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

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

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
POSITION NAME HOMETOWN CONFIDENCE (1-5)
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.

DEFENSIVE LINE

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.

LINEBACKER

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.

DEFENSIVE BACK

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
44 Comments

Comments

mh277907's picture

Birm - where do you think Hilliard ends up?

buckeyebobcat

+2 HS
Jeremy Birmingham's picture

I think Bama and Iowa are my biggest concerns at this time.

mh277907's picture

Damn... thanks Birm.

buckeyebobcat

-2 HS
Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

Where do you think this class ends up?  5-10?

+1 HS
BierStube's picture

EGW only a 3 ... I am assuming this is more related to the off the field issues than his desire to be a Buckeye

"No matter where you go, there you are." B. Banzai

+3 HS
Ahh Saturday's picture

That DL class would be outstanding!  I see you don't have a ton of confidence in the Beckner and Sweat picks, but that would be quite a coup to land them both.  Frankly, I'm just happy to hear the Buckeyes are at least back in the Beckner conversation.  The LB class looks good with or without Hilliard.  The DB class has me a little worried.  Wish your confidence in EGW was higher, but it is what it is.  Thanks for the fix, Birm. NOW WHEN IS THE NEXT COMMIT COMING? 

+1 HS
buckguyfan1's picture

Sounds good to me.

 

+2 HS
OSUpawn's picture

I keep hearing we are in a fight for Hilliard but don't hear many "quotes" from him.  Is he keeping his recruiting quiet?

I believe the SEC players put their pants on one leg at a time like we do.

Youngbuck85's picture

Hilliard is my favorite player In this class. Absolute must-get.  He will be the next shazier . 

+2 HS
NuttyBuckeye's picture

Agreed - losing him is a failed class in my opinion.  Also, we need Damien Harris!!

Marc Pocock (a.k.a NuttyBuckeye)

What's round on the ends and high in the middle? Tell me if you know!

+1 HS
jamesrbrown322's picture

I am worried about Hilliard, and think he's gone, but hey I hope I am wrong. With their depth at LB, and the other potential recruits, I don't think he's that much of a must get. Yes, he's in-state, so that would hurt, but the last 2 big name Ohio LBs to go out of state (Hicks and DePriest) have been okay, but not great on the collegiate level, despite the fact that we were all pissed at missing out on them, so who knows?

"I can accept failure, but I cannot accept not trying." - W.W. Hayes

Youngbuck85's picture

I kinda get the depriest / hicks feeling on him but I was glad to see he visited recently with Raekwon. I really think he's gonna be a special one id hate to lose out on him

Hayze's picture

While I love your predictions for our DL class and would gladly take all of them in open arms, we took 2 pure ends (Holmes and Slade) and another that could be end or tackle (Thompson). From your predictions I see Jones, Fullwood, and Sweat as pure ends, with Beckner as a possible end or tackle and Taylor as a pure tackle. I think we need at least two pure tackles in this class. Personally I'd like Talyor and Wilkins.

+1 HS
Ahh Saturday's picture

Btw, if Birm's predictions pan out, the Buckeyes will have landed 4 of the top 10 prospects from Virginia and only 2 of Ohio's top 10.

+1 HS
OSU069's picture

Damn that defense line haul would be sweet. That is at least two five stars in Beckner and Sweat. 

tussey's picture

If it shakes out this way, it would be a great class, but still a bummer to miss out on Hilliard.  

+1 HS
BukFan's picture

Whitehead is gonna pick PSU.   Imo

-2 HS
TheBadOwl's picture

Thought part of their sanctions limited their incoming classes to 15 per year?

When I walked in this morning and saw the flag was at half mast I thought, "Alright, another bureaucrat ate it." but then I saw it was Li'l Sebastian. Half mast is too high. Show some damn respect.

sb97's picture

Didn't that part of their sanction get lifted?

+1 HS
jamesrbrown322's picture

The way I understand it, with attrition, and the sanction changes they can take a normal class which will be around 23-25.

"I can accept failure, but I cannot accept not trying." - W.W. Hayes

+1 HS
BuckeyeNationforLife's picture

Pretty close with the GCL, especially Moeller and X. We will get Taylor and if I was a betting man, then I would put money on Hilliard too, I don't see him going elsewhere. Expect Jake Hausmann (2016) to come too.

+1 HS
allinosu's picture

I think Hilliard ends up at ND.

+2 HS
Crimson's picture

Any details you can share?  We all want Hilliard, and recruiting news is fairly pessimistic.

BuckeyeNationforLife's picture

Taylor is very impressed with the OSU, Notre Dame and Tennessee campuses but Urban is his favorite coach so far and OSU is his favorite by a solid amount. I would give him a 90-95% chance of coming to OSU, the other 10-5% being Tennessee. Hilliard is more perplexed obviously but he does like Urban a lot and I would probably put his odds at 70-75% for OSU 15-10% for ND and 5% for TTUN.

+1 HS
Groveport Heisman's picture

Those odds are very optimistic and a breathe of fresh air.I would be interested in paying you to read my palms and tell me my future.

Mark my words..I don't need acceptance. I'm catching interceptions on you innocent pedestrians.

+1 HS
allinosu's picture

Xavier is a catholic school with ties to Chicago. He is going to make a visit and like many in the past could end up there. ND has always had a strong presents in Cinn. Would not count them out.

+2 HS
BuckeyeNationforLife's picture

I'm not counting them out by any means but from what I've been hearing from some of the coaches in that program is that he is an OSU lean currently.

+1 HS
allinosu's picture

This spring a lot of our leans went elsewhere. I just felt that is his destiny. If his brother would have been a bigger talent maybe both. Iowa could get them both now. Don't see him going south. Of course he says his relationship with Urban is his best which gives us a punchers chance.

otrain2416's picture

One name me personally would like to see on there: Nick Conner 

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Great job Jeremy!  Thanks again for the latest recruiting insight!!  Can't wait to start seeing some gray boxes. 

Go Bucks!!

+1 HS
weimerad's picture

Very small DB class. Would like to see them get a couple bigger taller 6'1, 6'2 kids

osubuck57's picture

Love the list. No Picou or Wilkins?? :(

SCOTTC.

+1 HS
teddyballgame's picture

I would be okay with this.

Seattle Linga's picture

Once the train departs the station with recruit commits - it won't be stopping for a while

+1 HS
cinserious's picture

Seriously? McMillan, McMillion, and now McMillon all at linebacker?

No, really there is a glut of LBs for us to choose from in this class. I know its a longshot for the Buckeyes, but I bet Jeffery Holland will be the absolute BEAST out of all of them. If I could choose just one, it would be him not Hilliard.

Gone ham, be back soon...

Danify's picture

I selfishly want Anthony McKee (Slightly slower Ryan Shazier) and Nick Connor (Taller and Faster Chris Borland) on the list as LBs... but I would love Baker, DeBerry Jr. and Kilby-Lane.

Shangheyed's picture

22 spots... would be a great class,  Maybe a Juco TE Or added OL depth if the new OL recruits don't step up this year, they will need to as next year will lose most likely both starting Tackles and C.

Scarlet_Lutefisk's picture

No safeties?

What's your take on Quay Picou?

+1 HS
BroJim's picture

With this, where do you think the class finishes? What will be the rank?

I season my simple food with hunger

NuttyBuckeye's picture

Nobody has mentioned this, but with all the talent we are starting to gather at LB, I wonder if our coaches would (if the LBs can pick up the game) go 2-deep like we are on the D-line.  Any thoughts?

Marc Pocock (a.k.a NuttyBuckeye)

What's round on the ends and high in the middle? Tell me if you know!

Crimson's picture

I highly doubt it.  I don't think we have close to the depth that we need.  We might have two serviceable at every position (Perry and Johnson, Grant and McMillan, and Lee and Worley), but once you have an injury, you can't run it anymore.  The depth on the line is 3-4 bodies at each position.

Buckeye06's picture

Saw Sweat is now a 5* on Rivals.  They had this to say (OSU mention):

Sweat was extremely impressive at the RCS Baltimore-Washington D.C. and at other stops in the spring. There aren't many players in the country that can match up with his pure athletic talent and God-given ability. Now that Sweat has really filled out his frame and expanded his arsenal of pass rushing, there's no telling how good he could be. Sweat is hard to read when it comes to recruiting, but Virginia Tech has long been rumored to be the favorite with Ohio State also mentioned quite a bit. - Adam Friedman, Rivals.com Mid-Atlantic Recruiting Analyst

https://footballrecruiting.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=1642383