Football Recruiting

Cotton Bowl Was Ohio State’s Best Defensive End Recruiting Pitch Possible


The second signing period of 2018 doesn’t get here until the first Wednesday in February, but this past Friday night, Ohio State made its best sales pitch to defensive end recruits Tyreke Smith and Jayson Oweh, and anybody else who was watching.

The Buckeye defense sacked USC quarterback Sam Darnold eight times. Seven of those sacks were by five different defensive ends, and three of them will be playing in the NFL next season.

There is an open and inviting landscape for pass rushers at Ohio State and defensive line coach Larry Johnson has no qualms about playing as many as he can — no matter how young they may be. In each of the past two years, freshmen have been able to play alongside talented upperclassmen, which should be a blazing signal fire to the 2018 defensive end targets still on OSU’s radar.

Tyreke Smith is the best defensive end in Ohio. A 4-star prospect and the No. 4 weakside defensive end in the nation per the 247Sports Composite, he is reportedly down to Ohio State and Penn State, but even before the Cotton Bowl, the Buckeyes felt very good about their situation.

Oweh, meanwhile, is the No. 6 strong side defensive end in the nation. Out of Blairstown, New Jersey, Oweh is believed to be down to Ohio State and Penn State, with PSU trending up.

Both prospects would be welcome additions in a class that Urban Meyer says currently has about two spots left.

The Aftermath

Walking off the AT&T Stadium Field, in talking about his Rushmen, Johnson smiled and said, “That’s what it’s all about.”

At a place as storied as Ohio State — Heisman winners; running back legacies; a linebacker history like few others; cornerbacks like perhaps no other, it was the defensive line that won the Cotton Bowl, and it was the Buckeye defensive ends who made it happen.

The Rushmen have been talked about all season. Four talented defensive ends who rotate, but then on passing downs will line up together. For a pass-rushing recruit, there isn’t much else you need to say. There is playing time available because passing downs are only increasing.

OSU may not yet have a defensive end in their 2018 signing class – Alex Williams could start out on offense — but it is difficult to imagine a better place to play if you’re a pass rusher.

True freshman Chase Young came to Ohio State with five defensive ends in front of him – four of whom were sure-fire NFL players. And yet, because he was good enough to play, he was in the game against USC, terrorizing and sacking a future first-round NFL Draft pick at the end of the game.

But it’s not just that he was “good enough to play.” Young didn’t just show up and he was suddenly capable of playing like that. He was obviously very good, but he was also taught by – as Urban Meyer says – the best defensive line coach in the United States. There’s a reason why at least one other school was trying to convince recruits that Larry Johnson was retiring.

Two weeks ago, Johnson shot down those rumors. And this past weekend, he just made the best recruiting pitch to a defensive end that you are ever going to see.

There is still over a month to go until the next signing day, but on Friday night in the Cotton Bowl against USC, the Ohio State coaches made their last best pitch to both Oweh and Smith. The pitch? If you come to OSU, you will get after the quarterback as soon as you are ready, and Larry Johnson will get you ready sooner than anybody else.

If you are a defensive end and this game wasn’t enough to convince you of that, nothing else will.


6 Responses

  1. How about we recruit guys who are interested in an education and becoming part of the great Ohio State tradition instead of those who only see OSU as a stepping stone to NFL money. Hate to see Urban emphasize that so much. That’s not the reason I loved the university and the Buckeyes all of these decades, so I could brag to SEC fans about who has the most draft picks. But I guess if he only wants five star NFL apprentices who will leave after a couple years and skip the bowl game then that’s what we’ll increasingly get. I’m glad these guys have stuck around for the team and matured a little more in the process, not to mention getting their degree.

    1. Most wind up finishing their degree’s anyway? Heck, just think if the NFL hadn’t pushed for 3 years removed! Just like basketball many would enter the draft after 1 year in this day and age. Lets see? After 3 years I can go make potentially millions AND return and get my degree at my leisure, or stay and possibly lose an opportunity to get paid in the future. It’s a no brainer. We’re only fooling ourselves if we think for an instant that top recruits enter college without an eye on the next level. About the only guys who don’t usually see that are walk-ons.

    2. They tried that. Fans weren’t happy and then the school forced the coach who did this to resign. Now this is what we have and it isn’t changing

  2. Congrats to Coach Johnson – he deserves all the credit! He’s a class act that works hard to grow young men into responsible adults. He’s also a team guy – and life is a team sport!

    Thanks Coach Johnson for all you do.

  3. Only fools could not come to C-Bus!!

  4. One of three great coaches on the Buckeye Staff (not counting the staff who prepare films in support). Coombs, Johnson and Drayton. The rest either need to step up their teaching or find a new home.

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