clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

You’re Nuts: After landing Scott, where should Ohio State shift its focus next?

What should the Buckeyes’ recruiting focus be moving forward in 2024?

2024 Ohio State commit Aaron Scott Jr.
via @SpencerHolbrook on Twitter

Everybody knows that one of the best parts of being a sports fan is debating and dissecting the most (and least) important questions in the sporting world with your friends. So, we’re bringing that to the pages of LGHL with our favorite head-to-head column: You’re Nuts.

In You’re Nuts, two LGHL staff members will take differing sides of one question and argue their opinions passionately. Then, in the end, it’s up to you to determine who’s right and who’s nuts.

This week’s topic: Where should Ohio State focus next in the 2024 class?

Josh’s Take

Ohio State scored a sizable recruiting victory yesterday evening when they landed the commitment of high four-star cornerback Aaron Scott. Scott, an Ohio native, became the Buckeyes’ 19th verbal commit in their 2024 class, joining the likes of WR Jeremiah Smith, QB Air Noland, DL Justin Scott, and fellow CBs Bryce West and Miles Lockhart. All current OSU commitments make up the No. 2 class in the 2024 team rankings, with potential to reach No. 1 if Ryan Day and company can add a few more five-stars.

Sounds great, right? Well yeah, that’s because this 2024 class is absolutely shaping up to be a special one. But there are still a few holes or gaps left to fill. And that is where Gene and I come in. Not to fill any holes, but to debate them...

I feel l am veering off course with the “holes” talk, so let me just clarify that Gene and I are going to look at biggest remaining need in Ohio State’s 2024 recruiting class. And while it is difficult to pick apart the No. 2 class, I would argue that there are actually a few significant needs remaining. Because I feel that the current group of commits is somewhat top-heavy and being carried by multiple players at certain positions. Allow me to explain:

The Buckeyes have two five-star WRs (Smith and Mylan Graham) ranked as their top two prospects — nothing new with Brian Hartline carrying the load. They also have a QB (Noland) and a RB (James Peoples) ranked among their top six, meaning that four of OSU’s top six 2024 commits are offensive skill players. Joining those offensive skill players (in the top six) are DL Justin Scott and CB Aaron Scott, the latter of which is part of a nice positional trio for Tim Walton. So there is at least an argument to be made that skill players and corners are carrying this ’24 class.

However, said argument would definitely be of the nit-picking variety. Because it is still very early in this (2024) process and Ohio State seems to be in good standing with several prospects at several positions. So we are not going to overreact. I mean, who loses their mind over recruiting, right Gene? Instead, let’s just calmly debate what the OSU coaching staff needs to address before next Signing Day.

I was temped to go with the position (LB) that Jim Knowles has just repeatedly whiffed at since arriving in Columbus, but I really like Payton Pierce, and the Buckeyes were granted some leeway when C.J. Hicks and Gabe Powers were born in Ohio joined the program in 2022. So I am going to say that offensive line is the biggest remaining need in this 2024 class, despite Ohio State already having four OL committed. My concerns are versatility, upside, and program depth.

Of the four OL currently committed to OSU, three are listed as interior blockers by 247Sports. Deontae Armstrong is the only ‘true’ tackle prospect, and he is the No. 416 ranked player in the country. Ian Moore out of Indiana has also played tackle, but his best future position is TBD. Regardless, the Buckeyes do not currently have a pledge from a ‘franchise’ left tackle and most 2024 commits appear to be destined for guard or even center.

To make matters worse, Ohio State only signed one tackle last year! And he was outside the national top-500. Going back even further, the program did sign two tackles in 2022, but one did not lose his black stripe and become an official Buckeye until spring of this year (2023)... Not great, Bob. And my intent here is not to dump on any of these guys, but rather to point out that Greg Studrawa did not exactly stock the pantry for Justin Frye, who is now trying his best is trying to replenish the groceries (talent).

The good news is that OSU appears to be in good standing with Brandon Baker, the top-ranked OT in the 2024 class. Frye has also been in contact with Guerby Lambert, 247’s No. 2 OT. The latter has multiple crystal balls to Notre Dame, but you never know what is going to happen in this recruiting game.

What I do know is that I would feel much, much better if Ohio State could land at least one commitment from a blue chip OT. Sure, these players are few and far between, but we’re talking about the Ohio State Buckeyes! Did Studrawa diminish the program’s reputation that bad? If so, can Frye rebuild it?

When it comes the latter (question), I absolutely believe that he can and will. Frye helped turn Paris Johnson Jr. into a top-6 NFL Draft pick, Dawand Jones into a first round prospect (before he stopped working out for teams), and Luke Wypler into an early entrant for said draft. Nobody believed Wypler was destined for the NFL after the 2021 season, but Frye helped make it happen — in just one year. So I am willing to bet on both his eye for talent and ability to develop.

If the results come, so will the blue chippers and high end talents. Until then, offensive line will remain an area of need.

Gene’s Take

Josh set the stage, and so I’m going to keep my side of things a bit shorter. Since my counterpart went with the offensive line, which is a sentiment I do agree with, I will gladly take the softball and go with linebacker.

As Josh already outlined, Ohio State has whiffed on several of their top linebacker targets in each of these last two classes — a concerning trend given that Jim Knowles is a linebacker guy at his core. It seemed all but assured that Tackett Curtis was going to end up a Buckeye in 2023, but he instead spurned Ohio State in favor for USC. A defensive player preferring to go play in Alex Grinch’s system in general is concerning, but that was a tough loss on a Louisiana kid going all the way across the country.

This year, the big loss was Kyngstonn Viliamu-Asa, who appeared to be an Ohio State lean before a religious retreat changed his mind in favor of Notre Dame. It’s a little bit tougher to blame the OSU coaching staff on this one in light of the circumstances, but a quick look at the Buckeyes’ 2024 recruiting at the linebacker spot makes this even more significant than losing Curtis.

Ohio State does have Payton Pierce in the fold in this cycle, and as a top-20 linebacker nationally, the Texas kid seems like a very good get. They also brought in Arvell Reese in 2023, who was the No. 5 player in the state of Ohio and also a top-20 player at the position nationally. These are two talent players, but the problem is that landing only two linebackers across two consecutive classes — when both of this year’s starting LBs are in their final seasons — isn’t exactly an ideal situation.

Now, the Buckeyes do have some leeway from prior recruiting wins, with former five-star C.J. Hicks ready to contribute and both Gabe Powers and Reid Carrico also in the mix for a starting job in 2024. But this many recruiting misses at a position of need is concerning, and becomes even more so when you look at the remaining options in this 2024 class.

At this point in time, Ohio State has sent out offers to 12 linebackers in this cycle. Of that dozen, 10 are already committed elsewhere and one is Pierce. The only remaining uncommitted player at the position with a Buckeye offer is Devin Smith, a three-star linebacker who did not include OSU among his top five schools back at the beginning of the month. This late in the game, if Ohio State was going to add another linebacker to this class, they would have to either find a real diamond in the rough or convince someone to flip — neither of which seem all that likely.

Knowles’ recruiting obviously isn't where it’s needed to be, but that is why Ryan Day brought in James Laurinaitis to potentially aid in that area. The problem there is that Laurinaitis can’t go on the road to recruit as a grad assistant, and so if the Buckeyes want to actually get serious about linebacker recruiting, they should finally dump that bum Parker Fleming, stop employing a full-time special teams coordinator (and a really bad one at that), and make Laurinaitis your full-time linebackers coach.