Brendan Ferns, Jonathon Cooper, Ethan Tucky Lead Strong 2016 Defensive Group

By Jeremy Birmingham on June 10, 2014 at 3:10p

Towards the end of April we took our first look at what could be is a loaded 2016 recruiting class in the state of Ohio. In that story we introduced a few key names to watch on the offensive side of things and today we're flipping the script and peeping the scene on defense.  It's a very strong class with a lot of players who will likely end up very high on Ohio State's radar, so let's not waste time chatting.


When it comes to athletes in 2016, there may not be a better one than Rutherford B. Hayes standout Ethan Tucky. Eleven Warriors first profiled the 6-foot-3, 220 pounder here, and since that time it's more and more clear how rare of an athlete he is. Last weekend, Tucky ran the 100-meter-dash in 10.9 seconds, a ridiculous time for a 16-year-old his size. He's recently named a top three schools that include Ohio State, Notre Dame and Michigan State, where he camped this past weekend. 


Despite just learning the position (Tucky has played defensive end most of the time in high school) he's a high-major prospect with elite level athleticism that will translate very well to linebacker. He'll camp at Illinois this weekend and Ohio State on June 21st, and while I don't think he'll get an offer that day, it's a matter of when — not if — the Buckeyes make him an offer. When that happens, expect him to be a Buckeye soon thereafter.


Gahanna Lincoln's Jonathon Cooper is going to be a major name on the recruiting scene over the next two years and it's well-deserved. He's camped at Ohio State twice this June (Once for the NFTC and once for Ohio State's one-day camp) and has been impressive on each occasion. He's built similarly to Tucky, standing 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds now, but has the frame to easily get to 245-pounds and maintain his speed. At Ohio State this past weekend, Cooper won the "smokehouse" sprint as the fastest defensive lineman in attendance and was dominant in one-on-ones. 


As far as Ohio State goes, Cooper and his family don't hide their affection for the Buckeyes and an offer almost guarantees a commitment to Ohio State. 


The brother of Michigan freshman-to-be Michael Ferns, Brendan Ferns is an impressive physical specimen who appears to be ahead of his brother at the same stage in his career. 6-foot-3 and almost 230 pounds, Ferns has the size to play in the middle of a defense but the quickness and agility to play outside if needed. Despite having his brother at Michigan, the younger Ferns has always rooted for the Buckeyes. His family ties aside, Ferns' recruitment could be significantly different than his older brothers. Ohio State, Oklahoma and Penn State are all in the mix — as well as Michigan — but a Buckeye offer could be difficult for Brendan to turn down. 


He and his father talk to Ohio State's Luke Fickell regularly and if you watch his tape you know why. He's an instinctive and fluid defender who easily adjusts on the run. 


Prince Sammons is not the most recognizable name on this list, but he may very well have the biggest upside of any player in Ohio for 2016. Ohio State has yet to offer, and Sammons is raw and new to the game of football but a 6-foot-8, 260-pound frame makes him intriguing to coaches all over the country. 


Ohio State's coaching staff will get their first up-close-and-personal look at Sammons on June 21st and it could be a big day for the Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy standout. Right now his only offers are from Kentucky, Bowling Green and Akron, but a big camp season could make him a household name by the time his junior season starts. If the Buckeyes offer early, they could move into this forefront of his recruitment. Watch for Michigan to be a player here as well.


Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary has become a hotbed for all sorts of athletic talent and defensive back Tyrece Speaight is on his way to becoming the next big name from SVSM. At 6-foot-tall and 180 pounds, he has ideal size to play cornerback and a sub-4.5 forty that makes him a threat on the offensive side of the ball as well. Speaight currently has zero offers, but that won't be the case for long. A consensus four-star prospect, Michigan has been the leader for him for some time now, but Ohio State continues to evaluate his game and a Buckeye offer would definitely muddle his thought process.


Speaight has a nose for the ball and is excellent in run-support from the strong safety spot he mans for the Irish. He's's 165th-ranked player nationally for 2016.


When Toledo Central Catholic got the news that senior linebacker Chris Green was going to ruled ineligible this fall due to OHSAA age restrictions, the sting had to be lessened knowing that Elmore's Zach Sandwisch was transferring in to CCHS. Another big, fast linebacker from Ohio, Sandwisch's transfer will give him the chance to compete at a higher-level of play and will get him excellent coaching from Central's Greg Dempsey.


Right now only Toledo has offered the northwest Ohio rising-star, but you should expect many more to enter the fray before too long. With an elite athleticism and size combination, the biggest hurdle for Sandwisch and an eventual Ohio State offer could be numbers at linebacker. If Ohio State takes only two in 2015, which is likely, they could look at four in 2016, and the state is loaded as the names above him in this column shows. Four Ohio linebackers in 2016? That would silence many of the "Urban Meyer isn't recruiting Ohio" crowd.

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