We continue the Better Know a Buckeye series with its 7th installment in 2018. Here, we profile Dallas Gant, a linebacker from Toledo.
- Size: 6-3/225
- Position: LB
- Hometown: Toledo, OH
- School: St. John's Jesuit
- 247 Composite: ★★★★
- National Ranking: 166
- Position Ranking: 10 (OLB)
- State Ranking: 5 (OH)
- Under Armour All-American
Dallas Gant's recruitment largely hinges on three schools, but especially Notre Dame and Ohio State. Michigan State was his first major offer though successive offers on back-to-back days from the Buckeyes and the Irish in June 2016 conditioned his recruitment for the next year. Gant weighed the superlatives of both programs before selecting Ohio State, notwithstanding Ohio State's loaded linebacker corp.
I retell this story below. I position Gant's recruitment as usual for most for top-tier Ohio prospects. His offer sheet started small but soon drew the interest from Michigan State, Notre Dame, and Ohio State. I discuss his commitment and, importantly, how someone with strong Michigan connections ultimately did not consider the Wolverines that much during his recruitment. Thereafter, I provide a scouting report of a linebacker prospect with a great endowment of athleticism and instincts. I conclude that we can expect to see Gant on special teams in 2018 and offer some highlight film to watch at the end of the feature.
Dallas Gant finished as the No. 5 prospect in Ohio and eventually signed with Ohio State, but his recruitment how these typically start for even the best Buckeye State football players. His offer sheet started small and relatively early into his high school career. His first interest came from the in-state MAC schools and Toledo, the MAC program in the city, was his first offer the summer before his sophomore year.
More Dallas Gant at 11W
It was clear Gant would be too big a product to land at a MAC school. He got his first "Power Five" offer when Matt Campbell, previously Toledo's coach, extended to him an Iowa State offer from Campbell's new job in Ames. A few more followed in the spring from the likes of Boston College, Kentucky, and Rutgers.
However, three major programs ultimately defined Gant's recruitment until he announced his commitment. Michigan State might have been the first "major" offer Gant received. He was in East Lansing for an unofficial visit in April 2016 and the offer catapulted the Spartans to the top of his list heading into the summer.
— Dallas Gant (@dallas_gant) April 23, 2016
Ohio State and Notre Dame offered in succession on June 17-18, 2016. Ohio State hosted Gant for a one-day camp and his performance there wowed Ohio State coaches. They effectively offered him on the spot and Gant shared the news with local media outlets.
— Derick Gant (@derickgant) June 17, 2016
Notre Dame offered the same day he also disclosed that Ohio State offered him. Gant was in South Bend for Notre Dame's "Irish Invasion" event. His performance there left a similar impression on the coaching staff. Mike Elston, then Notre Dame's linebackers coach, called Gant while he was on the road back to Toledo to inform him of the offer. A student at a Catholic high school, the offer from Notre Dame was definitely high on Gant's list.
— Dallas Gant (@dallas_gant) June 19, 2016
The offers in succession allowed some Notre Dame recruitniks to press Gant on what he thought about the two and whether he had any immediate rankings. Gant was diplomatic about both programs.
I love Ohio State too. They have great people as well. Great coaches. I love coach (Luke) Fickell, who is the linebackers coach. He helps recruit my area as well as coach (Greg Studrawa). I love their campus as well. It’s an elite program as well as Notre Dame. It’s going to be very exciting to see which school I choose. There are other schools involved, but those are obviously going to be high up there.
Gant acquired several other major offers. Penn State and UCLA offered shortly afterward and Michigan even made a late push. However, it was these three programs that effectively shaped Gant's recruitment. Michigan State was the first big offer and it led to some early crystal ball projections that he would go to Michigan State. The successive offers from Ohio State and Notre Dame ultimately whittled his commitment to two choices.
Gant labored over the two programs through the fall and spring. He took several visits in the 2016 season, arriving in South Bend to watch the Irish play Michigan State and Stanford and visiting Columbus for Ohio State's games against Nebraska and Michigan.
He identified superlatives he liked about both. Notre Dame offered a high football pedigree and cultural familiarity. Ohio State offered a comparable pedigree with great post-football career-planning. Notre Dame may have offered a better and quicker path to the field but Ohio State could better and more reliably challenge for national championships.
Gant wrestled over which program he liked best and even visited both programs on a week turnaround in April of last year before announcing his decision the next month.
Dallas Gant committed to Ohio State on May 16, 2017 as the 7th member of what would become Ohio State's full 2018 recruiting class. He chose Ohio State primarily over Notre Dame and Michigan State.
— Dallas Gant (@dallas_gant) May 16, 2017
The aforementioned discussion omitted Michigan, which did not play a large role in his recruitment all things considered. The reasons why are rather amusing.
"Gant" should ring a bell for long-time fans of the rivalry. Dallas Gant's uncle, Tony, played at Michigan from 1982-1986. It would make him a contemporary Jim Harbaugh, who played at Michigan at that exact time. Tony Gant's son, Allen, (i.e. Dallas Gant's cousin) played at Michigan from 2012-2015 and even just joined Harbaugh's program as a football assistant. Dallas Gant's father, James, was a longtime fan of Michigan given these connections.
It's any wonder Dallas Gant isn't at Michigan right now. However, Gant explained that Michigan just came too late to the party.
"I'm excited to be a part of the Ann Arbor and Columbus battle... Michigan made their appearance pretty late, but it was cool. I went down to visit ad loved it. I loved Coach Harbaugh. It was a great time down there, but they just kind of game in late. Overall, I just felt more comfortable at Ohio State."
Gant signed with Ohio State during the early signing day period and enrolled at The Ohio State University in January.
— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) December 20, 2017
WHERE HE EXCELS
Dallas Gant is an athletic linebacker who plays well in space whose most likely path to the two-deep will see him factor into either the Sam or Will positions.
I could talk up his ability to get sideline to sideline. You'll see that in his highlight film despite most of his highlight film showing him in the middle. One thing that intrigues me the most about Gant is he was about 180 pounds just two years ago. If there was a legit worry he wouldn't land a major offer, it was probably because he was too skinny and it was unclear if he could pack on the weight necessary to play for a program like Michigan State, Ohio State, or Notre Dame. He's now about 235 pounds and only getting stronger since he enrolled early.
Long story short, that doesn't happen to a high school football player unless he works his ass off to do it. That's quite a testament to his character and humility.
MUST WORK ON
There is some residual concern about how exactly Gant sees the field. He has the length to play outside and the instincts to play inside. I think you can tell he wants to play inside. It's where he spent most of his time playing in high school, but that flexibility he boasts will want to become a specialized focus in the next few years. It's not uncommon for linebackers to move in or out but it'd be useful for Gant to find the position for which he's best suited in the long run and focus on that.
Further, Gant's ability in pass coverage is underdeveloped to say the least. That's just a function of high school, which is a far more run-intensive game than the college game is. He'll need to work on recognizing pass plays and covering tight ends down the field.
I don't see an immediate path to the linebacker two-deep in 2018 despite Gant's early enrollment. However, he's the exact type for special teams duties, especially on kickoffs. Expect Gant to see the field in 2018 on special teams with an eye toward making an impact on the linebacker two-deep in 2019.
Here are junior-year highlights of Dallas Gant.