Several 2020 recruits have talked about a certain buzz around Ohio State over the past few weeks. There’s a feeling among commits and targets that something special might be unfolding in this class for the Buckeyes. It seems like every day that buzz is becoming more prominent, as the sense grows that a legendary class is being built. The Buckeyes took another big step in that direction today, as Luke Wypler joined the class.
Wypler is yet another massive commitment in a class full of big names, with even bigger personalities. The St. Joseph Regional (Montvale, NJ) High School product is one of the country’s best linemen, and he’s been a major Buckeye target for a while now. They offered back in March, hosted Luke in early June, and are extremely excited to have him in the class.
Now, Luke isn’t just a big-time, four-star recruit that Ohio State is bringing in because of his ranking. After watching him extensively, Ohio State identified Wypler as one of the best players in the country, not just one of the top guards. Let’s take a look at what the Buckeyes saw in him, and what you can expect to see when he gets to Columbus.
On the field
The first thing that stands out about Wypler is how big he is. Now, when it comes to linemen, being “big” can mean two things. There are physically imposing, massive maulers, that dominant by being “bigger” than everyone else and erase defenders by being “bigger” than them. The other kind of big is someone who, while obviously very large, isn’t out of shape in any way. They never look sluggish, and are more “big” in the weight room mold than they are massive bodies to block the way.
Wypler is the latter, and that’s exactly how Ohio State likes it. Ohio State doesn’t recruit maulers very often, because Urban Meyer wants his linemen to be able to move well, and it’s very difficult for 6-foot-8, 360 pound tackles to do that. Ohio State wants their linemen between 6-foot-2 and 6-foot-7, while hovering right under 300 pounds. Wypler fits the mold perfectly.
While he plays tackle in high school, he’ll be a guard at the next level. It shouldn’t be a tough move for him, because his greatest skill is his agility. He’s got great footwork, and has no trouble making blocks downfield, either off of a pull-block or just as an adjustment after the initial block.
His quickness is complimented well by a ton of strength. Wypler is a big hitter, and has a tendency to completely take defenders out of rushing plays. His strong arms paired with his constantly churning legs make him a fantastic run blocker, and that’ll be his primary focus in Columbus.
That isn’t to say that he’s not a capable pass blocker as well, because he definitely is. His team passes more than most high schools, and because of that, he has plenty of experience dropping back and absorbing contact, rather than initiating it like he would on a run block. His time spent at tackle will help him a ton in pass protection at the next level, though he may need to get a bit bigger to block big nose-tackles consistently. That’s where Ohio State’s strength program comes in. Wypler being only 16 years old means that he has plenty of growing left to do, and I have no concerns about him not being strong enough.
My only real concerns are with his balance and focus. He plays a bit too high at times, and while he’s able to get away with it in high school, that’ll get him knocked over at the next level. He has to work on his pad level, and that’ll be a big focus for OSU’s offensive line coach Greg Studrawa. The focus issue stems almost entirely from the fact that Wypler is a young athlete. He can get caught up in a big block at times, wanting to make the highlight rather than moving on to another assignment.
Basically, that means that in an effort to drive someone 20 yards out of the play, Wypler is also taking himself out of the play. It’s great to see that effort, but Ohio State would prefer him to take care of his assignment quickly so that he can start blocking downfield on running plays, or help another linemen on passing plays. Running a guy out of the play is good, but knocking your assignment over and being able to move on and block a linebacker to open up the second level is better. He’ll get there.
In the class
Wypler is the fifth member of Ohio State’s 2020 class. He’s the third lineman, along with Paris Johnson Jr. and Jake Wray. Those two will likely end up as the tackles in this class, while Wypler will be one of two or three interior linemen. I don’t think Ohio State wants a full five linemen in 2020 (they don’t need to take a full group in both 2019 and 2020), so Wypler may be the penultimate member of the line class. My guess is that Michigan guard Justin Rogers finishes the class up front.
Wypler committed to Ohio State over 22 other offers, from Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Penn State, Stanford, Tennessee and Wisconsin, among others. The primary competition here was from Stanford, though Notre Dame was in the mix for a while as well. Wypler is a very smart kid, and the academics of Stanford really intrigued him.
Ultimately however, Ohio State’s combination of on-the-field success, academics, and location sealed the deal for Wypler. As it has been in so many recruitments, Ohio State’s “Real Life Wednesdays” program may have been the biggest factor here. People underestimate how much the program matters, but it really is a huge part of Ohio State’s recruiting success.
Wypler is yet another big step towards what could be Urban Meyer’s best recruiting class; not just at Ohio State, but of his entire career. The targets left in 2020, and the leadership already committed to Ohio State, could make for a historic class. It’s a good time to be a Buckeye.
You can watch Luke’s highlights below, and read his commitment piece here.