Chung and BCast Debate the Linebackers
By Ozone Staff
The 2013 recruiting class has one glaring void: no linebackers.
It wasn’t supposed to be that way. Around the time of the Spring Game, back in April. Ohio State had two top LB recruits – Lewis Neal and Alex Anzalone – in the fold already.
But as the 2013 class rapidly approaches National Signing Day, the Buckeyes are still scrambling to recover from the sudden de-commitments of both Anzalone and Neal back in the spring.
The-Ozone's Brandon Castel and Michael Chung tackle the future of the linebacker position at Ohio State.
Chung: No 2013 Linebackers, No Problem!
Tyquan Lewis’s commitment mitigates this somewhat, but he will be playing the “Viper” position made famous by Bobby Carpenter – where Lewis will play as a defensive end and linebacker.
In an earlier O-zone article, Urban Meyer mentioned to Lewis that his speed off the edge is comparable to four others he has coached. This likely means Tyquan Lewis will be on the line more so than linebacker.
Fortunately, Ohio State had a plethora of LB recruits last year: David Perkins, Camren Williams, Jamal Marcus, Joshua Edward Perry and Luke Roberts.
The de-commitment of Neal and Anzalone definitely hurts the potential for this class at linebacker, but if a de-commitment so soon after issuing one’s verbal is a negative sign, is keeping your word amidst tragedy a positive one?
Such is the case for Joshua Edward Perry, now in the 2-deep depth chart. After Jim Tressel resigned and later retired, Perry never wavered from his verbal commitment. Graduating early from high school and enrolling at OSU so he could participate in spring drills, with every reason to de-commit, Perry stayed committed.
Another player that few are mentioning is Luke Roberts. Less than two months after Tressel’s departure, Luke Roberts was the first recruit to commit under new defensive coach Mike Vrabel. Some fans wanted Meyer to revoke his scholarship. Despite all the negativity from people questioning his ability, Roberts never let it get to him and also enrolled at OSU early.
The point is, though Buckeye Nation lost two recruits shortly after they issued their verbal commitment, they have two players who stayed true to their word despite every reason not too. If character and heart are a measure of a linebacker, I think OSU is in really good shape with Roberts and Perry.
I have not even mentioned Camren Williams, David Perkins or Jamal Marcus, which means Ohio State should be in really good shape. Maybe the LB core of 2012 is hurting the 2013 class? Players like Chris Worley and Mike Mitchell are already high on Ohio State and could be among the next commits, meaning an end to the linebacker debacle of 2013. Also, the 2014 LB crop will be a ripe harvest. Raekwon McMillan, Dante Booker, and Clifton Garrett all have Ohio State high on their list. The future looks bright.
Castel: Something’s Got To Give
That all sounds great, and I’ll grant you that Ohio State will definitely benefit from having some high-character guys on the team like Joshua Perry and Luke Roberts – two guys who stuck with the Buckeyes through some tough times – but that doesn’t make me feel better about the lack of depth at linebacker right now.
Ryan Shazier is both the present and the future at Will linebacker, but who are the Mike and Sam backers moving forward? This was supposed to be the break-out year for sophomore Curtis Grant, but he is hardly seeing the field on defense anymore.
It’s never a good sign when a guy was projected as the starter during the entire offseason loses his starting job to a guy who didn’t even take a snap during fall camp. That doesn’t mean the story is over for Curtis Grant, far from it. Look at Etienne Sabino and the route he has taken, but I don’t think fans were expecting another situation like Sabino’s when the Buckeyes landed the top LB prospect in the country.
The 2014 class does look loaded for OSU at the LB position, but I’m a little worried about where they are going to be in a year, especially if they can’t land Mike Mitchell and Chris Worley to close out the 2013 class.
I thought Meyer did an excellent job getting some athletic linebackers like David Perkins and Jamal Marcus to join with guys like Roberts and Perry in last year’s class, but all of those guys have a long way to go, and they don’t have a lot of time. Two of them had better be ready to play by next season.
Along with Grant, the Buckeyes do have Conner Crowell returning next season, but the guy I really like at Mike linebacker is Camren Williams. We haven’t seen much of him, even in practice, but I’ve heard he’s tough and he’s instinctual. I’ll take those two things at middle linebacker over any measurable.
Having Shazier, presumably for two more years is critical, but this team really needs to start developing some quality depth behind the starters. Meyer doesn’t want to have a bunch of true freshmen in his two-deep at linebacker. That’s just not going to cut it for a place like Ohio State.