The Hurry-Up: Larry Johnson Sees Derrick Leblanc Fitting the Jonathon Cooper Mold, More Visitors Added to Buckeye Bash 2.0

By Zack Carpenter on March 26, 2021 at 6:30 pm
Derrick Leblanc

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.

Leblanc could fit Cooper mold, eager for OSU visit

When we first spoke with Osceola (Florida) 2023 prospect Derrick Leblanc after an Ohio State offer was thrown his way in July, it came less than 24 hours after Joey Bosa became the NFL’s highest-paid defensive end. That was just one reason why the ultra-talented strongside defensive end was hyped up, but his excitement mainly revolved around a main opportunity – a chance to one day work with Larry Johnson.

The potential to be coached and mentored by Johnson – plus Ryan Day and Tony Alford, the other two in a trio that Leblanc has grown the closest with on Ohio State’s staff – still has Leblanc enthusiastic about the Buckeyes, which is a major reason why he made Ohio State the first unofficial visit he has set up once the NCAA (hopefully) lifts the dead period. 

“Coach Johnson, I talk to him all the time. He’s just really cool,” Leblanc said. “We watch film a lot on Zoom. It’s just cool to be taught by him. He’s one of the best D-line coaches of all time, and look at the talent he recruits so I’m just like, ‘Wow. That could be me.’”

Even more flattering is the skillset that Johnson has noticed in watching film with Leblanc – and the player whom he is reminiscent of.

“He says that I’m tall and that I can bend the edge,” Leblanc said. “He tells me that a lot of guys my height wouldn’t do that. And the way I play the run, he says a lot of people can’t do it like me. He just watches my film and compares it to what they do in practice.

“He said I play like Jonathon Cooper. He says that the way I play the run is like him, and my pass rush game is like Nick and Joey Bosa. I was smiling, I was cheesing when he told me that. Those are some dudes, now.”

Leblanc is a 6-foot-4, 235-pounder who has plenty of weight to put on but the frame to do it. Because of his ability to stay low and beat people with his quickness off the line, Johnson also believes he has the ability to play at the 3-tech spot if he continues to add that weight. That would make him the classic Larry Johnson recruit – one who can play multiple spots along the defensive line depending on how he grows physically.

Leblanc has an ability to stay low, but Johnson still believes he needs to more consistently work on his pad level – a habit that has plenty of time to be worked out over the next couple years at the high school level.

Leblanfd announced this week that he is intent on making a visit June 4-6 for the Buckeye Bash 2.0 that the Buckeyes’ group of 2022 commits is in the midst of organizing, and he broke down with us why that trip is so important to him.

“I’m really excited because I’ve been waiting to take these visits, and especially to Ohio State, for a long time. So I’m finally gonna get to see it in person,” Leblanc said. “Every time I talk to them they make me feel like I’m one of their players. It’s not always about football. They’ll be asking me about my family and my school and all that. They’ll say that they’re there for you and there to be a good man to you. They’re just really cool people.

“We’ve been talking about it for a while. I wanted to take a visit really bad, but now I think they’re really confident that the dead period is gonna be over by June 4. And that’s when they’re gonna have all the official visits and all that. I’m gonna be on campus with some of the top recruits, which makes me feel special because it makes me feel wanted and all that. That’s what it meant for me.”

As we noted earlier this week, Leblanc already feels close with Ohio State’s 2022 commits, and when he makes that visit in June he feels that he’ll be around people he considers brothers.

“Whenever Ohio State offered me, they were immediately telling me to come join the family,” Leblanc said. “They were on me and kept telling me to commit and that you’ll love it and all that. That’s basically what they’ve been doing. They’re not pressuring me, but they’re just saying to come and that I’ll love it.

“It makes me more comfortable because I’m gonna be with people I really know and that I’ve known for a long time. It just gives me more comfort that this is a school I could go to because I know a lot of people. I don’t feel uncomfortable going there.”

Leblanc does not have a timeline on when he will narrow his list or make a college commitment. If he’s a take by the Ohio State staff, wouldn’t at all be shocked if he chose to end his recruitment in June.

Others add names to Buckeye Bash 2.0 visitor list

In addition to Leblanc telling us he will visit for that June 4-6 big recruiting weekend in Columbus, some other players have added their names to the list as well.

IMG (Florida) Academy defensive tackle Nick James announced on Twitter his intentions to visit. James is one of the less-talked about defensive line targets in the 2022 class, but we made amends to that earlier this week when James broke down with Eleven Warriors why Ohio State sits right up there with Florida and Alabama among his top schools.

Allatoona (Georgia) tight end Bennett Christian has been committed to Ohio State since September. He is also likely headed up to Columbus that weekend, which would bring the total number of commits intent on visiting to eight out of 11 thus far.

Center Grove (Indiana) defensive tackle Caden Curry is likely to visit that weekend as well. Curry is one of Ohio State’s top-three targets in the 2022 cycle and one of its top-three positions of need. His visit would be one of the most important the Buckeyes could get for that weekend if he makes the trip.

Header photo: Derrick Leblanc – Andrew Ivins/247Sports

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