Perhaps no position on the Ohio State roster is as thin as linebacker. Ryan Shazier remains the man in the middle, but gone is Zach Boren, Etienne Sabino and Storm Klein. If you happen to be a high school linebacker with good size and a great 40, playing time at Ohio State is there for the taking.
On Friday night, the Buckeyes landed a nationally televised commitment from Trey Johnson, a consensus top-three inside linebacker. At the US Army All-American Bowl Saturday afternoon, Ohio State has a great chance to snag Mike Mitchell, a top-10 outside linebacker.
Mitchell, now living in Texas, grew up in Florida a fan of Urban Meyer. So when Ohio State started recruiting Mitchell, it was a no-brainer for the 6-foot-4, 235-pound linebacker to recipricate the interest.
Even before his December visit, it was widely known that Mitchell considered Ohio State his No. 1 choice. Traveling to Columbus only solidified that.
“I felt good there,” Mitchell said. “I’ve had a really good relationship with Coach Meyer and everybody else there. I feel I can compete for playing time this year because they’re thin at linebacker.”
Despite living in Texas, Mitchell’s ties to the state are few and far between, which is why Texas A&M isn’t more seriously in play. Because Mitchell moved to the Lone Star State, staying ‘home’ isn’t a huge factor.
A teammate of Mitchell’s this week on the West team is running back Ezekiel Elliott. The longtime Ohio State commit has been spending time in the backfield as well as at wide receiver. His athleticism has given defenders fits in practice, including Mitchell and one-time Ohio State target and Notre Dame commit Jaylon Smith.
Elliott, a two-time all-state selection in Missouri, amassed more than 3,000 all-purpose yards this past season and could provide the OSU offense with a Percy Harvin-type versatility. It’s a characteristic Meyer has been searching for since he arrived in Columbus.
The running back position is deep, but Elliott could see playing time this season simply because he offers so many skills. His size and speed could place him as a kick returner.
Saturday night, once the Under Armour game and U.S. Army games are history, Ohio State's coaches will gather around a table in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center and may engage in a bit of celebrating. A top-5 class will likely rise to the No. 2 or 3 spot depending on what wide receiver James Quick decides to do. One thing is all but certain, linebacker will go from worry to help is on the way.