COLUMBUS, Ohio — You may have already heard, but the Buckeyes got the July 4th fireworks started a couple of days early with Wednesday's commitments of five-star prospects Justin Hilliard and Jashon Cornell.
Sunday Recruiting Rundown — July 6
By Tony Gerdeman
Hilliard (6-2 230) is one of the nation's best linebackers and was pretty much a must-get for Ohio State in the 2015 recruiting class. You never want to let the best in your state leave, especially when the best in the state is also the best in the nation.
The Buckeyes will look for Hilliard to play the Will linebacker spot, which is essentially an inside linebacker spot anymore in the OSU defense.
Cornell (6-3 265) brings versatility to the recruiting class, as he could stay at defensive end or grow into a defensive tackle. Given that the Buckeyes will be starting a pair of former defensive ends at defensive tackle this season, I don't think they care one way or the other where Cornell ends up.
After all, you don't think Urban Meyer and Larry Johnson are upset that Michael Bennett is no longer a defensive end, do you?
What's on the (Defensive) Line?
The Buckeyes now have twelve commits in the 2015 class and seven of them are on the defensive side of the ball. Like Cornell, Dre'Mont Jones (6-5 250) could possibly end up on the inside. They will continue to pursue five-star defensive end Josh Sweat (6-5 240) until the very end.
Barring anybody leaving early for the NFL, or any recent arrestees being booted, Ohio State will only be losing Michael Bennett and Steve Miller from the defensive line to graduation, so it's not like they need to bring in five or six players on the front four.
Sweat would appear to be the last defensive end they'll be looking at, unless five-star linebacker/defensive end Ricky DeBerry (6-2 240) wants to be a Buckeye, and then they'll probably make room for him.
Of course, there is the possibility of a spot late in the class that opens up for whatever reason and the staff takes on an athletic pass rusher like Darius Slade in 2014.
The Buckeye staff would still like to land a true defensive tackle in this class, and the two best that OSU is still in on are Christian Wilkins (6-4 290) out of Connecticut and Neville Gallimore (6-3 300) out of Canada.
No, Canada and Connecticut are not your standard defensive tackle hotbeds, but the good news for the Buckeyes is that there are no threats from home-state schools for either player.
Wilkins is ranked the #7 tackle in the nation per Rivals, and has offers from Ohio State, Alabama, Clemson, Florida State and Stanford. The 247Sports Crystal Ball has 92% of the predictions pointing at the Buckeyes, but Wilkins maintains a high level of radio silence, so those predictions could be way off base.
Gallimore is a player who shot up some recruiting rankings following the summer camp circuit. 247Sports has him as their #33 player in the nation overall. He is quick, fast (4.72 40-yard dash) and athletic, which is why he is still playing defensive end in high school.
He has offers from OSU, Florida State, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Michigan State and a dozen others. The Buckeyes are in the mix here, but so are the Sooners and Spartans and a few others.
Closing at The Opening?
Nike's football camp The Opening gets started on Monday, with the televised portions on ESPNU starting Tuesday. Once the broadcast gets started, there will also be some commitments that come with it over the next few days. One of those commitments is Buckeye target Andre James (6-5 275), an offensive lineman out of Utah.
James is a four-star prospect and the #18 offensive tackle in the nation per the 247Sports Composite ranking. He will be choosing between Ohio State, Oregon, USC, UCLA, Oklahoma and Utah.
While James continues to tell people that the Buckeyes are very much in the mix, it would be a slight surprise if he ends up choosing Ohio State.
The Buckeyes already have a pair of offensive tackles committed in Kevin Feder (6-9 305) and Grant Schmidt (6-6 275), and are still after more in James and Drew Richmond (6-5 320) out of Memphis.
Obviously, players projected to play tackle end up at guard all of the time, so don't get too hung up on positions right now. The Buckeyes are still very much involved with Matthew Burrell (6-5 290) out of Virginia as well.
Speaking of The Opening
The Buckeyes will have three commits participating at The Opening in safety Tyler Green, linebacker Justin Hilliard and defensive end Jashon Cornell.
There will also be a number of OSU targets on the field. Along with the aforementioned Andre James, fellow recruits Marcus Lewis (cornerback), Torrance Gibson (quarterback), Josh Sweat (defensive end), Will Sunderland (safety), Matthew Burrell (offensive line), Damien Harris (running back), Van Jefferson (receiver), Drew Richmond (offensive line), Mike Weber (running back), Christian Kirk (receiver), and a handful of others will be a part of the festivities.
They Call Him Bruce
Sam Bruce (5-8 160), a 2016 wide receiver out of St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, Florida will be making his college announcement on Tuesday, July 8. He is down to a final three of Florida State, Miami and Ohio State.
Despite his diminutive size, Bruce is the #7 receiver in the nation per both 247Sports and Scout. He is explosive and his quickness is his best attribute.
Even though the Buckeyes are in his top three, it would be a surprise if they were the selection on Tuesday.
A Baker's Dozen?
Even if the Buckeyes miss out on Andre James and Sam Bruce, the week should still be a good one as Cleveland Benedictine athlete Jerome Baker (6-1 205) announces his decision on Friday July 11.
Ohio State is expected to land Baker, which would give them 13 commitments in the class of 2015, as well as one of the best linebacker hauls in the nation.
Baker is an athletic linebacker who routinely runs in the 4.5s, and he is also an outstanding running back. The Buckeyes think he is perfectly suited to be a future walk-out linebacker for them down the road.
If they to get a commitment from Baker, that would give them a linebacker class of him, Justin Hilliard and Nick Conner. Conner could easily project to middle linebacker, with Hilliard at the Will and Baker at the Sam. Anything beyond that would be gravy, which they may not have room for.
Donate by Check :
1380 King Avenue
Columbus, Ohio 43212
Help us bring you more Buckeye coverage. Donate to the-Ozone.
Click here to email this the-Ozone feature to a friend...or even a foe.
(c) 2014 The O-Zone, O-Zone Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, rebroadcast,rewritten, or redistributed.