We're continuing with our series of checking out Ohio State's top targets in some of the key states for 2015 recruiting. We've already looked at Ohio, Florida, and Maryland/DC. Today, we're going to stay on the east coast and take a look at the top targets in Virginia.
Virginia is loaded with top talent and is a great place for Ohio State to cherry pick recruits. Like Maryland, the in-state programs haven't been competing or recruiting at an elite level for a few years now, so there is a great opportunity for the Buckeyes to establish themselves here. Additionally, Virginia is one of Big Ten Recruiter-of-the-Year Zach Smith's target areas. The Buckeyes have had some recent success recruiting Virginia - landing Jalyn Holmes while being in the final running for Derrick Nnadi and Derrick Green.
This year could be the year that the Buckeyes break through and make inroads in Virginia. In fact, Ohio State has a pretty good shot with each of the top four players in the state, all of whom are top 100 players nationally. So let's get to it, these are Ohio State's top targets in Virginia for 2015.
Tim Settle / MANASSAS / DT
Settle is the biggest target for Ohio State in the Commonwealth (both literally and figuratively). After not recruiting defensive tackles last year, the coaching staff would like to sign a couple in the 2015 class, and Settle is one of the best in the country. As you would expect from a prospect of his caliber, Settle is being recruited by everyone and has over 30 offers.
Settle has visited the in-state Virginia Cavaliers six times already and named them his leaders last summer. Things have changed though as Settle has received more national attention and no longer names a leader. Thus far he has visited Ohio State once, while attending the NFTC camp in Columbus with Da'Shawn Hand. Mike Vrabel's departure hurt Ohio State a bit with Settle, but Larry Johnson and Zach Smith have picked up the slack for him.
In December, Settle told Cleveland.com "I love Ohio State, and I have to get back up there... I just have to keep in touch with them. I don’t want to go into a period where we stop talking for a while, because then I’ll start to lose interest."
Things have slowed down between Settle and Ohio State though, as he told Land-Grant Holy Land in January that he hadn't talked with Ohio State in a while. In fairness, Settle said that the winter was pretty slow for him in recruiting, but things have picked up in the spring. He plans on releasing a Top 10 list this summer, which Ohio State should be on. Then he's planning on making visits to his favorite schools and cutting down his list until he makes a decision in the late fall/early winter.
Right now, Settle is playing things pretty close to the vest but his recruitment has shaped up into an Ohio State-Virginia-Alabama battle for the most part. The Buckeyes will have their opportunity to wow Settle this summer or fall and they will have to take advantage of it. Right now I would lean towards Settle staying home or playing for Saban, but the Buckeyes are right there in the mix for his services.
RICKY DEBERRY / Richmond / DE-OLB
DeBerry has a monster offer list, now with over 50 offers including LSU, Florida, Clemson, Michigan State, Baylor, USC and many others. One of the biggest advantages the Buckeyes have is DeBerry's relationship with Larry Johnson. DeBerry has been close with Johnson for a long time, going back to Johnson's time at Penn State. DeBerry is also close with Zach Smith, who's done a phenomenal job in this region.
Ricky planned to visit Ohio State a few weeks ago, but rescheduled due to Urban Meyer being out of town. Still, DeBerry really wants to make the visit to Ohio State and he will probably be making that visit in the upcoming months. Ricky and his family have placed high importance on academics, as well as a relationship with the coaching staff.
At this point, things are wide open for DeBerry and Ohio State is very much in the running, along with Oklahoma, Tennessee, Florida, Virginia Tech, Michigan State and others.
The Buckeyes are currently recruiting him as an outside linebacker, but he could easily convert into a weak-side defensive end ala Jamal Marcus.
Josh sweat / Chesapeake / WDE
Sweat is a freak athlete - he ran a 4.59 forty and posted a 35.5-inch vertical en route to recording the highest SPARQ score this year (128.31) at the Nike Combine in Charlotte a couple of weeks ago. At 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, he has a good frame for a weak-side defensive end that he will continue to fill out. He's actually quite similar to Noah Spence at this point - long, athletic and deceptively strong despite his lean build.
Things are wide open for Sweat, who has not taken any visits yet, but he says that he talks with Florida, Virginia Tech, Tennessee and Ohio State the most. Sweat definitely plans to visit those four schools, along with Florida State. One factor in the Buckeyes favor is that Sweat says distance will not be a factor. Sweat has a great relationship with Zach Smith and Larry Johnson is recruiting him as well. There are several other defensive ends Ohio State is recruiting, but Sweat is elite and there is a good bit of mutual interest. We'll have to wait and see if Sweat makes the visit to Columbus - if he does, Ohio State may have a better shot of landing him than most realize.
Matthew Burrell / Woodbridge / OT
Offensive line recruiting is always a priority and Burrell is one the Buckeyes are chasing hard after. Continuing a recurring theme, Burrell has a great relationship with Zach Smith. He has ideal size for a tackle (6-foot-6, 290 lbs) and moves really well for a big fellow. He has a mean streak and attacks defenders at the line of scrimmage, finishing his blocks well.
He's one of the staff's priorities on the offensive line and he is very interested in Ohio State. Still, the competition for Burrell is going to be strong. Alabama, Florida State, Florida, Notre Dame and South Carolina would love to have him as well. Expect him to make an official visit to Ohio State some time this fall.
Darrell taylor / Hopewell / ATH
Taylor is a player who has been picking up a lot of steam recently, in fact all seven of his offers have come since January. Ohio State has not offered him, but he says that the Buckeyes are one of the schools that are recruiting him the hardest, along with Virginia and Virginia Tech. Ohio State is recruiting him as either a tight end or a defensive end/linebacker hybrid and an offer could be in the works soon.
He has almost exactly the same build and speed as Sweat, listed at 6-foot-4 and 220 lbs. while running a 4.60 forty. Taylor is a guy who I wouldn't be surprised to see blow up nationally, and Ohio State has put themselves in a good position moving forward by getting in on him early.
OTHER NAMES TO KNOW
Austin Clark / Rockbridge County / OT / HIGHLIGHTS
Clelin Ferrell / Richmond / DE / HIGHLIGHTS
Garrett Taylor / Richmond / CB / HIGHLIGHTS
Jahvonni Simmons / Virginia Beach / LB / HIGHLIGHTS
AJ Turner / Clifton / S / HIGHLIGHTS
Jaason Lewis / Virginia Beach / ATH / HIGHLIGHTS