Heat Check: A Final Update to Our Recruiting Board As the Buckeyes Look to Close Out the 2018 Class

By Andrew Ellis on January 7, 2018 at 7:05 am
2018 tackle Rasheed Walker takes over the top spot in our final update.

Recruiting is all about momentum. Sometimes you're gaining it, sometimes you're losing it. What prospects are trending up with Ohio State? Let's take a look.

The last few weeks have been the busiest of the entire recruiting cycle. The early signing period is now behind us and both the Under Armour Game and the Army All-American Bowl have come and gone. The Buckeyes have already signed 22 prospects for the Class of 2018, but there's still room for a couple more as Urban Meyer continues to battle Kirby Smart for the nation's No. 1 recruiting class.

Ohio State currently checks in with the No. 2 class in the country, but there's still a lot to be on the lookout for between now and national signing day on Feb. 7.  Longstanding targets like Jackson Carman, Kamryn Babb, Tyreke Smith, and Jayson Oweh all came off the board in the last few weeks. Thus, we've updated our recruiting board for the final time, and as one would expect, there are a bunch of new names.

Since we are so far along in the process and limited spots remain, it's important to note that some of these names may be total long shots. But we've seen Urban Meyer and Co. work some serious magic in January, so why should 2018 be any different?

NAME POSITION RANK Prev. Rating Others In the Mix
RASHEED WALKER OT 1 6 ★★★★ Penn State•Virginia Tech
NICHOLAS PETIT-FRERE OT 2 9 ★★★★★ Florida•ND•Bama•Michigan
TYLER FRIDAY DE/DT 3 NA ★★★★ Michigan•Penn State•Miami
WILLIAM BARNES OT 4 NA ★★★★ Florida•North Carolina
CASEY ROGERS DE 5 NA ★★★ Alabama•Nebraska•Cal
TYSON CAMPBELL CB 6 NA ★★★★★ Georgia•Miami•Bama
PATRICK SURTAIN JR. CB 7 NA ★★★★★ LSU•Florida State
CHRIS OLAVE WR 9 NA ★★★★ UCLA•Michigan•Utah
CHRISTOPHER OATS LB/DE 10 NA ★★★★ Kentucky•Ole Miss
  • Last month's version can be found HERE.

Jackson Carman was at the top of our board for the entire cycle, and his decision to sign with Clemson was a shock to many—myself included. The Buckeyes are in a tough spot now as they absolutely need to bring in another tackle for the 2018 class. Meyer and James Franklin have seen a lot of one another, and that certainly holds true in the chase for Rasheed Walker. 

Walker has ascended up our list and now holds the top spot. The nation's No. 6 tackle is going to sign with either Ohio State or Penn State, and the good news for the Buckeyes is that he's still expected to make an official visit to Columbus this month. He's also talked about possibly taking another unofficial trip to Happy Valley or even Blacksburg, so that is a bit concerning. At 6-foot-6 and 300 pounds, the Waldorf, Maryland native is a pure tackle, and he's the most important remaining recruit in the entire class. 

Nicholas Petit-Frere and William Barnes also make the list at tackle, but Ohio State isn't in a great spot for either one. Petit-Frere is looking at Florida, Notre Dame, Michigan, and others. He's talked about making a trip to Ohio State this month, and that certainly needs to happen for the Buckeyes to have any shot at the country's No. 3 player at the position.

Apopka, Florida's William Barnes is also considering a January visit. Barnes checks in at 6-foot-4 and 325 pounds, and his future may be at either guard or tackle. Florida and North Carolina are the crystal ball leaders, but he's looking to make a visit to Auburn right before February's signing day. As for Ohio State, this one looks pretty unlikely at the moment, but a January visit could potentially shake things up.

If the Buckeyes fail to sign one from the above trio of tackles, then it will be tough to give offensive line recruiting a passing grade for the 2018 class.

Elsewhere in the trenches, defensive end continues to be the other big remaining need. Cleveland's Tyreke Smith made the call on Thursday, but the Buckeyes could still use another player at the position. Right now Tyler Friday looks like the top target, but it appears to be a tight battle between a trio of Midwest powers. At 6-foot-3 and 263 pounds, Friday's ultimate position may very well depend on how his body transforms once he arrives on a college campus. However, there's no doubt that Ohio State is looking at him as a defensive end. 

Casey Rogers is a one-time Syracuse lacrosse commit, and while the Buckeyes have yet to extend an offer, we've got the 6-foot-6, 250-pounder at the No.5 spot on the board. New offers have been coming in seemingly by the day with Pittsburgh, Virginia, and Nebraska being the most recent. His recruitment seems to be pretty open right now, but Rogers is originally from Columbus, and Ohio State will be hard to beat if the staff does elect to make a move. The Connecticut prep star was in town last month for his official.

Cincinnati's Christopher Oats is back on our board, but there won't be much to talk about here unless he makes a visit before signing day. Oats is working on some other things outside of football itself, but he does seem content on waiting while everything gets situated. He's listed as a linebacker but looks like a guy whose future could be as more of a pass rusher.

Solomon Tuliaupupu has been one of the staff's top targets at linebacker. With three commits already in the fold and limited spots available, the position is no longer a priority for the Buckeyes. Still, if the country's No. 3 inside linebacker wanted in, there's probably no way Ohio State would turn him down. We look for Tuliaupupu to end up at USC, but the Buckeyes were very much on his mind earlier in the cycle. This recruitment has been eerily quiet as of late.

Sevyn Banks is the lone true cornerback signee, but Tyreke Johnson is expected to get a shot there as well. After last year's haul, it's probably safe bringing in just two players at the position. A pair of the country's best are still out there, though, and both Tyson Campbell and Patrick Surtain Jr. have expressed some interest in Ohio State. It's certainly fair to file this in the "long shot" category right now, but January should be a big month for the American Heritage duo.

It seems as though the Ohio State staff is set at wide receiver. Kamryn Babb and L'Christian "Blue" Smith have both signed their letters of intent, and Jaelen Gill will fill more of a hybrid role. Chris Olave visited Columbus in November, and the four-star still appears to be on Ohio State's radar. Michigan, UCLA, Tennessee, and others are in the picture, but his recruitment looks to be very much up in the air. 

We're not expecting another addition at wideout, but perhaps the Trevon Grimes transfer could have the staff re-evaluating their options?

Would it be a surprise to see the Buckeyes pull someone we aren't even talking about right now? Not in the least. 

Urban Meyer and the Ohio State staff have pulled off a number of stunners, and there's almost always something brewing behind the scenes. The Alex Williams recruitment was an example a few weeks back, and one would be wise to expect the unexpected in the weeks leading up to signing day. 

Monday, Jan. 15 is the deadline for underclassmen to declare fo the 2018 NFL Draft, so the Buckeyes will soon have a much better picture of what the scholarship situation looks like. The 2019 class in Ohio looks to be pretty strong, so the staff also has to plan ahead a little bit when considering that guys like Zach Harrison, Cade Stover, and Noah Potter are likely to sign with the Buckeyes during the next cycle; and those are just the in-state defensive ends.

Ohio State's 2018 recruiting class is one of the best in America, but there's still work to be done as the Buckeyes look to bolster both the offensive and defensive lines.

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