Pope to make visits elsewhere
Three days ago, we learned that 2018 linebacker K’Vaughan Pope (Dinwiddie, VA / Dinwiddie County) was hoping to make his collegiate commitment shortly after returning home from The Opening in Beaverton, Ore. The expectation was that it was all but locked in for Ohio State to be the beneficiary of the pledge, if they were willing to accept it at this time.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder revealed to Jeremy Birmingham of Landof10.com that Ohio State was the only school on his list. “I know where I want to go — I want to go to Ohio State,” Pope relayed to Birmingham. However, unfortunately for Pope, that won’t be the case for the time being.
On Wednesday, Pope took to Twitter, and wrote that he will be holding off on his decision and that he will visit other programs.
after talking with my family & coach, i feel it's best to hold off on my decision until i've had the chance to visit a few more schools— THE POPE™ (@Pop3Bad_81) July 5, 2017
The likely scenario here is that Ohio State is not yet willing to accept the pledge from the four-star prospect, which sounds as wild as it seems. Pope is the 145th best player in the class; he’s also graded out as the sixth best inside linebacker in the country and the fourth best player from the state of Virginia — two spots below ‘18 LB Teradja Mitchell, who is already a Buckeye commit.
Pope will likely begin taking closer looks at schools like Clemson, Florida and Florida State. I wouldn’t say this means that Ohio State is out of the picture for Pope by any means, but they do run the risk of Pope potentially falling in love with any program.
So what’s next at linebacker?
Perhaps the good news here is that the Buckeyes probably wouldn’t slow play Pope without having optimism with their position in regards to another prospect or prospects. So, who could be the guy to join the current duo that features Mitchell and ‘18 LB Dallas Gant?
‘18 LB Solomon Tuliaupupu is one to watch going forward. According to Andrew Lind of Eleven Warriors, the Mater Dei (CA) standout is planning on visiting Ohio State officially in the fall. The Buckeyes currently seem to be in a battle with primarily USC for the pledge of the four-star prospect.
Another name to not forget is ‘18 LB Christopher Oats of Winton Woods (OH). Oats is the 18th highest graded outside linebacker in the class and is an in-state guy. The Buckeye staff didn’t hide the fact that they wanted to bring in even more Ohio kids in this class and adding a guy with the upside of Oats would be a tremendous addition. Sources tell me that Oats is expected to be in attendance at Ohio State’s Friday Night Lights camp later this month.
While the three names above are the most likely candidates to fill that final linebacker spot, ‘18 LB Michael Harris (Tucker, GA / Tucker) could be a fall back option, if things don’t go as planned. Harris has spoken for a long while now that Ohio State was his dream school and that he would commit as soon as the staff told him he could. However, I would only see this being the case the Buckeyes missed out on all of Oats, Pope and Tuliaupupu.
I do want to bring up ‘18 LB Palaie Gaoteote, who is currently a USC pledge and has been since February. First off, I do not expect Ohio State to just give up on the Bishop Gorman (NV) linebacker. With that being said, Gaoteote hasn’t given any indication that he is reconsidering his pledge with the Trojans. For the time being, I don’t see Gaoteote as a realistic option. That would obviously change if the staff could convince the five-star player and No. 1 ILB to make another visit to the campus. But until then, it’s hard to consider him a realistic option for the Buckeyes.
Goodwin Picks Irish
Last night, ‘18 four-star shooting guard Dane Goodwin announced that he would be playing college basketball at Notre Dame. The Upper Arlington, Ohio, native had previously been committed to Ohio State, but following the firing of Thad Matta had reopened his recruitment. Goodwin did take an official visit to meet with new coach Chris Holtmann, but apparently it was not enough to convince him to reaffirm his commitment to his hometown team.
The pledge of Goodwin to the Fighting Irish is another blow to Holtmann’s program following the loss of incoming-freshman Braxton Beverly and the dismissal of Derek Funderburk following a short suspension. Neither of those players had been projected to contribute significantly this coming season for the Buckeyes, but Goodwin is a good enough prospect to have been a substantial building block for the new coach’s first class.
According to 247Sports, Goodwin is not only a top 100 player nationally, but also the fourth best player from Ohio in the 2018 class. With his decommitment, the Buckeyes currently have no pledges for the next recruiting class, but Holtmann has other issues as he tries to round out the roster for his 2017 squad.
However, when Holtmann does get to recruiting for 2018, he is likely to find the Ohio-cupboard a little bite bare, as with Goodwin gone, three of the top four in-state players have committed to out-of-state schools. Top-ranked Darius Bazley will attend Syracuse, No. 2 Pete Nance is headed to Northwestern, and now Goodwin will be in South Bend, Ind. On the brightside, the state’s third-best player, Dwayne Cohill, is a heavy OSU-lean, as is No. 5 player Jerome Hunter.