2020 Vision: Focusing on Ohio State’s Top Defensive Targets for the 2020 Recruiting Class

By Andrew Lind on July 21, 2018 at 8:10 am
Bryan Bresee

Bryan Bresee

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With five prospects in the fold, Ohio State’s yet-to-be-named 2020 recruiting class is already one of the nation’s best. The Buckeyes sit at second overall in the 247Sports Composite Team Rankings, but also trail top-ranked Miami by three total commits.

Cincinnati St. Xavier five-star offensive tackle Paris Johnson Jr., Arizona four-star quarterback Jack Miller III, Georgia four-star offensive tackle Jake Wray, IMG Academy four-star cornerback Lejond Cavazos and New Jersey four-star offensive guard Luke Wypler have all been active in recruiting some of the country’s top prospects to join them in Columbus.

So who are they targeting?

On Thursday, we took a look at Ohio State’s top targets on offense. Now, let’s shift gears to the defensive side of the ball. 

DEFENSIVE LINE - 0/3

COMMITS: NONE

TARGETS: Maryland five-star end Bryan Bresee, Cincinnati Princeton four-star end Darrion Henry, North Carolina four-star ends Kedrick Bingley-Jones and Jacolbe Cowan, South Carolina four-star tackle Alex Huntley, Washington D.C. four-star tackle Tre Williams

Much like the current cycle, Ohio State’s top overall target — and arguably the best player in the nation is a defensive end, Bresee. The Buckeyes are perceived to be the leader in his recruitment following three visits, but will have to hold off seemingly every school in the country as he goes through the process.

Henry, meanwhile, is someone who could develop into a defensive tackle at the next level. Ohio State is without a doubt his top school, and a commitment could very well be on the horizon with another visit coming next weekend.

Bingley-Jones, Cowan and Huntley all visited campus this spring and raved about the opportunity to spend time with and/or work out with defensive line coach Larry Johnson. While Williams, a life-long fan of the program, is set to make his first visit later this month.

LINEBACKER - 0/3

COMMITS: NONE

TARGETS: Washington five-star Sav’ell Smalls, Washington D.C. five-star Mekhail Sherman, Cincinnati Princeton four-star Jaheim Thomas*, Florida four-star Derek Wingo

Ohio State doesn’t often pursue prospects from the Pacific Northwest, but Smalls is the rare exception. His mother’s side of the family is originally from Cleveland, and he has a ton of interest in the program as a result. Smalls was actually the one who initiated contact between the two sides.

Sherman — like his teammate, Williams, above — is set to visit campus for the first time next weekend. The Buckeyes are on his short list of schools, and have an opportunity to solidify their standing as he looks to narrow things down even further in the coming months.

Cincinnati Princeton may very well produce two future Ohio State commits, with Thomas flashing a ton of potential at a one-day camp earlier this summer. He doesn’t have an offer yet, but will continue to grow into his frame over the next year or so — and will likely develop into a defensive end/linebacker hybrid, a la four-star commit Cade Stover.

Wingo, last but not least, has long called Ohio State his dream school. He’s still raw at the position as he makes the full-time transition from quarterback this season, but it’s truly only a matter of time before he pledges his services to the Buckeyes.

DEFENSIVE BACK - 1/4

COMMITS: Cavazos

TARGETS: Arizona five-star cornerback Kelee Ringo, California five-star cornerback Elias Ricks*, Texas five-star cornerback R.J. Mickens, Florida four-star cornerbacks Miles Brooks and Henry Gray

Cavazos was seemingly destined to end up at Ohio State, but finally admitted the inevitable and picked the Buckeyes after he camped in Columbus — and visited a handful of other schools — last month. He’s quickly become an active recruiter for the program, which will be extremely valuable as someone who has ties to both Florida (school) and Texas (home).

Ringo has never been to campus, but has early interest following an offer this spring. He’ll surely have fellow Arizona native and four-star quarterback commit Jack Miller III in his ear. Ricks, meanwhile, will make his first trip to Columbus next weekend in search of an offer. He’s called both Ohio State and USC his dream schools, and should be a battle between the two programs as he heads toward a decision next summer — provided the Buckeyes offer, of course.

Mickens, the son of former NFL defensive back Ray Mickens, attended Friday Night Lights last month. He is also a good friend of and trains with cornerback Jeffrey Okudah and plans to return for a game in the fall. Brooks, meanwhile, attends the same high school that produced five-star cornerbacks Shaun Wade and Tyreke Johnson in two-consecutive cycles. The staff is hoping those relationships can overcome his ties to Michigan — his grandparents grew up in Detroit and they and his father are avid fans of the Wolverines.

Gray is committed to hometown Miami, but is a prime flip candidate. He was ecstatic to land an offer from Ohio State this spring, and praised the program’s ability to send players at his position to the NFL. He plans to visit for the first time this fall.

ATHLETE

COMMITS: NONE

TARGETS: Akron Archbishop Hoban four-star DeaMonte Trayanum, New Jersey four-star Jalen Berger

Trayanum could — and maybe should — have been on Thursday’s offensive list, as he’d prefer to play running back at the next level. That’s where Ohio State is recruiting him, too. But there’s still a chance, like four-star commit Steele Chambers this year, he’ll play linebacker at the next level.

Trayanum has two visits scheduled over the next few months, and the Buckeyes are beginning to separate themselves in his recruitment. Given how deep the running back pool is next cycle, I think they’d accept his commitment and figure out his position later.

Berger, last but not least, hails from the same school as four-star defensive end signee Tyler Friday. He also has ties to Ohio, with family in Chillicothe. Ohio State is recruiting Berger as a safety and has certainly taken an early lead in his recruitment, but it’ll be interesting to see how the looming departure of defensive coordinator and area recruiter Greg Schiano impacts Berger and other prospects from the Garden State.

*Note: Ohio State may also be in the market for a kicker and/or punter in 2020, with Blake Haubeil and Drue Chrisman entering their senior and redshirt senior seasons, respectively, that fall.

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