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 three commits in the class. Each is ranked among the top 61 prospects in the country.
We’re going to go position-by-position and 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.
RELATED: Should Ohio State recruit another quarterback in 2018, who could it be? | Who are the top choices to join Brian Snead in Columbus at running back? | Breaking down a number of Ohio State’s top WR targets for 2018 | Jeremy Ruckert leads a talented group of tight end options | Jackson Carman is the man at offensive tackle
This time around, we’re going to go inside the offensive line and look at interior line prospects. In its second-ranked 2017 class, Ohio State signed two potential guards, and each player spent most of his senior season ranked as a Top 15 overall prospect: Miamisburg (Ohio) star Josh Myers and California’s Mr. Football, Wyatt Davis. In 2018, Ohio State is likely to sign four or five new “Slobs,” and signing two guards and perhaps one potential combo player may be just what they’re looking for.
Looking around the country for the next great Ohio State guard
As difficult as it is to project the offensive tackle position, guard may be slightly more difficult. At tackle, there’s a prototype body that everyone is looking for these days. But at guard? Not so much. There are 6-foot-3 guards and there are 6-foot-7 guards, and there are a number of high school tackles that transition inside because they lack the skill set needed to stay at tackle or play in offenses that are teaching them proper pass-protection technique. The Buckeyes top target at guard is the country’s top overall guard prospect.
Jamaree Salyer | Atlanta Pace Academy | ★★★★★
Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, the top target at offensive guard doesn’t live quite as close as the top target at tackle, Jackson Carman, does.
Salyer does have something in common wth Carman though: He’s a top target for Ohio State and a player that is being pinpointed by 5-star quarterback commit Emory Jones as high priority to recruit personally. The 6-foot-4, 330-pound guard has been to Ohio State just one time for a visit, but the Buckeyes are in a top group that includes Georgia and Alabama. It’s hard to bet against the home state Bulldogs, though.
Verdis Brown | Chicago, IMG Academy | ★★★★
A recent transfer to IMG Academy, in Bradenton, Fla., this Chicago native has an Ohio State offer, and the Buckeyes may be the current front-runner for his services.
Brown is the country’s seventh-ranked offensive guard and holds 15 offers.
Cleveland Reed | Lakeland (Fla.) | ★★★★
One of the earliest offers among the interior line for the Buckeyes belonged to Reed, the eighth-ranked guard in the nation.
Ohio State offered the 6-foot-4, 295-pound Reed on Sept. 1, 2016, the first day they were able to call him directly. He’s going to be a difficult pull away from Florida, though.
Frederick Scruggs | Eria (Pa.) Cathedral Prep | ★★★★
With 13 scholarship offers, including Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State, there may not be a more sought-after lineman in the state of Pennsylvania.
Right now, the Buckeyes are the 247Sports.com crystal ball leader for “Juice” Scruggs, and his recruitment is being led by Greg Studrawa. Penn State has the nation’s top 2018 class right now, and though Erie is just a stone’s throw from the Ohio border and hundreds of miles from Happy Valley, I expect James Franklin and the Nittany Lions to make this one a battle. Scruggs is the No. 9 guard in America.
Matthew Jones | Brooklyn (N.Y.) Erasmus Hall | ★★★★
There are a few very intriguing options along the offensive line for the Buckeyes, and this is most certainly one of them.
Jones is a talented two-way lineman for the Dutchmen – the alma mater of former Buckeye standout Curtis Samuel and current Ohio State freshman Jahsen Wint – so there’s a definite “in” for Studrawa and Urban Meyer here. The question ultimately may be what position Jones is best suited for; some have him as a game-changing defensive tackle, but I see him as an offensive lineman.
Clemson is one of the favorites, as are the Buckeyes. Eventually, I think Ohio State wins out here.
Jalil Irvin | Stone Mountain (Ga.) Stephenson | ★★★★
A Detroit native and a former Michigan commitment that has almost 25 scholarship offers, there are not many linemen in the country that have the potential this player does.
Irvin has powerful legs and is quick off the ball with his 6-foot-4, 280-pound frame. He visited Ohio State in mid-February with his mother and came away impressed with the program and hopes to return to the school in the near future. Though he’s in Georgia now, don’t be surprised if he heads back to the Midwest for college.
Blaine Scott | Portsmouth (Ohio) East | ★★★
Ohio’s top-ranked interior lineman has almost 30 scholarship offers and has been on campus with Ohio State dozens of times.
But the Buckeyes haven’t offered.
At 6-foot-4 and 310 pounds, Scott looks like an offensive lineman. He has dominated the line for his high school team for three seasons, including lining up at tackle and center, and takes care of his business off the field as well. He’s announcing his college choice on May 5, and right now it appears that Duke has the edge.
Will the Buckeyes offer before then and throw a wrench into things?
Jake Kradel | Erie (Pa.) Butler | ★★★
Could Ohio State end up with two offensive guards in one recruiting class out of Erie, Pa.?
The Buckeyes are just one of the teams working to get to know Kradel better after a big junior season. The 6-foot-4, 290-pound lineman out of Butler Area High School doesn’t have the polish that Scruggs does, but he’s got all the makings of a “Slob.” He’s up to 17 scholarship offers and has been talking to Ohio State about a spring visit to Columbus. He doesn’t have an offer yet from the Buckeyes, but may very well end up in that category before the summer.
Will Lawrence | Memphis (Tenn.) Harding Academy of Memphis | ★★★
Ohio State – along with Alabama and a host of other schools – offered Will Lawrence late in 2014 after a stellar freshman high school season. Since then, the question is whether or not the 6-foot-4, 285-pound Lawrence was done developing physically and has evolved into more of an interior line prospect.
Austin Beier | Toledo (Ohio) St. John’s Jesuit |★★★
I like to end these previews with an Ohio guy that isn’t getting the publicity I think he should. And with that, here’s one of the best out of Toledo.
Beier has seven scholarship offers right now and is starting to warm up. Minnesota, Northwestern, Cincinnati, Boston College and Indiana are among his offers, so he’s not just feasting on MAC-level schools, either. He’s a 6-foot-4, 255-pound two-way player for the Titans but hasn’t spent much time on the recruiting circuit, which has hurt his national ranking. He can play, but if he wants to play at the highest level in college football, he’ll have to show off his talents in Columbus at a camp this summer.