When four-star Florida linebacker Elijah Melendez was offered by Ohio State on Aug. 20, he knew he had just received a significant offer.
Ohio State’s James Laurinaitis, Jim Knowles and defensive assistant Gerren DuHart each hopped on a call with Melendez last month and went into detail about how they view him as a prospect, followed by giving him the offer.
“It felt amazing,” Melendez told Eleven Warriors of receiving his OSU offer. “It was like a ‘Wow’ moment. Coach Laurinaitis said I’m the most physical and explosive linebacker in the country. They really liked watching my film. Coach Knowles said he really likes me and is looking forward to seeing me play over the next year.”
Im beyond blessed to be offered by THE Ohio State University @CoachFrancis15 @CoachBradLennox @Kowboy_Football @JLaurinaitis55 @CoachJimKnowles @ryandaytime @CoachMcGrath22 @CoachDuHart @MattParkerLR @ChadSimmons_ @adamgorney @Andrew_Ivins @OhioState247 @markpantoni @MarcVott pic.twitter.com/aYudmUIudk— Elijah melendez (@Babyman3J) August 20, 2023
Melendez said OSU’s staff told him they could see him playing either Mike or Will at the next level.
Per 247Sports’ composite rankings, the 6-foot-2, 223-pound linebacker is considered the 251st overall prospect and the 28th-best linebacker in the 2024 class. He’s picked up nearly 30 Division I offers, including from Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Cincinnati, Colorado, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisville, LSU, Miami, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh, South Carolina, Texas A&M, UCF and USC.
“I’m fast, I’m violent, I’m physical and have good size and speed,” Melendez said of describing his game. “My motor is non-stop. I play every snap like it’s the last play of my whole career.”
Melendez said he’s hopeful to attend OSU’s contest against Western Kentucky on Sept. 16.
“It’ll be great to see them in person and for them to get a look at my size in person,” Melendez said of what he’s hoping to see on his upcoming visit. “I want to see how the linebackers play and just how the players like it, really. I want to see how the fanbase is and how organized everything is.”
The Florida prospect said he’s already finalized a top seven schools list of Ohio State, Georgia, Alabama, Michigan, Arkansas, Kentucky and Miami. While he’s narrowed down his recruitment, Melendez said he doesn’t have a timeline in mind as of now.
“It’s such a prestigious university,” Melendez said when asked about the most appealing thing about potentially playing for OSU. “The program is legendary, coach Laurinaitis is legendary. Everything is prestigious and top tier.”
Ethan Barbour to commit Sept. 22
One of Ohio State’s tight end targets in the 2025 class is closing in on making a college decision. Four-star Georgia prospect Ethan Barbour has set a final five schools list of Ohio State, Georgia, Alabama, Auburn and South Carolina and plans to make a commitment on Sept. 22.
BREAKING: Four-Star TE Ethan Barbour (2025) tells me he will announce his Commitment on September 22nd!— Hayes Fawcett (@Hayesfawcett3) September 5, 2023
The 63 230 TE from Alpharetta, GA is ranked as a Top 5 TE in the 25 Class
Where Should He Go?https://t.co/jtZozPPfB4 pic.twitter.com/xv09TcUSil
Barbour last visited OSU in November when the Buckeyes played Indiana.
“My visit was great,” Barbour told Eleven Warriors after the trip. “One of my key takeaways was just how thorough they were. They literally discussed everything from what it means to be a Buckeye, how they help you manage your academic schedule, nutrition, and they even discussed how they prepare you for life on and off the field. The level of detail was incredible.”
With his commitment approaching in a few weeks, OSU is not seen as the favorite to land the 6-foot-3, 215-pound prospect. Georgia is seen as the frontrunner throughout the recruiting industry. The Buckeyes' top tight end targets in the 2025 class include Nate Roberts, Luka Gilbert and Emaree Winston.
Tiqwai Hayes puts OSU in his top 8
A 2025 running back with an Ohio State offer has also narrowed down his recruitment. Four-star Pennsylvania prospect Tiqwai Hayes released a top eight on Tuesday consisting of Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Penn State, Michigan, West Virginia, Maryland, Cincinnati and Michigan State.
Hayes earned his offer on April 1 after taking a visit to Columbus. In his sophomore season at Aliquippa (Aliquippa, Pennsylvania), Hayes racked up 2,011 yards on 224 carries with 33 rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown. He also played safety for his team and had three interceptions (two returned for touchdowns), five pass breakups and 11 tackles.
Jeremiah Smith returns to Columbus this weekend
Ohio State’s top-ranked commit in the 2024 class will be back on campus this weekend. Five-star Florida wide receiver Jeremiah Smith announced he’d be in attendance for the Buckeyes’ home opener against Youngstown State, making his first trip back to OSU since his official visit in June.
Back in The this weekend! pic.twitter.com/4ih2MK81my— Jeremiah Smith (@Jermiah_Smith1) September 5, 2023
Smith has gotten off to a nice start in his senior season, catching 10 passes for 112 yards with two touchdowns. While it’s likely he’ll still visit other schools until he signs his National Letter of Intent in December, OSU remains confident Smith will stay committed as long as Brian Hartline and Ryan Day remain in Columbus.
There also should be a handful of important uncommitted Ohio prospects in the 2025 and 2026 classes in attendance this weekend, including Dorian Brew, Marquise Davis and Maxwell Riley. Eleven Warriors will break down the expected visitors for Saturday’s game in Friday’s Hurry-Up.
Maddox Arnold to visit OSU Sept. 16
A three-star linebacker from the 2025 class has confirmed he’ll visit Columbus soon. In-state prospect Maddox Arnold told Eleven Warriors he plans on visiting OSU for the Buckeyes’ contest against Western Kentucky on Sept. 16.
The 6-foot-2, 225-pound prospect has picked up nine Division I offers to this point, including one from Purdue. Other Power Five teams showing interest in Arnold include Duke, Michigan, Kentucky, Stanford, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest, though he does not hold an offer from Ohio State.