Predicting the Defensive Side of the Ball for Ohio State's 2015 Class

By Jeremy Birmingham on May 13, 2014 at 3:00p

Last Tuesday night, we ventured a look into how Ohio State's currently struggling 2015 recruiting class could finish up. As a reminder, let's review how the offensive board could trend.

2015 Predictions - May 2014
QB Torrance Gibson Ft. Lauderdale, Florida 4
RB Damien Harris Berea, Kentucky 4
WR Christian Kirk Scottsdale, Arizona 4
WR Van Jefferson Brentwood, Tennessee 3
WR  JF Thomas Dallas, Texas 3
TE Hale Hentges Jefferson City, Missouri 3
OL James Daniels Warren, Ohio 4
OL Rob Dowdy Westerville, Ohio 2
OL Austin Clark Lexington, Virginia 3
OL Matthew Burrell Woodbridge, Virginia 4

This evening, we'll comb through the overload of recruiting tea leaves in order to similarly prognosticate defensive possibilities. We'll get started along the defensive line where Ohio State could take anywhere between three and four players, but I expect closer to the higher end.


Ohio State sits in excellent shape for a couple of Ohio's best lineman and that's where I think things will really start to take shape for the Buckeyes, and it could be soon for each of them. Cleveland St. Ignatius defensive end Dre'Mont Jones and Cincinnati Moeller defensive tackle Elijah Taylor are a terrific one-two punch within the Buckeye state and as of right now, I have them both "in" for Ohio State's 2015 class. Admittedly, my confidence is higher with Jones than Taylor, but Ohio State has made Taylor a priority and I think they've made a bigger than expected impact on him. Michigan is the biggest threat for Jones and it's Notre Dame, as expected, for Taylor.

After the in-state pair, things get a bit murky along the defensive front four. There are a number of high-profile targets with Buckeye offers and an indeterminate amount of interest in Ohio State. Among those two, two names I keep hearing as "better than expected probabilities" are Virginia's Josh Sweat and Connecticut defensive tackle Christian Wilkins. The Buckeyes have been the proclaimed leader for Olney, Maryland's Darius Fullwood and it seems they remain in the drivers seat for his services as of now, with a potential decision coming soon. Of course, the Buckeyes also recently hosted Tennessee four-star Kyle Phillips, will host East St. Louis standout Terry Beckner, Jr at the end of May, and could become a threat to land any number of other players nationally as the summer unfolds. Ohio State was once the biggest threat for Beckner, but that's cooled significantly over the last year; can they reignite that spark during his NFTC-days-visit? I think so. Buford, Georgia's Quay Picou, who transferred from Cincinnati Moeller to Buford early in his school career, is a name that bears some watching. Is he this year's Poona Ford? 

For now, I think the Buckeyes take a total of five defensive lineman, and it's got the potential to be a really special group.

Prediction: Dre'Mont Jones, Elijah Taylor, Darius Fullwood, Josh Sweat and Terry Beckner, Jr.


After a dynamite haul at linebacker in the 2014 class, Ohio State is hoping to get right back at it in 2015 and once again the state of Ohio has a couple cornerstone pieces where they'd love to start. Cleveland Benedictine two-way star Jerome Baker has been told Ohio State would like to start him at linebacker, so that's where we'll include him in our projections. Ohio State's been fighting off a number of targets for Baker, but lately it's a couple SEC foes in Tennessee and Florida who have emerged as the greatest challengers. Justin Hilliard, Cincinnati St. Xavier's five-star linebacker, will be one of the 2015 cycle's most interesting recruitments to watch until signing day. Ohio State is working tirelessly to land Hilliard, but Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Iowa, Alabama and well, basically everyone, has a dog in that hunt. 

Outside of the state, the Buckeyes remain in excellent position to land Hallandale, Florida's Sh'mar Kilby-Lane, and I think they'll fend off Florida State and Alabama for his signature come February. Richmond, Virginia's Ricky DeBerry, Jr., visited Ohio State in mid-April and the Buckeyes made a big impression on him and his family, moving them way up his list. If Ohio State wants him at linebacker, which is somewhat up in the air, I think they could land him, and he's versatile enough to play the strong-side, the middle or even drop down to become a 4-3 defensive end. There are literally dozens of options that Ohio State is pursuing, including Memphis, Tennessee's Josh McMillon, Trinity Christian Academy (Jacksonville, Fla.) wrecking ball Jeffery Holland,  and of course un-offered Ohioans Nick Conner and Anthony McKee, among others.

Prediction: Jerome Baker, Sh'Mar Kilby-Lane and Ricky DeBerry, Jr.


The Buckeyes, as I see it, currently have two committed prospects for 2015 at this position. Eric Glover-Williams, Ohio State's first commitment for 2015, could end up on offense or defense but I think a deep roster on offense will give him his first shot to make an impact at defensive back. Cocoa, Florida's Jamel Dean is the second Buckeye commitment for 2015 and the second cornerback as the class is currently comprised. Dean is perpetually undervalued by analysts and "experts" alike, but at 6-foot-1, 180-pounds and blazing speed (he ran a 10.8 in the 100-meter-dash in March, just six months after surgery repaired a torn ACL), Dean is a player — and a student-athlete — that Ohio State fans should be excited for.

One other cornerback that has my eye right now is Nordonia, Ohio's Denzel Ward. Perhaps the fastest player in Ohio, Ward is a bit of a sleeper currently, but if he comes to Ohio State and camps — which he says he will do — he could turn a lot of heads, especially if he's in the 4.3 range in the 40-yard-dash as he's known to do. With a player like Ward, it's all about exposure and consistency, and if he's able to show out in front of the Buckeyes' coaches, he could find his way into the 2015 class.

This coming weekend, Ohio State will once again host Monaca, Pennsylvania defensive back Jordan Whitehead. The Buckeyes were at one time a favorite to land Whitehead, but a couple of "cool" months has left them with some work to do. The 18th-ranked cornerback in the country, Whitehead is still heavily considering West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Penn State and Ohio State.

At safety, the Buckeyes thought they had their man in Jacksonville's Ben Edwards, but the three-star, who committed to Ohio State in February, flipped to Auburn after a visit in mid-April. Any number of players that have Buckeye offers could become serious contenders to fill this spot if Ohio State pursues them aggressively.  Beyond Edwards, who the Buckeyes are no doubt still recruiting, there are a handful of names worth watching a bit more closely than others. Those include Pulaski, Tennessee's Cameron Ordway, Miramar, Florida's talented teammates, Kendrell McFadden and Tyrek Cole, committed to West Virginia and Florida State respectively; and a number of others in Florida and throughout the country.

Predictions: Eric Glover-Williams, Jamel Dean, Jordan Whitehead and Denzel Ward.

2015 Predictions - May 2014
Position Name hometown confidence
DE Dre'Mont Jones Cleveland, Ohio 5
DE  Darius Fullwood Olney, Maryland 3
DE Josh Sweat Chesapeake, Virginia 2
DT Elijah Taylor Cincinnati, Ohio 4
DT Terry Beckner, Jr. East St. Louis, Illinois 2
LB Jerome Baker Cleveland, Ohio 5
LB Sh'Mar Kilby-Lane Hallandale, Florida 5
LB Ricky DeBerry, Jr. Richmond, Virginia 3
DB Eric Glover-Williams Canton, Ohio 3
DB Jamel Dean Cocoa, Florida 5
DB Jordan Whitehead Monaca, Pennsylvania 3
DB Denzel Ward Nordonia, Ohio 2
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