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’s question asks how the Buckeyes linebacker recruiting is being impacted by the development of the “bullet” position in Ryan Day’s inaugural defense.
If the hybrid Bullet position is considered a linebacker, then no, there will be no numbers adjustment to linebacker recruiting. If it the position is considered a safety/defensive back, then sure, there will be a drop-off in the sheer numbers of linebackers being recruited by Ohio State.
It’s kind of a “six of one, half-dozen of another” scenario. The most important thing to know about this change on the recruiting trail is that it underscores a principle the Buckeyes have adhered to for a few years now when it comes to finding the next man up on their defense: Being versatile is key.
Ohio State has continued to search for defensive ends who are big enough to play on the interior of the defensive line. They want interior defensive linemen who can play a rush edge. They want linebackers who can cover and stuff the run, and they want cornerbacks that are big enough to play safety — and safeties fast enough to cover wideouts.
All that’s really happening to the linebacker recruiting is that Ohio State is renaming the positions. That means, at least for now, that traditional positional breakdowns — and the ones used by recruiting services — may not always match up with how Ohio State sees things.
The two major recruiting networks at 247Sports and Rivals, for example, see Bellflower (Calif.) athlete Kourt Williams as a linebacker. The Buckeyes see him as a defensive back/Bullet candidate. Cody Simon (6-foot-1, 218 pounds), though, plays linebacker and is roughly the same size as Williams (6-foot-1, 216 pounds), but Ohio State evaluations put him at linebacker.
Other players like Brooklyn’s William Mohan are being recruited to play both positions. Some guys, like Maryland’s Mitchell Melton, are being recruited only at linebacker. The Buckeyes aren’t recruiting a lot of true linebackers in 2020, that is clear. But looking at the current roster, it makes sense to be limited — and not just as the Buckeyes watch the way the Bullet position develops.
But is there an easy answer as to why? I think there is, and it’s not really that complex nor is it related to the transitioning Ohio State defense.
Simply put, the Buckeyes have a lot of good young linebackers on their roster and want to fill maybe just two spots at the position in this cycle. They’re not going to go overboard in the search at that spot when they feel good about their top couple of targets, but that doesn’t mean the position will less of a priority in the future.
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