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Ohio State still going after five-star LB in 2022 class

Though the position is crowded, the Buckeyes still want more linebackers in the junior cycle

Shawn Murphy
Bill Kurelic, 247Sports

Yesterday’s news of the cancellation between Ohio State and Maryland just plain sucked. You can’t really say much more than that. All things considered, it’s probably wise to count the blessings that Ohio State has played any game in these trying times, but cancelling a game including the Buckeyes is unfortunate to say the least.

Ryan Day and his crew got their first real bout of bad news in this shortened season, and while nothing is promised moving forward, I think we can all agree that hopefully this is a one-and-done scenario with the Buckeyes back on the field next week as they take on an Indiana team who is playing with some boosted confidence.

With more time to look towards Indiana as their next opponent, there does seem to be a bit of time freed up this weekend. Knowing the hours spent and effort Ohio State puts into recruiting, odds are the staff pays a little extra attention to the 2022 class the rest of this week all while trying to secure up the couple remaining spots in 2021 as the early signing period quickly approaches.

Fortunately, the good news is aplenty in the realm of Buckeye football recruiting.

Could they really want more?

Ohio State’s 2022 class is currently ranked as the top group in the country. Of the many reasons this class is off to an incredible start, the incredible trove of linebackers already in the fold tell the bulk of the story. With three elite guys already committed to the Buckeyes thanks to the likes of C.J. Hicks, Gabe Powers, and Dasan McCullough, Ohio State has not only re-stocked their linebacker core, but re-loaded it with players that are some of the most sought after at their positions.

A tremendous feat for position coach Al Washington, you would think having these three players locked in would pretty much close the door on the potential to recruit anyone else at the same spot, but that’s not how Ohio State rolls.

Five-star inside-linebacker, Shawn Murphy (Manassas, Virginia/Unity Reed) has long been a player the Buckeyes have been after, and they will continue to be until he makes a final college decision. Ranked as the top player at his position in the class and the No. 17 player overall nationally, Murphy would give Ohio State arguably the greatest recruiting haul of linebackers anyone could ask for if he were to commit.

As recent as the last couple of weeks, rumors had been swirling around that Murphy may be ready to make a pledge, and many believe with the momentum Ohio State has in the 2022 class that a verbal to the Buckeyes could be in the cards.

It would be incredible, but Murphy’s recruitment is not quite over yet, as he has mentioned to multiple recruiting analysts that he intends to visit several schools before coming to a final call. Schools in the SEC, ACC, and even out West were all mentioned by Murphy, and that further proves that this recruitment could go on for a bit being that NCAA limitations make it impossible to get on campus to meet with any member of the staffs associated with the schools he’s interested in.

Still, this looks to be a four-team race, with Penn State, Alabama, Miami, and Ohio State rounding out the likely programs Murphy will be choosing from. Having said great things about each of them, these are the four programs to pay the closest attention to moving forward.

The Buckeyes do have an extra thing going for them in the race for Murphy, as current Ohio State class of 2021 commit Tyleik Williams is his teammate at Unity Reed. It bodes well for OSU to have a familiar face preaching first-hand the great things the Buckeyes have to offer. In addition, Al Washington is already a major piece in this recruitment.

In an interview with Brian Dohn of 247Sports, Murphy went into detail about his relationship with Washington, calling it a “spiritual and mental bond” as they speak over the phone weekly. Add this with Murphy’s cordial relationships with current commits such as Hicks, and you can see why Ohio State seems to be trending in the right direction in this recruitment.

Never too early to look towards the future

Thanks to Ryan Day, Ohio State is bringing in elite quarterbacks at a never before seen pace, and that in large part is why they are having the on-field success at this rate. When you have a top target caliber player at the most important position, it makes a lot of sense why things go as well as they have. For example — Justin Fields. Nothing else really needs to be said there.

In terms of what’s to come, in 2020 the Buckeyes landed two top quarterbacks in the class, a five-star in 2021, and of course now look to be the likely destination for the No. 1 quarterback in the country in 2022, Quinn Ewers. Truly incredible work and a testament to how good of a recruiter Day is, the Buckeyes are at the top of the mountain right now.

Coach Day has made it clear that they’re going to go after the best guys in each cycle and not just be content with what they have. Already, the class of 2023 is taking notice, as the second-best pro-style quarterback in the class, Cameron Edge. has told Bill Kurelic of Buckuts that he has “very high interest” in Ohio State.

It feels too early to mention, but if there’s one thing to take away from all this, it’s that the Buckeyes have put in the effort to create meaningful relationships this far in advance so they pay off in the end. A DeMatha Catholic product — the same school that produced Chase Young — Ohio State would love nothing more than to go get another top caliber player from an elite prep program.

Quick Hits

  • A congratulations is in order for current five-star running back commit TreVeyon Henderson — the nation’s top back according to 247Sports. Proving that Ohio State recruits excel both on and off the field, Henderson finished his high school career with an academic performance as good as his athletic performances.
  • 2021 defensive back commit Jakailin Johnson was awarded his All-American Game jersey yesterday. Though the game will not be played, unfortunately, it’s still an incredible honor only the nation’s best prep players are able to receive.