Sweat, Gallimore and Yes, Baker, Highlight Defensive Waiting List

By Jeremy Birmingham on August 6, 2014 at 3:30p
Neville Gallimore at Nike's The Opening

On Monday, we took a look at a few of the names on Ohio State's short list of remaining offensive targets for 2015. Each of those players, some long-shots and some very real possibilities to sign their name on the scarlet-and-gray-dotted-line come February, has been a priority for the Buckeyes and Urban Meyer for an extended period of time. 

Today, as we continue to descent into official visit season, we'll take a closer look at a handful of players who could be future Silver Bullets. From one end of the continent to the other, the Buckeyes leave no stone unturned in their pursuit of the talent they feel will best fit their system moving forward. Let's not spend too much time gabbing, ok?

Most successful football programs are full of strength along the interior, and that holds as true for the defensive line as it does for the offensive line. As the "Elite '15" is currently constructed, the Buckeyes have three different commitments along the defensive front: Dre'Mont Jones, Jashon Cornell and Josh Alabi. Of the three, Cornell is the most highly-regarded nationally, but it's Alabi who provides the most flexibility: he can be a force on either side of the football, depending on how the rest of the class goes.

There are a few players the Buckeyes would love to see grab a won't-let-go hold on the remaining defensive line spots. The first is Chesapeake, Virginia's half-teen/half-freak Josh Sweat. Sweat, the nation's top-ranked player has the Buckeyes in what appears to be his final five schools, naming them as one place he'd absolutely take an official visit to come fall. The Buckeyes, who received a summertime visit from Sweat, his mother and his brother, are squaring off against Florida State, Virginia Tech, Georgia and Oregon for his services.

Josh Sweat
Buckeyes are Sweating the small stuff.

While the Buckeyes are in the race, they'll need to stay squarely involved to have a real shot at Sweat, a player whose on the field talent is only outweighed by his off-the-field silence (a recurring theme among a number of key defensive targets this year.) In past years, this is exactly the type of recruiting battle Urban Meyer became famous for winning, and the Buckeyes defensive end depth, combined with proximity to home and an ever-increasing comfort with Larry Johnson and Zach Smith keeps the Buckeyes close. It's hard to say I'm optimistic, but there's no reason to think Ohio State doesn't stand a puncher's chance. 

After Sweat, who appears to be the last edge defender (along the line anyway) on this year's radar, there remains a pair of defensive tackles the Buckeyes would love to land. Christian Wilkins and Neville Gallimore (pictured above), from Connecticut and Canada respectively, have put themselves high on the board for Ohio State and have not slipped into the recruiting abyss, at least not yet.

For as quiet and detached with the media as Josh Sweat is, the flat out disinterest Wilkins displays is far more grand. The 6-foot-4, 290-pound tackle is still in the process of setting up his official visits, and it appears likely the Buckeyes will get one despite increasing chatter that he's leaning towards James Franklin and Penn State. For Wilkins, the draw to Ohio State is simple: Urban Meyer and Larry Johnson. The drawback? Is Ohio State too "big" for a player with such an unassuming and reclusive demeanor? 

On the other side of the proverbial coin is Gallimore, a 300-pound Canadian with a sunny disposition off-the-field and plenty of aggression on it. At The Opening in Oregon, Gallimore was roommates with Buckeye commitment Jashon Cornell and the two struck up a pretty solid friendship, since then the tea leaves have begun to read more and more pro-Buckeye for the continent's 13th-ranked defensive tackle, but there's still a long way to go before he can be penciled into the Ohio State class. The best part about Gallimore in my opinion? He's just learning the game of football and he's got an insatiable desire to learn more and more every single day. He wants to be great and is looking for world-class coaching and leadership. No matter where he ends up, they're getting a winner. 

Of the two defensive tackles, I more inclined to believe Gallimore ends up a Buckeye than Wilkins, as of today.

At linebacker, the Buckeyes currently have two of the Buckeye state's top three players in Nick Conner and Justin Hilliard. In mid-July, they were stunned by the commitment of Cleveland Benedictine two-way star Jerome Baker to Florida, but he remains a high-priority target for Urban Meyer, Stan Drayton, Luke Fickell and Chris Ash. With swirling uncertainty in Gainesville, the Buckeyes are biding their time and remaining in contact with Baker, but they won't push too much for any visits or public displays of affection. There's almost a sense that the quieter things remain with Baker, the better that is long-term for Ohio State, at least as I see it. 

If the Buckeyes are unable to make any further impression on Baker, the group at linebacker could be finished for 2015. They're still aggressively pursuing Utah's Porter Gustin but until the 6-foot-5, 240-pounder makes a visit to Columbus that bit of mutual flirtation isn't worth paying much attention to. The Buckeyes, and primarily Luke Fickell, stay in contact with Gustin roughly once a week and they're pushing for a visit. We'll see if that happens.

The 2015 Buckeyes' secondary is almost full, with a trio of less-heralded recruits in Jamel Dean, Tyler Green and Denzel Ward. Those three commitments could also be joined by Canton McKinley's Eric Glover-Williams in the defensive backfield, so there are some who believe that if no other players get added in the secondary the Buckeyes are going to be "ok." I definitely agree with that particular school of thought, but I also believe there's never a reason to not chase the players you're interested in until the very end. For Ohio State and the 2015 class, that means two players: Pennsylvania's Jordan Whitehead and Georgia's Rashad Roundtree won't be off the radar anytime soon.

Whitehead, from Monaca, Pennsylvania, has been a regular visitor to Ohio State for the last 12-plus months, but continues to play his recruiting extremely close to the vest. While he clearly likes the Buckeyes, the rumors of Penn State, West Virginia, Alabama and even Pittsburgh continue to persist and he's no closer to a decision — at least not publicly — today than he was eight months ago. A decision date, October 3rd, is planned, but there's no indication which way Whitehead could be leaning. 

Roundtree is a bit more of an unknown to most Ohio State recruiting fans and he's less-likely to pledge Ohio State than anyone in this article, but then again, so was Vonn Bell at this point in his high school career. The Buckeyes blew Roundtree away during an unofficial visit this spring and have made his final six schools. Conventional wisdom still says the in-state Georgia Bulldogs and even, yes, the Duke Blue Devils, have much better odds than Ohio State to secure his commitment. At this point in the game, it's about getting the talented Georgia safety back on campus for an official visit and letting the chips fall where they may.


Comments Show All Comments

BuckeyeGrownFloridaLiving's picture

Malik Jefferson and Ricky DeBerry at LB are taking official visits so I think they should also be considered as targets at LB, more so than Gustin who has never been on campus.

+2 HS
Jeremy Birmingham's picture

I can see your point, but the likely scenario is that no other linebackers join the fray. Jefferson/DeBerry are both great prospects and yes, have visits scheduled, but I don't think either is likely to end up at OSU. I definitely could have included them in the story, but then what would we discuss here? ;)

bucknut1994's picture

We are the crystal ball favorite for Ricky DeBerry at 36% but most recent predictions have been for other schools.  Can we get him back or is that a real long shot?

Jim Harbaugh is a tool
Les Wexner> Stephen Ross

theopulas's picture

you don't get it....DeBerry is not going to give them a offer they can commit to....some may wonder but haven't we learned yet....


-2 HS
Squirrel Master's picture

Quick question, why did you not include Malik Jefferson into your discussion for linebackers? He does have OSU in his top 5, has planned an official and would absolutely not be turned away by Urban.

I think if Jerome Baker doesn't decommit from UF, Jefferson is easily in play. I'm just wondering if he is as likely as it looks or if he really isn't a possibility.


I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

+1 HS
Jeremy Birmingham's picture

I know he'll make an official visit, just don't see him as a viable option.

Northbrook's picture

I suppose Sunderland would be in the same category.

swainpm's picture

Not viable because it is improbable that he spurns the Texas programs? I'm betting that's where the pessimism comes from. He has had OSU listed as an official visit for months now. Therefore, he has to have some serious interest, right? And anytime they come to campus you have to think OSU has a shot. Afterall, Herman does seem to do well puling recruits from Texas. Optimistically Jefferson could be our version of Jordan Hicks?

+1 HS
MN Buckeye's picture

Tough to read the tea leaves this year. But I am hoping that this class turns out as spectacular as the one that just began practice. 

+1 HS
BroJim's picture

It seems like an up hill battle for a lot of guys on this side of the ball. I hope the on the field performance backs OSU up. Thanks, Brim.

I season my simple food with hunger

Ahh Saturday's picture


Looking at your last two pieces together, it seems like the Buckeyes are maybe taking 6-7 more prospects for the 2015 class, 3 on the D, and maybe 3-4 on the O.  Does that sound about right to you? And how realistic is it that the class closes with Burrell, Harris, Van Jefferson, Sweat, and Gallimore?  Please say very realistic.

+1 HS
Mortc15's picture

Just like the offensive side, any of these guys would only add to an already solid class. 


MAVBuck's picture

When Kilby-Lane committed to FSU there was speculation that his recruitment hadn't ended. Do you think the ship has sailed on this one or are the Bucks still in the hunt?

+1 HS
Poison nuts's picture

I can't wait to see who the signing day, "we never heard of that dude" surprise is....

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

+1 HS
MN Buckeye's picture

There might be more than one.

+1 HS
whiskeyjuice's picture

It would be awesome to land Neville, Sweat, flip Baker and one more of the DB's mentioned above.

"Championships are not won on Saturdays in November. Championships are won on Tuesdays in August." -- Kerry Combs

+1 HS
OSUBias's picture

Woody clearly wasn't around to watch Winfield tackle. 

7 yards and a cloud of dust is a beautiful thing

+1 HS
whiskeyjuice's picture

Are you referring to when Antoine would smile after the tackle? I still have yet to find footage of somebody smiling while making a tackle. Please post a pic of somebody doing that please.

"Championships are not won on Saturdays in November. Championships are won on Tuesdays in August." -- Kerry Combs

OSUBias's picture

Are we done recruiting the DB who committed to us, flipped to Auburn, then bailed and re-opened his recruiting recently? I don't do names, but I liked his tape. Did he burn bridges with the staff or vice versa? Or are we still working him?

7 yards and a cloud of dust is a beautiful thing

EvanstonBuckeye's picture

My question exactly.

sivaDavis's picture

Ben Edwards.

"I've had smarter people around me all my life, but I haven't run into one yet that can outwork me. And if they can't outwork you, then smarts aren't going to do them much good." - Woody Hayes

+2 HS
sivaDavis's picture

I heard Jordan Whitehead doesn't even lift bro..

...I'm terribly sorry Mr. Whitehead, I said you were a great DB and should consider Ohio State thank you..

"I've had smarter people around me all my life, but I haven't run into one yet that can outwork me. And if they can't outwork you, then smarts aren't going to do them much good." - Woody Hayes

+5 HS
Buck Commander's picture

My grandmama gave me that chain...............beep beep......He gonna cry in the car!    I couldn't resist:)

Every time I set my DVR to record Biggest Loser......It always records Wolverine Football Games!

kgratz's picture

Has the Terry Beckner Jr. ship officially sailed?

How Firm Thy Friendship

+1 HS
Knarcisi's picture

Very exciting upside with Gallimore. With LJ in the fold, seems like a no brainer, eh?

exnwohiobuckfan's picture

I see what you did there.

+1 HS
Knarcisi's picture

Upvote for the perceptive northwest Ohioan. 

robobuck's picture

Sweat freakin looks like the Predator. I want him to be a buckeye soooooooo badly.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.  1 Corinthians 9:24

+2 HS
Knarcisi's picture

He looks like an all business mother fucker, that's for sure. 

-1 HS
cinserious's picture

Hey, if the Buckeyes can haul in a modern-day Jadaveon Clowney?  I'm all for it! 

Scenario: It's Fall of 2015 and we line up Josh Sweat as a true freshman on the edge. The Jr. Joey Bosa is lined up opposite Sweat. Noah Spence is gone early for the draft but if he's back for his Sr. year, that's great. Adolphus Washington and maybe Michael Hill or Tommy Schutt on the inside. That's one scary starting lineup and the depth just goes on for days.

No matter what, we got high end talent backing up 5-star talent across the line, Larry Johnson coaching everybody up and making sure they all share snaps to stay fresh all four quarters and throughout the back half of the season. 

Pinch me if I'm dreaming or is this a real possibility?

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

Buckeye Rocket Sci's picture

Honestly, you could switch a couple of those names with any number of guys, especially with this new class of freshmen we have. Fact of the matter, we have one hell of a D-line unit, and if we can continue to get guys like Sweat, then we might just become D-line U at this rate! Here's hoping this year the proof is on the field!

"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence" - Calvin Coolidge

hetuck's picture

Is Settles no longer considering OSU? IIRC, he is Burrell's teammate. 

Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.

Vince Lombardi

m5987usus's picture

Settle "is" considering OSU, but it is not going to happen.  Him and Burrell are very good friends, not teammates.  They actually play each other second week of the season.