Top-100 Prospect Elijah Barnes Says He Enjoyed His First Trip to Ohio State and the Buckeyes View Him As a “Priority”

By Garrick Hodge on March 24, 2024 at 5:22 pm
Elijah Barnes

One of Ohio State’s top linebacker targets in the 2025 class made his first trip to Columbus this weekend.

Four-star Texas linebacker Elijah Barnes enjoyed his visit to Ohio State over a multi-day stretch, with the trip exceeding expectations for the 6-foot-2, 225-pound prospect.

“It was a good experience to just get up here and see the city,” Barnes told Eleven Warriors. “I got to meet all the coaches and players. It was a good experience. I wasn’t expecting Columbus to be this big, it’s a really nice city with great people all around.” 

Barnes watched the Buckeyes’ practice on Saturday and was impressed by the intensity displayed by Ohio State’s linebackers and coaches.

“It was a great practice, very intensive,” Barnes said. “I was watching inside drills and it was just a bunch of guys fighting on every play and competing. You could tell they were vying for a spot on the field.” 

While on the visit, Barnes had a productive conversation with linebackers coach James Laurinaitis. On this visit, the discussion mostly centered around his fit in the Buckeyes’ defense. 

“He was pretty much telling me that I’m a priority to him and the coaching staff,” Barnes said. “We didn’t talk too much about all the other things, but we sat down and talked some ball.”

Barnes said he and Laurinaitis talk about once or twice a week. The Texas prospect also spoke at length on his visit with defensive coordinator Jim Knowles, who echoed Laurinaitis’ sentiments. 

“He told me pretty much the same thing, that I’m a priority to them and that I’d be a great fit in their defense. This is the defense that he wants me in and he really loves how I play,” Barnes said.

Laurinaitis has told Barnes that he envisions him as a Mike linebacker at the next level, but Laurinaitis loves his versatility and ability to contribute in multiple ways on the field. 

“He said I’d be more of a Mike linebacker, but they can move me around a bit,” Barnes said. “And rush the passer a little bit. That’s what I want to do when I get to college. I can do a little bit of both, that’s the versatile aspect of it.” 

Following his first visit to Ohio State, Barnes said the Buckeyes have made a favorable impression on him and will be a factor going forward in his recruitment. Barnes earned his offer from OSU last May and is considered the 98th-ranked player and the 14th-best prospect in the 2025 class per 247Sports’ composite rankings.

“Ohio State, I love how they are up there,” Barnes said. “Just the coaching staff, they’ve shown love to me and my family. There’s still more visits to come so I’ve got to see everything and talk to my parents about everything. Then I’ll figure out who I like the most.” 

In Barnes’ junior season, he recorded 65 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, three sacks, four interceptions and six forced fumbles. 

“My speed,” Barnes said of his greatest on-field attribute. “I feel like most linebackers don’t have the type of speed I have and my ability. I can do multiple things on the field. I can play multiple positions and also play running back. I can do multiple things on the field and I think that makes me a great player.” 

Barnes said Ohio State will likely receive an official visit sometime this summer, but he hasn’t set a specific date yet. Other schools drawing consideration for Barnes include Texas, Texas A&M, Alabama, Oregon and Nebraska. The Texas prospect says he hopes to have his recruitment wrapped up before the start of his senior season.

“I want to go somewhere where I’m a priority to them,” Barnes said of the factors in his recruitment. “I’m also looking for opportunities early. I’m hoping to play early and make an impact.”

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