If the 2017 season is anything like the two seasons before it, the Buckeyes are going to have replace quite a few players on defense next year. One of the ways that they will do that is with the 2018 recruiting class. We have previously projected what the offensive side of the 2018 class could look like, so now it is time to give the same treatment to the defense. What does the future of the Silver Bullets look like? Maybe something like this.
Defensive End (2-3)
With the possible departure of Sam Hubbard, along with seniors Tyquan Lewis and Jalyn Holmes, the Buckeyes will have some spots to fill at defensive end going into 2018. Ohio State just put out an offer to 4-star Tyreke Smith (6-3 260) out of Cleveland Heights, and I think he will ultimately decide to stay home and play for the Buckeyes. Micah Parsons (6-3 235) is another one to watch closely. He has been committed to the Penn State Nittany Lions for almost a year, however he has been visiting Columbus quite a bit lately.
Some other names to keep an eye on are K.J. Henry (6-6 217) out of North Carolina and Greg Emerson (6-4 275) out of Tennessee. While both of those will be tough pulls from the south, they will surely try to land one of the two. One player without an offer is Ohio’s Malik Vann (6-2 243) out of Fairfield, Ohio. If the Buckeyes decide to offer I would expect them to be right in the thick of it.
Prediction: Tyreke Smith, Micah Parsons, Malik Vann
Defensive Tackle (2-3)
Again the Buckeyes will lose two seniors off the roster and will look to replace them through recruiting. Adding two in the recruiting cycle of 2017 will help, but they are still looking for that difference maker up front. Enter Taron Vincent (6-2 285), the No. 1 defensive tackle prospect in the class of 2018. He currently attends the IMG Academy and has had Ohio State as his leader for quite some time. While I don’t expect a commitment any time soon, I do expect him to select the Buckeyes when all is said and done. Add in Aeneas Hawkins (6-3 265) out of Cincinnati, Ohio, who is being recruited nationally, and the Buckeyes might be set at defensive tackle. They will surely chase guys like Austin Fontaine (6-3 312) out of Maryland and a few others until the end as well.
Prediction: Taron Vincent, Aeneas Hawkins
Ohio State landed two stellar recruits at linebacker in 2017 in Baron Browning and Pete Werner and will look to do the same in 2018. There are a couple of national names that Buckeye fans should be familiar with in Palaie Gaoteote (6-2 220) out of Bishop Gorman High School in Nevada and Teradja Mitchell (6-2 232) out of Virginia. Gaoteote has been high on Ohio State for a while now and having two teammates (Tate Martell, Haskell Garrett) join the Buckeyes will only help. Mitchell is a 5-star that has a 100% crystal ball projection to Florida State, so him being included is not likely. Two more likely candidates are Dallas Gant (6-3 201) and Christopher Oats (6-4 215), both from the state of Ohio. Both have Ohio State offers and both are crystal ball projected 100% to Ohio State which is where I think they will land.
Projection: Palaie Gaoteote, Dallas Gant, Christopher Oats
Here is where the projecting gets a little harder, as Ohio State may only lose Kendall Sheffield after his one season at Ohio State, and there is a ton of talent that was just recruited to play cornerback in the class of 2017. The Buckeyes will still likely want to sign a couple of corners in this class and some names to look out for are Anthony Cook (6-1 168), a 5-star out of Texas and Derrik Allen (6-1 205) a 5-star out of Georgia. Nabbing either of those two is going to be tough, but Allen has that Georgia connection and the Buckeyes have done really well down there recently. Houston Griffith is another name to keep an eye on. He is the son of Big Ten Network Analyst Howard Griffith (6-0 180) and is also down at the IMG Academy for his senior season.
Projection: Derrik Allen, Houston Griffith
The Buckeyes will lose Erick Smith and Damon Webb next season leaving them with only three safeties on the roster unless some of the cornerbacks change positions. Thus the Buckeyes will certainly be on the hunt for a couple of quality kids to get into the system. Leading the pack would be Jaiden Woodbey (6-2 205) out of St. John Bosco in California. Woodbey finally made it to campus last week for Junior Day and had a great time. I believe the Buckeyes lead for his services, and they will have to hold off USC to land him.
A name most people probably haven’t heard of yet is Amari Burney (6-2 205) out of Florida. He received his offer in October of last year and is very high on Ohio State. He will announce his commitment June 1. Two of the most recent offers are Gurvan Hall (6-1 185) and Shayne Simon (6-3 195). Hall is from Palm Beach Florida, while Simon hails from New Jersey. Hall’s recruitment has blown up recently as he is up to 29 offers already.
Projection: Jaiden Woodbey
So, there you have the way too early look at 2018 and who I believe would be Buckeyes if signing day was today. We can have some fun with this in a year and look back and see how wrong I was on all of these selections, or hopefully for Buckeye fans, look back and see how right I was.