Finding the right fit for your college football program isn't just about what happens on the field, but off it as well. Today, Ohio State added a key piece. How will that commitment impact the Buckeyes?
Ohio State landed a commitment from one of the country's most versatile defenders when Fort Lauderdale, Florida, American Heritage four-star defensive end Andrew Chatfield committed to the Buckeyes on Twitter this evening.
Let's take a look at what Chatfield — the 15th-best defensive end in the Class of 2018 — brings to Columbus.
ON THE FIELD
The immediate comparison for the 6-foot-2, 221-pound Chatfield is former Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier, who also played defensive end in high school. He's an explosive athlete with great first step, but a little on the shorter side when it comes to playing along the defensive line.
Making the transition to linebacker shouldn't be too difficult for Chatfield, as he plays a majority of the snaps as a stand-up end anyway. He displays the necessary athleticism and instincts to defend the run and be disruptive in the passing game.
The staff could also look at Chatfield as a defensive tackle in the Rushmen package if he continues to fill out his frame. He's shown the ability to overpower bigger defenders and isn't easily deterred when double-teamed.
The Sun Sentinel's 2016 Defensive Player of the Year, Chatfield recorded a team-high 85 tackles, 27 tackles for a loss and an absurd 24.5 sacks last year to lead the Patriots to lead the Patriots to their third state title in four seasons.
Chatfield was among the 12 prospects to earn an invitation to Nike Football's The Opening Finals during the Miami Regional in late February, as he ran a 4.9-second 40-yard dash, posted a 31.9-inch vertical jump and dominated in one-on-one drills. That now means seven of Ohio State's current commits have been invited to the prestigious camp later this month.
IN THE CLASS
Chatfield becomes the 11th member — and second defensive end — of Ohio State's Supreme '18 recruiting class, joining five-star defensive tackle Taron Vincent, five-star quarterback Emory Jones, four-star running backs Jaelen Gill and Brian Snead, four-star offensive tackle Max Wray, four-star defensive end Brenton Cox, four-star linebacker Dallas Gant, four-star cornerback Sevyn Banks and four-star safeties Josh Proctor and Jaiden Woodbey.
There's still a lot of time to figure out which position Chatfield will play at the next level, so it's difficult to say at this point in time what impact his pledge has from a pure numbers standpoint. It certainly doesn't change the Buckeyes' pursuit of Pennsylvania five-star defensive end Micah Parsons or Cleveland Heights four-star Tyreke Smith, especially with the way Johnson likes to use four ends in the Rushmen package.
However, if Chatfield's calling is a defensive end/linebacker hybrid, Cincinnati Winton Woods' Christopher Oats may be the odd man out. Oats' recruitment has been tough to read in recent months, with Cincinnati making a major push, and some have questioned whether he is best suited as an outside linebacker or defensive end.
Chatfield can play both, obviously, and you take the more-talented out-of-state prospect over the in-state recruit every time. The same goes for Lakota West's Xavier Peters, who still awaits an offer from the Buckeyes.
Ohio State already has a pipeline from St. Thomas Aquinas, which is just a short trip down State Route 842 from American Heritage. But much like Las Vegas Bishop Gorman in this year's recruiting cycle, it's the latter that has the potential to become a feeder school for Ohio State in 2018.
The Buckeyes have offers out to four Patriots, including Chatfield, and are among the schools pushing hardest to land five-star cornerback Patrick Surtain Jr. and four-star cornerback Tyson Campbell. Miami four-star defensive tackle commit Nesta Silvera has also expressed interest in Ohio State after defensive line coach Larry Johnson and defensive backs coach Kerry Coombs offered following American Heritage's intrasquad scrimmage last week.
The Patriots, coached by former NFL defensive back Pat Surtain, finished last season with a 14-0 record and, as mentioned, won their third state title in four season. This year's slate is tough enough for them to compete for the mythical national championship, too.
That said, Chatfield's commitment could be similar Haskell Garrett's one year ago — which preceded pledges from highly sought-after teammates Tate Martell and Tyjon Lindsey, his decommitment nonwithstanding. And, it may very well be what eventually gives the Buckeyes the leg-up in the race for Surtain and/or Campbell.