COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Buckeyes had a huge visitor in this weekend in the person of five-star linebacker Justin Hilliard (Cincinnati St. Xavier). The visit was one of many he has made to Columbus over the years.
Sunday Recruiting Rundown — May 18
By Tony Gerdeman
Hilliard (6-2 230) is one of the most-coveted players in the nation, owning offers from Ohio State, Alabama, Florida State, Clemson, Georgia, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame and a dozen others.
Both ESPN and 247Sports rank Hilliard the #1 outside linebacker in the nation, while Scout has him way down at #4. Rivals ranks him the #1 inside linebacker in the nation.
Being an in-state prospect, he is right at the top of the Ohio State recruiting board for the 2015 class. As you can see, he spent some of his time on his brief visit with OSU freshman linebacker Raekwon McMillan.
Raekwon McMillan and Justin Hilliard
The visit went well for Hilliard, and he already has plans for another longer visit in the next few weeks. He will be breaking out a top five list in the near future, and the Buckeyes should be on that list. Other teams to watch will be Notre Dame, Michigan, Alabama and Iowa (his brother is an incoming freshman with the Hawkeyes).
It's too early to say that the Buckeyes lead, but they stand just as good a chance as anybody else right now, and they have a ton of familiarity with Hilliard, and he with them.
Ohio State will have six linebackers with freshman eligibility in 2014, and at this point will only be losing senior Curtis Grant. Because of this, we probably shouldn't expect another four-linebacker haul like they've pulled in in the last two classes.
A class of three would be acceptable, which is why they have been rather picky when it comes to offering midwest linebackers. The three best bets overall right now might be Hilliard, Sh'mar Kilby-Lane (Hallandale, FL) and Jerome Baker (Cleveland, OH).
Baker seems perfectly suited for the new walk-out linebacker spot that Ohio State will be using moving forward. Hilliard and Kilby-Lane are better suited for the other two spots, though it's too early to say who would end up where.
The Buckeyes are sitting good with Baker, who is the #3 athlete overall in the 247Sports Composite ranking, and Kilby-Lane, the #8 outside linebacker in the nation per 247Sports. Hilliard remains the wildcard, and that likely won't change anytime soon.
Michigan Commit Making an OSU Visit
Several reports came out late in the week that four-star cornerback Shaun Crawford (5-10 170) from Lakewood (OH) St. Ed's would be making visits to both Notre Dame and Ohio State in the near future.
Crawford, the #8 corner in the nation per the 247Sports Composite, holds offers from Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Florida State, Michigan State, and others. His offer from Ohio State came well after he verbally committed to the Wolverines last August.
Despite being on the smaller side, Crawford's athleticism allows him to make up for any lack of stature. As his offers suggest, teams don't see it as much of a hindrance.
OSU cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs is charged with the task of bringing in two cornerbacks every year. Getting Crawford to visit is a huge step in the right direction.
With cornerback Jamel Dean already committed, the Buckeyes can afford to be a little picky, but if they have the chance to add a player like Crawford while simultaneously taking him away from Michigan, you should expect them to not hesitate.
Michigan head coach Brady Hoke has a "no visit" policy for players who have committed to the Wolverines, but all that really means is that he will begin recruiting your spot again if he wants to. It's not the drastic "we are not recruiting you anymore" policy that some would like you to believe.
Four-Star Cornerback Visits
While the Buckeyes were receiving news that an in-state cornerback would like to visit, they were in the midst of already hosting a coveted corner in Jordan Whitehead (Monaca, PA).
Whitehead (6-0 180) is a four-star cornerback with offers from Ohio State, Notre Dame, Penn State, Michigan State, Michigan and Virginia Tech. Even though room in the Penn State recruiting class is getting tighter and tighter, the Nittany Lions have to be the assumed leaders here. Obviously, that won't keep the Ohio State coaches from pursuing, however.
Whitehead is the #18 corner overall per the 247Sports Composite. He finished with 73 tackles and 14 pass breakups a year ago.
A Pair of 2015 WRs Offered
The Buckeyes, ever in need of playmakers at receiver, tossed out a couple more offers to receivers last week. Four-star A.J. Alexander (Burke, VA) is a bigger receiver (6-4 220) who is somewhat reminiscent of 2014 signee Noah Brown.
Alexander doesn't have the best speed, but has the strength and size to make plays in traffic. He also holds offers from Penn State, Wisconsin, Miami (FL) and Navy.
St. Petersburg, Florida receiver Ryan Davis was also offered. Davis (5-11 167) is the #29 receiver in the nation per the 247Sports Composite, and has offers from Florida State, Arizona, Miami (FL), Michigan State and Nebraska. He is a dual-threat quarterback, but only a few schools are looking at him to play that position.
One of Nation's Top Linebackers Interested in Buckeyes
Among the normal deluge of offers handed out last week was one to linebacker Porter Gustin (6-5 240), out of Salem, Utah.
Gustin is the #4 outside linebacker in the nation per 247Sports, and holds offers from schools like USC, Florida State, Notre Dame and Nebraska.
Normally, the Ohio State coaching staff wouldn't put too much effort into a prospect this far away from Ohio, but Gustin certainly has interest, telling BuckeyeGrove.com that he definitely wants to visit Ohio State.
If the Buckeyes can get Gustin on campus things might get interesting. As of now, he's not expected to leave the west. As to what position he'll play, with his size, it's hard to imagine him not ending up at defensive end.
Two More 2016 Ohioans Offered
The Buckeyes have offered a third Ohio offensive lineman in the 2016 class, as Tyler Gerald (Portsmouth, OH) received an offer last week. Gerald (6-5 295) was recently offered by Virginia Tech, and already held offers from Toledo and Kent State.
If the Buckeyes can lock up the in-state offensive linemen whom they have already offered offensive line coach Ed Warinner would be absolutely thrilled. That group includes Liam Eichenberg (Cleveland, OH) and Tommy Kraemer (Cincinnati, OH), both of whom are very highly regarded. Eichenberg is already a five-star prospect in 247Sports's eyes, and Kraemer could be there eventually as well.
All three linemen are considered Ohio State leans at this point.
The Buckeyes also offered their second in-state running back last week. Demario Mccall (5-11 180) out of North Ridgeville joins Hubbard's George Hill as Buckeye State tailbacks with OSU offers.
McCall rushed for over 1,500 yards last season and also holds an offer from Pitt. Like Hill, McCall is a speedster who can easily gain the edge and then cutback to the open lane.
He is expected to attend an OSU summer camp in June.
Per Scout, there have been six 2016 Ohioans offered, and right now all six seemed to be favoring the Buckeyes. Each of them plays on the offensive side of the ball.
Tight end Jake Hausmann (6-5 235) Cincinnati Moeller
Tailback Demario McCall (5-11 180) North Ridgeville
Tailback George Hill (6-0 182) Hubbard
Offensive lineman Tommy Kraemer (6-5 305) Cincinnati Elder
Offensive lineman Liam Eichenberg (6-5 275) Cle St. Ignatius
Offensive lineman Tyler Gerald (6-5 300) Portsmouth Sciotoville
While the Buckeyes are still trying to lock up Ohio in 2015, a ton of progress has already been made on the 2016 class.
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