When juniors put up the type of numbers Poona Ford (Hilton Head, S.C./Hilton Head) registered last season, it’s hard not to notice. Few haven’t, as the 6-foot, 285-pound defensive tackle now counts over 15 offers with the latest coming from Ohio State on Wednesday. A standout for the Seahawks last season, Ford recorded 154 tackles — 44 for loss –and logged 10 sacks. And though the ESPN Watch List junior has South Carolina and Tennessee among his early favorites, he’s not considering Ohio State as a light offer.
Mark Andrews (Scottsdale, Ariz./Desert Mountain) isn’t just a good student, he’s a good student of the game. An ESPN Watch List junior with a 3.4 grade-point average, the 6-foot-6, 220-pound H-back/wide receiver is taking those smarts to the road. He starts a whirlwind tour of the Midwest on Thursday with an unofficial visit to Ohio State, continuing on at Michigan on Friday and Notre Dame on Saturday. He’s bringing his No. 2 pencil with him along with a notebook.
As the 2014 recruiting class comes more into focus following what was yet another strong national signing day for Urban Meyer, BuckeyeNation will take a position-by-position look at the juniors. Today, we examine the offensive tackles. It’s definitely a position of need and one of interest as Ohio State looks to strengthen the line. Here are the top five tackles of 2014 not committed somewhere else and with an offer from Ohio State. Three are ESPN Watch List recruits, while the other two are huge junior college prospects.
Ohio State started a busy recruiting week by picking up commitment No. 7 in budding talent Kyle Berger. It continued with one Watch List junior after another either visiting or throwing the Buckeyes in their final lists. Of course, there were offers handed out by the scarlet and grey in what has become the norm: a very busy recruiting week. Here’s the week that was around Columbus, Ohio: Sunday kicked off with Watch List wide receiver/tight end Austin Roberts detailing his visit to Cincinnati to take in Ohio State’s spring game and possibly becoming the H-back of the future for the Buckeyes.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Ohio State’s spring game moved to Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati on Saturday and Queen City resident Derek Kief watched the Buckeyes in action. It’s the sixth time the ESPN Watch List junior out of La Salle has visited with Ohio State, and things just keep getting better every time. “I really had a good time,” Kief said. “They are still in my top list.” That’s good news for the Buckeyes, as the 6-foot-5, 180-pound Kief is coming off a junior season where he logged 65 receptions for 907 yards and scored nine touchdowns in 10 games.
Drake Harris (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian) wanted to be wowed by Ohio State on his official visit on Friday. Judging from his texts and tweets, the Buckeyes knocked it out of the park. With pictures on his Twitter account of the national championship trophy, a view of The Horseshoe from the press box and another of the 6-foot-4, 185-pound Harris in a No. 1 scarlet and gray jersey, it’s safe to say the ESPN Watch List junior left impressed.
When the SEC comes calling, recruits tend to listen. It is no different with ESPN Watch List linebacker Clifton Garrett (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield South). Garrett will visit Alabama and LSU on consecutive days next weekend, checking out the Crimson Tide on Friday before going to Baton Rouge for the LSU spring game Saturday. “They’re going to be very exciting, rival schools, two top teams, going to be crazy,” Garrett said. “Seeing both back to back and kind of comparing the two, it’ll be a great trip.
Some offers mean just a little bit more. After Ohio State offered ESPN Watch List athlete Nicholas Ruffin (Atlanta/St. Pius X), he didn’t mince words about the significance of the attention. “It definitely means a lot to me,” Ruffin said. “[Coach Urban Meyer] is a coach that has taken notice of me. It’s kind of a confirmation that everything I do does not go in vain. “On top of that, growing up I watched him build a program to such a prestigious level to the point where the name Florida was feared.
One of the biggest Ohio State targets is finally making his way to Columbus, Ohio, on Friday. That he’s seeing Michigan’s spring game the next day is fitting in the 365-day battle with the Wolverines. It’s also of no concern to the Buckeyes. Wide receiver Drake Harris (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian) will get his chance to see The Horseshoe and go behind the scenes tomorrow. To say the 6-foot-4, 185-pound ESPN Watch List Harris is eager to see Ohio State doesn’t do it justice.
Don’t expect a jump into the commitment pool from Joe Henderson (Shaker Heights, Ohio/Shaker Heights) any time soon. The ESPN Watch List defensive end has been a student of the recruiting game and watched how former teammate Donovan Munger went through the paces before committing to Ohio State in December. With more than 10 offers now and more soon to come, the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Henderson will wait things out before finding that perfect fit.