Worth Watching: Underrated Ohio Prospects Could Play a Role in the Buckeyes' 2018 Recruiting Plans

By Andrew Ellis on February 16, 2017 at 10:10a
West Chester's Xavier Peters has been a hot name on the recruiting front.

Xavier Peters

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The 2018 class is shaping up nicely within the state of Ohio.

On national signing day, Urban Meyer expressed some disappointment about the lack of Ohio flavor in the Buckeyes' 2017 recruiting class. He went on to say that ideally he would like for 50 percent of incoming signees to hail from within the state. 

Obviously it would be rather silly to knock a class that finished No. 2 in America with one of the highest average player ratings ever recorded, but people like to nitpick at times and that was one of those complaints that the class was hit with.

Regardless, the number of in-state signees is always going to depend on the staff's evaluations, though 50 percent is a bit of a lofty figure given all of the national talent that the Buckeyes are honing in on for the new cycle.

The good news is that the 2018 class is shaping up to be especially strong in Ohio. The Buckeyes need offensive tackles and the country's best player at the position resides in Fairfield, one of the elite athletes in America is just down the road in Westerville, and the state is littered with talent at linebacker and receiver. 

The Buckeyes have extended offers to seven players thus far in the state of Ohio, and while it can be difficult to distinguish between an "offer" and a real offer, one thing that we've learned is that the in-state variety typically seems to mean a bit more. It's never a good idea to annoy the high school coaches in your home state, so when an Ohio recruit earns that distinction, it's usually safe to assume that a commitment would be accepted at any time. 

In addition to many of the obvious names we've talked about, there are several other prospects to keep an eye on in the coming months.

Other Ohioans to Know
Prospect Position Hometown Rating State Rank Nat. Rank
Xavier Peters Linebacker West Chester NA NA NA
Brenden Bates Tight End Cincinnati ★★★★ No. 11 No. 222
John Dirksen Offensive Tackle Maria Stein ★★★★ No. 14 No. 303
Tavion Thomas Running Back Dayton ★★★ No. 21 No. 485

Xavier Peters has seen his stock start to rise ever since 247Sports updated their rankings just last week. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound linebacker now checks in as the No. 10 player in the state and No. 160 in America. As seen above, his rankings are a little tough to follow right now because none of the other recruiting outlets have given him a single star nor do they have him included in the Ohio rankings. 

That will surely change in the near future, however, as both Virginia Tech and Oklahoma have extended offers in the last week. His Rivals.com profile lists him at 220 pounds and given his frame it's not crazy to think that he could grow into a defensive end at the next level.

The Buckeyes are in great shape at the linebacker position for 2018, but if Meyer really wants to push for more Ohioans in the class, then the Lakota West defender could be a strong candidate for an offer. The odds would only increase if the staff thinks he's versatile enough to play linebacker or more of an edge-rusher role. 

Ohio State's top tight end target continues to be Lindenhurst, New York's Jeremy Ruckert, but if the staff does elect to bring in two at the position, then there are some in-state kids worth watching. Pickerington native and Michigan State commit Trenton Gillison has been the named tossed around the most, but Cincinnati's Brenden Bates is also worth keeping an eye on. 

Archbishop Moeller has arguably been the country's leading producer of tight-end talent over the last few years. Jake Hausmann signed with the Buckeyes in 2016 and Matt Dotson sided with Mark Dantonio earlier this month. Now the 6-foot-5, 215 pounds Bates is the next man up, and he already has scholarship offers from Louisville, Duke, Kentucky, and others. 

Greg Studrawa will look to bring in two or three offensive tackles in this class, and while Jackson Carman will be the big prize, the staff may look toward the unfamiliar Mercer County grounds for a bit more help in the trenches.

Maria Stein's John Dirksen checks in at 6-foot-5 and 295 pounds and could play guard or tackle at the next level. The Marion Local lineman holds offers from Kentucky, Northwestern, Michigan State, and most recently Notre Dame. Having grown up in a farming community, he's mentioned the possibility of pursuing agriculture in college, and right now the Spartans appear to be out in front.

Brian Snead is already in the fold at running back, but the position is one of the more important units for the 2018 class. Guys like Jaelen Gill and Iverson Clement have already been offered, but they could end up at a number of different positions. I'm of the belief that Tony Alford could use a big, bruising back in the coming years, and the most likely candidate within the state is probably Dayton's Tavion Thomas.

At 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds, Thomas is a very large human and his highlight tape shows a knack for barreling over defenders and delivering blows with a stiff arm. As a junior, the country's 30th-ranked tailback rushed for over 1,600 yards and 17 touchdowns. He holds offers from Michigan State, Wisconsin, Kentucky, West Virginia and others. 2018 wideout Joseph Scates – a teammate at Dunbar High School – committed to Michigan State last month.

Thomas is expected to visit Ohio State this weekend. If the Buckeyes elect to pass and continue to focus on other tailbacks, then the Dayton product is likely someone their defense will have to deal with in the near future.

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