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 toughest and most versatile defensive linemen when Ramsey, New Jersey, Don Bosco Prep four-star end Tyler Friday pledged his services to the Buckeyes during a ceremony at his high school on Friday afternoon.
Congratulations to Tyler Friday on his commitment to Ohio State! pic.twitter.com/wTgakh3TKp
— Don Bosco Prep (@DonBoscoIronmen) January 19, 2018
Let's take a look at what Friday — the No. 86 prospect overall in the Class of 2018 — brings to Columbus.
ON THE FIELD
Though holding off on a decision until after the Early Signing Period may indicate otherwise, make no mistake, the 6-foot-3, 263-pound Friday is among the nation's best defensive linemen.
“He's a great athlete, got great twitch off the football, very good lateral movement and he's strong,” Don Bosco Prep head coach Mike Teel told Eleven Warriors. “He's a dominant run-stopper who can rush the passer. He can do a lot of things.”
Friday is ranked by most recruiting sites as a defensive tackle, but given the lack of depth at defensive end — and signatures from three highly sought-after interior linemen in Taron Vincent, Antwuan Jackson Jr. and Tommy Togiai — Ohio State will move him to the edge once he arrives on campus this summer. Such a transition shouldn't be an issue, either.
“I think he can play anywhere on the defensive line other than one-technique,” Teel said. “He can play end or tackle. His physicality, strength and athleticism gives him position flexibility.”
Friday already has a similar stature to Tyquan Lewis, who was named the Big Ten’s defensive lineman of the year as a junior and will likely be a high NFL Draft prospect this spring. The Buckeyes would play him on the strong side of the line, however.
The Ironmen struggled to a 2-8 record last year, but Friday finished his senior season with 25 tackles with three sacks despite constant double teams and opponents avoiding his side of the field.
IN THE CLASS
Friday becomes the 23rd member of Ohio State's Supreme '18 recruiting class, and joins Cleveland Heights four-star Tyreke Smith and Pickerington North three-star Alex Williams at the defensive end position.
With the aforementioned Lewis and Jalyn Holmes having exhausted their eligibility and Sam Hubbard declaring for the NFL Draft following last month's Cotton Bowl win over USC, defensive end is without a doubt a position of great need. The combination of Friday and Smith — as well as the upside of Williams — certainly relieves those concerns and adds to the stable of thoroughbreds that includes Nick Bosa, Jonathon Cooper and Chase Young.
With all that said, the Buckeyes will look to add just one more player at the position, with fellow New Jersey four-star Javontae Jean-Baptiste the staff's top remaining target. He's set to take an official visit this weekend and decide among offers from Boston College, Nebraska, Texas A&M, Virginia Tech and Wisconsin shortly thereafter.
Teel, who became the head coach at Don Bosco Prep last season after one year as the the program's offensive coordinator, played quarterback under Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano at Rutgers.
You may recall he, running back Ray Rice, fullback Brian Leonard and wide receiver Kenny Britt helped the Scarlet Knights to the biggest win in school history, a 28-25 win over #3 Louisville in 2006.
“When he got to Rutgers, they were the worst team in college football," Teel said, recalling Schiano's arrival in Piscataway. "It's not like they were middle of the road. It was an uphill battle every single day, and you had to fight for everything you got. It was a fight every single day to get players.”
It's safe to say relationships and a similar determination, despite Friday being considered a strong lean toward Michigan for much of the recruiting cycle, helped the Buckeyes land one of the state's top players.