Welcome to a new series here at Land-Grant Holy Land — Freshman Focus. Spring practice is officially underway, and this year’s crop of Buckeyes is already hard at work preparing for the 2021 campaign. That being the case, now is a great time to introduce you to Ohio State’s incredibly talented freshman class. Each edition of Freshman Focus will highlight one of the newest Buckeyes, and will hopefully provide a glimpse at what they will bring to the team in the coming years.
Today’s freshman: Reid Carrico.
One of six in-state prospects in Ohio State’s impressive 2021 class, Reid Carrico comes to Columbus by way of Ironton, OH as the No. 5 inside linebacker and the No. 86 player in the class overall. A high four-star recruit and the No. 3 guy in-state, Carrico is the Buckeyes’ only linebacker commit in the cycle, but the 6-foot-3, 225-pound defender is one of the best at his position in the entire country, and is a big acquisition for Al Washington and the Silver Bullets.
Carrico pulled in around 30 offers during the recruiting process, earning a chance to play at nearly all of the biggest programs around the country including the likes of Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Notre Dame, Wisconsin and many others. It was never really a secret that the Ironton linebacker had every intention of staying home, as predictions for Carrico to choose Ohio State began rolling in as early as April of 2019. Never really giving a ton of thought to all those other schools, Carrico committed to Ohio State on Sept. 10, 2019, and he made it official when he signed on the dotted line this past December as an early enrollee.
Carrico played both offense and defense for Ironton, and really blossomed in his senior season. As the team’s starting running back, Carrico rushed for over 1,500 yards with 25 touchdowns in his final campaign while also catching 12 passes for 170 yards and another two scores. As a linebacker for the Fighting Tigers, he registered 50 total tackles in 11 games, adding 15.5 tackles for loss and four sacks. Carrico truly did it all at Ironton, and as a result was the first-ever player to be named Ohio Prep Sportswriters Southeast District Player of the Year on both offense and defense in the same season.
In addition to helping Ironton reach the Division V state title game in his senior season, Carrico was a first-team all-conference and all-district selection, following up a campaign in 2019 that saw him win Ohio’s Defensive Player of the Year. In today’s game, you need your linebackers to be super athletic to chase down running backs and cover guys over the middle, and as a former running back himself Carrico certainly fits that bill. Just check out his highlight tape from his last year with the Fighting Tigers:
Carrico is the third-highest ranked in-state player in Ohio State’s 2021 class, coming in just behind five-star DE Jack Sawyer and four-star DT Mike Hall. The Buckeyes really wanted to grab more than one linebacker in this class, but they are certainly happy with landing Carrico. They’ve more than made up for it in the 2022 cycle, where they’ve already got a trio of impressive linebackers committed, but heading into this season Carrico will be the only new blood in a position group that is seeing a ton of turnover.
The freshman is very highly-touted coming out of high school, and will not be afraid of a little competition as he moves to the next level. What he lacks in experience playing the college football game, he makes up for with his intelligence and measurables. He has drawn some high praise from the talent evaluators, being compared to New York Giants linebacker Blake Martinez in his scouting report. Here is the full extent of what 247Sports national recruiting analyst Allen Trieu had to say of Carrico’s abilities:
“Well built prospect who will step onto a college campus physically ready to compete. Above average height and length for his position. A good athlete who has tested well and also runs track and plays basketball with great success. That is evident on his film where he runs quickly to the football with aggression and little hesitation. He also shows that on his offensive film where he is a breakaway threat as a runner. Also has a big vertical and ball skills that should make him an asset in coverage. Will need to adjust to level of competition in college and learn to read keys at that level, but has all the physical ability to be the leader of a defense in college and an early draft choice.”
Linebacker is going to be a very interesting position at Ohio State this season, as the trio of Tuf Borland, Baron Browning and Pete Werner have all since moved on. With Borland and Werner being the starters for what felt like the last decade and Browning admirably filling the shoes of Malik Harrison the year prior, this leaves the Buckeyes with a deep but inexperienced group of linebackers heading into the new campaign. This could be huge for someone like Carrico, who isn’t lacking too far behind in terms of important in-game reps despite just stepping on campus as a freshman.
That being said, there are some guys who look like they are in line to finally get a chance to start this season after waiting their turn for so long. The first names that come to mind are Teradja Mitchell and Dallas Gant, who have been chomping at the bit for years to make an impact and seem to be the clear choices to snag two of the top spots in the depth chart. Beside them are a number of intriguing characters, from a guy whose been around awhile in K’Vaughan Pope to the younger players like Craig Young and Cody Simon who have gotten a lot of hype.
Regardless, unlike the past few seasons, Ohio State’s linebacker spots are up for grabs. If you were going to be a linebacker prospect coming to Columbus, now would be the time you’d want to hop on board. There will be a healthy competition for starting jobs all offseason long at the three newly-opened positions, and Carrico will certainly be in the mix. He may not earn starting job right away, but someone with his skillset has all the tools to become the next great Buckeye backer. As a guy who profiles more as an inside linebacker, it’s easy to see Carrico becoming the next Tuf Borland as the anchor of the defense — albeit with much more speed and athleticism than his predecessor.