Have a question about Ohio State recruiting? This is the place for you, five days a week. Submit your questions on Twitter or on the Lettermen Row forums. Check in daily to see what’s on the mind of Buckeyes fans all over the country. Today we’re the defensive recruiting woes that the Buckeyes seem to be experiencing.
Ohio State Recruiting Question of the Day
it’s still early but do you believe there may be a problem recruiting defense this year considering we have 0 2020 defensive commitments
— Nick (@Nick61182564) March 28, 2019
Is OSU slow playing the defensive recruiting due to the new staff needing more time to evaluate vs the offensive staff that has been largely the same?
— Dr. Whom (@PresidentJRich) March 28, 2019
I think that in general people are right to ask this question, and it’s definitely not the first time it’s been asked. So, I’m going to reiterate what I wrote here back on Valentine’s Day.
“It’s a good question, but I think it’s one with a relatively simple answer: Because there are a lot of things we don’t know about the Buckeyes defense going forward, starting with the four new assistant coaches on that side of the ball and ending with questions about exactly what kind of scheme will be deployed by Greg Mattison and Jeff Hafley.”
Well, now that we’re more than halfway through spring football in Columbus, there are some answers to the big questions about scheme, personnel, etc. The Buckeyes new “Bullet” position has opened the door for a number of different options at their evolving safety position. Ohio State has hosted a number of its top targets in the secondary, including Lejond Cavazos, Henry Gray, Clark Phillips and Michigan standout Cameron Martinez.
Still, there are no commitments on defense. Earlier this week, we wrote that a decision could be coming soon from Cavazos, and I believe it’s likely that he could be the Buckeyes first defensive commitment — for the second time. But beyond him, there aren’t any prospects with a decision that’s imminent. Defensive lineman Darrion Henry is a player who could pull the trigger at any time, but his decision seems to be stretching longer than anyone expected as he and his teammate, Jaheim Thomas, make trips all over the country.
Ohio State isn’t, by any measure, taking it slow with defensive recruits on purpose. Instead, recruits who were once high on Ohio State like Mekhail Sherman, Bryan Bresee and others have backed away a bit as schools like Clemson and Georgia promote a more stable environment as opposed to a program with a first-year head coach and four new defensive coaches. Bresee has heard for three years that there’s no way Larry Johnson would stick around to coach him through his career, and if you hear that enough from enough people, eventually you believe it. Plus, some kids just like other schools — it happens.
No matter how much people like Ryan Day and believe in his future success, there is a segment of the Ohio State recruiting pitch right now that is theory and not testimony, and it’s been the opposite of that for the last few years under Urban Meyer.
To be fair though, Day and his staff haven’t yet seen Sherman, Bresee, Braiden McGregor, Kelee Ringo, Elias Ricks and the rest of the truly elite prospects in the country back on campus yet. There’s at least a plan for most of them to return. Until that happens, it’s pretty unreasonable to expect that Ohio State wouldn’t lose some momentum with that group. Why it’s been harder for kids to make trips to Ohio State than it is to Florida, LSU, Georgia, Auburn, Clemson, Alabama or Tennessee to this point is anyone’s guess, but the Buckeyes are hoping that the return of spring weather to the Midwest will bring some of those big names back to campus to try and re-establish Ohio State’s spot in their recruitment.
Patience — and a vocal, likable ringleader — is key.
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