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Ohio State recruiting: What is the deal with Buckeyes, Jaheim Thomas?

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Jaheim Thomas camped at Ohio State last summer as a linebacker. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Recruiting Question of the Day

Ohio State recruiting: What is the deal with Buckeyes, Jaheim Thomas?

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 once again talking about Cincinnati prospect Jaheim Thomas.

Ohio State Recruiting Question of the Day


Every week I ask for questions for this column, and every week I hope that nobody asks why the Buckeyes haven’t offered Jaheim Thomas. Yet, every week it pops back up. It’s this recruiting cycle’s: “What’s up with Zach Harrison?” And I totally understand why people are asking it, but the reality is that there’s just one answer that means anything.

Right now, it seems to me that he’s not a player Ohio State believes can help it. If they did right now, there’d be an offer already, right? All other reasons seem to just be providing more confusion than answers.

To those on the outside looking in, that might be pretty confusing. Thomas sure looks like an Ohio State football player. The 16-year-old prospect is 6-foot-5 and almost 220 pounds already. He’s got a frame that makes him stand out from even the highest-ranked of his peers and an offer list that is full of the country’s best programs — with that notable exception at Ohio State.

So what’s the deal, really? Let’s reflect on something I wrote about this topic just a few weeks ago, because I think it’s still worth considering.

Are the Buckeyes — one of the country’s premier NFL-developing programs and top evaluators of talent — just missing the boat by holding off from offering Thomas? Or are other programs, aware that an immediate commitment isn’t likely just trying to use the offer to Thomas as a leverage point for his higher-ranked teammate?

Ohio State has seen Thomas in person. He camped for the Buckeyes last summer when he was a 6-foot-4, 200-pound 15-year-old who wanted to be a linebacker. They watched him move, run and evaluated him at the same time they watched athletes like Craig Young, who was offered because of his camp performance and versatility. After what they’ve seen during that camp and after careful evaluation of film, the Buckeyes haven’t offered yet.

If Thomas was an offensive lineman, maybe an offer would’ve been extended by now based on positional need and a desire to recruit Ohio — like Ohio State has done with Trey Leroux and Jakob James. But he’s not, and in truth, the question is whether Thomas is really a linebacker. And more and more, I think it’s likely that schools are going to see him developing into a defensive end prospect, so there’s a question of whether or not they’re going to tell him that directly. If they do, how is he going to handle it?

Thomas wants an Ohio State offer. Two of his closest friends, Paris Johnson and Darrion Henry, are working hard to convince the Buckeyes to extend him one. As much as Ryan Day, Larry Johnson and the rest of the staff want Johnson and Henry in Columbus, Ohio State is unlikely bend to the will of any recruits when it comes to filling its roster.

And the Buckeyes are not likely to bend to other schools offering Thomas either. If Jaheim Thomas lands an Ohio State offer, it will be because he earned and showed the Buckeyes that he’s the type of athlete and person who fits on the roster in Columbus. The first step to doing that may very well be allowing himself to consider a positional switch.

Then Thomas should show up to Ohio State in June and show out on the football field, removing all doubt about how he fits in the future plans for the program.

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


Birm is Lettermen Row's Director of Recruiting and the site's primary Ohio State sports photographer. A Toledo, Ohio native, Jeremy has been in similar roles for elevenwarriors.com and Landof10.com and has been covering the Buckeyes for seven years.