Heating Up: New Offers and Upcoming Visits Should Have Buckeye Linebacker Recruiting Back in the Forefront This Spring

By Andrew Ellis on March 18, 2017 at 8:10 am
The Buckeyes are the team to beat after offering Georgia's Michael Harris.

Michael Harris


Ohio State signed just two linebackers in February. Don't expect the same for the Class of 2018.

Chris Worley is entering his final season, Jerome Baker is a candidate to leave early after bursting onto the scene last year, and Dante Booker will look to make a splash after suffering a knee injury a season ago.

The Buckeyes remain in the hunt for a number of the country's top linebackers as they'll look to reload the position for 2018. A new name was added to the board two weeks ago, and it wouldn't be a surprise if another Ohioan soon enters the fray with an offer.

On the recruiting front, big things are expected in the coming months, and there's certainly a chance for the Buckeyes to already have at least a pair in the fold by the end of the spring.

2018 Linebacker Board
Prospect Hometown Measurables Rating Pos. Rank Nat. Rank
Teradja Mitchell – MLB Virginia Beach, VA 6-foot-2, 232 pounds ★★★★★ No. 2 No. 18
Payton Wilson – OLB Hillsborough, NC 6-foot-4, 220 pounds ★★★★ No. 4 No. 107
Dallas Gant – OLB Toledo, Ohio 6-foot-3, 225 pounds ★★★★ No. 6 No. 117
Adrian Jackson – OLB Denver, CO 6-foot-2, 210 pounds ★★★★ No. 8 No. 174
Christopher Oats – OLB Cincinnati, Ohio 6-foot-4, 215 pounds ★★★★ No. 11 No. 215
Michael Harris – MLB Tucker, GA 6-foot-2, 213 pounds ★★★ No. 15 No. 346

Starting at the bottom of the list, Michael Harris hasn't been shy about his affinity for the Buckeyes, hitting them with the "dream school" label before even receiving an offer. The one-time Springfield, Ohio resident did in fact receive that offer just over a week ago, and things look like they could move fairly quickly here. 

Despite his three-star standing, Harris has put together an impressive offer list that features virtually every SEC school including Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Auburn, and LSU. He's a true middle linebacker and that is clearly a position of need for Ohio State.

The 6-foot-2, 213-pounder is expected to make the trip to Columbus this spring, and – depending on how the staff elects to play things – it wouldn't be a surprise if he's a part of the 2018 class shortly thereafter.

Cincinnati's Christopher Oats hasn't had a lot going on lately, but his recruitment has still been an interesting follow. At one point it looked as though a commitment could come at any time, but he's recently backed off of that and claims to be in no rush to make a decision. Some have questioned whether or not the staff is pushing for him right now, but given their frequent communication, it's hard to imagine that they're slow-playing one of the state's top players.

At 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, Oats may be a candidate to move to defensive end, so his versatility may very well work in his favor. He's expected to be back in Columbus yet this month, and anything's possible when an in-state kid is on campus with family. Oats has identified Ohio State and Cincinnati as two of his favorites with schools like Oklahoma and Miami also in the running.

Outside of a February trip to Southern Cal, t's been mostly quiet on the Adrian Jackson front as well. Ohio State had consistently been listed as the top school for the Colorado star, but he recently mentioned that Oregon and USC are also at the top of his list. Jackson is another interesting case because while he's listed as a linebacker, the 6-foot-2, 210-pounder also has mentioned playing more of a strong safety position.

Jackson looked like he was close to pulling the trigger at one point, but right now his status appears to be totally up in the air. If Ohio State elects to back off a bit – and perhaps it already has – then the four-star is likely to stay out West. 

The Buckeyes continue to be in great shape for Dallas Gant as his recruitment seems to be coming down to an Ohio State and Notre Dame battle with Penn State also lurking. The state's top linebacker hasn't set an announcement date, but he's expected to make a decision before the start of his senior season. Gant was in Columbus last month and should return this spring. His crystal ball is still 100% in favor of the Buckeyes. 

North Carolina linebacker Payton Wilson is a bit of a newer name, but the Buckeyes have been in pursuit since offering shortly after signing day. Wilson released a top seven that included Ohio State, Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Penn State, Virginia Tech, and North Carolina. He's one of the fastest-rising names in America, and it looks to be too early to tell which way he may be leaning. The nation's No. 4 outside linebacker is scheduled to be in Columbus the weekend of April 1st.

The lone five-star on the list had some big news earlier this week when he announced that he will be making a trip to Columbus this spring for another visit. Teradja Mitchell is the nation's top inside linebacker, so the visit is certainly big news. Florida State has had some major success recruiting Virginia over the years, and the Noles look like the team to beat for the Virginia Beach star. 

Mitchell was in Columbus last November for the Michigan game, but he'll be looking to do some more research when he's back in town on April 8th. 247Sports' Alex Gleitman submitted the lone Buckeye crystal ball pick just yesterday.

There are a lot of moving parts at linebacker, and the staff's 2018 recruiting approach is likely going to depend on a number of factors including how quickly incoming freshmen Baron Browning and Pete Werner can transition to the college game. Browning has already been on campus for a few months while Werner will arrive this summer. Both may end up manning the middle, but that remains to be seen.

Another piece could come into play if West Chester's Xavier Peters receives the offer that he seems to covet above all else. The four-star was in town in early March and is looking to come back this spring. Florida, Tennessee, Oregon, and Oklahoma all have offered within the past six weeks.

Right now Kentucky and Penn State may be the frontrunners, but Ohio State is clearly sniffing around on the state's third-ranked linebacker. Peters is 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds and could end up at any of the three linebacker spots or potentially even as more of an edge rusher. It wouldn't be a surprise if the Buckeyes made a move at some point over the spring or summer.

Regardless of whether or not any new offers are extended, it still should be an exciting couple of months that will go a long way in solidifying the unit for 2018. 

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