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tBBC A Way Too Early Look at Ohio States 2018 Defensive Recruiting Board

Ben van Ooyen

A Way Too Early Look at Ohio States 2018 Defensive Recruiting Board
Ben van Ooyen
via our good friends at Buckeye Battle Cry
Visit their fantastic blog and read the full article (and so much more) here


We are still a year and a half away from national signing day for 2018, but it’s exciting to see what kind of talent the Buckeyes have to look forward to in a couple years. Unlike this year – only five seniors will leave after next season – Ohio State stands to lose over 20 players to graduation next year. That will free up a lot of scholarships and give the Buckeyes considerable wiggle room in the recruiting game.

Currently, Ohio State doesn’t have a commitment from anyone in the class of 2018, but that’s bound to change sooner rather than later. A lot of quality players in the class of 2018 have already made their college preferences known, and quite a few of them have the Ohio State Buckeyes atop their lists.

Let’s take a look at who Ohio State might be in the running for on defense in the next recruiting cycle.

Defensive Line:

Ohio State has a few defensive end recruits on its radar for 2018. Leonard Taylor was expected to land in Columbus; however he made a visit to Michigan and committed shortly thereafter. He’s since made a visit to Ohio State, and he’s been spotted in scarlet and grey, so what does this all mean? It means nothing is set in stone until he signs on the dotted line in 2018. I expect the Buckeyes will continue to recruit Taylor until he tells them he’s chosen a school – there’s always an outside chance he’ll flip to Ohio State at some point.

Another high-profile athlete at the defensive end position is Xavier Thomas out of Florence, South Carolina. While it’s unlikely the Buckeyes will pull this consensus five-star from the south, he has made an unofficial visit to Columbus, and it wouldn’t shock me to see him make another appearance. Of the eight crystal ball predictions in for Thomas, four have him to Clemson, three to South Carolina, and one to Florida State.

The Buckeyes haven’t extended an offer to an in-state defensive end yet, but some names to keep an eye on would be Malik Vann from Fairfield and Isaiah Mullens from Columbus. Vann holds offers from Notre Dame, Michigan State, and Oregon already, and Mullens has offers from Akron, Iowa State, and Toledo among others. If the Buckeyes are unable to land a couple of out-of-state kids like Max Wright or Tyler Friday, then Vann will likely get an offer at some point down the line. They also might want to see more tape on him, or see him in person before they make an offer.

Watch for K.J Henry, Nicholas Bonitto, Dorian Hardy, and Stacy Kirby as well – they all have offers from Ohio State.

Like the defensive end recruiting, the Buckeyes don’t have any offers out to in-state defensive tackles so far. However, they’re in on a number of the top defensive tackles in the country for the 2018 class, most notably Taron Vincent, the number one overall defensive tackle in the class. Vincent currently plays at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. The school is home to some current and future Buckeyes, so Vincent has probably heard a lot of good things about the program. He recently camped with the Buckeyes, and if crystal ball predictions mean anything at this point, all eight point to Ohio State. Vincent would be a huge get from Florida, and he would fill a big need at defensive tackle for the Buckeyes.

The Buckeyes will probably take two defensive tackles for 2018. Assuming they land Vincent, they’ll look to fill the other spot with the likes of Michael Thompson out of Missouri, Austin Fontaine or P.J. Mustipher from Maryland, or Josh Belk from South Carolina. Don’t forget about Aeneas Hawkins, an in-state prospect from Moeller. Although he doesn’t have a Buckeye offer yet, he does have ones from Notre Dame, Florida, and Florida State. Hawkins will be in attendance for Friday Night lights, and he’ll be looking to earn an offer from Ohio State before he departs.


Linebacker at Ohio State has been one of the most important positions the past few seasons, with Ryan Shazier and Darron Lee now playing on Sundays and Raekwon McMillian soon to follow. Regularly producing NFL stars tends to draw recruits like moths to a flame, so the Buckeyes should be able to lure a few good linebackers in 2018.

Right now, the Buckeyes are the early favorites to land Palaie Gaoteote out of Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas. You might notice that high school popping up quite a bit around here, as it seems like the Buckeyes are trying to build a pipeline out of Vegas. Gaoteote is the #2 rated outside linebacker in America for the class of 2018, and he currently plays with future Buckeyes Tate Martell and Haskell Garrett. I’m sure those two will be in his ear quite a bit during their senior seasons to get him to come and join them in Columbus. Landing Gaoteote would be a nice boost to the linebacking corps of the future at Ohio State.

The Buckeyes also have an offer out to an in-state linebacker, Dallas Gant out of Toledo. Gant is ranked as the #4 outside linebacker in America and the #3 overall prospect in the state of Ohio. He has 11 offers to date, and currently it looks like he favors the Buckeyes, Notre Dame, Michigan State, and Penn State. Gant will be another prospect on hand at Friday Night Lights, and he’s one to watch for a commitment this weekend. Another in-state kid is Christopher Oats from Cincinnati. He holds six offers, including ones from Nebraska, Michigan State, and Cincinnati. Like Gant, Oates will be in Columbus this Friday, and if the #5 prospect in the state of Ohio wants to commit, I think the staff would let him.

Other names to keep an eye on are Teradja Mitchell from Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Adrian Jackson from Denver, Colorado. They both have Ohio State offers, but Mitchell also holds offers from Florida State, LSU, and Alabama. Jackson would be a tough pull from Colorado. Another in-state kid to watch is Dan Bolden out of Cincinnati’s Colerain High School. Right now he only has one offer – from Iowa State – but that’s likely to change. If the Buckeyes miss out on a couple of the big names above, Bolden could earn an offer down the line if he has some solid camps and junior/senior seasons.

Defensive Backs:

The Buckeyes have their sights on quite a list of talented cornerbacks from the 2018 class, a couple of whom are sons of past greats. Let’s start with Houston Griffith, the son of Big Ten analyst Howard Griffith. He hails from Chicago, Illinois, but he plays his football for IMG Academy. He has 21 offers already, and his early favorites are Notre Dame and Michigan State. The Buckeyes just offered Griffith in June, and his recruitment seems to be heating up. He’s visited Notre Dame already and will probably take more visits after his junior season. I expect the Buckeyes to stay in on this one, but it will be a tough battle to land his services.

Another legacy recruit is Asante Samuel, Jr, the son of NFL great Asante Samuel, Sr. Senior attended college at Central Florida, but his son, who currently plays for St. Thomas Aquinas, seems to have his choice of schools. So far, Junior holds 37 offers, and most experts believe he’ll stay in Florida at either Florida State or Miami. Don’t discount the Buckeyes’ reach down in Florida, however, especially at St. Thomas Aquinas, where they’ve already snagged two Bosas.

Another defensive back on the Buckeyes’ radar is Bookie Radley-Hiles from Calabasas, California. He attends the same high school as 2017 wide receiver target Tyjon Lindsey. If Lindsey ends up at Ohio State next season, then that will only help Ohio State’s case for Radley-Hiles. He was just on campus a week ago and is scheduled to be back for Friday Night Lights, and traveling from California to Ohio twice on his dime shows some legitimate interest there.

Some other names to watch are Tyreke Johnson from Jacksonville, Florida; Christian Tutt from Thomson, Georgia; and Benjamin Sapp III – another St. Thomas Aquinas prospect.

In state- athlete Xavier Henderson currently doesn’t have an offer from the Buckeyes, but he’ll be looking to earn one at Friday Night Lights. He plays his football for Pickerington Central, and one has to assume being so close to Ohio State would be ideal for him and his family.


The Buckeye roster does not have many true safeties for the 2018 team, so they will be on the lookout to land one or two in this recruiting cycle. California’s Jaiden Woodbey is their top target. He lists 17 offers currently, but pulling him from the west coast will be difficult. He has an early 75% crystal ball prediction for USC, and with other offers from UCLA and Washington, he would be quite the steal for the Buckeye coaching staff. The other safety with an Ohio State offer is Josh Proctor from Owasso, Oklahoma. Although he visited Ohio State last month, he has made a couple of trips to Norman to check in on the Sooners.

Michael Dowell and Jeremiah Wood are two in-state kids who do not have offers from Ohio State yet. Dowell (Lakewood, Ohio) has offers from Michigan State, Pittsburgh, and Toledo. Wood (Pickerington Central) has offers from Cincinnati, Toledo, Kentucky, and Iowa State among others. I expect the Buckeye coaching staff will have a look at Dowell and Wood down the line, but right now it seems their sights are set outside the state of Ohio.


Again, this is a way too early to predict who the favorite Ohio State recruits will be for 2018, but it’s still fun to watch the recruiting journey from start to end, even if the finish line isn’t in Columbus. So much will change between now and February 2018, but one thing is for certain, and that is that Ohio State has been recruiting at an elite level since Urban Meyer arrived in Columbus. Until he decides to step down from coaching, I expect the Buckeyes to keep battling for the #1 class in America every year. The class of 2018 will certainly be a good one, but we’ll have to wait 12 to 18 months to find out how good.

The post A Way Too Early Look at Ohio States 2018 Defensive Recruiting Board appeared first on The Buckeye Battle Cry: Ohio State News and Commentary.

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