Ohio State's coaching staff doesn't seem to need a whole lot of help on the recruiting trail these days.
In his first recruiting class at Ohio State, Ryan Day's group of 2020 commitments currently checks in at No. 4 in the country behind only Clemson, LSU, and Alabama. The Buckeyes still have room to add a few more between now and February. And that – along with reaching the college football playoff – remains one of the staff's top priorities.
This likely goes without saying, but any concerns regarding Buckeye recruiting in the post-Urban Meyer world have been put to rest in a very big way.
Ohio State has raised the bar with its defensive back development and has gained the reputation of becoming the new "DBU" with guys like Marshon Lattimore, Malik Hooker, and Denzel Ward all making names for themselves at the professional level. That will continue next April when Jeffrey Okudah, Damon Arnette, Jordan Fuller, and potentially Shaun Wade all hear their names called.
While Jeff Hafley has done a tremendous job leading the defensive turnaround, Larry Johnson has been the one constant figure dating back to his arrival in Columbus in 2014. Now in his sixth season at Ohio State – and much like his time in Happy Valley – his tenure has been marked by some superb play in the trenches.
Johnson's recruiting and development are two things that we haven't had to worry about. Folks tend to get a bit uneasy when the Buckeyes sign a three-star at practically any position. That isn't really the case along the defensive line as less-touted players like Robert Landers and Davon Hamilton have flourished under Johnson's tutelage.
As for the five-star signees that he's worked with and cultivated in Columbus? Things seem to be going quite well for them, too.
Ohio State defensive ends put on a show last weekend at the collegiate and professional levels. With Chase Young looking like a lock to be a top-five NFL Draft pick, there's a very real possibility that Ohio State could have three of the league's top pass-rushers within the next few years.
On the recruiting front, prospects certainly consider a number of factors when selecting their college destination. This includes the relationship and comfort with the staff, proximity to home, academic fit, and the staff's success at developing players into pro prospects. Needless to say, Larry Johnson's recruiting pitch is at an all-time high.
True freshman Zach Harrison already has the look of the next great Buckeye edge defender as the 6-foot-6, 255-pounder has flashed in limited playing time. While Harrison appears to be next in line, Johnson is going to have plenty of talent at his disposal for the foreseeable future.
Local standout Jack Sawyer may be the best high school pass rusher in America, and the Ohio State commitment won't even join the team until 2021. Already checking in at 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, the five-star is the next big project for Larry Johnson and should continue the long line of stellar play at defensive end.
Johnson has three defensive linemen committed so far for the 2020 class. That includes Cincinnati's Darrion Henry, North Carolina's Jacolbe Cowan, and Pickerington's Ty Hamilton. It's a solid group, but no member of the trio brings the freakish Zach Harrison speed off of the edge.
The Buckeyes are still searching for another pass rusher to help finish off the Class of 2020. It's important to remember that finding someone with the size and speed of a Harrison is not easy. There just aren't many prospects who are over 6-foot-5 and running the forty in about 4.4 seconds.
Johnson and the Buckeyes are looking for someone in the Javontae Jean-Baptiste mold. Now a redshirt freshman, Jean-Baptiste has put on 30 pounds since he arrived in Columbus and is up to 245. He was a long outside linebacker/defensive end prospect coming out of high school who was viewed as more of a developmental player. I'd look for Ohio State to find someone similar between now and February's signing day.
Meanwhile, J.K. Dobbins is looking like the best running back in the country and Ezekiel Elliott has led the NFL in rushing since his arrival in 2016. Yet as we sit here less than two months from the early signing period, Ohio State has yet to land a back for the 2020 class despite it being one of the bigger positional needs.
I suppose that goes to show that there's more to this whole recruiting thing than success on the field and churning out NFL prospects. But with all of the chaos the Bosas and Chase Young are causing in backfields across the country, what defensive line prospect wouldn't want to suit up for Larry Johnson right now?