship bout.
“I just like the coaches (at Ohio State) a lot, it’s family-like how they treat me,” Wease said. “You know, Coach Smith and Coach Meyer, they just treat me like family and they always check up on me … I know Jeffrey Okudah and Baron Browning. I don’t really know JK Dobbins like that, but I know he came from Texas.”
With plans to cut his list down in the not-so-distant future, Wease hopes to see Ohio State and get on campus before making any decisions. 2019’s recruiting class will be the first crop of prospects allowed to utilize official visits during the spring, allowing Wease to avoid the long car ride to Ohio and make an earlier trip on Ohio State’s dime.
“I was planning on taking an official visit to Columbus. I was probably going to take two or three of my official visits in the spring and then save the others for the season,” Wease said.
Ohio State is heavily involved for both Wease and Tisdale and should be considered serious contenders for both prospects. Look for Georgia, LSU, Florida State, Texas A&M, and a bevy of other programs to try and slide their way into Wease’s top five list come the spring.
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