COLUMBUS — Ohio State historically has made its defensive line additions in recruiting fairly late in cycles.
Now the Buckeyes have to load up in the 2024 cycle. There is potential for a mass exodus from Larry Johnson’s room at the end of the upcoming season.
Ohio State needs to bring in both day-one contributors and depth pieces. It has to sign a big class this cycle and 13 prospects are already committed.
Lettermen Row looks at the defensive line board heading into a critical official visit season and a need to land elite talent.
Let’s take a look, starting with defensive tackles.
There are two names trending as Ohio State leans as of May 11.
Three-star Bradenton (Fla) IMG Academy defensive tackle Jayden Jackson and three-star Clearwater (Fla) Academy International defensive tackle Sean Sevillano both have the Buckeyes in the lead according to the On3 Recruiting Prediction Machine.
Where’s the substance, however?
Let’s start with Jackson.
Ohio State offered the 6-foot-1.5, 295-pound defensive lineman on Jan. 11 after Johnson visited IMG. In Jackson’s offer announcement, he called Ohio State his ‘dream school’ which typically is the kiss of death in recruiting.
So far the Buckeyes have avoided the smooch. Jackson visited for the spring game and included the Buckeyes in both his top 12 and now five.
Last week Lettermen Row’s Spencer Holbrook placed a prediction into the On3 Recruiting Prediction Machine for the Buckeyes to land Jackson.
It is almost certain he will take an official visit to Columbus as well.
Someone who is definitely taking an official visit this summer is Sevillano. Lettermen Row reported Sevillano locked in his official visit for the weekend of June 2-4. That will be his second visit to campus. His first was on April 3.
The 6-foot-1.5, 325-pound defensive lineman also has an official visit scheduled with Notre Dame for June 16-18, and this could be a battle between the Buckeyes and the Irish.
While those two are trending toward the Buckeyes, they are entrenched with other targets.
Four-star Melissa (Texas) defensive lineman Nigel Smith II just announced his plans for an official visit to Ohio State. He currently plays defensive end, but he has the frame to play in the interior at the next level. The Buckeyes recently offered four-star Orlando (Fla) Jones defensive lineman D’antre Robinson and he is thinking about taking an official visit per Lettermen Row sources.
A name that I’m personally intrigued about is four-star Santa Ana (Calif) Mater Dei prospect Aydin Breland. The No. 6 defensive lineman in the On3 Industry Rankings visited Ohio State earlier this spring and continues to have a solid relationship with the staff.
A random question I’d like to pose, but is landing an elite edge rusher the most important position defensively in a recruiting class?
There are arguments to be made on both sides of the aisle, but for this exercise, the answer is, yes.
Ohio State holds a slim lead for five-star Washington D.C. Friendship Collegiate Academy EDGE Dylan Stewart. That’s mainly because On3 Director of Recruiting Chad Simmons placed a prediction on the Buckeyes to land him.
The No. 1 player in the 2024 cycle per On3 does have a well-documented relationship with Johnson and the Buckeyes, but there are a handful of schools seriously in the race for him.
“We talk and he talks about coaching me, the way he develops players and things like that,” Stewart told On3. “He is a pretty laid-back coach and someone that knows how to get players to the NFL.”
A name that feels like they could be a Buckeye is four-star Olney (Md) Good Counsel EDGE Darien Mayo. The No. 185 overall prospect per the On3 Industry Rankings has an official visit set for June 9-11 when plenty of Buckeyes’ commits will be in town.
Johnson has a history of recruiting and landing talent out of the DMV — which is also why Stewart’s recruitment should be taken seriously — and Mayo could be the next one.
Four-star Tampa (Fla) Wharton EDGE Booker Pickett is another name that very well could end up at Ohio State. The legacy prospect visited Ohio State for the spring game and he likely will take an official visit in June.
The Buckeyes view Pickett, however, as a potential fit for the JACK position.
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