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Darrion Henry is a key piece of the defensive line puzzle in 2020 for Ohio State. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Recruiting Question of the Day

Ohio State recruiting: Which players could be next wave of Rushmen?

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 is about the defensive line and who can become the future of the Rushmen for Larry Johnson.

Ohio State Recruiting Question of the Day

Because Ohio State was able to sign Zach Harrison and Noah Potter in 2019, it can be much more selective in the recruiting efforts along the defensive line in 2020.

Examining the current group of linemen, there’s a lot of young talent in Columbus waiting in the wings — and the majority of them will not play a whole lot of meaningful minutes this season barring injuries.

Jonathon Cooper and Jashon Cornell will leave after this year, and it’s likely that Chase Young will as well. So there are three defensive end losses to account for. At defensive tackle, Robert Landers and Davon Hamilton will also be playing their final seasons.

How deep are the Buckeyes along the defensive line? Take away those five players after the 2019 season, there are still 12 Rushmen on the roster:

  • Defensive end: Tyreke Smith, Tyler Friday, Zach Harrison, Noah Potter, Javontae Jean-Baptiste and Alex Williams
  • Defensive tackle: Haskell Garrett, Antwuan Jackson, Tommy Togiai, Taron Vincent, Jerron Cage, and Jaden McKenzie

So, looking ahead at 2020 where there’s a major need for running backs, tight ends, offensive linemen, wide receivers and defensive backs, it can be safely assumed that Larry Johnson’s recruiting approach is going to be focused on only the elite of the elite defensive linemen around the country. I think there could be a total of four linemen in the 2020 class, if the right ones are wanting to come aboard and play for Johnson and Greg Mattison.

We’ve talked at length about Cincinnati Princeton’s Darrion Henry, the country’s third-ranked strong-side defensive end. He’s a top priority and probably the most likely linemen right now to end up committing to Ohio State.

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Ohio State is still in the mix for Bryan Bresee but they’re trailing a few schools. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Beyond him, it gets murky because it’s all about visits and when they’re made. Yes, the country’s top-ranked player, Bryan Bresee, has been to Columbus multiple times and has included the Buckeyes in his top-six schools, but right now I think they’re trailing Clemson, Georgia and Penn State at least. It’s going to be a challenge to overtake any one, let alone all three, of those schools.

Ohio State is still in the mix for North Carolina 4-star lineman Myles Murphy and fellow North Carolinian Desmond Evans, a 5-star defensive end. Jacolbe Cowan, another 4-star prospect from North Carolina, is very high on Ohio State and has visited multiple times. Johnson went into North Carolina to get the aforementioned McKenzie in 2019 and the Buckeyes also snatched Tyquan Lewis from the state in the Class of 2013. They’re comfortable there, even though Mack Brown’s takeover at North Carolina, North Carolina State’s rise and Clemson’s emergence as a national power are making it much harder to recruit that area.

5-star prospect Reggie Grimes has visited Ohio State multiples times, but the Tennessee star is an Alabama legacy and that program is likely in the driver’s seat there. There’s also an uphill battle for Port Huron (Mich.) 4-star defensive lineman Braiden McGregor, who has been to campus multiple times but continues to be a fight with Michigan, Michigan State and Notre Dame.

The Buckeyes are involved with a lot of defensive linemen in 2020. But right now there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of momentum in their direction with many of them. Johnson’s efforts as a recruiter can’t be questioned, really, and he’s a guy who usually wants to work with kids in a camp setting before going all in on them. There should be a steady uptick in buzz as summer approaches and the elite players around the country get themselves into the laboratory with the Dean of the Defensive Line.

The best way to stay on top of all that recruiting #stuff? Subscribe to Lettermen Row’s Recruiting with Birm newsletter. 

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