Tuesday was a good day for Dallas Gant, and also for Ohio State. Not only was it his birthday, but he gave his verbal commitment to the Buckeyes, adding to an already amazing 2018 recruiting class. With Gant’s commitment, the Buckeyes moved up to No. 2 in the 247Sports Team Rankings, despite having just 10 commitments.
Gant becomes the second commitment from the state of Ohio for the Buckeyes. They have now landed the No. 2 and No 4 players from the state so far. Gant joins 4-star running back/H-back Jaelen Gill in a class which is hoping to add in-state stars like offensive lineman Jackson Carman, receiver L’Christian Smith, and defensive end Tyreke Smith, along with others.
Everyone who put in a crystal ball projection for Gant had him headed to the Buckeyes over teams like Notre Dame, Michigan, and Michigan State. Gant wasted little time at the podium on Tuesday, picking up an Ohio State hat off the table and becoming the tenth member of the 2018 class.
What kind of impact will Gant’s commitment have on Ohio State now and moving forward?
Dallas Gant is a 6-foot-3 225-pound linebacker from Toledo, Ohio. He is ranked as the No. 5 outside linebacker in the 247Sports composite. Interestingly, he is the No. 1 outside linebacker in their own rankings. He is also Ohio’s No. 4 overall prospect according to the composite. Gant becomes the ninth member of OSU’s class to land inside the top 150 players in the rankings. A strong senior year at St. John’s Jesuit High School could see him vault himself up the rankings. Regardless, the Buckeyes are getting a great athlete at linebacker for the next three or four years.
Gant had 22 offers from the likes of Notre Dame, Michigan, Michigan State, and Penn State. It was thought that the Fighting Irish were the second team in this race. When it came down to it, however, the relationships that he built with Urban Meyer and linebacker coach Bill Davis were enough to keep Gant home in Ohio.
In terms of size and ability, Dallas Gant reminds me of recent NFL draftee Raekwon McMillan. On the field, however, Gant reminds me a lot of Darron Lee. While Lee was smaller in stature, he more than made up for it with his tenacity sideline to sideline. He was also routinely making the big play in the backfield. Lee wasn’t a blue-chip recruit coming out of New Albany. As a matter of fact, he was listed as an athlete or safety on the recruiting sites. However, he turned into one of the best Ohio State linebackers in recent memory with very strong redshirt freshman and sophomore seasons.
Gant comes in more highly-ranked than Lee, but I can see the similarities in terms of potential. I expect Gant will likely see time during his true freshman season, whereas Lee was not needed right away. Lee left Ohio State with 146 total tackles, including 11 sacks and three defensive touchdowns. That includes the big one against Michigan after J.T. Barrett left with a leg injury in 2014. Lee was also named the defensive MVP of the Sugar Bowl against Alabama when he had three tackles for loss and two quarterback sacks. If the Buckeyes can get another Darron Lee out of Dallas Gant, then consider that a big win.
With the addition of Baron Browning and Pete Werner last year, along with the hopes of landing Teradja Mitchell and possibly Michael Harris and Christopher Oats, the Buckeyes are keeping the strong linebacker tradition alive and well. Lee and McMillian proved that Meyer and Luke Fickell can develop linebacker talent for the next level. The development of players like Chris Worley and Jerome Baker confirm it even more. Together, they are showing that the Buckeyes have a strong focus on the middle of the defense.
Depending on what happens with the linebacking corps next year in terms of leaving early, Dallas Gant and the others who join him in this class will have the ability to come in and push for playing time early. Ohio State is expected to take three or four linebackers in this class. Landing Gant has gotten them off to a great start. A decision coming within the next couple of weeks from 5-star Teradja Mitchell could take the great start and make it phenomenal.
The Depth Chart
Dallas Gant steps into a possibly unique situation when he joins the team next year. The Buckeyes will have lost Chris Worley to eligibility and might lose Dante Booker and Jerome Baker to the NFL if both have successful seasons. That would leave Ohio State with no returning starters at linebacker and would allow for plenty of competition between guys who will have little-to-no playing time.
Gant has the ability to come in and break into the two-deep right away as he is planning on enrolling early. Even if Booker and Baker both return, there is still not a lot of experience from the remaining linebackers. Gant could certainly come into camp and move right up the depth chart if he can impress.
I mention it every time the Buckeyes land a commitment, but it is certainly crazy to watch how this staff is recruiting. No matter the attrition or the early entrants into the NFL, Ohio State is merely reloading every year. Other teams will have a down year or two because of down cycles in recruiting. We have seen nothing of that sort under Meyer’s watch, however.
Perhaps this is the start of a summer of big-time commitments for the Buckeyes. It could also start the carousel of Ohio kids committing to OSU. Last year was a down year in Ohio recruiting with only seven kids from the state committing to the Buckeyes. At the pace they are on this year, the number might actually be lower than that come February. The coaching staff knows Ohio is an important facet in recruiting and wants to land the top kids from the state every year. Securing a kid of Dallas Gant’s caliber and character from the state to go along with Jaelen Gill should help with guys like Jackson Carman and L’Christian Smith down the road.