Projecting the 2017 Ohio State Defensive Commitments

Last post, we looked at my projections for the Buckeyes’ 2017 offensive recruiting results. Today we’ll dive into the defensive side of the ball and examine what might happen between now and signing day. Currently Ohio State has six defensive commitments for 2017, and, judging by the numbers, I think they take a total of nine or 10 defensive commitments.

Defensive End – 2017 Commitments: Joshua Kaindoh

Assuming no one leaves early, the Buckeyes will have nine defensive ends on scholarship in 2017. That doesn’t leave room for a lot of takes in the 2017 class. After snagging Nick Bosa and Malik Barrow on signing day 2016, I think the Buckeyes will go after a select few guys in 2017 and hope they make a splash. Joshua Kaindoh out of the IMG Academy down in Florida is one to keep an eye on. He’ll be taking the field with Isaiah Pryor and Marcus Williamson, both current Buckeye commits, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they try to persuade him to don the scarlet and gray too. Corey Malone-Hatcher from Michigan is another one who could end up a Buckeye on signing day, but Ohio State has to battle it out with Notre Dame and Michigan. He’s already visited those schools, so the Buckeyes need to get him on campus for them to have a chance at this one. Other names to keep an eye on are Chase Young and Joshua Paschal out of Maryland and Donovan Jeter out of Pennsylvania. I can see Ohio State taking one or two defensive ends if the right guys fall into place, but for now I’ll leave it at Kaindoh.

Defensive Tackle – 2017 Commitments: Jerron Cage, Haskell Garrett, Cam Spence

The defensive tackle position has been a sore spot for the Buckeyes in the past few recruiting cycles after missing out on guys like Neville Gallimore and Darian Roseboro in 2015 and Dexter Lawrence and Rashard Lawrence in 2016. Ohio State has landed four guys over the past two years, and some of them may need to step up during the 2016 season because the depth isn’t that deep at defensive tackle. I expect we’ll see a lot of Michael Hill and Tracey Sprinkle, but after that it’s anyone’s guess if we see guys like Donovan Munger, Joshua Alabi, Robert Landers, or Davon Hamilton. Fortunately, Ohio State has managed to snag a couple of early 2017 commitments in Jerron Cage out of Cincinnati and the surprise commitment of Haskell Garrett out of Las Vegas. I can see the Buckeyes pushing to get 3 DTs in this class, and I think they’ll go hard after Cam Spence, another member of the IMG Academy team. Fred Hansard of New Jersey is another name to watch – he visited Ohio State at its last junior day. Most people peg him to stay close to home and attend Rutgers or Penn State, but the Buckeyes have done pretty well out of that area recently, so it’s a possibility he makes a return visit to Ohio State.

Linebackers – 2017 Commitments: Brendon White

Ohio State has recruited well at the linebacker position since Urban Meyer has been at the helm. The team will be young next year, with lone returning starter Raekwon McMillian plugging up the middle at MLB.  He will probably be flanked by Donte Booker and Christopher Worley, but Jerome Baker, Justin Hilliard, and incoming freshman Keandre Jones will battle it out for some playing time as well. I fully expect McMillian to have a breakout year and declare for the draft next January. Currently, the Buckeyes have a commitment from Brendon White out of Olentangy Liberty High School in Powell, Ohio. I doubt the Buckeyes will add another linebacker in this class, but if they do decide to go after another one, here are the names to keep in mind: Kyle Bolden, an outside linebacker out of Colerain High School in Cincinnati; Jordan Anthony and Santino Marchiol, both from the IMG Academy in Florida; and Josh Ross out of Michigan. If a player of Anthony Hines’ caliber wants to come to Ohio State, the Buckeyes would take him in a heartbeat, but he would be a hard pull out of Texas.  

Cornerback – 2017 Commitments: Marcus Williamson, Shaun Wade, Amir Riep

Ohio State loaded up at cornerback last season, and it may look to add a few more in 2017.  The team already scored two big recruits from the state of Florida in Marcus Williamson and Shaun Wade. Rumor has it Wade will probably not end up in Ohio State’s class because several high caliber teams down south are pursuing him, but I see him sticking around and signing next February along with Williamson and the quick- rising Amir Riep. Riep burst onto the scene recently with a number of high-quality offers from the likes of Notre Dame, Michigan State, Tennessee, and Oregon. He hails from Cincinnati’s football powerhouse Colerain High School; and, while Ohio State’s recruiting success in Cincinnati hasn’t been stellar over the past few years, I see this one going the Buckeyes’ way as long as they can make room for him. Other names to keep an eye on are Darnay Holmes, who is a five-star prospect out of California, and Lamont Wade, another five-star guy out of Pennsylvania. If either of those guys want to play for Urban and the Buckeyes, I think that’ll leave Riep on the outside looking in.

Safety – 2017 Commitments: Isaiah Pryor, Jeffery Okudah

Ohio State is pretty thin at safety this coming year – only four guys on scholarship have safety as their primary position. I can see some of the cornerbacks converting to safety to help bridge the gap in numbers, and Kerry Coombs confirmed as much earlier when he said he would be rotating guys to find the best four or five to put on the field. The only player who is locked down is Gareon Conley, the lone returning starter in the secondary. That leaves a lot of spots up for grabs in spring ball and fall camp, and there will be some good battles for those spots. As for the 2017 class, the Buckeyes already have one commitment in Isaiah Pryor, yet another player from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. I expect them to add one more true safety, and they are going hard after Jeffery Okudah from Texas. After losing Richard LeCounte to Georgia after the Bulldogs hired Kirby Smart, the Buckeyes are putting all their eggs in Okudah’s basket. He has offers from a lot of the big schools, but he’s been high on Ohio State from the start. Okudah can have an immediate impact for the Buckeyes at safety, so I think he’ll commit and become a member of the 2017 class. If Okudah decides to take his talents elsewhere, then the Buckeyes will look toward Jaylen Kelly-Powell out of Cass Tech in Michigan or a JaVont’e Richardson out of Maple Heights, Ohio.  

Specialists – 2017 Commitments: Blake Haubeil

The Buckeyes won’t need to do much with specialists since last year’s lone signee Drew Chrisman will greyshirt this year so he’ll have four years of eligibility when he takes over for Cameron Johnston in 2017. Blake Haubeil might be in the same situation since Sean Nuernberger will be a senior when he comes in. It gives Ohio State a little wiggle room with the scholarship cap if Haubeil greyshirts, but it’s still very early in the recruiting process, so I doubt that option has been discussed much yet.

So I’ve picked nine guys on the offensive side of the ball and 11 on the defensive side for a total of 20 commitments in 2017. Right now the Buckeyes are already nine scholarships over the limit for 2017, assuming no one leaves early, transfers, or has a hardship waiver. If we get up to 20, then the coaching staff will have the daunting task of finding 18 spots for them to take. I won’t make any guesses on what will happen to make the space, but there will have to be some serious roster management done in order to get to 85 guys by Fall of 2017. 

If the Buckeyes are able to land the class I’ve predicted, it would be one of the highest-rated recruiting classes at Ohio State and will easily battle for the #1 spot nationally next year. The recruiting game is a rollercoaster, though, but we’ll keep you updated on everything that is happening on the ride as the Ohio State Buckeyes get closer to signing day 2017.

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