To maintain its place among the nation’s elite college football programs, Ohio State cannot rest on the success of its 2017 recruiting class. The Buckeyes are looking to secure top targets for 2018, and they currently have four commits in the class. Each is ranked among the top 61 prospects in the country.
We’re going position-by-position to review the names you need to know in advance of the next signing day. Names will be added and removed, but it’s a place to start the adventure to 2018.
PREVIOUS RECRUITING RESETS:
- QB: Should Ohio State recruit another quarterback in 2018, who could it be?
- RB: Who are the top choices to join Brian Snead in Columbus at running back?
- WR: Breaking down a number of Ohio State’s top WR targets for 2018
- TE: Jeremy Ruckert leads a talented group of tight end options
- Offensive tackle: Jackson Carman is the man at offensive tackle
- Offensive guard: Peach State dreaming as the Buckeyes look for offensive guards
- Defensive end: Ohio State is chasing a number of the country’s best defensive ends
- Defensive tackle: Taron Vincent tops the list, but who else is a big Buckeyes target?
- Outside linebacker: Could Ohio State find all they need inside of Ohio’s borders?
- Inside linebacker: A USC commitment remains at the top of the Buckeyes wishlist
Today, we’ll end our look ahead with the defensive backs. Ohio State values versatility above all in the secondary, and that’s why we’re not going to break this down into “cornerbacks” and “safeties.” Rather, we’re going to examine the top names at both spots and let things fall where they may.
Ohio State landed six of the country’s best players in the secondary in the 2017 class, including the nation’s top two cornerback prospects in Jeffrey Okudah and Shaun Wade. Because of that impressive haul, the needs in the defensive backfield in 2018 may be a bit different.
I expect the Buckeyes to still try to sign three or four defensive backs, likely two players who are “safeties” and two who are “cornerbacks.” They’ve already got one player, California’s Jaiden Woodbey, committed, and we’ll consider him more as a safety for this exercise.
Ohio State 2018 defensive back targets
Who are the primary candidates to join Woodbey? Let’s see who makes the most sense for the Buckeyes. We’ll go in order of their national ranking, rather than their position, and when necessary, I’ll note whether the prospect is more likely to be a cornerback, or a safety. OK. Here we go.
Anthony Cook | Houston Lamar High School | ★★★★★
If there’s a player who fits Ohio State’s system the “best” on this list, it may be this 5-star stud from Texas.
Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, the recruitment of the 6-foot-1, 170-pound Cook is going to be a big-time battle with Tom Herman and the Texas Longhorns. Ohio State is right in the thick of this and the chance to showcase a defensive system that rotates corners and helps ready them for the NFL will go a long way toward upsetting Texas. Buckeyes cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs is all over Cook.
Tyreke Johnson | Jacksonville (Fla.) Trinity Christian Academy | ★★★★★
Ohio State has long been one of the schools to watch for this Florida 5-star, but it is rarely mentioned as a legitimate landing spot. Perhaps now with the signing of Shaun Wade, one of Johnson’s closest friends, the Buckeyes will be taken more seriously.
Johnson has been enamored with UCLA for some time, so the Bruins are regularly regarded as one of the most likely landing spots along with Georgia, where former Ohio State target Richard LeCounte continues to work his recruiting magic. For the Buckeyes, as with most of these players, the key is getting Johnson back on campus.
Houston Griffith | Chicago, IMG Academy | ★★★★
If there’s a player on this list who “feels” most likely to end up in Columbus right now, it might be this 4-star cornerback.
Griffith is the son of Illinois legend Howard Griffith, and if the 6-foot-1, 192-pound prospect doesn’t follow in his father’s footsteps to Champaign, there’s a good chance he’ll decide between Ohio State and Notre Dame.
Tyson Campbell | Fort Lauderdale American Heritage | ★★★★
Ohio State has kept in steady contact with another of South Florida’s premier defensive backs who perfectly fits the profile of a Buckeyes cornerback.
Campbell is a 6-foot-2, 180-pound athlete at American Heritage, the alma mater of former Buckeyes wide receiver and current Cincinnati quarterback Torrance Gibson, and he’s a top priority for Miami, LSU and Clemson. Ohio State is one of the schools he talks with the most, but until he visits Columbus, that’s all it is: talk.
Isheem Young | Philadelphia Imhotep Institute | ★★★★
One of the country’s premier safety prospects has had a Buckeyes offer since September and has been in regular conversation with Greg Schiano.
Still, Philadelphia’s Isheem Young has not yet visited Ohio State. He’s made trips to Maryland, Penn State and Rutgers and doesn’t appear close to a decision, but the sixth-best safety in America is going to need to make that trek to Columbus sometime soon. Young holds 28 offers, and if there’s a team outside of the Big Ten footprint that could steal him away it may be Florida State. His former teammate at Imhotep, tight end Naseir Upshur, signed with the Seminoles in the 2016 recruiting cycle.
Josh Proctor | Owasso (Okla.) | ★★★★
Oklahoma’s second-ranked prospect has an Ohio State offer and visited the Buckeyes last summer and returned to Columbus in November, where he watched the Scarlet and Gray roll Nebraska 62-3.
The Sooners are the 247Sports.com crystal ball favorite for the 6-foot-3, 186-pound Proctor, but it seems that he’s pretty serious about Ohio State. You don’t make two cross-country trips on your own dime if you’re not.
Amari Burney | Clearwater (Fla.) Calvary Christian | ★★★★
An Ohio State-Florida battle is brewing for this 4-star prospect out of Clearwater.
Burney, a 6-foot-1, 215-pound safety, has been very clear that the Buckeyes and Gators are his two favorites and he’s hoping to return to Ohio State this month to find clarity with a summertime decision looming. Greg Schiano and Burney speak daily according to the nation’s ninth-ranked safety, a pretty clear indicator that there’s a lot of mutual interest.
Asante Samuel, Jr. | Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas | ★★★★
Ohio State has fared very well at St. Thomas Aquinas over the years. Because of that you have to think that it’ll be involved with this cornerback – if they want to be – until he makes his college decision.
Samuel is unlikely to follow his father, the former NFL standout of the same name, to UCF, which means the country’s premier football programs will get a good shot at landing him. Alabama, Florida State, Michigan, Miami and Ohio State are among his favorites, though he’s recently listed the Seminoles at the top of his list.
Kwantel Raines | Aliquippa (Pa.) | ★★★★
The country’s 11th-ranked safety does not yet have an Ohio State offer, but he’s a big-time talent that the Buckeyes are keeping an eye on.
Raines, 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, is a Pittsburgh-area prospect. That may be causing Ohio State to slow down, knowing that the area is notoriously challenging to recruit when a kid has a Pittsburgh offer. Still, for a player like Raines, with 26 offers and a lot of raw ability, an offer from the Buckeyes may be coming.
Christian Tutt | Thomson (Ga.) | ★★★★
One of Georgia’s best cornerbacks has been interested in the Buckeyes for a while, but it’s hard to tell exactly how much that feeling is being reciprocated.
Tutt last visited Ohio State in November and the Buckeyes are keeping in touch, but Georgia and Clemson, along with Alabama and Florida State, will be in the mix until the end.
Xavier Henderson | Pickerington (Ohio) Central | ★★★★
A 4-star prospect out of a Columbus suburb has to be on this list, whether he’s a Michigan State commitment or not.
Henderson is a player the Buckeyes have seen up close many times and haven’t offered, in part because they’re just not sure what the best fit for him is. He’s a weapon on offense and defense but he’s most likely a defensive back in college. He committed to Michigan State last season and it’s not a sure bet that he’d flip to the Buckeyes at this point even if they offered. Still, he’s Ohio’s best defensive back and he’s local, so it’s hard to imagine that he doesn’t get an extended look heading into his senior season.