Before Ohio State was known as DBU or even WRU, it was often seen as LBU because of players like A.J. Hawk and James Laurinaitis.
More recently players such as Ryan Shazier and Raekwon McMillian have helped Ohio State carry on that title. Now in the 2021 class, Ohio State may have found their guy to help them continue the LBU heritage: four-star Reid Carrico.
An Ironton High school product, Carrico already has college linebacker measurements at 6-foot-2 225 pounds, but he is a lot more than just measurables. He put his team on his back this past season both on offense and defense en route to a state runner-up finish.
While he is a very talented and hard runner on offense, his future is definitely on the defensive side of the ball. Carrico is a great athlete in space, blitzes hard from is off the ball position, and just has a natural nose for the ball. All three of these traits are what give Carrico the ability to be a future leader of Ohio State's defense during his time in Columbus, and they're the traits we're going to break down today.
Nose For The Football
One trait that all of the best linebackers have is their ability to find the football or ball carrier every play. Carrico has done that at the high school level and will continue to do that in college because he has a natural nose for the ball.
Every defensive snap Carrico is a player that will either be making the tackle or assisting on a tackle because of this trait.
Here are three plays from his junior film that showcase Carrico's nose for the ball:
- Play one: Middle of the screen, mike linebacker position. Carrico is a tad slow on his read which allows an offensive lineman to engage him. He quickly sheds the blocker and breaks for the ball carrier chasing him down for a minimal gain.
- Play two: Middle of the screen, most inside linebacker. Carrico reads the sweep play to his right. He then sorts through a handful of would-be blockers on his way to stopping the running back for a one-yard gain.
- Play three: Top of the screen, top inside linebacker. He sees the quick handoff coming to his right. Carrico shoots through the line untouched where he meets the runningback stopping him for a loss on the play
This is a trait that often can't be taught, a player either has it or he doesn’t. Luckily for Ohio State, Carrico has it and will bring to the middle of the Buckeyes defense.
There are few plays in the game of football that are more excited than a perfectly-timed linebacker blitz that stuffs the runner.
This is something that Carrico excels at. Not only does he time blitzes well, but he comes through the line with force.
Here are three plays from Carrico's junior highlights that perfectly display his ability as a blitzer:
- Play one: Middle of the screen, center of the field. Carrico perfectly times this middle linebacker blitz in the state title game. As soon as the ball is snapped he is a step past the line of scrimmage and is able to tackle the running back at the exchange point, ruining the whole play.
- Play two: Left of the screen, middle of the field. Once again in the state title game Carrico times, the snap is in the backfield right when the play begins. Luckily for the other team, the play was only a dive so Carrico only tackled him for a loss of one, not seven or eight.
- Play three: Left of the screen, closest inside linebacker. Carrico again times this blitz perfectly waiting for the guard to leave on the trap run play. As the guard leaves Carrico fills his space, burst right through the line and stopping the back for a loss.
Part of being such a good blitzer at the linebacker position is knowing the offense and being able to anticipate the snap count. These plays clearly show how well Carrico prepares for games and how it leads to his on-field success.
Athletic in space
As football modernizes and players become faster, it is crucial that linebackers are not only stout but athletic. Carrico is a player that fits that bill perfectly.
The four-star linebacker has been timed in the 4.5-second range in the 40-yard dash and he very much understands coverages from the linebacker position.
Here are three plays that show Carrico's speed and coverage ability:
- Play one: Top of the screen, top inside linebacker. Carrico reads the pass play very well and drops easily into his middle of the zone. He reads the ball going to the flat route and puts his speed on display on his way to the wide receiver stopping him for a short gain.
- Play two: Middle of the screen, bottom inside linebacker. Carrico reads pass then drops into the middle of the field before seeing the quarterback taking off. As soon as the quarterback pulls the ball down Carrico darts right to him for a quick stop
- Play three: Middle of the screen, center of the field. He sees the quarterback on the bootleg roll out and drops into his coverage responsibility, taking away the check down receiver. One of Carrico's defensive lineman wraps up the quarterback and forces a fumble. Carrico quickly sees the ball on the ground and scoops it up on his way to the end zone for a defensive touchdown.
The first two traits that we discussed have long been important for the linebacker position but in today’s game athleticism reigns supreme – and Carrico has plenty of it.
He still has one high school football season left, but with these traits and his knowledge for the game, Carrico's potential is sky-high.