Established October 31, 1996
Advertisements Disabled
Advertisements Disabled

More Football

Popular Links

Ozone Links
Looking Forward: Buckeye Linebackers in 2017 and Beyond
By Ben van Ooyen
Baron Browning is definitely part of Ohio State's linebacker future.
Photo courtesy Student Sports

When Dante Booker went down early in the year with a knee injury, many were concerned that Jerome Baker might struggle in his first meaningful action as a Buckeye. Boy, were they wrong. Baker came in and filled in more than adequately for Ohio State, alongside Chris Worley and departing junior Raekwon McMillan. With McMillan gone to the NFL, it is expected that the Buckeyes will have Baker, Worley and Booker as their three main linebackers in 2017, however there are a host of other guys who will be pushing to get on the field and make an impact.

Losing McMillan certainly hurts, but the Buckeyes' biggest loss might have been the loss of Luke Fickell to Cincinnati. Fickell was a great recruiter and developed quite a few NFL linebackers in his time as coach. Bill Davis will take over for Fickell and he hasn’t coached at the college level since his graduate assistant days at Michigan State back in 1991. Davis coached in the NFL for 23 seasons and brings a wealth of knowledge to the Buckeye coaching staff. It will be interesting to see how he adapts to recruiting at the college level.

The Buckeyes currently have commitments from two linebackers in the class of 2017 in Pete Werner and Baron Browning. At one point the Buckeyes also had Antjuan Simmons committed, but he made an unauthorized trip to visit Michigan State, and since then decommitted and just announced his commitment on Saturday to Michigan State. Another potential linebacker was Brendon White out of Powell, Ohio. However, he enrolled early and has since been moved to wide receiver.

Werner joined the Buckeye recruiting class back in early December after a late November visit to Ohio State while a member of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish class. That was followed up by a visit by Luke Fickell, which then led to Werner’s decommitment from Notre Dame. He then made an official visit to Ohio State a couple of weeks later and announced his commitment. Werner is ranked as the No. 17 overall outside linebacker in the class of 2017, and is the No. 2 player from the state of Indiana. It is certainly possible that he could move from outside linebacker to middle linebacker depending on what the Buckeyes needs are going forward.

Baron Browning’s recruitment was a bit of a roller coaster at the end, with him even calling Urban Meyer to tell him that he had committed to Alabama as a joke before actually committing to Meyer and Ohio State. Browning might be the most likely to come in right away and get some early playing time, as he is enrolled at Ohio State for spring semester and will get a full spring practice along with the upperclassmen. Browning played in the U.S. Army All-American Game last weekend and played a solid game. He showed that he can fill the hole and tackle, and also play in coverage when needed.

The Buckeyes are probably done recruiting at linebacker for 2017, as they had three in the 2016 class with Keandre Jones, Malik Harrison, and Tuf Borland. Jones and Harrison both saw some limited playing time last year and will look to push for more playing time next year along with Borland.

2017 Depth Chart

Commitments

Freshman

Sophomore

Junior

Senior

Pete Werner

Baron Browning

Tuf Borland (RS)

Nick Conner (RS)

Justin Hilliard (RS)

Keandre Jones

Malik Harrison

Jerome Baker

Dante Booker (RS)

Chris Worley (RS)

The Buckeyes will likely lose a couple of linebackers to the NFL out of Chris Worley, Jerome Baker and Dante Booker next year, so they will be out to replace them with kids from the class of 2018. While the Buckeyes do not hold a commitment from any linebackers from the 2018 class, they are in good shape with a few of the top overall recruits from the class.

The Buckeyes at one point had three kids from Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas committed, until Tyjon Lindsey left the class earlier this week. That shouldn’t stop the momentum that the Buckeyes have, as the No.1 linebacker in the class of 2018, Palaie Gaoteote, hails from that same school. Gaoteote has 25 offers to date, and made an unofficial visit to Columbus back in October. Right now the crystal ball projections are heavily trending toward Ohio State. With teammates Tate Martell and Haskell Garrett in his ear about Ohio State, this one looks good for the Buckeyes.

There are a couple of top-flight recruits from the state of Ohio that the Buckeyes have on their radar as well, in Dallas Gant and Christopher Oats. Gant hails from Toledo, Ohio and currently holds 15 offers. He has visited Pittsburgh, Michigan State, Penn State and Notre Dame along with the Buckeyes and I expect those teams to be the major players for his services. Oates is from Cincinnati, Ohio and currently he has 10 offers. Oats has been a frequent visitor to Ohio State and was most recently in attendance for the Michigan game this past November.

I expect that the Buckeyes will take at least three linebackers in this class, and would venture to guess that they would be Gaoteote, Oates, and Gant. Other linebackers with Buckeye offers so far are Teradja Mitchell, a 5-star out of Virginia, Solomon Tuliaupupu, a 4-star out of California, and Adrian Jackson, a 4-star out of Colorado.

2018 Depth Chart

Commitments

Freshman

Sophomore

Junior

Senior

Pete Werner (?)

Baron Browning (?)

Tuf Borland (RS)

Nick Conner (RS)

Justin Hilliard (RS)

Keandre Jones

Malik Harrison

Jerome Baker

Dante Booker (RS)

2019 is still a ways away, but that hasn’t stopped the Buckeye coaches from reaching out and extending offers to some of the best linebackers in the country. Owen Pappoe is a 5-star linebacker out of Loganville, Georgia who has over 34 offers as only a sophomore. He naturally has the pick of the litter where he wants to play his college football, and the Buckeyes will certainly try and reach into Georgia to try and replicate what they got out of Raekwon McMillan.

Some other players with Buckeye offers are Mikel Jones out of Florida, and teammates Anthony Solomon and Daniel Carter out of St. Thomas Aquinas in Jacksonville. The Buckeyes are very familiar with Aquinas as both of the Bosa brothers played their high school football there.

The Buckeyes have been putting linebackers into the NFL forever. With guys like Ryan Shazier, Darron Lee, and Joshua Perry just the last few years, and Raekwon McMillan likely to be a high draft pick this year, the trend has not slowed down. Now that Luke Fickell is gone and Billy Davis will be coaching the linebackers, it will be interesting to see if there are any changes to the way that Ohio State will recruit linebackers going forward.

* * * * *
To Contribute by mail Make checks and mail to:
Ozone Communications, LLC
1351 King Avenue, Ste 100B
Columbus, Ohio 43212

Help us bring you more Buckeye coverage. Contribute to the-Ozone.

(c) 1996-2020 The O-Zone, O-Zone Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, rebroadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Advertisements Disabled