While we've given you a ton of insider interviews over the last couple of months, it has been awhile since the last "Rundown". It's time to get back at it.
We find ourselves in mid-October, and the recruiting picture looks incredibly different than it did a few months ago. At the end of the summer, the only perceived need was really the wide receiver spot for the Buckeyes. After an incredible haul of linebackers and defensive lineman in the 2012 class and a handful of defensive backs in this class, the defense appeared to be in good standing. The on the field product has changed the focus though.
Thanks to a lot of mediocre play and several players not developing as quickly as expected, the staff is pursuing a bevy of defensive players to fill the gaping needs at linebacker and safety. Obviously, playmakers at wide receiver has continued to be a focus, but the renewed interest in defensive back seven is definitely the story right now for Ohio State recruiting. Considering the losses coming at the end of the season, especially if Roby and Hankins go pro, this is something that is a critical need.
Let's take a look at the player's Ohio State is after, and some other recruiting headlines in this edition of the Recruiting Rundown.
There has arguably been no more disappointing position this season than linebacker. Obviously the sheer amount of transfers over the last few years has played a role, as well as injuries this year, but there are several guys like Curtis Grant that haven't lived up to expectations. While there are likely some future starters in the group of five linebackers that the staff signed a year ago, the coaches still need bodies at the position. Sabino and Klein are gone after the season, and more help is immediately needed.
In fact, the situation is bad enough that the staff has started recruiting a JUCO linebacker, Auston Johnson. He plays middle linebacker for El Camino Community College in Torrance, California, which is the position that the staff is most worried about at the moment. Johnson also has good size at 6-1 235 pounds and is planning on visiting Columbus next month for the Michigan game. He holds one offer from Texas A&M, but is hearing from several other schools. The Buckeyes would likely land him if they eventually offer.
That haven't stopped recruiting top 2013 linebackers either. In fact, they just offered Trey Johnson, who also happens to be projected as a MIKE at the next level as well. The 6-2 218 pound product from Lawrenceville, GA, who is a Auburn commitment currently, is looking around and plans on visiting some of the schools that are still recruiting him hard. The Buckeyes appear to have him locked for the Michigan game, and the instant playing time combined with Auburn's issues could make a difference.
Of course, keep your eye on Mike Mitchell and Skai Moore over the coming weeks as well. While there is not much to report on Moore at the moment, Mitchell was in attendance for the LSU-Texas A&M game Saturday, as the Aggies are one of his four finalist. He has kept things incredibly close to the vest, and it really is tough to gauge who leads for his services. While Ohio State was once rumored to be the heavy favorite, they have yet to get a visit and experts seem to disagree about the Buckeyes chances. Wescott Eberts of SBNation had this to say prior to this weekend:
Keeping Tabs on Playmakers
While Jalin Marshall and Taivon Jacobs are a good start for the Buckeyes, the staff is far from satisfied. In fact, their desire to enhance the position can be seen in the sheer number of players they are still recruiting at wide receiver.
Arguably the guy on the top of the big board for the staff is still James Quick. While hometown Louisville has long been considered the favorite with Ohio State in second, that gap may have closed a bit recently. He was in attendance for the Nebraska game and came away impressed, which shouldn't come as a surprise considering the atmosphere and performance he witnessed. While the visit was enough to possibly even up the race, this will be a fight until the end. The Buckeyes will host him again for the Michigan game, which should give some promise. The rumors about Charlie Strong taking the Arkansas job could alter this race as well.
Cleveland Heights product Shelton Gibson still seems on track to end up in Columbus, and he's made it clear he favors the Buckeyes. Off the field he appears to still have work to do, which is becoming increasingly ambiguous. Still in the end, the Buckeyes need him and he wants to be a Buckeye bad enough to get those "things" done.
USC commitment Sebastian LaRue (Santa Monica, CA) is also very much on the staff's radar. The 5-11 195 pound senior has been told by the staff that they want to use him in the Percy Harvin role, and they at least have his ear. While he remains committed to the Trojans he seems open to checking things out, and like every other prospect list above, will be in Columbus for the Michigan game. There's a long way to go, but a visit is a good start.
This Last Weekend
The Buckeyes welcomed in a small group of prospects for the Purdue game, which was comprised of 2014 prospects. The one exception was Cornelius Elder, who is the fourth wide receiver on the top of the big board.
Elder was on the trip following an great performance on ESPNU as his team (Ensworth) battled Brentwood Academy last Friday night, that also featured Jalen Ramsey. He carried the ball 40 times for 296 yards and two touchdowns. The kid is a gamer for sure. As for the visit, he seemed to enjoy himself and tweeted this following the game.
On a serious note, his recruitment could come down to whether or not he is afforded the chance to also play basketball at Ohio State. He's a very talented point guard that has been given that opportunity at UCLA, who is the biggest threat to the Buckeyes right now. In fact, he will be checking out the Bruins in a couple of weeks.