The Hurry-Up: Ohio State's 2021 Class Has a Higher Per-Player Average Than the 2017 Class, Gabe Powers the Buckeyes' Top 2022 LB Target

By Zack Carpenter on March 18, 2020 at 6:30 pm
Gabe Powers
Gabe Powers

The Hurry-Up is your nightly dose of updates from the Ohio State football recruiting trail, keeping tabs on the latest from commits and targets from around the country.

Eclipsing the 2017 class

From Sunday-Tuesday, Ohio State pulled off one of the best recruiting stretches in the country the 2021 cycle has seen thus far. The Buckeyes are on a tear, shoring up the two biggest positional areas of need (defensive back and running back) with two cornerbacks, a safety with the ability to slide over to slot corner and a home-run threat running back with burners and a terrific set of hands.

They are still far from done at those positions, as a second high-caliber running back remains of highest priority, as does grabbing at least one more defensive back. But that stretch has pushed the Buckeyes closer to making program history with their first No. 1 class in the modern recruiting era and a shot at the best-ever recruiting class. 

With a long way to go, of course, they have their highest-ever per-player average rating (.9509). That would be higher than any average in the Urban Meyer, including the lauded 2017 class, which finished with the highest per-player average in the class (.9459).

Powers the Buckeyes' top 2022 LB target

But we’re going to take a mini break from discussing the 2021 cycle to look ahead to the 2022 class today with a guy who projects to be, far and away, Ohio State’s No. 1 target at a position of need in the next class and a guy who will be blowing up nationally over the next year as one of the best defensive talents in the country – and he’s right in the Buckeyes’ backyard.

Marysville (Ohio) High School linebacker Gabe Powers, who lives just a half hour away from Ohio State’s campus, had already been told by 247Sports scouts that he would be one of the top-ranked guys in the 2022 class once the rankings came out. He told us that on Sunday, and on Wednesday that came to fruition, as Powers has been ranked No. 43 overall nationally and No. 4 at outside linebacker in the first 247Sports rankings for the sophomore class.

Powers’ ability and the fact that Ohio State is likely looking to sign at least two linebackers – possibly three – in the 2021 class are why linebackers coach Al Washington established such an early relationship with Powers, offering him in November after traveling over to Marysville to watch the 6-foot-4, 215-pound outside linebacker showcase athleticism and toughness to mesh with size.

“They say like me a lot,” Powers told Eleven Warriors this week. “They just talk about my position and just talk about life because you wanna build those relationships, and they just wanna know how my grades are going and everything’s going outside of football. … I feel like I’m being prioritized a lot. They like my toughness, and (Washington) just likes the way I play the game.”

Even though communication is limited due to Powers being a sophomore, he has already established a good relationship with Ryan Day – who visited Powers in January – and Washington and Washington’s family.

“It’s real strong,” Powers said of his bond with Washington. “I love him as a coach, and I love him as a person. At those games, I met some of his family there. Great family, good atmosphere, and I really like him.”

Unfortunately, recruiting has slowed way down because of the nationwide temporary dead period, and Powers’ plans of visiting Notre Dame on April 4 and his plans of visiting at least two Ohio State spring practices were nixed. 

“I don’t really know the next steps,” Powers said. “I’m taking as many visits as I can, just seeing the campus, the coaches and the players and everything; see where I really fit in because it’s early right now so I just wanna see where I fit in the best. … It’s hard when you can’t really talk to the coaches.”

Fortunately, though, Powers is not a soon-to-be senior who has to soon make a college decision. That’s one of the reasons for Ohio State’s influx of recruits this week – not knowing the next time they will be allowed to visit college campuses is leading to some uncertainties and players are wanting to lock themselves into a class before another player does.

Class of 2022 players are not facing the same pressure. With another year to evaluate things and take visits, they have the luxury of being more patient. Powers is in the same boat, saying that he’s overall unaffected by the inability to take visits. 

Washington breaking down film

Even though he will be unable to get to Columbus for a while, he’s still very familiar with the Buckeye program and how Washington runs his linebackers room. The coach has shown him film of the Buckeye linebackers and how they conduct things at the Woody.

“He was just showing me their practices and their throwing technique of how they shed blockers off and then showing in the game how practice relates to the game and how it translates to the game,” Powers said. “For the shedding blocks, he showed me how they hit the pads and how they throw them one way or the other. And he was showing me bag drills for your footwork and specific stuff they do.”

And similar to how Washington broke down Reid Carrico’s film – which helped the in-state Ironton linebacker look at Washington more fondly – Washington has already done the same for Powers, a player who is likely to end up as Ohio’s top-ranked linebacker in his class just like Carrico in the 2021 class.

“He’s broken down my film but not with me,” Powers said. “I still need to work on staying low is what he tells me. Everything else will come – speed and stuff will come as you keep playing the game.”

Tigers hunting too

Powers has also caught the eye of Clemson’s coaching staff, as the Tigers have contacted Powers’ head coach and his father (also a coach on the Marysville staff) to tell them that they intend to offer Powers in May or June.

“That’s real special,” Powers said. “That meant a lot to me ‘cause Clemson is a school that I would really look into, too. So it’s really special to me to have them give that compliment to me.”

Clemson has not yet offered any players in the 2022 class and their 62 total offers in the 2021 class is among the lowest number of offers in the nation. The plan for the Tigers is to only offer four outside linebackers in the next cycle, and the first two to commit will be accepted – sort of a first-come, first-serve scenario.

“(The Clemson coach) said they don’t often look up to Ohio for their linebackers, but they said I’m very special and they want me there,” Powers said.

Initial rankings

Going back to those initial Top247 rankings for a second, Powers is one of two Ohioans to be ranked inside the top 100, alongside Lakota West offensive tackle Tegra Tshabola, who's ranked No. 69.

Here are some other key Top 150 guys to keep an eye right now whom Ohio State is pursuing:

Dayton's C.J. Hicks at No. 162 is another to keep in mind, though the Buckeyes have yet to offer the sophomore from Archbishop Alter who is the third-ranked Ohioan in the class and the nation's 15th-ranked athlete.

In other rankings news, following Tuesday's commitment from Andre Turrentine, five Buckeye assistants are ranked in the top 10 of 247Sports' recruiter rankings:

  • No. 1 Brian Hartline
  • No. 2 Tony Alford
  • No. 4 Kerry Coombs
  • No. 7 Larry Johnson
  • No. 8 Al Washington
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