The Buckeyes got a bit of a surprise Thursday night when 4-star defensive end Andrew Chatfield out of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida committed to Ohio State. The Buckeyes did not offer Chatfield until two weeks ago, so this recruitment escalated quickly. He has seen Columbus already, as he and teammates Tyson Campbell and Patrick Surtain Jr. visited for the Spring Game. He becomes the 11th commitment in the class of 2018, and will certainly help with the aforementioned Campbell, as he is considered a big target for the Buckeyes at defensive back.
What kind of impact will Chatfield’s commitment have on Ohio State now and moving forward?
Chatfield is a 6-foot-2 221-pound weak-side defensive end from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. He is ranked as the No. 15 WDE in the class of 2018 and is the No. 49 overall prospect from the state of Florida. He joins Ohio State as the lowest-ranked member of the class. However, all 11 commitments rank inside the 247Sports composite top 300 players.
Chatfield was a supposed heavy lean to LSU early as he was 100% crystal ball projected there only a few short days ago. He selected the Buckeyes over offers from LSU, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Oklahoma and others. While he didn’t have any offers from in-state schools Florida, Florida State or Miami, those teams are likely going to try and get involved now.
My compatriot Tony Gerdeman compared him to sophomore defensive end Jonathon Cooper, who was a member of the 2016 recruiting class. Cooper was also a bit undersized at 6-foot-2 234-pounds coming out of high school, however he has added about 15 pounds in the program and looks to be a contributor this season.
While we have only seen flashes of play from Cooper on the field, he came in as a highly-ranked recruit for Ohio State. He played in six games last year as a true freshman, notching six tackles and one sack on the season. Chatfield could follow the same path as Cooper, however, I don’t see him getting on the field quite so soon. With the Buckeyes set to lose so many off the line over the next few seasons, he will certainly have the chance to make an impact down the line.
I mentioned this when I wrote the Brenton Cox piece back in April, but the Buckeyes are recruiting defensive linemen much like they did defensive backs last year. Chatfield joins Cox on the outside, however I can see a transition to linebacker due to his size. If he does remain on the defensive line, he is going to be a match-up nightmare for opposing offensive lines. He finished his junior season with 85 tackles and 24.5 sacks last year, garnering the 2016 Sun Sentinel’s Defensive Player of the Year honors.
You might ask how this affects the recruitment of 5-star Micah Parsons and 4-star Tyreke Smith. In my personal opinion it doesn’t affect either at all. The Buckeyes are poised to lose some significant talent over the next two seasons along the front, and replacing it with top-tier talent like Chatfield and Cox is going to be very important.
The Depth Chart
With seniors Tyquan Lewis and Jayln Holmes done after this season, along with likely early entrant Sam Hubbard, the Buckeyes are certainly looking to add some depth at defensive end. Defensive line coach Larry Johnson was down in Florida last week watching the spring game at American Heritage and came away impressed enough to offer.
While I don’t see Chatfield hitting the field early for the Buckeyes due to his size, he has the potential to grow into a solid linebacker or defensive end. He joins 5-star defensive tackle Taron Vincent and 4-star defensive end Brenton Cox in an already elite defensive line class. The Buckeyes could still add Micah Parsons out of Pennsylvania, as well as Tyreke Smith out of Cleveland. The thought of those guys along with Chase Young and Haskell Garrett from last year’s class is certainly going to be fun to watch.
With the commitment, the Buckeyes moved back to the No. 2 class in the country and the No. 1 class in the Big Ten. Ohio State is recruiting at a completely unseen level under Urban Meyer. If the defensive line for the Buckeyes includes the guys listed above for the next three to four years, then I feel sorry for the opposing offensive lines that have to try and contain them. It will be no easy task to try and keep their quarterbacks upright.
The Buckeye defense is certainly becoming a very strong unit, as the defensive back class of 2017 looks to join an equally strong defensive line and linebacking class in 2018. If the Buckeyes land Teradja Mitchell tonight to join Dallas Gant at linebacker, and nab Parsons and/or Smith as well, then this class will be outright nasty.