I promise, the blue blood series will go on, but transfer portal speculation is hot and heavy right now, so I wanted to strike while the iron is hot. And there is a whole lot of potential options out there for a team that’s looking to add some serious options. IF they wanted to, Coach Myers and staff could nearly revamp the entire roster.
The wisdom of that move might be suspect, but it could certainly be a possibility. I’ll go position by position, in order of least likely to add to most likely, just for something different. All of these will be for this upcoming year only, as the lay of the land will change each year for the next four years.
There will be no additions of a transfer nature at the faceoff X. Justin Inacio is going into his senior year, has a long offseason to get healthy and better, and there is no reason to look for another option. He’ll hold the fort down, and one of the other backups should be fighting to step up in case Inacio needs a rest or, heaven forbid, has another major injury. All that said, Inacio is options A through D.
It is highly unlikely that any players will be added this year down low on offense. With the best goalscorer in OSU history (all that’s missing is the final tally) on the right in Tre Leclaire, a borderline great option at X in Jack Myers, and a tremendous (if streaky) shooter in Jackson Reid on the left, there is absolutely no room as things currently stand to add anyone else.
An option that would have been quite interesting is Will Yorke, the huge lefty out of Bucknell. He has been a thorn in the side of the Buckeyes while suiting up for the Bison, but at this point will no longer be on the field when the two teams meet. Which is certainly a plus.
The only way in which Yorke comes to Columbus is if Jackson Reid somehow were to leave, and both Trent DiCicco and Mitch Sandberg are okay with taking a year to learn the college game. Spoiler: that ain’t happenin’.
At this point, the most intriguing prospects on the market are defenders as a group, but will probably not factor into Ohio State’s roster moves for the 2021 season. Joey Salisbury is moving on from the close D unit, but there are several highly rated prospects waiting in the wings or coming into the squad next year.
Jeff Henrick is returning at LSM, but could just as easily get pushed down to close D if Steven Zupicich can make a few steps in his game over this long offseason. Zupicich was the second LSM off the bench after Henrick, and has some real potential at that spot. All that being said, the likelihood of add another pole to the mix is going to be very small, generally. After relying on transfers (Ben Randall) and having some decent-to-good starters surrounding one great player (Matt Borges), the young recruits are starting to come good.
Jacob Snyder stepped in as a true freshman and played really well. Joey Salisbury was a surprise option that played well in spurts, but wasn’t necessarily an elite guy. With Snyder back next year, Ben Williams returning after starting most of the season at close D, and one of Carson Raney, George Walsh, and 3 incoming pole recruits, there are definitely options for the staff.
Poles in the transfer portal make this worth watching, as US U19 defender BJ Burlace (#6 in 2019) has entered the portal after leaving Yale, along with several starting defensemen from other DI and DIII teams. Burlace, however, is almost certainly going to Maryland to be with his brother, Colin, who was also committed to Yale in 2021 but just flipped to the Terps.
The brothers’ father was an All-American at Maryland, making College Park their likely lacrosse home for the foreseeable future. None of the other options really seem to have any interest or contact with the staff, so unless BJ pulls a stunner, I’d say we’re not going to get any new longsticks in the transfer market.
Short-stick defensive midfielders are pretty well set, at this juncture. Ryan Terefenko, a 1st-team All-American and transition dynamo, is going to be option A every time the Buckeyes are on defense. Omari DeBerry will be on the roster for the 2021 season, and move into the second SSDM slot on the first-line defense. DeBerry’s been good for the Buckeyes, not really great, but he will be a solid pairing with Terefenko.
It’s going to be the third and fourth options that will be a mystery, perhaps opening the door a sliver for an impact transfer, if the staff were so inclined. Elijah Black didn’t see the field hardly at all in the abbreviated 2020 season, but has the physical tools to be a good defender if he can get the footwork right.
Connor Cmiel and Logan Santos, incoming freshmen, have been tagged by Inside Lacrosse as candidates for SSDM, though in my mind I don’t think either of these incoming players are really in that sort of mold. Cmiel, to me, is a little too stiff in his movements defensively and doesn’t quite have the agility to be a tremendous defender in DI. I have mentioned several times that I think his future is on the offensive side of the ball. Santos, athletically, could certainly handle what’s asked of a SSDM.
It really will come down, in my mind, to how confident the staff is in the current offensive middies to carry the load in 2021. There were few options in 2020 for players who could beat their defender on the dodge even most of the time.
Johnny Wiseman took a crack at it, but shot under 20% on the year Depending on what happens on the offensive middie side, Santos might get plugged in as the 3rd SSDM option to help that side of the ball out. He’s got the agility to be a killer dodger, however. Very similar to Sergio Salcido at Syracuse and in the PLL. But it will remain to be soon. The staff has been in contact with Amherst of DIII, who just had a 1st-team All-American at that level enter the portal.
Jimmy McAfee is looking for a new home after the Mammoths got hit with some big-time internal punishments following a racial incident. Unsure if the Buckeyes are looking at McAfee, or one of teammates, but McAfee would certainly fill a need the Buckeyes currently have.
Here’s where things get very, very interesting. The staff absolutely has to be on the prowl for some offensive middie talent. And I know they’re looking into at least one player.
Johnny Wiseman was the primary dodging middie for the Buckeyes last year, finishing with 9 points (3 g, 6 a), but shooting a touch under 20% on the year. Alley dodges haven’t been the best for Wiseman finishing-wise, and I’d advocate for him to go to X for an invert if it didn’t displace Jack Myers.
Grant Mitchell, as I’ve said before, excelled in the alleys in high school and most likely should get some more touches doing that in 2021, if for no other reason than to be a decent threat there that other teams have to prepare for. Aside from those two players, however, Ohio State doesn't have a lot of offensive punch from a dodging sense.
Enter Griffin Brown, probably the best offensive middie in the transfer portal right now. Brown has been in contact with the staff, and would be a great option. I mentioned him before as a possible transfer option, not knowing he had already played 3 years of middie at Colgate. Brown is everything you could want in a dodger. Shifty, fast, and able to score consistently.
Additionally, there are some other options scattered across DI and DIII. Princeton middie Connor McCarthy is also in the transfer portal, who had 13 goals in 6 games this year. DIII stud Brendan Hoffman, a 6'5" monster, is in the portal after scoring 55 goals last year.
And, now, basically every other Yale and Princeton senior offensive middie (as well as any other Ivy League school that chooses not to allow players to withdraw and re-enroll) is on the market as well, should they choose. Point being, of course, that there are options a-plenty for the staff to kick the tires on. And more all the time. Likeliest options, however, are going to be Griffin Brown and that's probably about it.
No one else has really popped up on the radar, and unless they're going to try to take Amherst's attackman Jon Coffey as a middie, there are no other connections. There has been some movement on the JuCo front as far as coaches connecting with the staff, but again, nothing really jumps out from a personnel perspective.
Finally, FINALLY, we get to the knowns. Ohio State WILL be taking at least one, potentially two goalies via the portal. Mike Adler is a Sharpie name to put down as coming out of St. Joe's in Philly. And he is a certified stud between the pipes.
The second option is Otto Bohan out of DIII power Wesleyan. A grad transfer, Bohan helped Wesleyan win their only DIII title in 2018 as a sophomore goalie. Bohan also comes from Western Reserve Academy, Coach Dylan Sheridan's alma mater in Ohio. There's no guarantee Bohan will be brought on, but from everything I can see, it looks like he may be edging that way.
And, considering Josh Kirson may very well be moving on after his RS Jr. season, the Buckeyes are in need of some goalie depth. Freshman Christian Tomei transferred out, Skylar Wahlund never quite got to where he could overcome Kirson, and Michael Clibanoff has been the third option behind Wahlund since day 1.
There's instability there, and Ohio State will be addressing it quickly. The coming weeks will let us know if it's 1 or 2 transfers that will be arriving. But they certainly will be arriving. And it will be interesting to see what shakes out after the dust settles.
Having run through all the options, we can get down to a few final thoughts and predictions on my end. Yes, Michael Sowers is in the portal. I don't think there's a chance at all he transfers to Ohio State.
Unless Tre Leclaire moved to middie, there simply isn't room at attack, and that is IF Sowers were inclined to come here. He will almost certainly be ACC bound, for UVA or Syracuse, if I were a betting man. Of the realistic options I laid out, I think Ohio State brings in a maximum of 3 transfers this year.
The two goalies, Adler and Bohan, and Griffin Brown if they can beat out all the other teams who would be interested in his services. Ohio State hasn't been a destination for known offensive transfers in a long-time, and getting Brown would definitely be a coup.
So, final prediction on transfers in: Mike Adler, Otto Bohan.
I just don't see Brown turning down some other options for Ohio State. I would love to be wrong, but I just don't see this coming off.
More of "thanks, but no thanks" deal for Brown than anything the Buckeyes did wrong. That won't prevent us (me) from speculating wildly as we go forward though! The whole lacrosse landscape is going to be vastly different in 2021.