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?
This time around we’re finishing our look at the linebacker position, specifically those listed by the 247Sports.com composite as inside linebackers.
In 2018, the Buckeyes probably will look to sign three or four linebackers, and the breakdown of “middle” vs. “outside” isn’t as important finding talented and versatile players who fit the defensive scheme and overall mentality of the program.
Ohio State 2018 targets at inside linebacker
Let’s dive right in
Palaie Gaoteote | Las Vegas Bishop Gorman | ★★★★★
The top target on the list for the Buckeyes is unfortunately a player that just recently committed to the USC Trojans.
Ohio State felt for some time that they were in a really good position to land Gaoeteote, the country’s top-ranked linebacker. He is as close as family with Ohio State 2017 signee Haskell Garrett and made a visit to Columbus last October with Garrett. The departure of Luke Fickell opened the door for other schools to swoop in, and USC did an incredible job in recent months of selling the 6-foot-2, 230-pound linebacker on staying closer to home and being their next big thing at linebacker.
The Buckeyes certainly will not give up the chase, and neither will LSU or Miami, two other schools that were very high on the list for the 5-star Las Vegas prospect. Gaoteote recently told Scout.com’s Blair Angelo that he’s at least considering a trip back to Ohio this year, and if that happens, then anything can happen. Still, it’s hard to imagine a flip at this point out from this Ryan Shazier clone.
Teradja Mitchell | Virginia Beach (Va.) Bishop Sullivan Catholic | ★★★★★
Ohio State has been working hard in Virginia for the last few years, and they’re hoping to land the Commonwealth’s top defensive player in the 2018 class.
Mitchell is a 6-foot-2, 232-pound linebacker that looks and plays like a linebacker of old. He’s stout against the run and capable in pass coverage, though it’s not his strength. Mitchell has 31 offers, and Florida State – which has done very well in the Virginia Beach area in recent years – is probably the primary competition. To land Mitchell, you need to beat out the Seminoles, Clemson, Alabama and anyone who is anyone. This won’t be a recruitment for the faint of heart.
Solomon Tuliaupupu | Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei | ★★★★
Ohio State has done pretty well recruiting the West Coast in the last few recruiting cycles, and now they’ll see if that can pay dividends at linebacker.
With Gaoteote committed, Tuliaupupu may be the next best thing at the middle linebacker spot. He’s 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds and plays with reckless abandon for one of the country’s premier high school programs. USC, Washington and Alabama are all in the mix. Ohio State is hoping for a visit to throw them heavily into the conversation. Perhaps they can get a 2-for-1 visit special if Tuliaupupu can catch a ride with his teammate and fellow 2018 Top-50 player, wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown?
Michael Harris | Tucker (Ga.) | ★★★★
An interesting prospect to note from a state that has been very good to the Buckeyes in recent years. And this guy was born in Ohio, too.
Harris is the nation’s 14th-ranked inside linebacker and perhaps a bit more of a developmental project than the guys listed above. But he’s got offers from Alabama, Georgia and Auburn among his 15, so there’s a lot to work with here. In a recent conversation with Harris, Land of 10 was told that all the work he puts in is for “that offer to come,” speaking about Ohio State.
He wants to make a spring visit to Columbus and is hoping to arrange transportation to allow that to happen.
K’Vaughan Pope | Dinwiddie (Va.) Dinwiddie County | ★★★★
The final inside linebacker prospect we’ll talk about here is another star athlete out of Virginia.
Pope is a 6-foot-2, 210-pound prospect ranked as the country’s No. 5 athlete but is a player the Buckeyes see as a linebacker. He holds 12 offers and speaks to the Buckeyes nearly every day and is expected to make a spring visit to Columbus to check out the football program up-close and spend some time with new linebackers coach Billy Davis. Notre Dame and Alabama have recently offered, as Pope is beginning to blow up on the national scene.