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 earned the commitment of Maryland outside linebacker Mitchell Melton on Wednesday, when he chose the Buckeyes over Michigan and Notre Dame.
Melton is rated as the No. 657 overall prospect and the No. 43 outside linebacker in the class of 2020.
Let’s take a look at the impact his commitment will have on Ohio State’s 2020 recruiting class.
On The Field
It’s important not to underestimate Melton because of his lackluster ratings that make him the fifth-lowest-ranked commit in the 17-player class. He can perform on the field, and he could do so from either inside or outside linebacker.
He doesn’t have the athleticism of recent Ohio State commit Cody Simon, but he attempts to make up for it with his intelligence. His reads before and during plays are at an elite level for the high school game. Since he isn’t the fastest linebacker – he ran a 4.87-second 40-yard dash in May – getting in the right position is crucial.
Melton’s 4.27-second shuttle is what jumps out. For comparison, Simon ran a 4.19 at The Opening Finals and placed better than 98 percent of linebackers tested. Those are the best linebackers in the country. Melton has good lateral movement and weighs 235 pounds compared to Simon’s 220 pounds.
Melton could certainly develop into a linebacker that leads a defense with communication and understanding of the philosophy.
In The Class
As the spring ran on and spring practices came to a close, it appeared finding a linebacker in the 2020 class was going to be a difficult task for the Buckeyes. Relationships with some of the top linebackers in the class – Sav’ell Smalls, Justin Flowe and Antoine Sampah – faded, and Mekhail Sherman’s commitment to Georgia was the cherry on top.
The lone candidate for the spot seemed to be Mitchell Melton, until the Buckeyes extended an offer to Cody Simon in May and earned a commitment from him on Saturday. And after Melton’s official visit to Michigan a couple weeks ago, it seemed like he was leaning toward Michigan. Taking Simon seemed to possibly mean losing Melton.
Michigan then added two more linebackers on top of the three it already had committed. With Ohio State only having Simon as a true linebacker in its class, the Buckeyes were a good spot for Melton to land.
Off The Field
Ohio State linebackers coach Al Washington has come into the Ohio State program, helped introduce the Bullet position, recruited for that position and is assisting in the development of players there. But he also needed to add true linebackers, and he has done so recently.
Simon committed to the Buckeyes last weekend, and now Melton makes it two for the class.
By the time the 2020 class hits campus, Malik Harrison and Justin Hilliard will have left the program, and Pete Werner, Tuf Borland and Baron Browning will be seniors at the position, meaning Washington will need to develop many of the young players within the room with many questions left ahead for the linebackers.
Bringing in Simon and Melton, two players with advanced bodies – though different types of linebackers – is another step forward in that regard. That is on top of the current freshman trio of linebackers that includes Cade Stover, Tommy Eichenberg and Craig Young.