Ohio State's Defensive Tackle Recruiting Still Very Much a Mystery Midway Through 2019 Cycle

By Andrew Ellis on July 31, 2018 at 2:15 pm
Larry Johnson and the Buckeyes may be looking to snag a pair of tackles for 2019.

Heading into the 2019 recruiting cycle, the defensive tackle position wasn't viewed as a priority unit like the more needy wide receiver, defensive end, and offensive lines. This was thanks to a ridiculous 2018 haul that featured five-star Taron Vincent and a trio of four-star prospects in Tommy Togiai, Tyler Friday (who can man a number of spots), and JUCO standout Antwuan Jackson. 

We initially had speculated the the Buckeyes could potentially finish off the 2019 class without signing a single player at the position, though for the most part the projection has been for one tackle to sign with Ohio State in December or February.

The Ohio State class checks in at No. 7 in America, and defensive tackle is the only non-special teams position that has yet to be addressed. We're now midway through the cycle and it's looking as though Larry Johnson and Co. could bring in a pair of interior linemen.

New names continue to emerge and one of the staff's top targets recently was scratched when Missouri's Etinosa Reuben pledged to Clemson on Sunday. Right now there seems to be more questions than answers when it comes to Ohio State's 2019 defensive tackle recruiting. 

Some are questioning why a couple of four-star in-state prospects have garnered seemingly zero attention from the Buckeyes' staff. But who are we to interrogate someone who's been working with defensive linemen dating back to the year the original Mario Bros. was introduced to the world? 

Let's reset the board a bit and look at who remains in the picture, who the most likely options are, and how the Buckeyes may fare at the position between now and February's signing day. 

Faatui Tuitele • Honolulu, Hawaii • 6-foot-4, 299 pounds • ★★★★• Pos. Rank: No. 3 • Nat. Rank: No. 40

The country's No. 3 defensive tackle hails from the state of Hawaii and the Buckeyes are currently sitting in his top five. The problem is that they're probably closer to the five hole than the top of that list. Faatui Tuitele was in Columbus back in April, but right now it appears that Alabama may be the team to beat. Washington, Texas, and Clemson rounded out the top five, but it's tough to rule out the Trojans even though they didn't make the early cut. 

Right now this one is probably a pipe dream at best for the Buckeyes. 

Tyler Davis • Apopka, Florida • 6-foot-1, 293 pounds • ★★★★ • Pos. Rank: No. 10 • Nat Rank: No. 143 

Apopka, Florida's Tyler Davis is one of the higher rated tackles on the board, but it looks as though the Buckeyes may be focusing their efforts elsewhere. Ohio State was the early team to beat for the four-star and he's been mentioned in our class projections, but a recent wave of crystal balls show that the tide may be turning. 

I submitted my pick for the Seminoles back on July 11 and feel no reason to change that at the moment. There have been some rumblings that the staff may be concerned about Davis's size, so we will have to see if the Buckeyes end up pushing for the country's No. 10 tackle. 

D'Von Ellies • Owings Mills, Maryland • 6-foot-2, 280 pounds • ★★★ • Pos. Rank: No. 27 • Nat. Rank: No. 421 

Larry Johnson is the king of the DMV, and Owings Mills, Maryland defensive tackle D'Von Ellies has seen his recruitment blow up of late. A three-star prospect, Ellies has landed offers from Florida and Penn State over the last few days. It was once looking like an Ohio State/Virginia Tech battle, but the new offers may slow things down a bit. 

Earlier this month, Ellies had a cryptic tweet potentially indicating that a commitment could be coming, and this was right around the time the Buckeyes really turned up the heat following an impressive camp performance. It's now looking like an announcement could come in August, and I've personally still got the Buckeyes in this one. 

Jared Harrison-Hunte • Middle Village, NY • 6-foot-4, 286 pounds • ★★★ • Pos. Rank: No. 33 • Nat. Rank: No. 529

Following last month's Friday Night Lights spectacle, Jared Harrison-Hunte couldn't stop raving about Ohio State and Larry Johnson. The three-star earned a Buckeye offer at the event and I submitted a crystal ball pick shortly thereafter. That submission is surrounded by six other picks and each one of them is in favor of the Nittany Lions. 

Penn State has been involved much longer and actually offered back in March, so this one is hardly a slam dunk for either team. There was some speculation that Harrison-Hunte could commit at the Nittany Lions' Lasch Bash, but the event has since come and gone without any sort of announcement. 

Sidenote: this is the exact lower body you want in a defensive tackle:

Georgia threw its hat into the ring last week and that's always an offer that can shake things up entirely. As for now, Harrison-Hunte is planning on taking official visits before announcing his school of choice.  

We mentioned some in-state tackles, but at this point it doesn't seem likely that the Buckeyes will make a push for either Cincinnati's Jowon Briggs or Columbus St. Francis DeSales' Rodas Johnson.

Briggs is the country's No. 5 player at the position but schools like Notre Dame and Ohio State pumped the brakes after early offers. He's since committed to Virginia. The Buckeyes haven't offered Johnson and a number of schools actually prefer him at guard. 

Again, this isn't exactly a position of great need, but it is one to watch in the coming months. D'Von Ellies and Jared Harrison-Hunte are looking like the most realistic options right now, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see Ohio State make a push now that Etinosa Reuben is off the board. 

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